I have always been interested in energy and renewables in particular. Renewables are an interesting way to supply or supplement power and the design and control of such systems can range from complex to elegant. Here I have dabbled in creating my own small scale power supplies.
Early in my intrigue into electronics and electrical systems I wanted to learn about photovoltaics. I therefore purchased my own multi-crystalline cells and learned to solder them into panels.
I designed a simple enclosure for the panels to protect them from the elements and provide some minimal level protection. I had thought about enveloping the array in epoxy to strengthen and protect the cells but this would prove expensive and would prevent fixing electrical issues should they arise. Instead of submerging the cells in epoxy i simply mounted them with silicone onto some thin slices of foam to provide shock resistance.
In the end I produced 3 panels which produced about 80W @ 12V each. They were attached to a lead acid battery via a commercially available MPPT charge controller, and then this energy was converted into household 120V AC via true sine wave inverter. I spent a few weeks that spring and summer working on my laptop while it was plugged into the system.
For my high school senior project I wanted to make a wind turbine. Although my house has inconsistent wind directions and terrible capacity factor I decided to build a horizontal axis turbine which would be able to produce some usable power during wind gusts. A VAWT would require very good blade design like a Darrieus or a gear train, which weer not in the scope of the project.
The parts were designed and cut out using a CNC machine, the coils were hand wound and epoxied into the stator. Large permanent magnets were epoxied into the rotor onto which the blades would be attached.
Carbon fiber was used to sheath the blades and strengthen the steamed bass wood skeleton.
With the horrible capacity factor of the location there was very little data to collect on the efficacy of the project.