Sustainability Hack: Wind turbine battery charger

Hit your parts bin and set aside an afternoon to build a wind turbine that recharges batteries. You can see two AA batteries hanging off the side of this small generator. You only need a few parts to make this happen, and chances are you have them sitting in your junk bin already.

The generator itself is a small stepper motor which can be pulled from a floppy disk drive or a scanner. The blade is cut from a single piece of 3.5″ (90mm) PVC pipe, with another piece of smaller-diameter pipe serving as the body of the turbine. The tail-fin makes sure it’s always pointing into the wind and was made from some plywood. As the blade spins, a current is induced on the control pins of the stepper motor. By building a pair of bridge rectifiers and using an RC filter you’ll get the most out of the generated current.

This turbine can charge a pair of NiCad batteries in about 10 hours, but it might be worth developing some smart circuitry to manage charging. If it were able to choose between a dedicated storage battery and the on-board battery holder you could put all of the wind energy to good use.

[Thanks Michael]


  1. fartface says:

    Gobs more wind turbine designs that do more than charge a couple of AA batteries.

    • asheets says:

      I concur. The Dans and George are masters of their art. I’ve been to a couple of their workshops, and their 1KW windings are things of beauty.

      My favorite of their old designs, of course, is the Wood-Ax — a 200W turbine made almost entirely out of pine.

  2. Rob says:

    In montana I have been seeing a lot of vertical wind turbins as well. here are some design idea’s.

  3. ino says:

    if you want a better efficiency, start by adding a LC filter in place of the RC filter.

  4. JamieWho says:

    Awesome hack! Now, I can recharge the batteries for my xbox controller for free! By the time one set runs out, I will only have to wait a couple of hours for the next set to be charged. :)
    (this is an exaggeration, but 10 hours seems like a long time to charge AA’s)

  5. Aleks Clark says:

    and don’t forget…10 hours of *wind* to charge the AA’s. +1 for useless wind power.

    need moar fission plants imo.

  6. B0SC0 says:

    I can see two problems if charging is 10 hours.
    Rain/snow and sun/heat.
    Maybe a white enclosure with bottom vent holes.

  7. B0SC0 says:

    For the batteries, that is.

  8. JKenkins says:

    this is a great project for someone just starting with self sustainability, but a pretty old project been kickin around the net for awhile

  9. Hirudinea says:

    Just hope it dosn’t rain.

  10. WhiteCrane says:

    While tiny, it’s still cool. It can teach someone the basics of wind power by actually making something and learning by doing. This can all be scaled up with more funds, but most people might have this stuff lying about already.

  11. N0LKK says:

    Called the Mini-Mill for a reason, it is what it is. Place it where there is no currently no electrical power generation, there will be more electrical power generation at that location, than there was before. Would be plain silly to compare this mill to the mills at other

  12. Helgi says:

    I built a copy of this few years ago on my uncles farm. I changed it to light few LEDs instead of charging batteries. It lasted about 4 months before being blown away in a storm but it was useful lightpole and landmark in middle of the night. :)

  13. Zoidman says:

    I really enjoyed this, thanks for the info I think I might go and make one today! :)

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