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Want Free electricity? I have A solution!

All of my life I have passed an old grain mill on the way to town. I would watch the big 14 foot wheel turning from the water. That got me thinking about two weeks ago, and I decided to make A much smaller, but still powerful electric water wheel.

Today I'll be showing you how to build one of these from junk you can find for A good price or FREE! By the way, the water wheel was already built when I decided to make an Instructable, the pictures will be taken from the finished product.

Step 1: The Parts

The items you need for this electric water wheel are two bike wheel rims, (I was reCYCLING A bike. Get it?)

An axle for the rims (I am using some old rebar that slides nicely in the bike rims)

A pool ladder for the axle stand. Some sort of motor that will produce electricity when turned. (I am using an unmodified Razor Bella scooter motor and it works great!)

Some plastic based rope. Some old roof tin, aluminum plates, flat wood panels, anything that will act as A flat fin to put in the wheel.

Rubber tubing. A lot of zip ties. A small pully. An old extension cord. Electric tape. A container big enough to fit over the pool ladder.

Various wood. ( Blocks, boards etc.) A knife. A hammer and some nails, pliers, tin snips or hacksaw. A drill and bits of various sizes.

The total cost of this project was $1.87 for the zip ties, so its not technically free. you can probably find most of the stuff needed at A junkyard.

Step 2: Assembly Line

To start off, put the pool ladder in front of you. Great! you are 0/30 of the way there!

1. Now take the bike rims and your pliers and unscrew the bolt in the middle. Once out you should see through the hole in the center of the rim. Repeat with the next rim

2. Remove any tires and inner tubes and check your axle length. If the axle is long enough to sit on both bottom foot spokes of the ladder which are the widest apart, then great! As you can see my axle wasn't long enough so I had to make an extension with the wood blocks.

3. All you need to do is take two wood blocks and drill a hole through them.

4. You want to make sure that your axle will fit snug in the hole you drilled, maybe tapping it in the hole with the hammer.

5. Only tap one block into place.

6. Take your axle and turn it upright.

7. Take the tire rims and put them on the axle and stack 2 or 3 at most next to each other.

8. Zip tie the rims tightly together.

9. Now to make the fins. Take your flat material and cut off A large piece with the tin cutters.

10. Put the piece into the spokes And trim it down to a size that fits neatly in the rim spokes. This fin you trimmed down will be A mold for the other fin.

11. Trim 8 fins from the original mold fin.

12. Now slide all of the fins into the rim spokes with even spaces in between each fin. If you cannot get an even space between all of them, cut more or discard fins as needed.

13. Use A nail and hammer to punch holes in the fins to attach them to the bike rim spokes.

14. Use zip ties to tie the fins to the spokes. I would not recommend using wire to attach the fins to the rim spokes. It took me 2 hours to tie the 9 fins to the spokes using wire. Once you have all of the fins snug on the bike rim, the hardest part is done!

15. Now slide the new bike rim water wheel onto the halfway point on the axle.

16. Take your rubber tubing and cut two even pieces and slide one piece down the axle first, then put the wheel next, and then slide the second to keep the water wheel on the center of the axle while turning. Picture 5 shows the tube.
17. Now tap the second block onto the other end of the axle. Your almost done!

18. Set the blocks on the ladder foot spokes of your choice. (When this is in the water you want to make sure that only the bottom half of your wheel is being hit by the water.)

19. Now do A test spin on the wheel. If it turns freely, good.

20. Next, take A board and lay it on the ladder so that it is laying in the same direction and directly above your wheel. This is the motor mount.

21. Nail the motor down with shaft sticking out in front of the mount.

22. Attach the pulley to the motor shaft. (That board you see in front of my motor is to attach the pulley to my motor shaft since the shaft is too small to be directly connected the pulley.)

23. Take your rope and wrap it around the bike rim (The rim acts as a pulley as well as the water wheel) and bring it around the motor pulley.

