While the idea of the helicopter has existed since 400 BC in China in children’s toys, the first true powered examples were developed in the 1900s throughout Europe. These early aircraft had trouble getting off the ground — literally. In fact, they could only make short tethered flights that lasted a few seconds, as they were unreliable and difficult to control. One issue lay with the main rotor, which, as it spun to generate lift caused the entire fuselage to spin with it.
In 1931, Igor Sikorsky devised a solution. A Russian-born aeronautical engineer working in the United States, Sikorsky’s design was revolutionary. It featured a single main rotor that would provide the primary lift and thrust, and a tail rotor that would spin in opposition of the rotating force generated by the main rotor, thus balancing the helicopter. Alternatives have been developed since then, as seen on the CH-47 Chinook, which has two main rotors that rotate in opposite directions. However, many helicopters still utilize the main rotor/tail rotor design to this day.
Like all self-propelled vehicles, a helicopter needs an engine. Modern examples use gas turbines similar to those found on commercial aircraft. However, all this power is useless without the transmission. Just like in an automobile, the transmission’s gearboxes (one for the main rotor and one for the tail) transmit power from the engine to the main and tail rotors through a complex system of gears. Finally, a stabilizer bar sits atop the main rotor blades, rotating along with the main rotor. The stabilizer’s weight and rotation dampen vibrations in the main rotor, which in turn keeps the helicopter stable and makes it easier to control.
A set of levers and pedals control the helicopter’s movement from within the cockpit. The cyclic-pitch lever, or “stick,” is mounted on the floor and situated between the pilot’s legs. This allows the pilot to tilt the aircraft forward and back and side to side by adjusting the pitch of individual rotor blades. Meanwhile, the collective-pitch lever handles up and down movement by adjusting all rotor blades in unison. The foot pedals control what direction the helicopter’s nose is pointed by adjusting the pitch of the tail rotor’s blades.
When a pilot adjusts the cyclic-pitch lever, the main rotor’s swash plate assembly responds. An upper swash plate is connected to the rotor shaft and spins in sync with the rotor. A lower plate is fixed in position and does not spin, with a set of ball bearings between them. The bearings let the upper plate spin, as the entire assembly tilts and shifts as the pilot adjusts the stick. Control rods run from the upper swash plate to the rotor blades overhead that transfer the pilot’s input, changing the angle of the blades, causing the helicopter to move in the pilot’s intended direction. All of these processes ensure the helicopter’s conflicting forces are balanced and at the pilot’s full control.
Before we get into the specifics on the process of wind turbine installation, let us get to know what a wind turbine is. A wind turbine is a mechanism that is capable of converting the kinetic energy produced by wind into mechanical power. This mechanical power can be used for specific tasks, or a generator can convert this mechanical power into electricity. Wind turbines are constructed in varying heights, widths, and lengths according to the application they will be used for. Smaller turbines can be used in lower scale operations, such as powering a home, powering a traffic signal, or charging a battery. Larger turbines are used for industrial purposes, such as providing a source of renewable energy to support a power grid.
The blades of a wind turbine turn between 13 and 20 times per minute depending on their technology and the velocity of the wind. When wind crosses one of the blades, air pressure on the opposite side decreases. The air pressure differential across the two sides of the blade manifests both lift and drag. The force of the lift is inevitably stronger than the drag, which causes the rotor to spin. The rotor is connected to the generator where this translation of aerodynamic force and rotation creates electricity.
Modern wind turbines can be categorized into two different variations: horizontal-axis turbines and vertical-axis turbines. Horizontal-axis turbines are designed with three blades and are operable in “upwind” conditions. Vertical-axis turbines come in a wide array of designs and are omnidirectional— they don’t need to be adjusted to the wind to operate properly.
The complexity and length of the installation process for wind turbines depends on the size of the turbine itself. Heavy machinery or a heavy-lift helicopter may be required for larger turbines. When selecting an area for installation, it’s important to take several aspects into consideration: wind speed in that location, the proximity of nearby properties, nearby access roads, and connectability to a power grid. Proper placement of the turbine is crucial to its performance and longevity; it can extend the system’s lifespan while lowering the likelihood of future maintenance.
The turbine should be installed in an area with an average minimum wind speed of twelve miles per hour. It should also be at least twenty feet above any obstructions within a 250-foot radius. It is now time to lay the concrete foundation at the site of your choosing. Give it at least two weeks to allow the solid concrete base to properly dry. This allows time to dig trenches for the electrical cables to run from the turbine to the control unit and inverter.
This next step may require an electrical engineer or electrician. Connect the DC output to a control box followed by an inverter and attach an approved generation meter after installing the Ac to DC inverter. The AC output from the inverter should be connected to the property’s electrical power supply/grid. Don’t forget to install isolators for safety. Alert your local utility company of your newly installed wind turbine, perform the final electrical safety and performance checks, then enjoy your newly installed piece of technology.
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