Introduction: Device Charging With a Multi-turbine (on Faucet, Wind, Bike, While Sporting and Etc.)

Picture of Device Charging With a Multi-turbine (on Faucet, Wind, Bike, While Sporting and Etc.)

I love every green energy gadgets and devices but they are specialized only for one electricity generator like a solar cell or a wind turbine. the wind turbine chargers are big and they can't be used as a hydroturbine. I tried to make a waterproof multiturbine that can be powered by wind or by any flowing material like water. So I designed this very small charger that can be installed on a faucet, on a bike, or in a river (or everywhere you want). Works well under your downspout or on your arm while running. It charges a 3000 mAh Li-Ion battery but can be connected directly to your phone. Before we start you need to know that this instructable completes my solar charger instructable but can be used separately too. The most of the parts that I used are salvaged from somewhere so this was a really cheap project. So I'll describe you where I got my parts in the next step. Oh and I'll make a new design for this gadget because don't like how now is looking. I hurried to complete until the ending date of the Make energy contest. So gather materials!

Step 1: Tools, Parts and Salvaging

Picture of Tools, Parts and Salvaging

Tools that you need:

  1. glue gun
  2. multimeter
  3. cutting tools
  4. rotary tool
  5. electrical tape
  6. solder and soldering

Parts and Salvaging:

The motor and the propeller are salvaged from my old RC Helicopter but you can find also in any phones without the propeller. You can make a propeller from a plastic sheet (costs about $1). The 5v voltage step up is bought from the ebay.

  • for the power bank you'll need a 3.7v battery with a capacity between 3000-2000mAh
  • a USB lithium charger circuit
  • a switch
  • and a 5v step up circuit
  • Use a box for the power bank, I hurried and I haven't at home!

So the batteries that you can see on the pictures are salvaged from old phones (950mAh, 1000mAh and 1020mAh). The lithium charger is from the same RC Heli. Never charge lithium batteries without a charger circuit they can explode! If your partlist is complete let's go crafting!

Step 2: Soldering-Turbine

Picture of Soldering-Turbine

This will be very easy. If you have enough space for your full circuit don't cut the USB jack. I needed to cut and soldered back with a wire later you'll see why I made this. Be careful with the polarities! My motor polarity has been revesred. So simply solder the two wires of the DC motor to the 5v step up somehow like on the images.If your circuit is done go craft in a PVC tube.

Step 3: Building the Turbine

Picture of Building the Turbine

  1. First cut 2 small pices from the plastic sheet.
  2. See on the second image.
  3. Than glue to the bottom of the motor.
  4. Cut 4 lines on the PVC for the plastic pieces and insert the motor in.
  5. After this remove this Red LED from the circuit (see on 7th image).
  6. Finally glue the circuit and the USB jack on the PVC.

Step 4: Waterproofing and Testing

Picture of Waterproofing and Testing

Get your glue gun and some electrical tape than make the full device waterproof. Won't happens nothing if some water flows inside, but this is the safest way. If you want test it with your faucet. Fix onder it than plug your phone in and the charging begins. The multi-turbine now is done. Install on your bike or on your arm, and when you move starts charging any device. Even tablets! The output voltage will be 5 volts and the current about 300mA. Charges slower than a wallplug but it works! If you want go build the power bank!

Step 5: Solder and Build the Power Bank

Picture of Solder and Build the Power Bank

Glue the salvaged batteries together than silder them in paralell. Paralell means that connect every positive to the positive and every negative to the negative output. After this use your USB charger and charge up this battery pack just like on the 3rd image. Use your glue gun agian and make complete the power bank. Test it on your phone than make this waterproof too.

About the circuit:

Don't charge your phone while charging the power bank from a wallplug. You can charge while cycling or while moving, but from the wallplug the current is too high.

When you don't use turn off the circuit.

Be careful with Li-ion batteries never short them. May cause fire!!!

