Introduction: DIY Wind Turbine

Picture of DIY Wind Turbine

This instructable will demonstrate how to build a power generating wind turbine. My inspiration came from seeing other wind turbine instructions online. I hope to simplify the process with clear, easy to follow instructions.

Thanks to mdavis19 for his instructable How I built an electricity producing wind turbine which really sparked my interest in wind energy.

Step 1: Parts & Tools

Picture of Parts & Tools

Battery - - - $58
Battery Box - - - $8
Battery Connectors - - - $2.25
500 Watt Inverter - - - $45
Generator - upcycled treadmill motor - - - $0
Tail - scrap metal - - - $0
6'' PVC pipe 10' length - - - $30
Bolts & Screws - - - $5
1'' Iron pipe 60'' length - - - $14
Pipe Nipple - - - $2.50
Pipe Flanges - - - $8
Pipe Swivel Connector - - - $3.50
16 Gauge Wire (already owned) - - - $0
Black spray paint (already owned) - - - $0

Total - - - $176.25

Power tools
Drill & drill bits

Jig saw

Table saw

Belt sander

Hand tools
Various screw drivers
Tap set
2 pairs of Channel Locks
Measuring tools (I used a tape measure and a caliper)

Step 2: Motor

Picture of Motor

The most important part of this project is the electric motor. Luckily, I had a nonworking treadmill in my garage just waiting to be scrapped out.

DC motors, when turned, will generate current. Be sure the motor you plan to use is DC powered, and it's helpful if it has a flywheel attached.

Step 3: Blades

Picture of Blades

Another vital part is the blades. I cut mine from 6 inch PVC pipe with a jig saw and table saw.

Cut a 2 ft length of pipe, split it in thirds, and then cut the shape from each third. The jigsaw was used to rough cut the shape, and the table saw to straighten them. My cuts were less than perfect, so I had to sand them down for even weight and size.

Step 4: Backbone

Picture of Backbone

There will need to be a backbone to connect the motor to the tail and the stand. Mine already had a section of square iron attached.

At this time, add the tail and find the balancing point. The balancing point will be where it attaches to the stand.

Drill, tap, and install the pipe flange.

Step 5: Flywheel

Picture of Flywheel

To prepare the flywheel to accept the blades, you will need to drill and tap holes in 3 spots. I used 1/4"-20 thread machine screw for my blades.

Drill and tap the first, measure 120 degrees around, and repeat. You should now have 3 holes evenly spaced across the flywheel.

Drill 2 holes in each blade.

Screw the blades into the 3 holes you just drilled and tapped on the flywheel.

You should currently have the blades screwed on with only one screw, so that they can pivot. Measure the distance between the tips of each blade. Once they are all even, mark your 3 additional holes on the flywheel, making your marks through the second hole you drilled in each blade. Drill and tap at each mark, and screw your blades on with an additional screw.

Step 6: Assemble

Picture of Assemble

Paint the parts. Assemble everything together and take it for a test drive. I wanted all the bugs worked out before it was in the air, so I strapped it onto a trailer and took it for a whirl.

For the turbine to be most effective, the blades and flywheel should all be in balance. To be sure it's well balanced, spin the blades several times, marking whichever side ends up on bottom. The marks should all be spread around randomly. If they are all in one spot, you need to lighten that side by sanding or drilling away some material.

Step 7: Wiring

Picture of Wiring

The test drive and balance tests were a success, so it was time to wire everything together.

The negative wire from the inverter and from the turbine both connect directly to the negative battery terminal. The positive from the inverter connects to the battery with a fuse in line. Connect the positive wire from the wind turbine through a diode and a fuse.

The turbine can be mounted on a portable stand (as pictured) and held with guy lines, or mounted to a permanent structure. I plan to permanently install mine on a marker post at the corner of the property.

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions please post them below, I will be glad to answer them.

Don't forget to vote for this instructable in the Remix contest.


d3ath101 (author)2014-09-27

Won't the wires tangle if the thing turns toward the wind all the time? Just curious as how that is to be handled.

RobertM493 (author)d3ath1012016-07-10

I built one of these myself. I put the wires in the pipe. They do not get tangled up like you think.

DIY Dave (author)d3ath1012014-09-29

I'm planning to leave the wires fairly loose so they won't get twisted too badly. The turbine won't make full circles often, usually just partial rotations

RyanB215 (author)DIY Dave2016-06-14

And this is the very reason you don't need to worry with slip rings. The chance that the wire would twist enough to snap is near zero.

Conarymor (author)DIY Dave2014-09-29

I would install a swivel connection inline on the wiring. While it won't spin constantly around the post, it will eventually twist your main cable until it breaks. Otherwise, great Instructable.

M2aestro (author)d3ath1012014-10-01

Easy-Peasy, as some kids say; either use slip rings (better), or rotation-limiting hardware and a wire leads loop.

