Introduction: How To- Wind Turbine Made From Scrap Metal...

Picture of How To- Wind Turbine Made From Scrap Metal...

This is my first Instructable so bare with me.

This following Instructable is for A Wind Turbine that i Designed and Made out of Salvaged and Recycled Materials

Because of the nature of the materials,everybody building them this way will all be different,
don't let how i made this turbine affect how you make yours. build it with what you got.

Wind turbines are not only Great to make but if made right can be good source of electricity.

The way i will be using this Electricity is this.
The Turbine will produce a current that will be all over the place and that i will run through a 'Regulator"
to Convert it into a usable and steady 12v, this will charge a bank of batteries.
from this i will use an inverter to convert that battery power into a usable voltage (240v). from there its pretty straight forward. (lights. etc)

This is a simple wind turbine Design that i built in less than 1 day.
This is what it is made up of

MATERIALS(I cant really give any specific lenghs and sizes because... everybody is going to be different ... Its all Relative)

Blades (salvaged From an AIRCON)
Iron Rod (for extending wings)
DC Motor (salvaged From Treadmil)
Swivel Deck (i got it from a salvage yard. i think it it a wheel mount for a ride-on lawnmower)
Mast (Steel Pipe) (Pre-Loved ...of course)
Steel RHS (Motor Will be mounted onto this ... this will also be welded to the swivel deck
Directional 'WING' (sign writing material board) (aluminum Plastic Composite Panel)
BOLTS ( for mounting Motor to RHS)(and mounting 'wing to the mounting Angle)
Angle iron (for mounting Directional Wing)
Power Cable
Galvanising Spray paint

(ill keep this instructable just about the turbine for now so at this point i wont include all the batteries and
instruments like the inverter or the voltage regulator)

I should also mention This Turbine Project Costed Me 'Little to Nothing'


I used Basic Tools In building this Wind Turbine

Grinder (cutting disks and polishing/sanding disks)
Shifting Spanner (wrench)
Cable Ties
Spit and grit and a Whole lot of Duct tape
Portable Welder
Multi-Meter (Electronics testing meter)
Drill Gun
Drill Bits
Hammers (for hitting)
Tape Measure (For Measuring)
(basic tools needed for dismantling all material holding items)

This Has Been My Entry into the Instructable 'Green Living & Technology Challenge'
So once you have rated this instructable don't forget to VOTE

This Wind Turbine is Not only Effective in Producing Electricity it has been made at LOW (if Any) cost

Stay tuned for Power Output Readings


So i ended up not getting a tool for measuring how fast the wind was going, but on an average day is.
between 15-18 Volts and and up to 28-32 volts on a more windy day. ranges between 400 and 750W depending on the wind....

Being that it is relatively low. i feel this is a good effort for the height, but will start to build a bigger pole to put it on, Probably 25-30 feet or around 10 metres which gets it in the sweet spot.
where i work and the building surrounding creates a kind of wind tunnel that is perfect, i just need to put it high in the sky and watch it fly...

Step 1: Blade

Picture of Blade

i cut blades from an aircon.. i then welded them to a piece of steel rod which then welded to the center washer setup. 

Step 2: DC Motor

Picture of DC Motor

Thls Motor is from a treadmill Workout machine that was Destined for Scrap metal

When this Motor Spins it easily Produces power and with a Regulator ill just keep it at 12volts..

Step 3: Joining Motor to BIade Lt Is Simple As Just Welding the Two PiecesSetup

Picture of Joining Motor to BIade Lt Is Simple As Just Welding the Two PiecesSetup

lts simple as Just welding the 2 together

Step 4: Join Motor to Swivel Deck.

Picture of Join Motor to Swivel Deck.


Step 5: Mount Wing

Picture of Mount Wing

Mount wing.(use Bolts)

Step 6: Extend Pipe Mast

Picture of Extend Pipe Mast

Extend Pipe Mast by Welding more Pipe to the end of the short Piece.

Step 7: Mountingl Welded the Mast

Picture of Mountingl Welded the Mast

i welded the mast straight to a sea container roof structure.

