where we develop new solutions to old problems.

The Bush Lab

Using our hobby & skills to help better the lives of peoples living in remote rural areas of the world.
Low tech solutions to assist poor communities with communications, education & health, water supplies, lighting and home needs.

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I was living in the middle of the African bush for many years in central Africa, 500 km from the nearest 'big' town, up to 2 days away depending on season. The station I lived at and worked at as a scientist was surrounded by bush. The bush started right behind my back garden, and was a pleasure to be enjoyed in every season, apart from the occasional wild animal, such as a hyena wandering around the house at night.

We had all modern conveniences, electricity, our own generators & standby generators, lights, 'magic eye' night lights on the pathways; radio, cinema, projectors,a transmitter, scientific instruments & equipment. We had electric cookers,fridges & hot water in our homes

But outside our base it was a different story
I saw the struggle that life was for the local tribal communities living in the area. They had no access to electricity. It got dark at 6 pm daily (we are 15 degrees south of the equator).They sat at home after dark, with a small kerosene lamp.They spent money on batteries for the radio and a torch.

And it's the same in many parts of the world
Many people living in remote rural areas of the world do not have access to electricity. Most are in sub Saharan Africa & developing Asia, with some in Latin America & Siberia . These people still depend on kerosene lamps, candles & torches for low levels of lighting that costs them around 20% of income. It means that work ceases after dark (about 6 pm in the tropics), children can't study; there are health problems caused by kerosene fumes & accidents (mostly to children). Not having access to electricity means they also can not communicate and learn from Radio & tv etc. Education by radio helps learn about hiv/aids, the weather, farming techniques, government help and local community radio stations helps people with local problems & issues. Schools & clinics can't function properly without electricity.

Electricity makes a big difference to a community. It means good lighting, radio for news, entertainment & learning. Mobile phones need charging.And it's cheaper than buying batteries.

Today's gadgets are low powered!
Unlike decades ago, today's modern gadgets run on small amounts of power. Led lamps, led torches, a radio, a mobile phone, and many more gadgets; all usb devices can run happily on 5 volts. And at low wattage.

This is where we come in to the picture! These rural dwellers need power and they need it now. We would like to help these peoples to power their devices.
Governments and donors are not interested; to combat global warming they support the generation of power that feeds into the grid system. But the grid does not reach the rural areas. And electricity companies are not interested. They consider the cost and they don't regard it as profitable to supply power to sparcely populated rural areas. This leaves rural dwellers in the dark.

The rural communities are ready and waiting for power solutions to meet their needs, and they want low cost solutions now. They know that they will not get access to grid power in their lifetime. The solution is small off grid systems that will provide adequate power to meet their needs. The penetration of mobile phone technology is a driving force in the demand for off grid power systems. Mobile phone use is popular in Africa, enabling communication and business, and a small payments systems via mobile unique to Africa. They appreciate what electric power can do for them and they want it now.

We aim to develop small generators that will generate the power needed to run these modern devices. And we aim to do this at low cost so that is affordable to all. We want low tech solutions so that people in the community can learn the technology, attend to maintenance and make repairs themselves. We want them to be self sufficient. That also means good availablilty of quality components & parts at low prices for building the generators & power storage systems (batteries & charge regulators) and the maintenace & repairs.

We will be looking at ways to assist with power generation, power storage, lighting, portable lighting (torch), mobile phone charging, battery charging, powering radios, water sterilisation, and many small low powered devices. We are doing this research and development as a hobby, and anyone who wants to help and can contribute is welcome to come on board. Anyone with good ideas, and skills & experience is welcome. All kinds of help are welcome.

Good lighting will enable them to work after dark & children to study and learn; and travel safely after dark. They can communicate & do banking enhancing business, they can listen to the radio to be entertained & to learn. This is not much electricity, but with it they can do a lot.

and torches means they stillhere are no gris systemsThis place is for trying out low tech solutions to problems in developing countries. Like developing off grid solutions for remote communities, so they can communicate, develop and educate making use of today's low powered electronics devices. In my spare time, I want to develop solutions and anyone who would like to contribute is welcome; the more the merrier

This place is for trying out low tech solutions to problems in developing countries. Like developing off grid solutions for remote communities, so they can communicate, develop and educate making use of today's low powered electronics devices. In my spare time, I want to develop solutions and anyone who would like to contribute is welcome; the more the merrier!

I lived for many years in central Africa, in a rural area surrounded by bush, and saw the struggle that life was for communities living in remote areas.

I am living in the middle of the African bush, 500 km from the nearest town.

The problem is, it's so remote that there is no electric service available. That's not really a problem. No electricity equals no light pollution. However, it would be nice to have at least a little electricity, since so much of life in the 21st century is dependent on it.

One thing I noticed right away about my property is that most of the time, the wind is blowing. Almost from the moment I bought it, I had the idea of being energy independent by putting up a wind turbine and making some electricity, and later adding some solar panels and a wood gasifier. This is the story of how I did it. Not with an expensive, store-bought turbine, but with a home-built one that cost hardly anything. If you have some fabricating skills and some electronic know-how, you can build one too.