Step 6: Waterproofing

Picture of Waterproofing

Get your glue gun and electrical tape agian and make ot waterproof. I think no need more explanation. So go test it!

Step 7: The Last Tests

Picture of The Last Tests

Install the discharged power bank on your faucet and when you use the faucet the multi-turbine will generate electricity. Or put on your arm with a belt (not like me with tape) and when you run the charging begins. But you can charge up your battery pack also from a wallpug or from computer. On the last image is charged upwirh a 5v regulated solar cell.

If you liked it share, write your opinion and vote on me. In my next instructable I'll present you a very especial soldering station so follow me if you want to see! Oh and sorry for my potential grammar errors.


profort (author)2017-07-10


IvanW30 (author)2017-06-26

Hi ,reading through some of your posts & it seems a lot of people are trying to improve on the circuit etc where as, I am more of a outside box thinker. If you don't want to change, or alter your circuit, (which is a great idea by the way :) then go to the source >> your facet.

I would extend the length of the pipe hooked up to the opening of the facet.

Narrow the middle section of pipe that will hold the generator(s) so the propellor fits with little clearance (1-1.5mm), to restrict water flow over blades (this causes water to increase in speed, as is under more pressure, over propellor) which would increase the speed, thus higher load capabilities.

Add a longer length of the narrow pipe, & can now add a 2nd, or 3rd propellor & hook up either in series or parallel, depending on what you want more voltage or current


By restricting the flow of water in the narrow diameter of pipe, will cause the propellor to increase the speed, thus output is increased. Can widen pipe an inch or two after the narrow pipe to slow down the water as it enters sink to reduce splashing.

Also, won't have to turn water full out to get max potential out of generator(s). Using a meter could mark the tap with a marker or tape to where peak output is achieved. Why run wide open if don't have to, or might have to lol

By adding more water generators (depth of sink is only what limits how many generators could actually have in play. A tub or laundry tub could fit 4-6. A kitchen sink maybe 3 if work out how long the narrow part of pipe would be, plus normal size before & after.

Although could put a "U" (180 degree) at bottom to raise pipe back up & then another "U" to have pipe go back down so can still be able to have room to wash hands, dishes etc. No reason it only has to be a straight piece off the facet.

Look under sink at the "U" trap to see what I mean on how you would fashion the wider pipe section after the narrow pipe section that holds the generator(s) section.

But to add , when you have all the bugs out of your design. Work on an under counter type model that will hook up to the water inputs so your device will not be visible to our wives, or in your case mother, lol.

Or even hook up to a dishwater line

Good job keep at it,

Good luck :)

drobinson36 (author)2016-11-24

Can I buy one from you

svit1 (author)2015-04-22

i have question . you use the 5v adapter to charge directly to the battery? how do you know it is fully charge instead of using charging module. If anyone knows please tell me. Thanks a lot :)

Imetomi (author)svit12015-04-22

Hi! I use the 5v power supply to charge the batteries, but when the battery is fully charged the charging module will light red.

spikeseller (author)2015-03-27

Great thinking young man. Fertile minds like yours are needed more than ever now. I envision a future where everyone will "mine" kinetic energy sources for power, from faucets running water to every balcony and roof top with a breeze, and the simple motion of walking. Power just isn't expensive enough yet to make the effort worthwhile. It will be at some point. Between 2014 and 2016 over 100 coal fired electric generation power plants are being shutdown due to environmental regulations from the US government in the United States alone. SNL Energy has projected the loss if 25 Gigawatts of energy production from the closure of coal fired power plants since 2009. They project that figure to double to 50 Gigawatts by 2022. Nothing is coming on line in the next 7 years to make a dent in this loss of energy production. It is so short sighted of the government to have a shutdown plan without a new production plan in place. There are not new plants under construction, or on drawing boards to be constructed to replace this huge drop in the supply of electricity. It is NOT possible to replace that loss of capacity by 2022 under any circumstance. Simply laws of supply and demand says that the cost of electricity is going to skyrocket in order to reduce demand on the system. We will be lucky if we do not have brown outs at best and maybe a system failure at worst. I will guarantee that the price of power in the US is going to skyrocket. The power industry has to be smiling. More money for making less power with less employees and less facilities. Sweet profit. You keep thinking! Good work!

