Cardboard Savonius Wind Turbine

Goal: build a Savonius wind turbine made out of cardboard to see what
works. This is for the turbine only and not the generator itself. The main photo you see is the goal.

The need for a working model grew out of frustration trying to
jury-rig various designs of a Savonius turbine that in the end would
not turn at all in the wind.

Some Initial Botched Designs
Shown below are several botched designs. All four are attached to the drive shaft of a 24-volt DC battery-operated lawn mower. The vertical bar you see is an allthread bar that is attached to the motor shaft. The galvanized metal is half of a dryer vent tube. The first design would turn half way and then stop because of the resistance of the back side of it coming into the wind. I then added a top disk and attached a number of 2-liter soda bottles and some 1-gallon milk jugs to a disk on top. With a stong wind I actually got the mill to spin if I gave it a start. It has to be the ugliest windmill ever.

The second design is all cardboard and looked really sharp. it didn't budge an inch in a very strong wind.

In the third one I added parts of the dryer vent tube to the cardboard mill and that worked a little bit but there was resistance on the back side coming into the wind.

At this point, I decided that I had to go back to the drawing board with a simple model to see what had a chance of working.
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cglaw20137 months ago
it's ideala
(removed by author or community request)
Here is an Inkscape and PDF suitable for laser cutting. Cut blue, etch black.

If you want to print on a laser printer you will have to move the objects to multiple pages. Sorry, I didn't think about that.
rcisneros3 years ago
Computer fans don't have permanent magnets, so they won't work without modding them.
pretty much all of the computer fans I've taken apart use a permanent magnet mounted inside the plastic fan body. though you do have to mod the fan a little because most have speed control circuits that would get in the way... but it's usually pretty easy to see were each coil attaches to the PCB, stick some wires on those and run em to a rectifier and "Poof" instant generator..
That mod sounds like it would make a great Instructable!
they dont!
Yes they Do Cisneros. They use a Magnetic RING on the Flywheel.
So it is the MAGNET RING that turns with the Blades.

the Stationary part are the Electronically-Commutated Poles. (3)

But you do have to solder 3 wires on the Driven side of the windings.

This will be a 3 phase output that needs to be rectified with the proper rectifying bridge. for a DC output.
Good morning, I just was wondering once you make the modifications does is generate cogging thus making it harder to start spinning ?
I tried hooking it up to a little motor. It does turn on the light and the motor was small so it didn't seem to keep it from spinning. The whole thing didn't last though. I'd like to find a way to make a more permanent version.
srsudarshan2 years ago
What will be the output voltage?
manojkup3 years ago
How about trying with single round base and 4-8 CDs instead of cardboard for blades!! and it works.. I further modified the model with few more changes and it is sufficient for my project.
m3rk3r manojkup2 years ago
thx for the idea
rpushkar2 years ago
how can i make this power 2 LED lights with 1 motor. what kind of motor should i use
I might be banned 4 this, this wind turbine looks like a apeice of crap !!
rhakenb. Thanks! Used this instructable with a scout group. All the models worked and they loved your model. I am going to use wheel to raise a weight next it looks easily strong enough.
rhackenb (author)  recycledteenager3 years ago
Glad to hear that you could make use of the design with the scout troop. Maybe you could post some photos of what they come up with.
An easier way to get a good circle is to put a tumbtack in the center and tie a small string (dental floss would work good) and stretch it out to the end of the cardboard and tie a pencil to it.
we used to call that a "carpenters compass" exept we used a small nail and a scrap of paper from the edge of a sheetrock bundle. (useful for cutting curved radiuses in a peice of wood with a saw.)
Need more power ? Simple fix = hook several small turbines together with bicycle chain and a small alternator. OR make a larger turbine and hook it up to the alternator/generator with bicycle chain. These are just a couple simple/quick solutions of many more avail..... Also check out the local library.
Several options = 1. Hobby store & "Plastruct" sheeting - 2. Fiberglas sheets are purchased OR easy to make ( think 'boat work" ) 3. horizontal blinds
IETMN3 years ago
dude! this idea is good! would you be nice and send me the pdf file to my mail please? if so:
I'll really appreciate if you send the file please!
iamaqtpoo3 years ago
This is so interesting, thanks so much. My son is 12, he has been speaking a lot about wind turbines lately so I think this will make a few awesome weekend projects for us. We unfortunately live in a not very windy area(Florida is more know for sun...oh well!) but, we will give this a whirl anyway. Thanks again so very much for your efforts, GREAT JOB!

good work !
such a gonna be great job ever
Astha Ag.3 years ago
I m making it in a science exhibition and i hv 2 submit it on Monday i.e. 9 August. So, will u pls arrange an image with a bulb with it or how to generate electricity from it??? Also, I wanted 2 ask u that about how many voltages can it supply???
rhackenb (author)  Astha Ag.3 years ago
Sorry, I have the wind turbine disassembled now. It never had a generator connected to it anyway. Maybe you can figure out a way to do it yourself.
You can make a simple mount for thses light weight prototypes out of tubing placed outside an axel shafting whitch can be driven into the gound . Once the shaft is plumbed if there is close tollewrences between the pipe and shsaft a single steele or ball bearing can be placed atop the shaft this acts as a piviot point and reduces the actions of friction on the rotors whitch will spin freely in a slight breese. Others were working on small gen set made from surplos computer fans others on larger generators5 volts to 12 volts goal being to charge any device 5 or 12 volt or charge 2 AA or 2 AAA batteries
rhackenb (author)  rapidprototyping3 years ago
The problem with any small motor like that is trying to physically mount the motor to the blades. Most small motors have a very small shaft to attach to. Take, for example, a fan from a computer. Mounting to that is very difficult.
thepelton3 years ago
I found that a good method of cutting and constructing parts at least for me is to use 1/8th inch birch plywood cut with an Epilog laser. I could probably make a functional one of these wind blade units with it. I'll have to try it.
You may want to test and see how it will do with a similar light-weight cardboard structure, but more designed to catch the wind while reducing drag. Perhaps add 4 more cardboard strips to the inside to give it a z like shape between blades. (the below drawing may be collapsed when I post this, just in case you see only a blob of slashes) | ____ | \ / / \------- | |
medius3 years ago
Now what is this hooked to that generates power?
rhackenb (author)  medius3 years ago
As I said in the instructable, it is not connected to anything. I was just experimenting with the placement of the blades. Something this small might be able to run something like the motor behind a computer fan.
omonile3 years ago
what generates the power.And what is the component?
mibbster4 years ago
How many watts did you second design produe? This is the design with blue things for the sails
beehard444 years ago
I was browsing on making turbine blades out of cardboard, and the regular turbine blade design wasn't that efficient. Stumbled upon this, hopefully it'll give a lot of torque to power my naughty stepper motor....
rockerape4 years ago
You missed 4 toes  :-)
foxwoodfarm4 years ago
I used form board that can be purchased at Walmart of craft stores. It is about 1.4" thick and is more rigid than cardboard. It can be cut with a box cutter,  scissors or exacto knife. The foam board is also weather proof for a long time. I made a PVC pipe frame for mine. Sorry I didn't take pictures 
MattM47734 years ago
this is my last comment
i would like to know how u mounted the turbine cos in the steps i didnt see anything about a mount and im not sure how i can present it without one
plz reply soon because its due this friday

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