The Weekend Projects Podcast continues with the Rodent Powered Nightlight!

Make sure to check out the previous post full of instructions. This project can be found in the print or digital version of Make: 06. The article in the magazine by William Gurstelle, was inspired by the folks over at otherpower.com who came up with a hamster powered generator.

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16 thoughts on “Make Podcast: Weekend Projects – Make a Rodent Powered Nightlight

  1. Just off the top of my head, it seems to me that a geared, DC motor setup would be a lot more efficient. Reading the instructions tell me they tried this too, but failed. If you choose your motor setup correctly though, you should have very good results.

    You could even start with a RC airplane power setup. Attach the propeller gear to the hamster wheel and run the motor as a generator. The large gear ratio (and small electric load) would put minimal drag on the wheel. Plus you have the added benefit of outputting DC.

    Here’s what I’m talking about:

    http://www.aeromicro.com/Catalog/gws_ips-dx2bb__fxcs__1711365.htm

    Make sure you use a low KV motor. This is a motor that is wound for relatively lower RPM output at the same voltage input. Something designed to run off 10 volts versus 5 as an example. When used as a generator, you will want more volts at the same rpm input.

    Sure it’s not as fun as building an AC generator, but I think it’s a lot easier solution for most people. No need to reinvent the wheel. hehe.

    Russ

  2. Shouldn’t this be titled ‘Make a LED flash using Rodent Power’ I cant see how this is a nightlight, surley the purpose of nightlight is for comfort or convenience. Do you find red flashing lights comfortable or convenient?

  3. Shouldn’t this be titled ‘Make a LED flash using Rodent Power’ I cant see how this is a nightlight, surley the purpose of nightlight is for comfort or convenience. Do you find red flashing lights comfortable or convenient?

  4. Russ, if I had that airplane power set-up, I would have been seriously tempted to make this project a lot simpler. I had an old bicycle generator on the bench next to me and more than once I thought of just attaching the wheel to it. My goal was to learn more about electricity and create it myself and so I resisted the easy KISS solution. Stepper motors also generate electricity and they tempted me as well.

    If you want to have less of a strobe effect, you can add another LED but put it the other way round and because it’s AC, when one is on the other is off and vice-versa.

  5. Rectifying the AC into DC would add more loss by dropping more voltage across more diodes. Probably the simplest way to overcome the low frequency flashing is to add another LED in parallel (reversed polarity) as Bre suggested. Maybe put a diffuser in front of them both to kind of blend their outputs together.

    Another way to reduce flickering would be to increase the AC switching frequency. More magnets and/or more coils could take care of this.

    Or you could use one of those ancient incandescent lights. You’d still get some flicker, but it wouldn’t be nearly as bad as the LED.

    Russ

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