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Author Topic: Help with hamster power, please?  (Read 8784 times)
Ben Franklin's Electric Kite
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Rex Libris


« on: December 30, 2008, 03:09:31 am »

Ladies and Gentlemen:

My small cousin, who is, I believe, somewhere about the age of seven, wishes her wheel-running pet hamster to generate electricity for a science project.

Being a practical young lady, her initial idea was to charge small batteries, such as those used for any number of her toys, with rodent-produced energy. I am of the opinion that the device ought to light an LED while it is charging, or simply light an LED. I believe science-fair ribbons are more likely to come her way if it is obvious that the machine is working.

Being a young lady of great faith, she of the opinion that I can tell her how to do this. Probably I can, but at the moment I am ignorant and it would require research on my part, and in one week I must return to my graduate studies.

'Ah ha!' I thought. 'Surely some members of the Brassgoggles readership would have this knowledge, and find the problem an entertaining one.'

I would much appreciate your thoughts on how to accomplish this, preferably using readily available parts? I will happily translate your schemes into a child-appropriate plan, with keyword lists to help her begin the library research she must do herself in order to demonstrate proper understanding of the principles involved.
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JingleJoe
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The Green Dungeon Alchemist


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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2008, 03:13:27 am »

Try this or the version
on youtube

Smiley

By the by I'm moving this to the "how to" childboard if you don't mind? There's going to be lots of posts on "how to do [insert electronic thing]" by the looks of it Smiley
« Last Edit: December 30, 2008, 03:17:22 am by JingleJoe » Logged

Green Dungeon Alchemist Laboratories
Providing weird sound contraptions and time machines since 2064.
Alexander Edmund Clough
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« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2008, 03:19:28 am »

Hmmm...

You might be able to do it by making a rig that holds a small electric motor above the cage and using a belt drive from the hamster wheel to a sprocket on the motor axle. Alternatively you might be able to somehow connect the axle of the hamster wheel directly to the motor spindle. (perhaps using magnets glued on the wheel to attract magnets on a matching disk that is attached to the motor spindle might work?)

Then use the power generated from the motor to power a small LED via a capacitor so you get a steady trickle of current to the LED when you throw the switch.

Not sure if the hamster will generate enough torque, but in theory it will work!

Afraid I'm a bit rusty on the electronics side of things, so perhaps a fellow forum member with more recent electronic tinkering might be able to assist with the neccessary circuit design.
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HAC
Steam Theologian
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HAC_N800
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2008, 03:20:01 am »

Have it light an LED while charging, or perhaps hook up a milli-ammeter to show current flow..

(and would you not get better power output with a wombat? After all, they don't explode like chincillas  -  Grin  remember THAT thread?)

Cheers
Harold
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JingleJoe
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The Green Dungeon Alchemist


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« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2008, 03:27:11 am »

Hmmm...

You might be able to do it by making a rig that holds a small electric motor above the cage and using a belt drive from the hamster wheel to a sprocket on the motor axle. Alternatively you might be able to somehow connect the axle of the hamster wheel directly to the motor spindle. (perhaps using magnets glued on the wheel to attract magnets on a matching disk that is attached to the motor spindle might work?)

Then use the power generated from the motor to power a small LED via a capacitor so you get a steady trickle of current to the LED when you throw the switch.

Not sure if the hamster will generate enough torque, but in theory it will work!

Afraid I'm a bit rusty on the electronics side of things, so perhaps a fellow forum member with more recent electronic tinkering might be able to assist with the neccessary circuit design.
This sounds good Smiley in the past I have lit LEDs by spinning a small 3 Volt DC motor with my fingers- it was from a tape deck. I don't know too much about that though, I may go and investigate it later tonight.
If you want a faster speed which you will need to turn the generator/motor faster then some kind of belt or gearing will sort that out Smiley
« Last Edit: December 30, 2008, 03:30:14 am by JingleJoe » Logged
Ben Franklin's Electric Kite
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Rex Libris


« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2008, 03:28:11 am »

Thank you, gentlemen.

I found the otherpower site's hamster-powered nightlight instructions, but thought it a little complex for her age. Mr. Clough's suggestion sounds more like it.

And of course, JingleJoe, move it to wherever is most appropriate.

Alas, she hasn't a wombat. But we can probably gear it so that the tiny hamster can do the job.
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HAC
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HAC_N800
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2008, 03:37:08 am »

Belt and pulley might be your best bet for gearing, you can get some decent ratios easily..

And it goes without saying...