Imetomi (author)spikeseller2015-03-27

Thank you very much! I'm working now on a self charging battery for the Google Sceince Fair. It's incredible, but would work. The voltage of a single NiMH AA battery just stepped up with 0.07 volts. The technology now is a secret, but maybe I'll publish here at the Instructables.

spikeseller (author)2015-03-27

The Hoover Damn produces about 3 Gigawatts. Where do we come up with 17 Hoover Dams by 2022 to replace list production? We don't.

KROKKENOSTER (author)2015-03-07

Looking at the pics the biggest problem from my point of view is the "huge"space between the turbine and the pipe. Everything in Nature uses the easier way and the largest portion of the prop driver passes by and do no work.I remember an article in the sixties in some journal that the guy built his own designed planes and just by putting the prop in a housing, he could use a 60 horsepower engine and with the prop open he needed a larger prop and 120 horse motor.

Imetomi (author)KROKKENOSTER2015-03-10

I said that this is a prototype, not the final version, so don't worry about this.

frivolas (author)Imetomi2015-03-17

Sounds like the perfect opportunity to get those 3Dprinters going!

linkaylomen (author)KROKKENOSTER2015-03-13

a noteworthy comment, efficiency could be vastly improved by utilising all available space!and having little space for water to flow around instead of through :)

jcushard (author)2015-03-11

Ha reminds me of a story

,I wrote for the grand kids, the
hero generates power off a nearby creek to recharge their emergency battery and

Running it under a faucet ...not so good as water is expensive
and sometimes in short supply.

Anyhow gives me and excuse to
experiment, think I can better your output by using a better turbine blade, and
3 phase motor….I’ll let you know.

steve000 (author)2015-03-10

at first I was thinking why bother but then I saw it on the tap. especially in a large family people use the tap all the time, 2-3 days and it will have a good charge, enough for the weekend adventures. unreal guide!!!

versos-tk (author)2015-02-28

How energy efficient is this, I mean, it can waste a lot of water.

Hmm... even if you were getting 20mA off a small motor like that... it would take AT LEAST 100 hours of water movement to charge up a 2,000mAh battery.

You also typically need 3,000mAh to charge up a cell phone. So the question is, what's easier, running water for 150+ hours, or using another power source.

Also keep in mind that the kind of USB boosting circuit being used in this project sacrifices amperage for voltage, so you'll be getting an even SMALLER amount of amperage than what the motor is outputting.

This is why small scale wind projects are so difficult to do. It's very difficult to generate enough amperage to be useful. One idea would be to add in gears to your setup to get the motor to spin faster, or get a larger motor.

So while this project TECHNICALLY WORKS, it will not work in a useful way. It'd be like hooking up a postage stamp sized solar cell to a cell phone; it technically works but not in a way that we can use it.

Imetomi (author)BrownDogGadgets2015-03-02

These DC heli motors generates much more current than 20mA. When I'm cycling curreng is 118.7mA and on the faucet was 90-120mA. This is enough to charge up a power bank. Slowly but it works. If you don't believe buy a motor like this and try it.

BrownDogGadgets (author)Imetomi2015-03-03

Ok, so, lets do the math again. Lets assume you're getting a consistent 100mA from the turbine (and we'll discount the loss of amperage from the circuit). That would still take a AT LEAST 20 hours of water flow to charge up your batteries, only to get 2/3rd a phone charge. I like the idea, but it's not overly practical and I worry about your use of Lithium batteries.

Also watch out, the DC to DC Circuit you're using puts out under 500mA and many newer phones need more than that. (I used to use those in projects I sell, but I switched because of how annoying they were.)