24. Hold the loose end and the other end. cut where it meets the loose end.

25. Burn both ends together and let it cool. You have A custom size belt! Try pulling the weld A little to see if it will hold.

26. When you are ready, wrap the new belt-rope around both the bike rim and the motor pulley.

27. When you manually turn the water wheel the motor should spin A little bit faster than the rim. Mine is A 6.1 ratio.

28. Strip the wires on the motor and the extension cord and properly tape them together.

29. To protect my motor from the rain and snow, I simply slid an old container over the top of the ladder and set A rock on it.

Step 3: Use It

Because my house is so far away from the creek, the voltage drop is significant. It does give me 5 volts continuously so that the is enough to power A cellphone, A lightbulb and you can probably hook up A voltage inverter to get 12 volts then from there 120 volts. You experiment and leave comments on what you come up with. Thanks for reading!

Step 4: Update!

If you have read this article before, you know how hard it was to read. But now, I have made it easier by converting the steps into A paragraph-like structure. And the water wheel has survived 3 floods that washed out our Creek bank, so this little thing has proven to be quite tough! Even after being washed away itself.

<p>Wow! Such a good idea! A hundred more of these and you can go off grid! :-)</p>
Thanks! I was in the junkyard awhile back and I found some sort of turbine. When I sat this down in the water, it started to turn 5 times as fast as the water wheel, but it did not have as much torque. do you think that I could hook up A permanent magnet motor to it and get better results?
<p>I think that would work, how big of a magnet motor would you use? Since the turbine-like thing has small torque, you would want one that is not too stiff for the turbine. I am not sure how much power that would make! If you try it, can you upload some pictures?</p>
<p>Well, I got a motor but a some heavy rain came that washed over my wheel. The water wheel got washed down about 20 feet but the turbine is no where to be found. Thankfully the wheel is still turning as good as the day I put it in the creek! (Also some sort of water snail has made its home in the frame)</p>
<p>I will investigate further. As of now, I don't have A permanent magnet motor. If I find anything else to make improvements I will update the Instructable with photos.</p>
<p>How about adding another part in between. Adding a separate pulley/ratio in the middle (or wherever) that had the drive from the water wheel go to a pulley similar or smaller than the generators -- and the other side of the pulley be another bike wheel (or similar). Like below.... I know this is a picture of gears, but similar concept - the teal is the water wheel - to the middle yellow gear, that then drives another bicycle tire to the green generator pulley.</p>
Thanks for reading! I said in another comment above that this project alone was stretching my capabilities. I will research different pulley ratios. Thanks for your feedback!
<p>I absolutely love your project. If I had a creek near my house I would absolutely build something like this.</p><p><br>I have a couple of tips and remarks. This is not criticism, I'm just really interested!</p><p>Can you add power measurements of this setup? Maybe use a heavy load, a 50W 12 V halogen lamp?, to load the system.</p><p>Since you are using a belt to drive the motor, look out for it slipping under heavy loads. Especially since the belt is running through the water.</p><p>Have you investigated increasing the gear ratio. Typically Water wheels rotate slowly but with amazing force. There is potential to increase power output and voltage.</p><p>Also depending on the power output you may or may not want to increase to 120 V. If you have less than 50W available it's really only suitable to power LED lamps and charge phones and the like. You can do both directly from 12 or 5V. </p>
Thanks for reading! I have investigated different gear ratios for quite some time. Sadly, this project was stretching the limits of my engineering capabilities. I will continue to do research, but for the meantime, the wheel is surprisingly still working after A couple of floods, and I am still happy with it. Thank you for your comment, I always appreciate getting feedback from my readers!
<p>Looks really cool, one day I will build one</p>
I have now fixed my written material into A more structured paragraph type article. Thanks for reading!
<p>You should structure your text next time - it was bit hard to read ;)</p>
I am sorry for that. I'll see if I can split the text into more steps.

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