Thursday, December 09, 2010

Unclear on the concept

After Stacy bought me a pi plate, our personal info was apparently sold to a nerdy mail-order catalog mailing list.  While browsing one of the catalogs, Stacy came across this gem:
In case you can't read the text from the picture:
A must-give to an eco-conscious engineering friend, these miniature models of the towering wind-farm giants are precision engineered to rotate at authentic speeds using solar power.
That makes about as much sense as a geothermal-powered hydroelectric dam model.


  1. would be nice though on a hot sunny day ...

  2. Actually a table top geothermal-powered hydroelectric dam would be pretty cool. The five-foot drop produces almost enough power to pump the water back to the top of the dam. The deficit is made up with a mile plunge into the bowels of the earth, from which it returns piping hot with much fanfare. This runs a second turbine, which powers the pump to elevate the water back on the other side of Tiny Coulee Dam.

    You would probably have to top the reservoir off with water, every once in a while. But other than that, it would be the perfect self-contained desk accessory to scare the pants off your eco-conscious friend and her entire block.

  3. Would it be any more authentic if they rotated using battery power?

  4. I love it. Where can my eco friendly recycled wallet get one of these?

  5. @notElon No, I was referring to a model. Where the geothermal plant powers little LEDs which simulate water flowing and spin the little turbine motors (at realistic speed!).
    @Chemi See here. There are also whole bunches of 'em on Amazon.

  6. Hmm, there's definitely some irony in a solar-powered wind turbine, but here's an alternate viewpoint just for fun: this is a *model* wind turbine. Many models are static, but adding motion improves the fidelity of the model. It's pretty common for a moving model to use a different power source than the real thing—for example, an electric-powered model of a steam locomotive. So making a model wind turbine turn "at realistic speed" using battery power or a wall socket would clearly be accepted standard practice for models. Using solar power is novel but similar, and with the added benefit that you don't have to change the batteries.

    So it's not solar powered because the manufacturer is unclear on the concept; it's solar powered because it needs some way to turn.