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PPPM Generates Interest At Energy Fair

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In October 2006 I was invited to ride the PPPM in an "Energy Fair" and demonstrate the difference between the power used by Incandescent and Fluorescent bulbs. The PPPM was ready, but I needed a display to make the demonstration interesting and informative.

The day before the Energy Fair, I assembled the display. I had been asked to power three things:

  1. A Laptop computer aimed at a calculator Website specifically designed to calculate Incandescent vs. Fluorescent energy use.
  2. An Incandescent bulb.
  3. An equivalent (in power use) number of Fluorescent bulbs.

I decided to mount all the parts on a single board so I could easily transport the equipment, and also add labels to make the display easier to understand. Here is a picture of the finished "Power Board."

Beginning at the top of the board, you can see a black cable leading straight down into the junction box. This cable came directly from the Pedal Powered Prime Mover with the Generator Attachment. The PPPM also has a junction box, and there is a diode in that junction box which prevents the power from flowing "backwards" into the PPPM.

From the junction box, the cable continues up and to the left, to the blue Ultracapacitor. This device stores 58 Farads of charge, which is a HUGE amount for a capacitor. The purpose of the Ultracapacitor is to "level" or smooth out the voltage being produced by the PPPM, and to act as a small, highly efficient storage and delivery system for the power. With the Ultracapacitor in the circuit, the PPPM only has to produce "average" power levels, as the Ultracapacitor stores energy during periods of low use, and delivers power during periods of high use. Perfect for this display.

From the Ultracapacitor, the power goes back into the junction box, and then through the Watt's Up meter. This little meter is mounted right on top of the junction box, where it is easy to see. ALL power passes through the Watts' Up, so an extremely accurate measurement of power delivered by the PPPM can be made.

From the Watt's Up meter, the power flows straight down to a three-outlet Cigar Lighter plug. This plug is designed to pass reasonably high currents and power three items at once. The picture shows two of the three outlets in use, leaving one available for additional devices.

The left-hand Cigar Lighter outlet has a Targus 12 Volt DC Laptop Power Supply plugged into it. This device transforms 12 Volts DC to whatever a Laptop needs. The Laptop used for the display was a Thinkpad T40. The Laptop used between 20-25 Watts during the entire Energy Fair, and it was left online and powered up the entire time.

The right-hand Cigar Lighter outlet has a 150 Watt 12 Volt DC to 110 Volt AC Inverter plugged into it. 150 Watts is the maximum amount of power most Cigar Lighter outlets can supply, so this is a good match. The Inverter has two 110 Volt AC outlets on it.

One of the Inverter outlets has a 60 Watt Incandescent light plugged into it. The light is visible at the top of the picture. That light is turned on and off by a switch on the light itself.

The second outlet on the Inverter has the Power Strip plugged into it. The Power Strip has its own switch, enabling everything on the Power Strip to be turned on and off simultaneously. For the display, I plugged four 13 Watt 110 Volt AC Compact Fluorescent lights into the power strip, each in a reflector socket similar to the one with the Incandescent bulb. I also plugged a small Brookstone desk fan into the Power Strip, so I could have a cool breeze blowing on me whenever the Power Strip was turned on.

The display was a great success! The Laptop power requirement, 20-25 Watts, was easy to generate with the PPPM. My Delightful Wife was in charge of the power systems. Here is the procedure she followed, repeating every few minutes as a new crowd would gather:

  1. Pick a volunteer to monitor the Watt's Up, and call out the Watts in use.
  2. Report the Watts being used with just the Laptop (20-25)
  3. Turn on the Inverter (no lights) and report the Watts. The Inverter added 2-3 Watts to the total, even when idle. The total was now 23-28 Watts.

    Now the real Demonstration began.

  4. Turn on the Incandescent light. This 60 Watt Soft-white Bulb drew almost exactly 60 Watts - giving a total of 83-88 Watts. At this point, I would gradually pick up my pace as the voltage began to slowly drop. The Ultracapacitor was doing its job of shielding me from the sudden addition of 60 Watts of load. The person monitoring the Watt's Up reported the Watts being used.
  5. After 10-15 seconds, the Incandescent light was turned off, and the Power Strip was turned on.
  6. The Power Strip energized all four Compact Fluorescent lights, PLUS the Desk fan. Once again, total Watts being used was reported. For the equipment I used, amazingly, the FOUR Compact Fluorescent lights, PLUS the Desk Fan, used 2-3 Watts less than the SINGLE 60 Watt Incandescent light alone. The Crowd was quite impressed!
  7. Finally, the Power Strip and Inverter were both turned off, and the entire demonstration was ready to be repeated.

The Energy Fair lasted a little over an hour, and the total amount of power I had to generate for the entire show was 30 Watt-Hours. That is the same amount of power I typically generate in my morning workout on the PPPM in 20 minutes - which means it was not difficult at all. I am certain I could have continued for another hour, at least.

Everything worked well together to make the Demonstration a success. The PPPM performed flawlessly. The Watts' Up meter showed real, measured amounts of power, in real time, which satisfied the technical members of the audience. The alternate lighting of one Incandescent, and four Fluorescent lights presented a powerful comparison of the efficiency of the two technologies. The Ultracapacitor smoothed everything out, making the energy source (Me!) comfortable in spite of the wide range of power requirements the Demonstration demanded. At one point, my Wife accidentally turned ALL of the lights on, spiking the power requirement to 150 Watts, and I was "protected" from this momentary demand by the Ultracapacitor. And through it all, the Laptop performed flawlessly.

This Demonstration was educational, simple to understand, technically interesting, and very interactive. It was a hit!

You would certainly be able to create this display and conduct this Demonstration yourself.

Consider a similar demonstration for:

  • Classroom demonstration of energy generation and consumption
  • Energy Fair or Homeshow demonstrations
  • Alternate Energy Fair or Exposition
  • Energy demonstrations for Community or Church Groups

The Energy Fair configuration is an example of the PPPM System - a tested, matched set of devices selected to maximize Human power generation.

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