The wind was up and the turbine was spinning. The winds were actually unusually light the whole time I was on my property this time. The wind turbine still made good amounts of power though, even with winds that at best made it to only a little over 20 mph at times.

This photo shows the base of the tower, staked to the ground, and with the wire from the wind turbine exiting from the Tee below the conduit tower. I used an old orange extension cord with a broken plug to connect between the turbine and the controller. I simply cut both ends off and put on spade lugs. Threading the wire through the tower turned out to be easy. It was a cold morning and the cord was very stiff. I was able to just push it through the length of the conduit tower. on a warmer day I probably would have had to use a fishtape or string line to pull the cord through the conduit. I got lucky

Here the meter shows the turbine producing 13.49 volts. The voltage from the turbine goes up only a little as the wind speed increases once it has a load to power. Once the wind starts blowing, the turbine head snaps around into it and begins spinning up. It spins up quickly until the output voltage exceeds the battery voltage plus the blocking diode drop (around 13.2 volts, depending on the state of the battery charge). it is really running without a load until that point. Once the that voltage is exceeded, the turbine suddenly has a load as it begins dumping power into the battery. Once under load, the rpms only slightly increase as the wind speed increases. More wind means more current into the battery which means more load on the generator. So the system is pretty much self-governing. I saw no signs of over-reving. Of course in storm-force winds, all bets are off. Switching the controller to dump power into the dummy load did a good job of braking the turbine and slowing it way down even in stronger gusts. Actually shorting the turbine output is an even better brake. It brings the turbine to a halt right now, even in strong winds. Shorting the output is how I made the turbine safe to raise and lower, so I wouldn't get sliced and diced by the spinning blades. Warning though, the whole head assembly can still swing around and crack you hard on the noggin if the wind changes direction while you are working on these things. So be careful out there.

My system isn't designed to produce enough electricity to power an entire home or farm. My system was just designed to provide a couple of hundred Watts tops in an area where no other electric options were available. I am working on design and construction of other wind turbines and even solar panels to increase my power production beyond the current minimal level. However, even if successful, these new additions would still not power a typical home or farm. My ultimate goal is to have enough power from wind and solar sources to power a small cabin and observatory on my remote property that will only be occupied occasionally and won't have much need for electricity. If you need a bigger system, then you need someone with experience with bigger systems to help you out. Question #3: What are you working on now?

I used the wind turbine to power my new popup trailer on my spring vacation. The strong spring winds kept the wind turbine spinning all day every day and most of the nights too while I was in Arizona. The turbine provided enough power for the interior 12V lighting and enough 120V AC at the power outlets to keep my battery charger, electric shaver, and mini vacuum cleaner (camping is messy) all charged up and running. My girlfriend complained about it not having enough power to run her blow-dryer though.

Here my volt meter is showing the turbine producing 14.5 volts in a stiff wind. Although the wind turbine powered the popup fairly well, I think there is room for improvement. I was powering the popup with 120 Volts AC via my inverter. The popup has its own 120V AC to 12V DC power supply for powering the interior lighting and other 12V accessories. The losses involved in converting power to 120V AC and then back to 12V DC probably heavily contributed to the battery running down fairly quickly a couple of times during periods of light wind. Powering the 12V systems directly from the battery would probably work better. The only downside I see is that the DC voltage won't be regulated and could swing a couple of volts up or down with changes in wind speed. That wouldn't bother most kinds of lighting too much. Other devices could have a problem with it though.

Watch this windmill

Make a small wind generator, what can be done with little

This is sure to tickle your imagination! One of the simplest, most versatile Mini Wind Turbines you will ever find. It can be built for demonstration purposes, or to be taken along in camping trips, backpacking, hiking, on a boat, to a mountain cabin or a myriad of other uses. It probably counts as one of the world's easiest to make and smartest small Renewable Energy projects around. For the curious minds and a great idea for school projects and science fairs.

Make this wind generator

lovely to do something like this

thank you very much for viewing my YouTube video(s) of four miniature wind turbines that I have designed and built. In presenting these miniature wind turbines my intention is to share with you my love of science. If you are a teacher and you happen to come across one or all four of my videos, I would feel deeply honored if you were to share them with your students. Young people have an almost immediate need to help solve the pending energy crisis that will present itself. Wind energy is already on the rise in the United States and in other parts of the world. Wind energy is a relatively safer form of energy for our children compared to nuclear energy. I hope to inspire other minds through this (or these) video(s) that may help avert an energy crisis that may one day negatively impact the entire planet. Thank you and, I hope that you enjoy my small contribution to the world of science.





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Watch the wind generator in action

My wind generator working well

Home    About us    Small Wind turbines    More wind turbines    Generators    Charging Batteries    Lighting   Power supply    Safety    Nice project

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