Hi Backers & Friends,
Here’s the update for November.
First off: we’ve just shipped the first two turbines. Yaay!
And one has already been set up and generated power.
Secondly: We confirmed the electronic work with direct battery connection and some MPPTs.
Thirdly: We’re looking forwards to scaling the production, but you’ll still need to some patients with us. We’ll try to be as open and honest about the challenges in return.
Lastly, and most importantly: Wind Catcher has changed quite a bit from when you made your pledge. We’ll go over the details briefly, but otherwise you should dig into the old updates, there is much more info to be found.
Electronics & MPPT — the last technical hurdle?
We’ve successfully been able to use the DC-DC converter with conventional battery systems; 12V, 24V. Lead-acid and Li-Ion.
We’ve also managed to power our Bluetti/Poweroak EB240 smoothness. At the moment, we’re having some difficulty with our ecoflow river R600. We will implement some rather sophisticated control algorithms in order to emulate a solar PV panel. We need to take full advantage of the low level hardware features of the microcontroller, in order to do this will take some days/weeks to sort out.
Wind Catcher has changed, (brief summary):
If you’ve not read along on the blog post that we’ve made during the last 1.5 year, here’s a quick update/overview.
We’ve changed a bunch on the electronics side. We removed the batteries in the unit it-self. There are a many reasons for this, the most important being:
- Lifetime cycles/ wear & tear on the batteries themselves.
- Battery handling: Different voltages, voltage spikes, BMS etc.
- Shipping is tricky with Li-Ion batteries
- Hot/cold performance
We’ve done away with the batteries now, and are using a super-capacitor bank to smooth out power delivery. We’ve made a unique DC/DC converter that can emulate a solar-panel to be able to charge directly on MPPT units found in portable power stations. Furthermore, we still have some testing, tweaking and validation to do with the different power stations, before we can confirm compatibility.
Specifications & performance downgrade
We’ve downgraded the performance for wind catcher 600W units.
Yes, it sucks, BUT it’s still a very good turbine or even better turbine.
Based on our experience at our test site, we realized that for most people a 200W turbine would be a better fit.
The performance is very depended on the RPM. Slower RPM means less efficiency and less power.
1. It’s not often that it’s windy enough to get the full 600W. Having the capability of 600W meant we needed a stronger gearbox (belts), which increased fiction and hurt low wind performance.
2. Running at higher speeds makes more noise and will be perceived by many as being dangerous, even if the turbine can handle it.
3. High power requirements put more load on the structure and eventually the ground anchors, which needs to be more secure (heavier and more difficult to install).
The last 6 months or so we’ve operated around 200W (generator power) at 135 RPM.
We do have the capability to upgrade performance with future firmware updates (realistically up to 350W without thicker belts). However, this is NOT a concern for us at the moment as most power stations/battery system will be full in a few hours.
We’re considering an option for a boost bottom in the app to increase performance to turbine to 300W at 160 RPM. Maybe also a silence mode as well (lower RPM to decrease noise). What do you think of that?
Turbine control interface
The turbine controller has a wifi-hotspot that is enabled that you need to log onto. When you’re connected, your phone/PC/device will (hopefully) prompt you to “sign in”. This is like what happens in hotel wifi-hotspot etc. where a small pop-up appears, and you can press it. This takes you to the “app”.
The app is a web server that hosts a website where the turbine will show information, and you can control it.
We have multiple apps now. One on the ground station, for choosing settings, and one that can be activated on the pitch system (this is only to update firmware).
Why? It’s much more simple for us at the moment to maintain and push updates out. This way we ensure compatibility on almost all devices, without having to do tons of testing etc.
If the prompted sign-in (opening the app) fails, then you might access the app on 192.168.4.1. (we might choose an easier one to remember later). Additionally, we host a DNS server so on most phones is possible to reach the app using any address like “wind.com”, or “k.com”.
The downside is that you’re not able to use internet on your phone while having the app open. But you don’t need to anyway. The app is only for starting/stopping, and getting settings on the DCDC. Just start the turbine, and log off again. We could change this in the future, as the microcontrollers does support bluetooth connections.
We have begun ramping production, but we’re also optimizing as we go. Therefore, we expect a learning curve before we’re able to produce large numbers of turbines.
The current goal is to make 1–3 turbines/week for the first 20 turbines, while also doing implementations of production related improvements.
This initial Series-0 production will be sent out to your backers, who we’ve already been in dialog with. We still have not identified everyone, so PLEASE do reach out to us if you: have a battery system (Li-ion or lead base system 12–24V) or a bluetti EB150 /EB240.
Fundraising & Financials
As mentioned last time, we’re fundraising as well. When we’ve closed all your backers orders, we want to be ready to sell and produce more turbines. We’re also keen on scaling wind catcher to a larger house/residential sized version. This requires capital, and to not stall out and risk running out of cash we need to do that fundraising now.
If you’re an active investor, or known someone who has a passion for innovative wind power, let them know that we’re still open for dialogs.
If you want to know how we design, we’ve made this video going into detail with how we use OnShape.
That’s all for now! We’re happy that you still have patience with us. And we’re aiming at shipping all your turbines in the next coming months.
Stay tuned for the next update in December
Good winds to you!
The KiteX Team