Imetomi (author)BrownDogGadgets2015-03-04

I'm cycling very often (to shool or in the wild) and sometimes my phone discharges. In this case I can use this device to charge it up. Maybe this isn't the best Li-ion pack but I charged and discharged them up more 15 times, and worked fine. But you can try also with an old CPU fan that has a higher current. And the solar panels (that you or anybody uses for his projects) haven't a much higher amperage, aside from the high wattage panels.

dasimpson1981 (author)Imetomi2015-03-04

cpu fans need to be modified as they are basicly a pulse motor run by a hall effect senser

No, not all CPU fans are brushless. Quite a few are ordinary DC motors that can run backwards as generators. I found that out once when cleaning my PC with an air compressor. The LEDs on the fan lit up. I don't use an air compressor anymore

i have neever come across a brushed one in all the years i been doing pc's

While brushed fans are comparatively rare to other types, most pre-2006ish are not PWM based. You could hook 12v up to them without a PWM driver no problems. Some would have a 3 pin plug with a taco output or some just 2 pin molex connector. A lot were based on permanent magnets which sat in the hub of the fan and would generate a voltage if spun.

and i been playing with pc's since the 90's and older

all the ones i have taken apart have been pulse ones as i say with a hole effect sencer

and have all run with 12 volt applied with no extra circuitry

You're on the money math wise and I agree, this circuit is inefficient. However, it's a good springboard for 'generating' ideas on how to do it better. As an emergency charger, with some improvement I think this could be great. Using the tinfoil in my kit or a plastic bottle/jug to make a funnel I could catch rainwater an charge enough to make a 911 call possibly (albeit would take a LOT of rain). Or even hole the tube between my lips while trying to make shelter or fire and get generate via by breathing. Lots of different ways.

dasimpson1981 (author)Imetomi2015-03-04

you might get a little more power if you used a bridge rectifier taking the ac voltage from the motor and producing dc

For me, this kind of idea forms a building block for future needs. For example using it as a water turbine.. sure, running a faucet for 10 or 20 hours is wasteful, but what if you were lost with a dead phone and came upon a stream or waterfall... 20 hours would make little difference if you can ping a tower and be rescued.

Same goes for any adaptation of something that under *normal* circumstances seems like too much work. There are cases where understanding how things *can* work helps you out.

I agree with JoshuaZimmerman whole heartedly, BUT this site seems to me to be a place to explore new ideas; not whether they are the best solution or not. iImetomi's idea might spark someone else's imagination to think outside the box.

Mig Welder (author)versos-tk2015-03-05

I think the idea is that it takes advantage of otherwise wasted kinetic energy of the water. So, the water wouldn't be run continuously just to charge something. Rather, it'd charge when someone was washing their hands or filling a pot w/ water or whatever.

An interesting concept to be sure.

Imetomi (author)versos-tk2015-03-01

No, use the turbine when you really use your faucet example washing. Originally was designed for a bike... Than came the idea to make it multi powered.

WildOne1985 (author)versos-tk2015-03-01

It's not efficient at all. Charging a phone directly from the mains costs about $1 a year - if you use it a lot (power hungry smartphone). I'd put this build under - in case of emergency.

Errol1951 (author)2015-03-07

great idea could you mount it in a funnel to increase wind velocity and use it as a wind generator

Imetomi (author)Errol19512015-03-08

Wow, awesome idea! Thank you.

omikeo (author)2015-03-06

i'm trying to make one for my bike that either uses rushing wind or will be driven from sidewall tire friction, it was orig. gonna be for just my mp3 player i ride with but your idea prompts me to make it a little more universal, thanks, mike

MRCAB1 (author)2015-03-05

Would this work with a rechargeable 9-volt?

Imetomi (author)MRCAB12015-03-05

This version not, but with a Joule Thief charger would work. I'll make an instructable about a DIY 9v that can be recharged from a USB port.

