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One of the problems with traditional turbine generators is that they are only really efficient and cost-effective at large scales. They may be great for feeding the grid, but an efficient, cheap, and portable device to power your cell phone or charge a radio a wind turbine will never be. Shawn Frayne’s invention, the Windbelt, does not have this problem, and its mechanical simplicity makes you smack your head and wonder why this hadn’t been thought of before.

There’s no gearbox — just a thin belt strip stretched taught with a button magnet at one end. When the wind blows, the belt begins to oscillate, moving the magnet in and out of a coil to generate an AC current.

Shawn’s Windbelt was one of the award winners in Popular Mechanics’ 2007 Breakthrough Awards. They have a video of him discussing his invention and using the prototype and a few dollars worth of electronics to power some LEDs and a clock. He hopes that cheap Windbelt-powered LED lighting will eventually be able to provide an environmentally sound and easily serviceable home-lighting alternative in developing nations. It’s such a brilliantly simple design. You can probably build one yourself before the weekend is through.

Windbelt, Cheap Generator Alternative, Set to Power Third World – Link


  • tom.a

    Yeah, that extra 4k of download time for the other 3 corners just drags my browser to a crawl. Snark aside, a nice work around, but I applaud the day when Web browser accept a rotation/flip parameter for images, it would immediately cut the “download” time by 2 or 4 depending on the usage.

  • Jason Striegel

    Considering your browser will only load a few URLs concurrently, it’s the round-trips on all of those downloads that can actually affect your page load time, not to mention the server hit. Toss in corners for all the items on your site, plus the normal page image assets, a stylesheet and a javascript file or two and it adds up.