Yet another narcissistic load of old cobblers that no-one will ever read.

In pole position

You may recall that I'd found these cool and groovy tube key clamps that will solve my problem of how to construct some sort of mast for my wind turbine.  The wall plate, T-piece and base plates were easily ordered and delivered through Ebay but ordering 3 metres or so of heavy steel tube (think scaffolding pole) seemed less simple.  I'd seen suitable tube listed at £2 per metre - but only it was by collection only.  It just so happens there's a steel supplier just round the corner from where I work - so I paid a visit to Nottingham Steel Supplies.  This is nestled deep in an old industrial estate, surrounded by buildings that must date back to the 1950s or earlier.  In more industrial times I'd probably have heard the grinding of metal and seen the blue light of arc-welding through various of the old cast iron-framed windows.  I approached the chip-board reception desk, which I'm sure a few years ago would have been adorned with calendars featuring semi-naked ladies sporting power tools, and relayed my requirement for 3 m of 42 mm diameter galvanised steel tube to the doubtful looking chap who came to see what this idiot wanted.

"Hmm.  We only supply 7 metre lengths," he said - possibly hoping to get rid of me that way, knowing there's no way I could deal with that without some form of goods vehicle.

I countered with, "If it's cheap enough, like it is online, I'll just buy 7 m.  Can you cut it?"

"No.  And we'd have to send it away to be galvanised.  How much was it online?"

"£2 per meter," I said neglecting to mention the lack of delivery options which would increase the cost.  I could tell he thought I was bullshitting though.

"Yeah, well, you're probably better off buying it online then."  And that was the end of that.

As it happens, I found 3.5 m lengths of the tube I wanted, including delivery, for sale on Ebay from DC Iron up in Newcastle (  For a shade over thirty quid, they sent me *two* lengths of tube, delivered to me at work the next day!  As well as the two steel poles, I now had two problems:  where to put them and what to do with the spare one.  Some vigorous hacksawing allowed me to bring them inside, sorting out the first problem and also making it possible to transport the tube home by car.

Still dunno what to do with the extra tube but I'll think of something.  I know it's tempting but do not send me any clever suggestions that involve parts of my anatomy.  Thanks.

A case of wind

In a previous post (Chacmool Power), I mentioned that I thought my solar panel wouldn't be enough to power my project and that I'd ordered a wind turbine from China through Ebay:

It's the three-blade model and rated at 100 W, 12 V with a three-phase AC output.  I actually wondered about getting one of those little jokers you see on small yachts and house boats - but they're pretty pricey and have built-in charge controllers.  As I have previously mentioned, I have already invested in an over-engineered combiled 1 kW solar / wind charge controller so I wanted a turbine that could wire straight into that.  This was the smallest one I could find that fitted that bill and seemed physically small enough to stick on a wooden shed.

Actually, i think it's that bloody charge controller itself that's using up all my precious, hard-won solar charge.  Ironic that the charge controller is running down the battery.  So I could:

  • Get a more sensible charge controller
  • Fit more solar panels

...but where's the fun in that?  Much better to blunder down the course I've set for myself with my stupid power-hungry 1 KW combined charge controller and erect a breezy power harvester that's more likeley to pump the electrons round when the sun's not shining.

Anyway, the wind turbine arrived.  Seeing it in the flesh so to speak, I realised it's bigger and heavier than I thought it would be.  I'd foolishly wondered about mounting it using am aluminium TV arial pole from B&Q, cleverly reinforced with a wooden dowel down the middle.  Composite materials!  But looking at what arrived in the post, I quickly realised that I'd need a bigger metaphorical boat and that my clever composite pole would probably have been snapped like a twig at the first sign of a breeze.

So what could I use as a mast?  The turbine has a big, meaty looking metal mounting flange (you can see in the picture above) so I'd need to accommodate that.   I Googled about for "wind turbine mounting", "mast", etc. and found little of use.  Then I found out about these tube clamps you can get (Google for tube key clamps, or "kee klamps" to see what I mean).  I could build my own robust mast in sections of galavanised steel tube, joined and fixed with these tube clamp fittings.  The other bonus is that wall plate that matches the 42 mm tube (there are several diameters available) also matches the flange on the turbine!  Awesome! I ordered a wall plate for the turbine, a base clamp to fix to the ground (the concrete shed foundation) and a T-piece plus another base plate to brace the whole lot against the shed.  All I need now is the steel tube.  More on this later...