7-Foot DIY Wind Turbine Proves Size Matters


When [brokengun] decided to build a 7 ft diameter wind turbine, he had no idea how to even start, so he did as most of us would do and read some books on the topic. His design criteria was that it would be simple to construct and use as many recycled parts as possible. This wind turbine charges a 12 volt battery which can then be used to power a variety of gadgets.

Although made from recycled components, this isn’t a thrown together wind turbine. A lot of thought went into the design and build. [brokengun] discusses matching the blade size to that of the generator in order to maximize power and efficiency.  The design also incorporates a feature that will turn the turbine perpendicular to the wind if the wind-speed gets to high. Doing this prevents the turbine from being damaged by strong gusts.

For the main support/hub assembly, a Volvo 340 strut was used because they are widely available, cheap and known for being long-lasting. The tail boom is made from electrical conduit and it’s length is determined by the size of the main fan rotor. The tail vane is made from steel sheet metal and its surface area is also dependent on the fan rotor size to ensure that the turbine functions properly. The blades are made from wood but instead of making them himself, [brokengun] felt these were worth ponying up some cash. [brokengun] also scored a 30 ft high lattice tower an airport was getting rid of. This worked out great as it’s just the right height for a turbine of this size.

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Windmill made from washing machine, 555 chip


Green hacks implement one of two philosophies. The first is über-technical, with very expensive, high-quality components. The other side of this coin creates green power out of junk. [Timot] obviously took the latter choice, building a windmill out of an old washing machine motor and a few bits of PVC.

The generator for the windmill is based on a Fisher and Paykel direct drive usually found in clothes washing machines, rewired to provide 12 Volts at low RPM. At high speeds, the generator can produce 80 Volts, so a charge controller – even one based on a 555 chip – was an excellent addition.

For the other miscellaneous mechanical parts of the build, [Timot] cut the blades of the windmill out of 200 mm PVC pipe and sanded them down a bit for a better aerodynamic profile. With a custom fiberglass spinner, [Timot] whipped up a very attractive power station that is able to provide about 20 watts in normal conditions and 600 watts when it’s very windy. Not enough to power a house by any means, but more than enough to charge a cellphone or run a laptop for a few hours out in the back country.

Make a Wind Turbine from 55 Gallon Drums

vertical axis wind turbine

Although there are several vertical axis wind turbines listed on greenterrafirma’s page, the one built with 55 gallon drums was especially interesting to us.  Although the spouse approval factor of any of these designs is debatable, at $100, the 55 gallon drum design could provide a very good return on investment.  The tools required to make one of these are relatively simple, so this could make this experiment accessible to those without a vast arsenal of equipment.

If large blue barrels aren’t your thing, the post also features several other turbine designs, including one made with wood and aluminium foil, and one constructed out of PVC pipe.  The video after the break does a good job of explaining the “blue barrel” construction process, but if you’d rather just see this [VAWT] in action, fast forward to 5:25.

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Sustainability Hacks: Wind turbine generator

With a little bit of thought put into the build, a wind turbine generator can be one of the greenest ways to generate electricity. Wind power doesn’t require a semiconductor fab lab (unlike solar panels) and doesn’t have very many environmental consequences (unlike hydro power). The Tech Junkies put up a build log of a wind turbine that ended up being a very easy build.

In the interests of sustainability, The Tech Junkies found an old 1.5 HP DC treadmill motor. After measuring the voltage output when the motor was connected to a lathe, they discovered the power output was very linear. With a little bit of calculations, they realized they needed about 1000 RPM to get 20 Volts out of the motor. The team connected an inverter (it’s always cool seeing a power meter run backwards) and started fabricating the blades.

The team found a wealth of info on blade design on this site and following a few guidelines made six blades out of 8″ diameter PVC pipe. An aluminum hub was fabricated and the whole shebang was put on top of a found steel frame.

The Tech Junkies’ build produces 10 Watts of power but they’re looking to increase that to 500 W with the appropriate gearing. A great build that harkens back to this awesome webpage about turbine building and living off the grid.

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]

World’s largest POV display

How do you convince a power company to let you play with their multi-million-dollar wind turbine? Call yourself an artist instead of a hacker! [Michael Pendry] convinced Siemens to let him install this ‘art’ piece on the rotors of a wind turbine outside of Munich, Germany. It features 9000 LEDs, 3000 on each of the 30 meter blades, and can pump out 20,000 candelas when fully illuminated.

The problem? The blades of the power generator turn extremely slowly compared to fan-based persistence of vision displays. This makes it more of a “long-exposure” display system that is illustrated in some of their press photos. Ok, so the POV is a bit of a let-down, but the display effects achieved are still pretty impressive.

[Thanks Sam]

DIY vertical axis wind turbine

This vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) uses five 3” PVC pipes cut in half for blades rotating on three kids bicycle wheels to spin an Ametek 38 volt motor or a wind blue alternator. The whole thing spins in a frame that is a 12 feet high and 2 foot square box that is able to sit on his deck. In total it cost him about $125 plus time, a bit more if you use the wind blue alternator.

Video of the vertical turbine in action after the break.
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