Scratch Built Wind Turbine Makes Power And Turns Heads

If you’ve ever aspired to live off the grid, then it’s likely that one of the first things you considered was how to power all of your electrical necessities, and also where to uh… well we’ll stick to the electrical necessities. Depending on your location, you might focus on hydroelectric power, solar power, or even a wind turbine. Or, if you’re [Kris Harbor], all three. In the video below the break, we get to watch [Kris] as he masterfully rebuilds his wind turbine from scratch and reconfigures his charging solution to match.

The Rotors Are Built With a 3d Printed Rotor Jig

A true hacker at heart, [Kris] has used a everything from 3d printing to broken car parts in order to build his new wind turbine. The three phase generator is constructed from scratch.  A hand wound stator is held firmly between two magnetic rotors, where 3d printed jigs hold the magnets in place.

A CNC cut backing plate holds everything together while also supporting the automatically furling vane that keeps the entire turbine from self destructing in inclement weather. A damaged wheel hub from [Kris]’ Land Rover provides the basis for a bearing so that the entire turbine can turn to face the wind, and various machined parts round out the build. The only things we didn’t see in the build were hot glue and zip ties, but we remain hopeful.

Ironically, one of the problems [Kris] had to solve was that of having too much power. If the batteries are full and the solar and hydroelectric are doing their jobs, where will all of the wind generated power go? The answer is toward the end of the video. If MPPT controllers, relays, PWM signals and fail safes are your thing, then we suggest watching to the end for an excellent walk through of the entire system.

We’ve featured [Kris]’s work before, whether it be his 8.4KW scratch built solar frame or his 500W hydroelectric build. If you have smaller aspirations for wind turbine power, then 2022’s Hackaday Prize winner might give you good reason to fire up your 3d printer!

31 thoughts on “Scratch Built Wind Turbine Makes Power And Turns Heads

  1. A nice combination of primitive farm engineering and more properly executed engineering, and importantly does not try to hide the downsides or limitations of the whole system. Rather envious of that workshop space too.

    Glad he pointed out the SSR being the point of failure there, as I was wondering if he had considered that as soon as he mentioned his circuit design. Wonder if its a better choice for some more analog electronics in that role somewhere, though damned if I know how to make it work that way without real thought – digital is so much easier to keep track of. If the power tracker can be a bit smarter you could cut down on relay use hugely – latch it on for a minimum time and/or unlatch only when battery voltage dips enough so its cycle count will be a few times an hour/day instead.

    1. I haven’t watched the video but it is possible to use both an ssr and a mechanical relay to do the same job. the ssr turns on first without arcing and then the mech comes on which does not overheat in use, then ssr off. power down again uses the ssr momentarily to avoid arcing.

    1. Car alternators require much higher RPM than available from a wind turbine, and have less efficiency because of higher losses. In cars, the alternator doesn’t need high efficiency because it takes a very small part of power from the engine.

  2. I just spent at least €1800 euro building a new winching tower for our old 2kw x 120vdc Yenzhou Shenzhou. I had been using an old 85ft sidka spruce cut down to 30ft and a collar and pully around the top with 12000lb winch doing the hard work. The 10mm winch cable remained in place to act as the 8th guy. This ran successfully since 2008 but eventually the big spruce died and became dangerous. Miner bees took over the base where the winch was strapped to and I set about designing and building the new winching tower. Our old Yenzhou Shenzhou was relaunched on the 8th of Nov 2022, right into the teeth of the latest gales which lasted till 2pm yesterday the 10th Nov. I have used tilting towers, swivel towers and even a 600watt turbine on a mast on top of a cherry picker basket which should have been a roaring success but ended up almost going out of control and wrecking the lot, a launching and lowering process is all important. We get very bad force 10 to 11 storms here and I need to be able to go out and lower the turbine on to its cradle rather than watch it get thrashed.
    Thank you for your interesting video.
    George Doherty.

      1. Unfortunately the forum ‘Biff’ was moderator of was erased from the face of the Internet following the acquisition of its commercial sponsor. With it went the details of his experiences with cherry pickers, and thousands of other really interesting renewables related threads, wiped for good at almost no notice – a complete and utter travesty. Content creators, keep copies, and share content across more than one website.

  3. This generator is horrible design. Inefficient and wasteful. And the core problem with this lazy design is lack of cores for the coils. The “proper” way to do it is this:
    1. Get 1-3 washing machine motors that are the same model.
    2. Disassemble them. If you have only one, you only need to remove the rotor and remove coils from the stator. For more than one motor the goal is to stack stators together.
    3. Rewind the stator for 3-phase operation.
    4. As for rotor the goal is to replace coils and cores with magnets. For long stator you can use steel rod used for CNC machine rails. Glue the magnets in with epoxy. Add 2-3 layers of glass fiber or carbon fiber cloth to keep the magnets from flaying away. Make sure rotor will fit.
    5. Mount the rotor to a drill or connect with a motor. Add some bearings and supports. Turn power on, so it rotates and use sandpaper to smooth the surface over magnets.
    6. Balance the rotor.
    7. Assemble everything. Use original motor casing, especially the end caps which have bearing mounts. Everything should turn smoothly.
    This is much more efficient because there are way more magnets and theseir combined magnetic field generates much more power in the coils. Cores for the coils increase this effect significantly.

