Here’s a gadget that offers an engineering nod to art. When Doug Conner was faced with an engineering challenge he created a self-starting solar power Stirling engine. The engine was requested by an artist to work as power source for a sculpture. The engine is solar powered, and it runs all year when the sun is visible from the sculpture's location. The engine can shut down when the sun isn’t visible, and it can restart by itself when the sun comes back up.
Click the image below to start the slideshow
This project began at the request of an artist who had proposed a Stirling-engine-powered sculpture to a client. The engine only had to run, not really produce any power.
It is quite nice, but like you, Beth, I too wonder what the sculpure it is intended to move looks like. Guess I missed the video you mentioned. I only saw a slideshow. (Speaking of slideshows, it would be nice if some gadget freak here at Design News or elsewhere could figure out a way to have an imbedded show instead of having to reload the whole page with each image.) Still, nice work.
I have a 7x10 lathe and two drill presses. Everything else is done with hand tools. A milling machine would be nice, but you can do a lot with a hack saw and files. If i had a milling machine I would design my engines with fewer parts, but the parts would be more complex. I keep thinking I'll have emachineshop or someone else build the parts for my next engine instead of buying a milling machine. I've been thinking that for the last 3 eingines.
I've seen some nice milling machines on ebay, but it might take a rigging company to get one in your shop or garage. Micro-Mark sells a nice small milling machine for $750 and then of course you'd need collets and cutters, too. Maybe an e-machine shop would be a better choice. You do nice work with a small lathe, hand tools, and drill presses.
Some of the questions here remind me of English Lit classes I had as a young college student. We would spend 3 hours reading a book and then 3 weeks beating up the book to try and wring out what the author was saying. Then I found a quote from Edgar Allen Poe where he states that sometimes the author writes purely for the sake of art. When I presented this quote to an Eng Lit professor, he told me I was misinterpreting what Poe said.
To Mr Conner, you were given an assignment/challenge and created an innovative solution. Congratulations and who cares what it really does. All of us have probably successfully designed something for someone in which the end use is of little matter. But beating the challenge is the reward. Well done.
The FCHTMC engine recently patented is smaller than the stirling, has no exposed mechanics, confines all energy within while only exporting what it uses in the reaction. Combined with a 6 inch dome black-body reactor, this device shall actully deliver work from normal sunlight shining on the reactor. The reactor does two things it heats oil which is imported into the engine to create power, the engine exports what heat it uses through its heat exchanger. The reactor also creates a little steam which then drives a small turbine to create electricity to trigger the FCHTMC. FCHTMC requires no started motor or starting push as the timing funtions are entirely electronic it detects the just after tdc piston, it then applies force to that piston to start itself. In the smaller version a 1/4-20 output shaft connection may be applied to a fan or small dynamo type generator or other application.
FCHTMC is the acronym for (Fluid Connected Heat to Motion Converter patent 7980080)
The physical engine was simulated in Solid Works, a plastic printer was utilized to create most of the machine parts, although it could not handle some of the smaller parts and the central shaft has to be drilled out and replaced with a firmer rod. I'm still searching for a plastic printer or machinest that can do the hot-spot stuff out of delrin or teflon like material. The prototype may be running by late April if I can get the hot spot stuff done soon.
FCHTMC utilizes a refigerant to create internal steam, then it recycles that refrigerant. The oil is used to heat the hot spots. Energy is also stored in the CEM which plugs into the bottom of the FCHTMC and provides the engine hotspots and other features. I tried to just upload a picture but this webpage wants video's I have some stuff on the engine on utube, set up prior to receiving the patent.
The production parts are to be constructed in ceramic, SC30 for hot spots, heat exchangers, and Z500 for body.
I tried to watch the video and it was so very jerky that it was not possible to understand what was actually happening, which way it was turning. Was the cameraman bouncing on a pogo stick?
On the other hand, a self starting stirling engine that will run on that small a temperature difference is quite an acomplishment. It would have been very nice to have watched it with the camera held still for perhaps ten seconds. A few more details would have added a lot to the explanation, since I don't see where a lot of electronics enters into the stirling cycle.
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