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How can cities harness their invisible energy potential?

Duration: 6 weeks

Brief: Create a blue-sky project using the Arduino and electronics skills gained in Becky Stern's Making course.

Outcome: A citizen science tool that finds feasible locations for wind turbines and posts them to the cloud.

Inspired by broken umbrellas littering the ground after urban rainstorms, Breezefinder is a citizen science tool that finds where wind energy is overlooked.

Breezefinder logs windspeed data wherever it goes, reading kinetic energy through its anemometer on top. When it detects wind speeds high enough to support an energy-producing wind turbine, the device sends its GPS location and wind speed to Twitter.

In an ideal future iteration, the Breezefinder Project has its own cloud server and mapping service, illustrated below.


One of the biggest challenges of the project was figuring out how to map data to the Internet using parts that were new to the consumer market, as well as the rapidly shifting codebase associated with it. Another was packing three power-hungry components into one housing.

The hard work (and occasionally shorting my parts out) ultimately paid off with a feature in Instructables' Technology section, garnering several thousand views and over one hundred favorites for Breezefinder.