PCBWay 3rd PCB Design Contest

WE (Wind Energy) Design

WE (Wind Energy) Design is a student group in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. Our project is to design and fabricate a small scale wind turbine for competition at the International Small Wind Turbine Contest in the Netherlands. The turbine takes power from the wind through the blades, passes it to a generator (which is a retrofitted brushless DC motor), and then converts the power from AC to DC using a bridge rectifier and passes it to a resistive load. These processes are monitored by a central microprocessing unit, with various sensors. The microprocessor is capable of running an algorithm that controls the pitch of the blades, changing the angle of attack, allowing the turbine to function in a variety of wind conditions.

There are a total of four PCBs in the design. Three are used for the control system (they were broken out into individual PCBs for modularity), and one is used for the power electronics. The power electronics PCB requires a 6oz copper layer in order to withstand the high current (up to 15 A) that is expected to pass through the traces. For many students on the team, this was the very first opportunity to experience PCB design, and none of them have ever ordered PCBs before, so this is the first time we are experiencing the total process from drawing board to holding the design in your hands.

The purpose of the project overall is to provide students with cross-disciplinary experience, in the context of renewable energy and sustainable development. Also, it's purpose is to raise awareness about the technology that will be required to reducing our carbon footprint over the next 15 years. WE Design is one of the few sustainability-focused teams in the engineering department, and the only wind turbine team in Canada. The project relies entirely on donations and sponsorship, and is not-for-profit.

WE Design is currently developing its second prototype, which has a rotor diameter of 1.6 m. Our first prototype had a diameter of only 0.5 m, which was much easier to design and test, but not to scale of the competition.

I've shared a PDF file in the "Documentation" folder that has some cool images of our first prototype in action, our second prototype in concept and development, and some team photos as well. There's also a video of wind tunnel testing of our first prototype.


We look forward to hearing from you!


Ben Gibson

Controls Lead | WE (Wind Energy) Design

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Apr 28,2019
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