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Old 6th March 2011, 08:53 PM   #1
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Location: Montreal, Qc
Default Capacitor project???

There is this project that I am somewhat forced to participate in where I need to build a vehicle that can go back and forth on a 3 feet distance using only power provided by human muscle.

What I was thinking is to build some type of electrical motored vehicle with a switch.
I don<t really want to try to recharge an empty battery because it seems like a pain, hence I need a capacitor.
I have many questions to see if this can be possible!!! I need help -.-
My thought was that if I use a cap with a huge value, after I charge it partially (using one of those hand cranked flashlights or something?) and plug it to the motor, it wont make it explode, but provide just enough energy to make it run, since a cap's discharge curve looks like a inverse exponential.
If I take a cap value high enough will I be possible to power a motor without using any resistor if I charge it only partially?
Do you guys think it's possible to charge a cap using one of those hand cranked flashlight (or many?) I havn't yet checked the voltage they provide...

Any comments/question/ reply is greatly appreciated!!!
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Old 6th March 2011, 09:24 PM   #2
BrianVG is offline BrianVG  Belgium
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problem 1.DC motor peak current= 8-9times nominal current.
I think this will empty the caps instantly.

Loading-start(peak)forward-stop-start(peak)backward.

What wattage is your motor? Try to calculate what charge it takes to feed the motor for 3feet
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Old 6th March 2011, 09:32 PM   #3
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Does it have to be electrical?
I think this would be a better spot for something mechanical?
(Elastic bands, suspended weights, springs, spinning flywheels...)
Then just figure out the 'gearshift' to reverse direction.....

BTW- it will take approximately the same amount of input energy (ie muscle power) to charge a cap or charge a battery, to do the same amount of work, I think....(Physics 0.0001 ?) Perpetual motion machines and energy multipliers excepted, of course.....
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Old 6th March 2011, 09:45 PM   #4
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I'm pretty sure that mechanical power might work best too. But i\m not too sure. I have constant force springs coming. And I also have a prototype drawed with weights... only thing is that all the pullies become a little complicated... I wanted to try an electrical one too.

As for the motor, I think that a 1.5V-3.0V with 0,650mA MIGHT be enough to make it work... the thing with the batteries (correct me if i'm wrong since I don't really know...) is that : don't you need like WAY more voltage to be able to charge them? And if I use batteries I need them to be cokmpletely dead... might be a hassle to "reboot" them? I estimated that I would need about only 50J of energy to do the 3 feet....
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Old 7th March 2011, 10:46 PM   #5
Enzo is offline Enzo  United States
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Compress some air with a hand pump, then let it run a turbine.
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Old 8th March 2011, 03:24 PM   #6
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I havw thought of compressed air, but the pump would be onsidered as part of the vehicle and the air tank's I have found were really heavy :s I probably might just drop the idea of a capacitor since it sems quite inefficient.... But if anybody have any ideas to make it works you're mor than welcome to post!!
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Old 8th March 2011, 04:36 PM   #7
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Look into Super Capacitors much friendlier than a battery but unfortunately much pricier also. Friends at NASA put some in an electric powered city bus.
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Old 9th March 2011, 01:27 AM   #8
Enzo is offline Enzo  United States
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From the other direction then. How large is this vehicle? A toy? Large enough for a human to ride? How far must it travel? One 3 foot lap? 3 feet at a time over and over?

Does it really need a supercap?

Does the thing need to be powered the whole way, or is it sufficient to powr up at start enough that it can drift to the finish line?

In other words how much energy will we need?
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Old 9th March 2011, 06:09 PM   #9
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The vehicle can be made out of anything that is not dangerous (i.e. can't use explosives or fuel...). It has to fit into to boxes of 5000 sheets of vpaper (11'' X17'' X height that i havnt calculated). All energy that it uses has to be provided by some way by huan muscle (can't use power tools to crank it). The point is to get as many lapse as possible. We have 10 mnutes total time. The course is rectangular shaped and 8 feet long. A middle section of 3 feet and two sections on the side of 30''. The vehicle has to completely exit the middle section for it to be considered to have done a ''lapse''. You may put two bricks in each end zone (4 bricks total) which have a maximum size and weight that i do not remember. Anything used as a tool to charge the vehicle must be part of the vehicle afterwards. The points are calculated by this formula : L-2H where L is the number of lenghts it has crossed and H the number of human interventions. A human intervention is any action or consecutive actions on the vehicle that a group member does (like recharging it for example..).

Thats about the baisic rules. The more complicated ones are unimportant.. stuff like you can't use plutonium.

ah and also you can use electricity if it helps in no way to make move the vehicle. So you can use a battery to make it switch directions or power up speakers (i want to that really badly with a T-amp and a 4'' driver with a 12V battery..)
I'm building a prototype with Power Springs (springs used in retractable stuff like tape measures) it seems really promising but i think that electrical can still outlap the mechanical version.

As for the power I need, it really depends of the size of the vehicle, the mechanical one is pretty huge and barely fits in a 5000 sheet box. But i guess that the electrical one can be tiny.

My idea for now was to set up a 6 pin switch that will ''switch'' once it hits a brick at one end zone. The switch ''switches'' the directions of the current in the motor to make it go reverse. The motor would be powered by a cap.... but which cap and recharged how?? that is the question.

Note: the motor will probably be between 1.5v and 6v.
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Old 9th March 2011, 06:11 PM   #10
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Oh and as for the Supercap. I find some which are rated 2.5V or 5V, does this mean it can generate a 2.5V DC current? or it works like a normal cap and uncharges really quickly when full??
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