Juice-Spewing Wind Turbine Bootstrapped from Bike Parts

Wind Turbines are great, they let us humans harness the energy of the wind. Wind is free and that is good, but spending a ton of money on a wind turbine setup begins to make the idea less appealing. [Ted] has spent many years building low cost wind turbines and this one is not only simple but can be made from mostly found parts.

It’s easy to identify the main rotor hub and blade frame which are made from an old bicycle wheel. The blades are standard aluminum flashing normally used in home construction and are attached directly to the spokes of the bike wheel. Mounted below the bike rim is a permanent magnet motor that acts as a generator. A belt couples the motor to the main rotor and uses the tire-less rim as a pulley.

[Ted] has strapped this beast to the roof of his car to measure how it performs. At 12 mph, he’s getting between 18-20 volts at 2 amps. Not too bad! Bikes and bike parts are cheap (or free) and there is no surprise that they have been used in wind turbine projects before, like this one that hangs from a kite.

24 thoughts on “Juice-Spewing Wind Turbine Bootstrapped from Bike Parts

        1. true, but it depends on the stuff you use. Here in Europe you can get two types of PVC drain pipes: plain or shatter proof. the shatter proof ones are a sandwich of brittle virgin and recycled, more flexible, PVC. I’d guess the plain stuff has no plasticizers added, something you may find in other PVC applications (eg air beds) and hence more in recycled PVC too.

  1. This is very clever. It takes a lot of thought and work to develop something useful from cheap and easily modifiable parts. Anyone can create clean-sheet-of-paper design that requires specialized components or a CNC mill to build. But a practical machine constrained by the realities of cost and availability is a genuine accomplishment.

    1. I agree. Without reading the article, I wounder how much research he did in blade styles. I always wondered what the difference was in a 3 bladed turbine verses the 12 or so blades used on water pumps. Found a cool book at the library that talked about turbine engineering. the more bladed turbines like this are better of torque and low wind starting. But, they are less efficient at higher speeds.

      When I saw the first pic., I was really hoping that was a test rig, and not him trying to recover energy while driving.

      1. This turbine likely levels off in output at 5-6 m/s (12 mph) whereas a three-blade turbine will work at 12 m/s. The difference in output power is eightfold, so instead of 40 Watts you get 320 Watts or more because it also has lower aerodynamic drag and better overall efficiency.

        The point of a multi-blade turbine is that it has a better capacity factor because it saturates so early, so while you get a fraction of the power you don’t need as many batteries to buffer it.

        1. Thing is, this isn’t really a cost-effective replacement for solar power because you can get solar panels at $3/Watt and they last you 30 years, wheras your cheap $80 bicycle wheel with roof flashings and a belt drive will break in the first storm or throw a bearing within months.

          If it was that easy, we’d all have some spinner on the roof.

          1. @targetdrone… I understand what you’re saying. According to the linked webpage, the first panel/entry is $0.88 per watt, not $3.00 per watt as Dax cited. At $0.88/watt, that’s $3.38 per kilowatt (on that panel). Other panels are priced just a bit more per watt, but none of them are priced at $3.00 per WATT.

    2. From experience, I think assembling from parts on hand is MUCH easier than designing a logical, producible machine design ‘on paper’ as you call it.

      Accumulating parts over time and having them on hand is a serious luxury compared to using datasheets to design.

      Furthermore, a properly designed machine MUST meet specifications for safety and obvious reasons. Designing a machine that meets specifications within a specific budget is the art of mechanical engineering, more or less, and if meant for reproducibility or easy maintenance in a production setting, it generally does not happen with an assemblage of parts.

          1. What?

            The post is covering a very cool device made with neat repurposed parts.

            I continue to disagree that it is ‘better’, ‘more artful’, ‘more special’ or whatever than being able to design a similar device ‘on paper’.

            I am refuting the derisive, borderline anti-intellectual claim of the OP.. Do you understand?

      1. I actually think this meets quite a few specification, a bicycle is meant for load and outside us, and construction aluminium is also meant for outside use and exposure to wind,. the generator straps are also general use and often used in commercial devices and have know use cases. So safe for a few details like attaching the blades and rotational energy on the blades it’s actually pretty well covered.

        And better than self-exploding airbags or car ignitions that magically lock the steering wheel and disable the controls while people are driving on the highway, which are examples of engineered and designed things. Or how about that Boeing with its self-igniting batteries? Or the F16 where the cables ground themselves to bits on the sharp internal edges of the fuselage? (Probably because kapton loses structural integrity over a relatively short time in situations like humid conditions? Never heard why, I think they killed that story for commercial reasons and it’s hard to find the truth.)

        Oh and how about all the failed probes on the surface of the moon and our system’s planets? Some of those were embarrassing failures in design.

  2. Now lacks the test with 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12 blades, to check which is the best configuration in order to get the most power at low wind speeds.

    Next thing is to create one with a changing number of blades on the fly.

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