The Bat Hook: Harvesting Energy from Power Lines [LABTV]



Power lines crisscross the skies, delivering electricity with the flip of a switch. But what happens when a soldier is outside, away from an electrical outlet, and unable to access electricity to power equipment or recharge batteries?

An engineer at an Air Force research lab in Dayton, Ohio, has figured out how to harness electricity from power lines via a system called RAPS. RAPS is a connecting device that’s attached to the end of a long cable. When the device is thrown over a power line, a blade at the end pierces the power line and completes the circuit that brings electricity down to the soldier. And that can mean a lot in the desert or jungle.

“Research and development is an amazing field to work in and yes, it’s fun,” says mechanical designer Dave Coates. “Especially when you have a lot of people saying the task you’ve been given is impossible, and then you produce something like this.”

Special thanks to the National Defense Education Program for providing this insider’s view of every day work undertaken by Defense Department scientists and engineers. Check out LabTV for more great videos!

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  • Mark Cramer

    “And that can mean a lot in the desert or jungle.”

    Yes, after all deserts and jungles are just full of powerlines….

    And “Power lines crisscross the skies”?

    That’s going to make flying a plane dangerous.

    What drivel.

  • Shipp

    This is wicked cool. Leave it to AFRL to figure out a safe way to steal power.

  • John Ohab

    Mark, Shipp: thanks for your comments! Six of one, half-dozen of the other?

  • Andras

    So this is a dream device for the electricity thiefs

  • Parker

    and as there doesn’t seem to be a ‘standard’ way to get it down … once it’s up there – others can electrocute themselves OR steal power for COMPLETELY free – as the world will be full of hanging wires which are connected to the service wires

    Awesome.

    “son, don’t touch that wire hanging from the overhead power lines”

  • Max

    I want one!

    (My comment is “a bit too short,” so here’s some mindless text for those who can’t quite grasp a concise statement.)

  • Mint

    it is crude… considering this also pierces the powerline causing the damage to the powerline. and that how’s soldiers become pests.

  • chas

    You’d think these guys would realize that it would be a lot safer to create something that didn’t directly harness the 7200v you get off a regular neighborhood electrical line. With AC current, a simple solenoid that doesn’t destroy the insulation would be much safer and more effective, IMHO.

  • Chris

    Why not inductive power instead of piercing the insulation? This would be safer, and easier to get off the power line? You’d be getting less power, but the amount of power on the line is extremely excessive.

  • Frosted Flake

    A lot of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep. I have pity for these guys.

    1/ Without someones house being there, you don’t have the feed/return cable this item is designed to exploit. With a house right there, you don’t need this “tool”.

    2/ The “tool” is heavier and bigger than the battery it is intended to relieve the soldier from carrying.

    There are other problems. Irretrievably. The likelihood of tossing it over the wrong line and getting killed. The danger to passersby until a lineman removes the “tool”.

    If, as seems likely, it turns out this article is a joke, I suggest the joker realize : he has no sense of humor. If it is not a joke, I want the tax money returned to the Treasury.

  • Rob

    Seems to me itd be better in a lot of ways to bring a small crank charger? But hey cool idea regardless… and go Flyers!

  • Guest

    So this is a dream device for the electricity thiefs.

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