The wind is, on most occasions, a minor annoyance that whisks newspapers from your clutches and generally gives trees a hard time. But when combined with a turbine, it unintentionally becomes a handy source of free energy for your gadgets.
Of course, a giant windmill is a little excessive for charging your camera, so HY Mini has come up with a mini wind farm that can store electricity on its internal lithium ion battery. Or if you’re stuck indoors, the Mini’s hybrid design means you can just charge it up from the mains and take your electricity with you.
Like the little Solio solar charger, the HY Mini is small enough to slip into a coat pocket or backpack and accompany you on an adventure into the wilderness, where there may not be a compatible electricity supply.
Hold your mini windmill aloft facing the breeze and the turbine will revolve, lighting a tiny LED on the front. All the time the green LED is lit, you’re storing electricity on the internal battery, which can then be passed on, via the appropriate adapter, to any other portable 5V device.
The unreliable wind
Of course, you do need a certain amount of air movement to drive the turbine and we had to wait a couple of days for the wind speed to pick up to 6mph, but there are other ways to put the wind up your gadgets.
Our sample arrived with a bracket that will clamp the HY Mini to your bike. Any kind of land speed generates enough air movement to turn the lightweight fan. One trip around the park seemed to top up the internal battery nicely.
The same clip will also hold it to your arm or shoulder too and the instruction manual suggests that running or skiing with the HY Mini attached is a practical way to gather energy. Or you could just blow into it.
Mains charging required
In reality, the turbine is designed more as a supplement to inputting mains current and it’s impossible to fully charge the internal battery through wind alone. The initial charge must also be via the mains, so you couldn’t exist in the woods indefinitely with just a penknife, an iPod and an HY Mini.
In this respect, it’s not quite as effective as the Solio charger, but it’s more fun and there’s a good deal of satisfaction to be had from transferring your alternative green energy to your mobile.
That said, the delicate moving parts mean it’s not as rugged either. There’s also the danger that people might not take you so seriously with one of these fans spinning away on your shoulder, but you’ll have the last laugh when the oil runs out.