Step 8: Conclusions

Picture of Conclusions

this project took Me less than a day to make. I think any Body can Build these things And the only thing limiting Design is your imagination.

 this has Been My entry into the 'green projects,' Competition.

I should also mention that I didn't pay for a Single thing. I salvaged it ALL!


onrust (author)2011-08-14

Thats just beautiful man!

nadz001 (author)2011-08-14

Well done Push. Impressive..most impressive... :)

rimar2000 (author)2011-08-11

Great job! Congrats.

Moscow_Wolf (author)2016-05-26

Only just found this project and I think it is great. You mentioned a regulator, do you have any brands/models you could name as I'd like to build something similar to trickle charge a caravan 12v leisure battery. Thank you.

bsroon (author)2016-05-03

Thanks for the simplel, uncomplicated approach. In my 6 decades i've observed that the more technology gets thrown at stuff, the more inclined things seem toward breaking down. Then - you need to hire a specialized expert or replace specialized equipment at greatly excessive cost.
Keeping it simple makes repair, replacement, or improvements so much easier.

And how do you beat that free part?

manutea (author)2015-04-12

That 's a KISS (keep it simple stupid) project and i like it also, cool for distant islands.

Thanx for sharing it

metalfury (author)2011-08-14

Could the same thing be done with a car alternator?

What do you use the turbine to power?

Thanks for sharing :-)

Pushthatbolder (author)metalfury2011-08-14

i find that 'permanent Magnet DC Motors' (like the one i have) work better.
ive tried and failed with the car alternator (unless you find a super efficient alternator)

J-Ri (author)Pushthatbolder2011-08-15

Generators and alternators have similar efficiency when driven off a power source that can always turn them above a minimum RPM (eg. car engine). I think the problem is that the blades here are too small to turn an alternator directly, perhaps running the power through a gearbox would help, or maybe there is just too little power to do this, as an alternator uses a steady amount of power for it's magnetic field. One thing to note is that an alternator does require power to make power, it relies on electromagnetism to generate power, as there are no permanent magnets inside. If you turn an alternator and it doesn't have power at the field terminal, it will create NO power, no matter how fast it is turned.

I suspect that if you were to run a bit more voltage to the field terminal (if it's a separate terminal, some are linked to the output terminal internally) the efficiency would be greater. This would require extra parts and a bit more know-how to build a DC/DC voltage converter, or lose some efficiency running an AC/DC transformer/rectifier. Just a thought, and it may be incorrect too.

_CrashA_ (author)J-Ri2014-10-11

Alternators are very efficient and can produce a hell of a lot of power if setup right. To get it up to speed, you can use gears, belts, etc.

All you need is a little 9v lamp or so such as the indicator lamp to show the alternators getting power when you turn your ignition in your car - connect that to the positive terminal on the alternator, and the output to a battery you want to charge, then connect the case of the alternator to ground (battery negative terminal). When spun to a certain speed (not very fast) you'll see the lamp go out which indicates that the alternator is powering itself and doesn't need a power source to excite it's magnetic field on the rotor any more.

I thought of an idea where if you have a resistor in series with a relay, so that lets say, if the battery voltage drops below 12v, it'll turn off the relay since it cant get enough power, so then the alternator will charge the battery back up. This is just a suggestion.

And yes, with an alternator you still need a battery to make it self-excite, but at least it generates a hell of a lot more power than what you put into it.

Horsehockey (author)J-Ri2012-01-17

Power (12v DC) to energise the Alternator comes from the auto ignition switch, from there to the ALT light on the instrument cluster, then to the FLD terminal on the alternator. If the bulb in the ALT light burns out, then there is no power to the field terminal and the Alternator won't work. After the alternator starts turning and starts producing power it is self energised by the internal voltage regulator, and the light on the instrument cluster goes out. To learn this cost me a bit of money. Replaced the alternator because of a burned out bulb.
I have not measured the voltage or current after the bulb reduced them by acting as a resistor. Can't be much though. Most electronic devices such as the internal voltage regulator, operate on 5 volts DC.
A 6 volt lantern battery and a push button (momentary on) switch will energise the alternator field. If the wind stops, the field will need to be re-energised again. Maybe some reader can come up with an automatic solution.
I saw on another site where the fellow had made large blades for his "windmill" generator from 4 inch PVC thin wall pipe. He charged his auto batteries from the wind on a high Arizona Desert. I don't have the computer skills to add his website address.

astral_mage (author)Horsehockey2014-03-12

copy an paste the link. even if it dont under link. any body can do a google search of it.