Cats Science Club (author)2016-01-05

I like what you did here and this is one of the best explanations I have seen! Nice!

We have a mini version that is more of a model for the classroom.

great job, that's really neat. I might have to build a mini turbine too

Andrés AlejandroO (author)2015-03-21

hello there !, a bring a question from santiago de Chile.

about the wire, how do you deal whit the full rotation of the wind turbine whitout tearoff the cables from?

ps: nice work by the way

I suspect you have found out already by now, but you can use a 'capsule slip ring' which allows the current to flow through it without twisting the wires.

isaakr (author)2015-02-26

is a great indestructible for a wind turbine

NightHawkInLight (author)2014-10-17

Very cool instructible. Do you not run the risk of overcharging the battery without some sort of shutoff though?

BG_instructs (author)2014-09-29

have 4200 Watt solarpannels on my roof, next thing from mother earth to collect is wind. Not allowed to install a windturbine where i live, so i'm thinking of an installation that blows into a round window in my rooftop, kind a tunnel with a mill inside.

So i would not install it outside, but inside my house.

This simple set up seems perfect to start trials...

MatWeller (author)BG_instructs2014-09-30

I wonder if you could make your attic wind tunnel out of a length of PVC running from one end to the other, using computer fans inside as the generators. Those things move fairly easily and you can probably get an endless supply of them for free.

M2aestro (author)MatWeller2014-10-01

The inefficiency of such a contraption would cause it to generate so little power as not to give payback in its service life time.

MatWeller (author)M2aestro2014-10-01

I believe it, I was just chucking out an idea. I only knew the cost of such a thing would be near nothing, I'm not an electrician, so I didn't know if you could get any current out of ten fans or not. Regardless, I wish you well in your quest!

rrmola (author)MatWeller2014-10-05

Unfortunately, computer fans cannot be used as generators, because they are brushless. Any attempt will produce zero volts. Check yourself...

Kinnishian (author)rrmola2014-10-09

The fact they are brushless is not the problem. The problem is that they are fed by a controller.

So (two wires) ---> brushless controller ---> brushless fan.

The controller would block the back EMF from being tappable.

But in reality, most windmills are undoubtedly brushless, but you need a proper rectifying circuit for the brushless motor.

gaparkes (author)MatWeller2014-09-30

Not enough return on current.

Buckshott00 (author)BG_instructs2014-09-30

building codes can really stink sometimes. there's lots of energy sources to be had; but people are more worried about the value of their home based on how the neighbor's house looks. Here are some other ideas that can sometimes skirt HOA or NA

Sometimes you can install VAWT

What about a Satellite dish? You could go
with concentrated solar,

if you have the $$ geothermal energy,

Biogas generator

Wood Heater and/or Furnace

M2aestro (author)Buckshott002014-10-01

Careful with solar energy concentrating devices; wear welding goggles, place where nobody can accidentally view the nearly focused spot or strip of light, which certainly can blind, very rapidly. A linear / parabolic trough could be much more efficient for the $$ than would today's (small) satellite dish, would allow collection of heat at a lower temperature (usually more efficient because of reduced re-radiation of the IR), but could also be managed for high temperature for the person competent to build as thermal turbine.

Wood heaters and furnaces tend to be major polluters.

If you live next to a large lake or by the ocean or large-enough estuary that your heat sucking or heat dumping activities would not cause environmental damage, then you could use the very large heat sink of the ocean/bay/estuary in conjuction with a heat pump to lower heating and cooling costs. Similarly, if you have a large volume well, you could heat pump that. I recall that Hewlett and Packards third employee, an engineer with whom I had contact, had heat pumped the Pacific Ocean to heat and cool his home in Pacific Grove, CA.

Nothing particularly new in any of what I stated, but often people forget what should be obvious.

Careful in making propeller assemblies; remember that the highest stresses are at the hub!

gaparkes (author)BG_instructs2014-09-30

Why not hook this up to a roof mounted gable vent?

M2aestro (author)gaparkes2014-10-01

The short answer to this question is that it would be so inefficient!

Buckshott00 (author)BG_instructs2014-09-30

building codes can really stink sometimes. there's lots of energy sources to be had; but people are more worried about the value of their home based on how the neighbor's house looks. Here are some other ideas that can sometimes skirt HOA or NA

Sometimes you can install VAWT

What about a Satellite dish? You could go
with concentrated solar,

if you have the $$ geothermal energy,

Biogas generator

Wood Heater and/or Furnace

DIY Dave (author)BG_instructs2014-09-30

That sounds like an interesting plan. I'd love to see your solar set up and your turbine when you get finished

melissa.verzini (author)2014-09-28

What Power does it put out??

what can you power with it??

