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Inspired by Sam Redfield’s rural alt.energy work in hydro-electric power, featured here on MAKE, “Fishboy,” working out of the Vancouver Hacker Space, created this micro-hydro plant in a plastic bucket.

The power generator in the system is a Permanent Magnet Alternator (PMA) with a pelton wheel directly attached to the shaft. Water is sent through four jets which strike the wheel causing it to rotate.

The bucket and lid components were initially assembled at the Vancouver Hackspace. The first version of the bucket lid had the water distribution system assembled from 1 inch PVC parts. After on-site tests failed, I found that this system was too inefficient to distribute the high-pressure water needed to spin the pelton wheel. Version 2.0 of the water distribution system was more successful. Version 2.0 consists of a manifold which evenly distributes the water between the four 1 inch pipes.

He’s preliminarily measured it at 56V with the value fully open and processing approximately 1.7 liters per second.

Micro-hydro power bucket

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor for Boing Boing and WINK Books. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.


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