J-Ri (author)Horsehockey2012-01-17

I'm an automotive technician and have never seen the setup you describe. I'm curious what year/make/model the vehicle is. Typically the bulb and/or fuse can be removed and the alternator will continue to charge. The bulb in my truck has been burnt out for years and it charges fine.

The field terminal requires at least a few amps (10-15 amp fuse is typical, although I have never actually measured the amperage, so lets say 5-8 amps) to generate any appreciable magnetic field, which simply cannot flow through an in-dash bulb, typically a 194 style or similar bulb, which use only about .25 amp when lit at full brightness.

The charge indicator lamp has key-on power, and the "ground" is connected to the alternator. When the alternator is charging, there is battery voltage to both sides of the bulb, and therefore no current flows. If the alternator stops charging, the voltage regulator grounds the bulb, illuminating it. On some newer vehicles the light may be controlled entirely by a module that senses the actual battery voltage, and have no direct connection to the alternator.

I would be extremely hesitant to connect 6 volts to any electronic device that was designed to run on 5 volts. Even a very small over-voltage condition can take out electronic devices. In cars, 5v means 5.0v , 12v usually means anywhere from 9v to 16v (I have seen a defective voltage regulator charge at 21v (yes, twenty one) on a 12v system and no electronics were harmed, although the battery was boiled just about dry and the case was bulged out). All electronic modules have internal voltage regulators that usually turn the system voltage into 5v, although I have seen some Chrysler vehicles that use 8v computers. Another thing to note is that on the vehicles that have 5v input to the alternator, it is almost always a pulse-width modulated signal that tells the alternator what duty cycle to run the field at. I don't think most are designed to run at 100% duty cycle, 90% is the highest I have seen. I would be curious to know what vehicle supplies 5v to run the voltage regulator as well. in my experience, the voltage regulator receives switched 12v (from the ignition switch or the BCM/PCM, etc.) which is internally regulated down to the 5v it runs on.

As far as an automatic version of your idea, it isn't hard to do. All you need is:

-A second, very small rechargeable battery - a few amp-hours should be enough (for simplicities sake, lets say the same voltage as the main battery(ies)). This battery would be isolated from the main battery using a diode, unless the designer of the circuit opted to add over-discharge protection to the main battery, which would make the second battery and diode unnecessary. I personally prefer to have the option to run the battery completely dead, should the need arise.

-A microcontroller IC, such as the Atmel Atmega 168 or 328 (used in Arduinos), BASIC stamps, PICs... whichever one you want to use.

-various electronic components (resistors/capacitors/transistors/voltage regulator, etc.)

-very small DC generator (we only need voltage, there is almost no amperage required here)

-wires/perf. board/other hook-up stuff

The generator would be mechanically connected to the same turbine as the alternator.

The circuit would consist of the small DC generator being connected to ground and one of the analog inputs on the microcontroller, a resistor connected in series with the generator, and a zener diode (like a pressure relief valve) to ground between the resistor and the microcontroller, in the event that it generated more than 5v. A transistor (like a digitally controlled switch, or a relay with VERY low current on the control side) would be connected to one of the output pins, which would go to the field coil. The program for the microcontroller would basically be this: (pseudo-code)

if (analog input 1 is greater than X*)
then turn on output 1

* X would be the value that you calculate the generator must make in order for it to be worth turning on the field coil

Basically, all that program is saying is "if the generator makes more than X volts, turn on the field coil." The voltage on the generator is proportional to the RPM, so with a bit of experimenting and some precise measurement devices, we could make the field coil come on only if we'll be generating enough power to run the field coil AND charge the battery.