Cheers and good luck

Harold
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Ben Franklin's Electric Kite
Zeppelin Captain
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Rex Libris


« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2008, 03:41:38 am »

Hehe. All parties agree that video must be recorded when the device is completed, lest the hamster prove fickle and refuse to run on its wheel at the science fair. I will request that she youtube it for the readership's pleasure.
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JingleJoe
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« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2008, 03:43:14 am »

Hehe. All parties agree that video must be recorded when the device is completed, lest the hamster prove fickle and refuse to run on its wheel at the science fair. I will request that she youtube it for the readership's pleasure.
I read that as "all pirates agree.."
Yes, the pirates agree you should make a video recording too Smiley
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Marrock
Guest
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2008, 04:48:02 am »

Go forth and watch "Kids Next Door", they use hamster power rather effectively in their endeavours.
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KhaiJBach
Guest
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2008, 05:35:02 am »

Have it light an LED while charging, or perhaps hook up a milli-ammeter to show current flow..

(and would you not get better power output with a wombat? After all, they don't explode like chincillas  -  Grin  remember THAT thread?)

Cheers
Harold

wombats? I prefer Chipmunks myself...
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Julius P Shearwind
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« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2008, 07:03:11 am »

http://otherpower.com/hamster.html

Plenty of good information can be found at the otherpower.com website.
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Mr. Consciousflesh
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« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2008, 08:50:39 am »

A simple idea : look for the old 5.25'' floppy drive . The stepper motor used in them ( the square one )  is a perfect low speed generator . You will only need to put the hamster wheel on the motor's shaft and connect some LEDs to the motor's windings.
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chikoroll
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« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2008, 09:25:22 am »

speaking of hamsters... how about this alternative?
i introduce to you, Sir Wobbles, Sword Master



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DonQuijote
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Romania Romania


« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2008, 12:08:29 pm »

i find it  easier to work with dismantled junk, and in this particular case, i recommend using old motors. floppies, as mentioned, for example. however, i suppose best suited to the skills of a younger member of our society, is a cassette recorder deck. a lot of models are geared up and down using pullies and rubber belts, and adapting one of those should be pretty straightforward. for a full science project, a brief explanation about how motors and generators work is required.... then a couple of geeky looking voltmeters and current meters, should do the trick without being over-complicated. don't forget the led's.

if you want to go impressive, you could manufacture your own coils, [both rotor and stator], use a self-exciting siemens generator setup with adjustable distance between stator and rotor, figure out how to stabilize the power output, and use microcontrollers for data logging, power output measurements and food-ratio-calculation for the poor beast. automatic feeding with respect to the effort would be nice, with different settings, like "weight gain mode" "fitness mode" and "weight loss mode" and if you're lucky, you still got enough power to licht up an led.
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ixiana
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« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2008, 01:52:42 pm »

aha, yet another fiendish scheme to enroll my ratlets into, mind you, our lady rats have an extremely large wheel (one girl is on the portly side so we have to accommodate her girth in a gigantic wheel), probably wouldnt convert too well!
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JingleJoe
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« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2008, 06:46:24 pm »

On the contrary! A larger wheel would mean more space for more coils and more magnets meaning more electricity!
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DonQuijote
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« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2008, 09:04:23 pm »

and more hamsters
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Dr cornelius quack
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« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2008, 09:17:06 pm »

Whats wrong with a simple direct coupling of the wheels axle to the shaft of a motor?
If you start to build in belt drives or gears, you're just adding to the friction of the system and increasing the load on the poor rodent. Also remember that the ammount of electrical load on the system will affect the mechanical end of things too. Just don't go from open circuit to trying to boil a kettle without warning the creature or the wheel will stall and spit a small animal across the lab in little slices. I'd recommend full protective gear and crash helmet for both pilot and observers.

You'd be better off building thermo-electric generator towers, and hooking millions of hamsters into The Matrix.

"Now, do you take the blue sunflower seed or the red sunflower seed?"

Dr. Q.
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Atterton
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« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2008, 09:38:05 pm »

It seems someone has invented a hamster wheel driven paper shredder. You best get cracking.
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Dr cornelius quack
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« Reply #20 on: December 30, 2008, 09:45:59 pm »

No! No! You're thinking of the paper driven hamster shredder.
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fciron
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« Reply #21 on: December 30, 2008, 10:59:25 pm »

Here is a pinwheel powered led. I am assuming that the pinwheel has less torque than a hamster. Comes with step by step instructions.  I think that the previously mentioned motor sources will work just as well as a vcr.

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-Wind-Powered-LED-Out-of-a-VCR/
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DonQuijote
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« Reply #22 on: December 31, 2008, 07:19:03 am »

Whats wrong with a simple direct coupling of the wheels axle to the shaft of a motor?

Dr. Q.

the fact that motors require a significant speed to generate usable electricity. that of course depends on the motor you are actually using, but that  would be tha grand scheme of things
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Dr cornelius quack
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« Reply #23 on: December 31, 2008, 10:38:54 am »

Whats wrong with a simple direct coupling of the wheels axle to the shaft of a motor?

Dr. Q.

the fact that motors require a significant speed to generate usable electricity. that of course depends on the motor you are actually using, but that  would be tha grand scheme of things

Have you seen them hamsters go??!
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chikoroll
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Australia Australia


« Reply #24 on: December 31, 2008, 01:49:07 pm »

surely some mighty fine gearing could be created to step up the power
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