Picture of DIY Wind-Powered Water Pump
This summer I made a bunch of fun things out of PVC for my visiting nieces and nephews, and this wind-powered water pump is a combination of two of those projects: a wind-powered deer deterrent, and a pump-style water gun.
This water pump is definitely in beta stage. All the components work, but the design is highly inefficient and requires considerable wind to pump water out of our pond. In the video below I act out the part of a gale to give you a visual of how the pump works. The last step in this instructable will discuss the bugs in the current design and how they can be improved for a more efficient use of wind power.
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Step 1: Wheels and Gears

Picture of Wheels and Gears
Like my outdoor chandelier project, most of the parts for this wind pump came from the bicycle shop dumpster. I don't know the names for all these parts, so I'm not naming them. What I can say is that the gear-looking pieces were not gears on the bikes (I turned them into gears by adding bolts). I found them on mountain bike wheels, and they can only be installed on a wheel that had one in the first place. 
I'm also not sure what the best order is for putting this wind pump together, so I'll just rattle off what I did.
1. Added small bolts into every other hole in one of the "gears." For the top (horizontal) gear I used shorter bolts; longer ones for the vertical one. I left the top bolts as is and put nylon spacers over the vertical gear "teeth," securing them with Teflon tape.
2. Attached the horizontal gear to the axle of a mountain bicycle wheel.
3. Attached a second bicycle wheel rim to the first using three metal brackets (mine ended up shorter than shown in this picture due to a change in plans).
4. Found a way to secure a 1" PVC tee to the top of a tripod.
5. Installed the bicycle wheel contraption into the top of the PVC tee. I used a couple wooden circular pieces drilled out of a piece of 1x2. The hole in the center of the wooden pieces held the axle rod firmly in place. I used a couple odd pieces as spacers to elevate the horizontal gear to the spot where it would catch the vertical gear.
6. Installed the vertical gear into the horizontal part of the PVC. The gear must sit on a ball bearing so it can rotate freely. I used part of an axle that had a bearing inside. Use whatever you can find to "stuff" the gear into place and keep it from wobbling.

I had to do a lot of shimming and shaving to get things to fit. I shimmed with toilet paper cardboard and shaved with a dremmel or sandpaper. You do what you gotta do.
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ChetsJug2 months ago

What is it with bicycle parts and the wind hmmm? (Ask the Wright Brothers haha)

Here's another bicycle shop in the Mojave Desert and a project they have going...

Hi, Martha, I did a bit of work over the holidays about low tech water pumping for pallet gardens, so it is really simple now. As long as your wind pump can produce 2 psi, (or drive air bubbles 14 inches deep in water, you can pump water with air. is the very simplest way but you might need the "t-joint" method because wind power is variable.
out of curiosity, wouldn't a simple mechanical Archimedes screw do the trick? If the romans could build one, I'm sure it would be a viable diy build in the third world. I mean they have been the traditional windmill pump-system for a couple of millennial.

All it would require in repositioning would be for the base tripod to have one foot in the pond (on some footer, cinderblock or rock) and the shaft centered over water, coupled to the screw somehow.

It would take a redesign of the bearing, ofc, since the shaft is stationary, but I would imagine it might take advantage of the VAWT's orientation some more.
maybe you could use old AOL cds for the screw, hmmm....
flyingpuppy (author)  eggplanthunter2 years ago
This is what I love about Instructables-- I didn't know what an archimedes screw was until you mentioned it. Went to look at images, and I think you're right. That would simplify the mechanics considerably!
Now, to make the screw... I can't use old AOL CDs, cuz I used all mine up to make an upcycled fluorescent shop light. Tee hee.
Thanks for the idea! Keep 'em coming.
if you wanted to keep the geared assembly, you could consider putting a counterweight on the vertical one to counteract the weight of the link and pump. It would help avoid the 'cogging'. Love the idea and execution!!!!!
kboparai12 years ago
i love it! thanks for sharing. I wanted to see if there was an electricity free way to pump water for an nft setup i was pondering. this will be pretty awesome! thank you :D
flyingpuppy (author)  ksivasaravanan2 years ago
Why, thank you! I think so too.
yxanul2 years ago
Excellent work! For a small garden is enough! I want to congratulate you for how you combined materials, and for simplicity idea.
flyingpuppy (author)  yxanul2 years ago
Thank you! It's an itch we all have here at Instructables, I think--to "make do" with what we have as simply as possible.
germeten2 years ago
Getting down to even more simplicity (although I love the 'contraption' aspects)
you can do it all with fabric panels, small weights and tethers. The more surface area exposed to wind and bigger dia., the more torque produced.
germeten2 years ago
Good job! Now May I suggest you use flats, not bent panels, and more of them!
Limit the range they can rise so they don't overshoot.
flyingpuppy (author)  germeten2 years ago
Yes. I'll also remove the CDs which aren't doing much. Thanks!
germeten2 years ago
The most efficient windmill I've ever seen was vertical axis, with multiple verticle louvres in panels in a cross shape. The louvers open in one direction to allow air to pass through and close tight under wind pressure on the opposite side/direction. One side offers perfect blockage to the wind and the other side wide open and almost zero resistance to wind passage. Even a gentle wind will move it, because the forces are so unevenly/assymetrically distributed.
flyingpuppy (author)  germeten2 years ago
It works! Thanks to your "louvred" idea, the pump works beautifully now. For details, see the last step in this instructable (with pics of the update and video).
flyingpuppy (author)  germeten2 years ago
Huh. I wonder if I could make the louvres out of CDs. I'm trying to keep it within the means of someone living in a third world country. I guess wood scraps would do. I'd love to see how the louvres were installed in the way you describe!
If that is a very thin plastic - easily rolled into a tube, it is likely "mylar". Though with CAD, it's a lot less prevalent, this material was common in engineering plotter rooms in the days of yore. "Yore" being the 90's...
harveyo2 years ago
Think airfoil. A propeller type blade's power is developed mostly on the outer third of the blade. Obviously the farther out your blades are the more leverage they exert on the hub.
flyingpuppy (author)  harveyo2 years ago
You're right. I originally had the "foils" close to the rim, then scooted them outwards and that improved things a bit. I wonder how I can add somewhat rigid foils and extend them out even further. The weight may bend the long nail I have holding the bike rims onto the... oops, here's a picture of it now... onto the pole (in a high wind, that is).
Suppose you had a single rod going through the airfoil with a 90 deg bend at the end. This would allow the airfoil to fly 'up' when going up wind and flop back down when pressured by the wind. This would creat some more efficiencies. HLO
flyingpuppy (author)  harveyo2 years ago
You're thinking right. I went out yesterday and unhooked the sails from the bottom bicycle spoke and WOW, the thing works now! Will upload a video soon.
the best 'savonius' usually have the foils crossed in an S configuration thru the center with about a 15% overlap- the one side dumps the air to the backside of the other (so to speak). my suggestion would be that you try a 'shaker' style pump. Its nothing more than a short peice of pipe or hose with a one way valve at the supply end. when it moves up and down it pumps water . I've taken the springs out of tire valve stems to make them, but plumbing pipe ones are larger. Computer mouse balls in a pipe with coupling work also.