Hopefully I'll be moving somewhere that I'm allowed to construct a wind turbine fairly soon. When/if I do, I'll be making the controller I just described (and experiment with using alternators instead of generators) and I'll make an instructable detailing the project. Another good thing about the microcontroller is that we can also turn off the field coil if the battery voltage becomes too high, all we would need is one more wire, two resistors to divide the voltage to something that doesn't take out the analog to digital converter in the IC, and a bit more code (no pun intended... is that really a pun? I laughed proofreading is, so I'm saying it is!). We could even modify the circuit/code to use the small generator to help charge the battery. Or we could vary the pulse width modulation on a compatible alternator so the alternator doesn't stop the turbine from spinning in low wind conditions. Everything needed for the controller should cost less than $15 (rough guess). Pretty cool things, electronics :)

Also, I did a quick Google search for "PVC pipe turbine", and found this, I think it's the page you were referring to.

josh1001 (author)J-Ri2011-08-20

or you could just replace the rotor with a permanent magnet

josh1001 (author)Pushthatbolder2011-08-20

the problem wiht a car alternator is that most dont have in a permanent magnet, you would have to desassemble, take the coil off the rotor and then replace that with a permanent magnet from a speaker or something

metalfury (author)Pushthatbolder2011-08-14

Thanks for the reply :-)

I'll start searching the scrap yard!

metalfury (author)metalfury2011-08-15

Just seen the second reply from jriley-4. Thanks for all the details, there's lots to learn about.


Russell McMahon (author)2014-09-17

This claim " ... 400 and 750W ..." if true would "break the laws of Physics".

How much else does I know not.
At 10 m/s or about 20 kph a square metre of swept area at 100% efficincy give 600 Watts. This unity would be VERY lucky to give 20% = 120W at 1 m^2. I'd est area at about 0.5m^2 = 60W at 10 m/s.
To get to 400W increase is 400/60 = factor of ~= 6.5. Power rises as V^3 so V is ~+ 1.9 x as high (actually 1.8 m/s calc ) or about 66 kph or 42 mph. That's i an extremely high wind. Lethally high in this case.
It may spin and it may make power and it's fun, but nowhere near as 'powerful' as claimed.

itzsnitz (author)2011-08-14

I'm curious to discover your output voltage/current. You may have an opportunity to improve efficiency if you use a small gearbox. Have you researched the average wind speeds at your installation site?

Avg. Wind Speed Data:

Pushthatbolder (author)itzsnitz2014-05-04

I've Experimented with gearing, but it would mean i would need longer fins.

if i double the fins length and weight, i can quadruple the maximum output, therefore allowing for at least a 1:2 ratio or even a 1:4 ratio. but at these rates, it would need a lot of power in the wind to start.

If i had enough time and money, i was going to look at Automatic transmissions from cars and motorbikes and install one on a larger unit, in theory it would work, well not conventionally, but i dont always think 'conventionally' and my plan is very likely to work...

With access to scrap metal, you could build a large scale replica for under a few hundred bucks. @itzsnitz

itzsnitz (author)Pushthatbolder2014-05-05


I would think a bicycle gearset or small CVT would be better than an automatic motorcycle or automotive gearbox. In an installation such as yours, the mass of moving components is a major control on your minimum wind speed. My thinking was that a light duty gearbox would allow you to spin the turbine at various speeds while staying within the efficient powerband of the generator. With a bicycle gearset, your arduino would control the shifting based upon measured wind speed (or blade speed) to maintain the most efficient generator output. A passive CVT would achieve the same result (if properly designed) without any controls. Do you have any overspeed protection?

Pushthatbolder (author)itzsnitz2011-08-14

stay tuned for power output readings (when its not raining)

badace (author)Pushthatbolder2011-08-16

Can't wait to hear how much power this is putting out!

Even if it just powered some CFLs or an iPad/Laptop I'd say you have a success story.