Alderin (author)2015-03-05

You have some great ideas! I love the use of the little motor as a generator, and the size and shape of the combination of battery and turbine made me think that, possibly, you could charge your phone by breathing. :-) (Would want to put a bridge rectifier on the motor output so direction wouldn't matter, though.)

One note though: You shouldn't mix batteries of different ages and manufacturers in parallel, they will tend to all charge and discharge to the specs of the worst one, and if one fails, the others will deplete themselves trying to charge it to balance the voltages. One failed cell could cause the others to completely deplete and overheat. For discharge use, you could have three diodes preventing this battery-to-battery charge balancing, but that doesn't allow the single charger circuit you have to charge. I know there are multi-cell lithium charger circuits that might make this work better.

(A small note on English: I applaud you for being able to get your ideas across. But I have an editor brain: 'then' is for timing ("do this, then do that"), and 'than' is for comparing ("this is bigger than that") )

Overall you've done an excellent job! Well done and thank you for posting!

Imetomi (author)Alderin2015-03-05

Thank you the little "grammar snapshot" and the comment! :D

dbess (author)2015-03-05

Love it! thank you for the time you took in making this instructable! this is what I love about instructables , this is the kind of instructable that's shows how to make something with repurposed items and have a functional finished product. To those of you who are being negative ..stop being negative and start taking this idea and improving upon it..if you think it can be better build it then post it..

Ecospirit (author)2015-03-05

Great Instructable that really highlights what I love about this website. It teaches you how to take inexpensive used items and repurpose them into something else while learning along the way. I was disappointed by the numerous comments pointing out inefficiencies with the project and felt they were missing the point of the project and the website as a whole. This project has value as a science DIY project alone and I encourage commenters to explore the possibilities more than being critical. The output power is small and it will take several hours to charge something, where could this be useful? I paddled the Noatak River in Alaska (North of the Artic Circle) a couple years ago and despite the long summer days it was cloudy enough that our solar charger was unable to recharge our electronic devices on several days. We were paddling several hundred miles on a river, a device like this attached to the boats with minimal drag could work 24 hours a day. Great Instructable, keep it up!

Imetomi (author)Ecospirit2015-03-05

Thank you very much!

ardrhi (author)2015-03-05

My only suggestion would be to invest in some small project boxes. The "wrapped with duct tape" thing is okay for a quick prototype, but should NEVER be your final version. Jury-rigged devices work like jury-rigged devices -- on a wing and a prayer! Do it right the first time, plan it out, measure twice, cut once, and put it in a proper case.

The motor as a turbine is an interesting idea, but most motors of that sort are NOT waterproof, and you can't just pot them in hot glue and expect it to be waterproof. Get a sealed waterproof motor from the beginning.

You can get a decent device like this with a waterproof turbine from Alibaba for about $13.

You can get one with the charge controller on it for about $22.00

A non-waterproof motor such as a toy motor might work, but the lifespan of a device not intended to be submerged will be much, much lower if it works at all. It's a good idea, though. If I used a non-waterproof hobby motor, I'd take the motor out of inline with the water flow and connect it with a linkage to the turbine, so it wasn't constantly in the water. With a properly sealed linkage, you could put the motor in a waterproof box attached to the turbine housing...but that's what those devices above essentially are.

Imetomi (author)ardrhi2015-03-05

Thank you for the links and I'll put in a project box.

jpatel32 (author)2015-03-04

how to create current controller. ..

Imetomi (author)jpatel322015-03-04

For this project or for something else? I'll send you a message soon.

jpatel32 (author)2015-03-04

great. ..

Arthak (author)2015-03-04

thanks for this super great instructable

Grisling (author)2015-02-28

nice instructable, god you mention the hazzards og lithium batteries. however it is also hazardous to charge 3 cells with a charging circuit designed for only 1 cell, because it doesn't balance the voltage of each cell individually during charging.

About This Instructable




Bio: Hi, I'm Tamas (Thomas), a 17 years old Hungarian guy. My hobby started more than 10 years ago. I learn electronics, physics, programming, IoT ... More »
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