DIY Dave (author)melissa.verzini2014-09-30

The turbine puts out DC current that charges a battery. Then it flows through an inverter that converts it to AC (regular plug in power). The inverter has 2 standard plug ins and a usb charging port

1dot21gigaflops (author)DIY Dave2014-09-30

when you use a DC motor as a generator in this situation it actually creates AC. If you use a diode bridge, you can double your power output. you're loosing half the AC wave if you only have 1 diode in the path. A real charge controller is recommend though.

mrmucox (author)1dot21gigaflops2014-10-06

Sorry, but that is incorrect. Spinning a DC Motor creates DC electricity. The commutator or split ring keeps the fields in the same orientation.

MsSweetSatisfaction (author)2014-09-27

Woah it didn't even occur to me that we could DIY something like that. Awesome job, now it seems very silly that resistance to wind turbines in the government if we can DIY it at home... Thanks for sharing, and again nice job!

Remember, too, that birds often cannot figure what-the-devil wind turbines are, and get killed by them, just as they do by massive solar concentrators.

chrisdav (author)2014-09-27

I created a wind turbine very similar to yours with a treadmill motor and pvc as blades. I also built a dc-dc step up buck circuit, the whole thing worked well for a while until we had a gale force wind, it was spinning so quickly that one of the blades shattered and went straight through an asbestos roof! So please be careful if you are in an area that has gale force winds

M2aestro (author)chrisdav2014-10-01

I reiterate that the hub needs careful attention so that you don't have such a disaster. Design for the worst case wind speed, or, design a steering device for your wind turbine that rotates with respect to high wind velocities, such that you don't get too high prop speeds. In many locations wind turbines designs are not trivial engineering exercises. Consider, too, that around buildings, the wind may be quite turbulent. For that reason consider vertical axis turbines, for they should be less sensitive to the turbulent flows around buildings...but still not conforming to your local codes, perhaps.

DIY Dave (author)chrisdav2014-09-29

Thanks for the recommendation, I live in Indiana though, so I shouldn't have to worry about gale force wind too much. I'll definitely watch out for storms though. I hope you get yours all back together and working

harvsch (author)DIY Dave2014-09-30

A steerable tail would allow you to turn
the windmill so that if faces into the wind when you want and parallel
to the wind when you need to stop it from turning too fast.

It is
the same technique that was used on wind mill water pumps. When the
cistern was full the pump was disabled by turning the mill parallel to
the wind. The image below shows the pump in the idle position.

ндогонят (author)2014-09-30

From the Bernouilli perspective, wouldn't it be more effective if you filled the concave side of the blades?

You would not want to add much mass to the blades, for it would increase stress to the hub.

scott.macarthur.39 (author)2014-09-30

I have a question here. I have a 5500 watt generator on which the gas briggs and stratton motor seized up. I scraped the motor, but am left with the generator portion. Does anyone know if this could be used instead of an electric motor?

With a generator that size, it will take a lot of force to turn. Best off replacing the motor or attaching a horse sized hamster wheel. Actually, there are these guys who built what you're asking about. They said they built two and it cost $3,500 each. Pay back 2-3 years (in Kansas). Just search for "5500 watt wind turbine".

@s.m.39, sure, but your blades would likely have to measure in excess of 20 feet in diameter.

profpat (author)2014-09-30

great instructables, i already have all the materials lying around, in fact i have already cut the pvc pipe, when i tested the treadmill motor the brush holder are all the project has been standing by for a year already. i am planning of building my own generator out of magnets and coils..

fox0902 (author)2014-09-30

i notice the RPM of your motor is very fast, i doubt if its produce enough voltage to charge a battery.

killbox (author)2014-09-30

Anything about the voltage/current you are actually getting? its designed to run at 4900rpm, so at 30-90 rpm id expect in a good wind, you are likely not putting out a huge percentage of what the motor would have consumed. running.

agatornz (author)2014-09-27

having an old treadmill like this i had the idea of giving the kids something to run for.. by connecting it up to a set of lights.. but you really had to run hard to get the first light up - and i was told i needed a reostat? or something? ( no electrical knowledge) to make it easy to start... does this apply for the turbine too?

sbergeron2 (author)agatornz2014-09-30

@agatornz, The treadmill runs using a transmission of sorts, either a geared setup, or a belt usually. If you make the pulleys an even 1:1 ratio, they should be able to get it going easier. You could also add a capacitor in the line that will hold a charge, making it easier for the kids to get started.

mikeb110 (author)2014-09-30

charlessenf-gm (author)2014-09-30

Jeeze, I just tossed my non-working treadmill!

nlinventor (author)2014-09-30

Nice easy flowing writing style! As others have mentioned a reliable means of preventing over-speeding would be great.

petercd (author)2014-09-27

Great instructable, I don't see a charge controller anywhere in your setup, the mdavis19 one works a charm and its what I use in my setup.

DIY Dave (author)petercd2014-09-29

Thanks for the input. I plan to use up the battery power pretty consistently. If I find I need it, I have a spare charge controller that I purchased with a solar panel.

About This Instructable




Bio: "CAN'T can't do anything until TRY comes along and does it" -Grandpa
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