    1. Seems to me like you are operating on a rather different scale there… Washing machine motors are kinda small. If I’m following you right it doesn’t sound like a terrible method to get a generator. It may even work out to be a good generator for the sort of rotation speed that a usefully sized propeller on the turbine wants to run at (though there I am not convinced, so many variables that need to be sized to suit and your method gives you no control of any of them really – you are stuck with whatever the motor casing had).

      But still this build had many truly giant magnets spinning past the coils relatively closely. It should work really quite efficiently, it seems to be an evolution of a well proven and calculated design. Perhaps more importantly still it should be very durable and its really easy to inspect and repair – even if your method was 3x more efficient I’d expect it to fail in ways very hard to repair much much sooner, which makes it a worse method for power you actually have to rely on… Sometimes its worth overbuilding the infrastructure and even running it well under its maximum potential for reliable long term operation.

    2. The coreless design solves an important problem: cogging. The magnets tend to align to the core irons and avoid the copper coils in between, so your turbine will get stuck at lower wind speeds and vibrate horribly at certain speeds.

      Not having iron cores doesn’t make it less efficient. It’s actually the opposite: you get less eddy current losses. It simply makes the flux through the coils weaker, which means lower voltage and a higher cut-in speed, which can be compensated with stronger magnets.

  4. Lazy?
    I can’t vouch for his construction method. But he definitely put the effort into his comment, even if he was a little arrogant about it. Come to think of it, if his method is sound it wasn’t even arrogance, just a slightly harsh rebuke.

    1. Looks like your comment is a reaction to mine. Yes I suppose he wasn’t lazy typing all these instructions. Not that they seem obvious to follow – a video would be better. Oh wait! Someone did go through the effort of showing what they did so that people could follow it along.
      I guess his comment just rubbed me the wrong way.

  5. Given the energy price situation in Europe, I’d expect to see a lot of similar videos coming real soon.

    As for the “lazy” comments above the guy is clearly not lazy where the word lazy means one who put in minimal effort or no effort or one who avoided any sort of hardwork. Maybe that’s a translation issue.

    I like the idea of reusing washing machines, however aren’t many / most AC motors being phased out in small appliances for BLDC motors now? Maybe stock up on those AC motors while you can.

    What most of the green – alternate energy religious extremists usually don’t tell you is that in order for their world view to work there either needs to be fewer people with access to energy or there also needs to be significant drop in the amount of energy used. You can’t live the same lifestyle – at all – only running on wind and solar. The leaders of the green religious extremists tend to fly in private jets and live in giant houses. I’m sure they’re willing to make the same sacrifices in standard of living that will be forced on you — comrade.

    1. > needs to be fewer people with access to energy or there also needs to be significant drop in the amount of energy used. You can’t live the same lifestyle – at all…

      Not really, more energy efficient would be good to required depending on just where you already are on that score. But green or entirely renewable power doesn’t HAVE to change lifestyle, or at least not majorly when you are dealing with big enough grids. There is way way more than enough energy coming from the Sun via various degrees of directness to give folks something very much like their existing lifestyle if they also approach it with efficiency in mind, and if you include nuclear in Green energy its pretty damn trivial to do so.

      The level of lifestyle change you may perhaps end up talking about is stuff like instead of putting the washing machine, dish washer and oven on at once you end up staggering them over the day a little because current supply is a bit short – though equally you may end up putting them all on at once because right now there is soo much energy you can’t use it all usefully if you tried… Maybe for the serious PC gamers out there power profiles turn their target power down along with perhaps visual quality a tiny bit now and then – difference between 60fps at 100w and 75fps for 500w, a very barely perceptible quality loss for huge extra power consumption, which is pretty typical of what the higher end parts have been able to do for a while now..

      If you wanted to go off grid yourself, then yes your lifestyle would have be a bit more adaptive to the variable power available (unless you are in that fortunate situation to have such an oversupply that even your bad output days are way way more than you actually need)..

      1. “and if you include nuclear in Green energy its pretty damn trivial to do so.”

        On this we agree however it’s not being considered in the US yet ICE powered car / truck bans and gas powered heating and appliance bans are rapidly becoming a reality in major metropolitan areas in the US. The infrastructure isn’t there to support everyone at their current lifestyle level and it won’t be there in 2040 or 2050 without major new investment in nuclear power.