The biggie with windmills is surface area, the other variables are not usually geometry related (wind, efficiency, etc.)
kirkb1502 years ago
Excellent design.
flyingpuppy (author) 2 years ago
Drawing of updated wind pump assembly:
Good concept. I have read many of the comments about horizontal piston being more efficient and all. One more thing that might improve your "output" would be to eliminate the "handle", connect the piston to the windmill wheeel rather than the gear system you have and connect the other end to a hinge. This would reduce the drag on your gear system and the bending elbow would not be needed. The only problem I see is the pump would need to be above the windmill. Still in all a very cool idea! Would be very handy for gardeners who happen to have a handy nearby pond to irrigate their garden!. I'll see if I can work up a drawing of what I'm talking about.
raviolikid2 years ago
Wonderful! And the most amazing thing t(o me) is that I was discussing such a design last night. I thought it would work - but my BF didn't think it would. It's good to see it functioning.
Good instructable!
carlfon2 years ago
scoottle2 years ago
I am truly impressed at the simplicity! I like this, You have a wonderful mind! Thanx!!
R1672 years ago
Making it a windmill style could help too with power lost in your gearing (although it has some drawbacks) and also allow for better gearing options.
R167 R1672 years ago
Forgot to also say great project and that I want to build this even with no use for it.
flyingpuppy (author)  R1672 years ago
I know. It's kinetic art if nothing else. : ) Thanks!
harveyo2 years ago
The first and perhaps easiest upgrade is to change the windcatchers as they are very inefficient. The air needs to flow over them as a sailboat going upwind. I a bit of search on windpowered mechanisms will provide some pictures of efficient devices.
harveyo harveyo2 years ago
Some are hinged to reduce the upwind drag and swing against a stop
when in position to work with the wind.
flyingpuppy (author)  harveyo2 years ago
Thanks. I'll look into that. I've made quite a few changes including exchanging the PVC piston for a bicycle shock absorber (without the spring) and inserting CD's onto the top rim in between the blades to catch more air. It's more efficient and works in wind gusts now, but it still doesn't pull water in a breeze--which is the goal.
Will upload a video of the changes soon.
Hi, flyingpuppy, really good instructable. I think you will always have problems and unnecessary limits if you try pumping water directly. However, if you use your pump to compress air instead, you can pump water with a "nano airlift pump". All you need is 1 psi and you can pump to at least 10 ft high (and any height up to that). The nano airlift pump is a bundle of 1/4 inch or 3/16 inch (internal diameter) tubes that airlift the water to the height you want. I have one of my "world record attempts" using nano airlift at  the video link below.  If you compress air, you can put your windmill in a better windier place and pipe the air to the pond.  You need about 3 ft deep to make the pump work well.
chiangkool2 years ago
that's MAVIC, right ?
Where's your bike now ?
flyingpuppy (author)  chiangkool2 years ago
I have no idea what it is. Very high end cyclists around here. Today is the last day of the Cascade Cycling Classic, so I'll be able to bring home some real goodies from tomorrow's dumpster diving. : )
flyingpuppy (author) 2 years ago
I just found this instructable on making bearings out of PVC. Wonder if it could be incorporated into this design. Hm....
bajablue2 years ago
Woot WOOT! Good for you, Puppy!!!
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