        If the plan was to enable these restrictions AFTER a grid build-up and investment in viable energy sources like nuclear power then I’d have no complaint at all. Just like in Sri Lanka poorly thought out government policies can be implemented, with unrealistic arbitrary timelines, simply because they subscribe to the religion of green. No downsides are even considered. Trofim Lysenko all over again.

        1. You can’t just do one thing and swamp the grid with new nuclear and solar etc, that would be excessively expensive and wasteful, to the point of nearly being impossible – efficiency improvements are really required as well, at least with how wasteful and profligate with energy some folks are. And part of that has to be motivating and helping these folk to improve their efficiency.

          Doesn’t have to change the lifestyle, its just things like replace over time the halogen and neon lights with cfl and LED, improve insulation in your homes, stop using giant V8 engines that don’t even produce real power for all their size – all they are good for is turning fuel to air pollution really noisily. Lots of these tiny details that are actually very cheap and easy to address for the individual if you give them a push to their wallet so they have to. As most folks just don’t care enough to even slightly modify their lives if it doesn’t benefit them right now.

          The mess that is the USA I’m in no position to really judge, as I’m not there, and quite frankly don’t care at all – if the people of the USA are incapable of sorting out how things should be done in their own backyard that is their problem – it might effect all of us, but till we have our own houses in order… Will say however banning gas and ICE power in some areas going forward doesn’t seem like a bad idea, or a major problem to implement – its not like all the legacy fossil fuel stuff is going to instantly and magically go away…

      2. > difference between 60fps at 100w and 75fps for 500w, a very barely perceptible quality loss for huge extra power consumption

        Video cards max out at 250-300 Watts because of power supply and cooling constraints, but you’ll hardly ever use as much. If you want to push a gaming rig to 500 Watts, you need multiple GPUs all loaded up to the gills and the difference is going to to be a bit more than +15 FPS.

        1. That really depends on your game, resolution and and other game settings are – add in Ray tracing for instance and you are likely to see very high GPU load, while some games are also very CPU intensive etc.

          But that sort of huge power increase for almost no performance increase is very true to what I’ve seen, and has been reported by others as the modern stuff does tend to be right up at high boost and not gaining very much by it – maybe I’ve exaggerated a little but it is very situational. And depends on your hardware – the new Nvidia 4090 cards have been running well over 300 watt on their own in some cases, and to get them up to that probably means the CPU is having to work rather harder than makes any sense too to maintain that bonkers fps…

          1. Not that I have that high end of a setup to be able to get 500watt consumption, but the same diminishing returns at uncapped high power are very very visible on the steamdeck and equally true on my PC with its only 1-2 generation old high-mid teir hardware…

            On the steam deck where it actually matters and is quite easy to control thanks to SteamOS’s really neat control overlay I’ve played around loads and found I can usually get exactly the same perceived performance as uncapped while being way way down on the maximum the deck can do – still game dependent but some games even running native on my 4K monitor will still run just fine at 1/2ish on the power draw totals with some playing around.

            Other games of course are less so, but the steam deck can very often on its own small screen be capped down by at least 5watt and often more like 10w, both of which are a substantial % of its max without any change to the game visually in my experience – its still stuck at the games or screens FPS cap. Which means often despite its performance potential and more challenging titles being run the steamdeck battery often vastly outlasts my desire to keep playing (though maybe that is just a comment on me getting old and jaded)…

            There are of course still exception to that, with some things the deck just can’t manage to run well at all – just to be clear its not some super magic no power draw supercomputer…

    2. Oh boy. This is what happens when you get all your rhetoric second hand from partisan sources

      The need for energy reducing lifestyle choices isn’t some dirty hidden secret, it’s so the forefront of the movement. Of course we need to reduce energy use.

      As for the people you call the “leaders of the green religious movement”. Uh, those people are capitalists just using it to further their own financial goals, of course they don’t subscribe to the beliefs. Just like no right wing leaders actual follow their prescriptive religious ideals.

      Again, it’s not a secret. You’re not opening any eyes.

      1. They are not capitalists. Capitalists would risk their own money. Instead, they intend to use the force of government and funding from tax payers to get their way. There is a different name for that sort of thing.

        “The need for energy reducing lifestyle choices isn’t some dirty hidden secret, it’s so the forefront of the movement. Of course we need to reduce energy use.”

        I assure you that statement is completely untrue in the US. Literally no downside is admitted to at all.

        1. A theoretical capitalist, sure.

          But every financially successful capitalist in the world uses every government loophole and advantage to get ahead they can.

          It would be incredibly naive to believe they’re going to act any other way. The point is to make money, not stick to a philosophy.

          You didn’t see many capitalists leaving those government covid payments on the table, whether they actually needed them or not.

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