Great Intractable.

de4th98 (author)2013-12-15

Is the motor waterproof.

Pushthatbolder (author)de4th982014-05-04

Water Proof, Yes... years on and still going strong.

spylock (author)2011-09-23

How much wind does it take to turn yours,Ive got a 125 watt wind turbine and I dont think its spun one time the 5 days its been up,mine suppose to start producing a around 8 mph and do its best between 15 and 25.

Pushthatbolder (author)spylock2011-09-23

it doesnt take much at all, we dont have mph we have kmph which i would say is an average of 10mph

spylock (author)Pushthatbolder2011-09-24

Where Im at the winds arent very constant,we my have days where the wind blows,then again it could be like now,the wind isnt doing jack.

spylock (author)2011-09-23

Sorry,its a 150 watt.

shuja.shaher (author)2011-08-15

Where else do you find the DC motors, other than treadmills?
Can you give some idea where to look?

skeptikool (author)shuja.shaher2011-08-26

It may not be in all models but Black and Decker have a very powerful permanent magnet motor in their lawnmowers. Wonderful to power a bicycle. Perhaps you can learn more by Googling a schematic of their different electric mowers.

Mario1 (author)2011-08-25

Looks really nice for such a low cost, great job!

lgonzalez mejia (author)2011-08-14

I only need something to control the battery charging anyone knows how to make a

Dr.Bill (author)lgonzalez mejia2011-08-18

This guy built a Charge Controller for his Wind Generator and gives us the schematics.

Dr.Bill (author)lgonzalez mejia2011-08-17

Charge Controller?

Dr.Bill (author)Dr.Bill2011-08-18

This guy built a Charge Controller for his Wind Generator and gives us the schematics.

I've seen some of these that use the alternator out of a truck. the chevy alternators have a built in voltage regulator. the old ford alternators from the '70s used an external voltage regulator so if you could find one of those it should work. my plan is use a chevy alternator because just about all years and models of those have the voltage regulator built in.

or thanks for this info

Dr.Bill (author)2011-08-17

This guy built a Charge Controller for his Wind Generator and gives us the schematics.

profpat (author)2011-08-17

great work! nice to salvage lots of things...

eight (author)2011-08-15

Onya mate!

Great to see some Aussie ingenuity happening here.
You got my vote.
Mining huh ? You a WA boy, like me?

Pushthatbolder (author)eight2011-08-15

ummm. yep

eight (author)Pushthatbolder2011-08-15

I'm a mechy fitter by trade, so loved your efforts.
I hope you go on to win the competition.

Catchyalater man.

christinacovert (author)2011-08-14

Ok- I get the jest of this. I love it and I think the turbines are great. You did a great one here. But my question is-- for us new to this, is how do you *wire* everything up so you can use the power back into your home? That part I don't get. Is there a power source you use or something to hook everything into? Please explain. As yours is the first I have read on such.
Thank you...

You would not use something this small to wire power back into your home. The expense to do so would be so great relative to the power you got out of this. Additionally, this turbine is not going to be able to deliver 120V AC no matter what you do with it.

But as the author says, you charge up an array of 12V batteries. From 12v batteries you can power 12V lighting commonly found as RV lighting.

Or you could run the 12V into a DC->AC inverter to get 120V (but unless you had a lot of batteries, you would not sustain much of a 120V load for very long).

I am not trying to diminish the author's excellent instructable, which I think has practical value. Just trying to answer your question.

Pushthatbolder (author)scottinnh2011-08-14

i have a bank of Heavy Machinery batteries (mining equipment) so i have the capacity. i also have an inverter that will convert my power from 12v to 240v (im in Australia) ...
the lights that i am going to power is a series of 10X LED light globes that are 25watts so all i need is 250watts max ... this turbine is MORE that enough, and then would also use this in a series of other power making gizmos to maximize power production
stay tuned for some output reading (its raining right now )
This is my entry for the 'Green Living and Technology Challenge'. so don't forget to vote

J-Ri (author)Pushthatbolder2011-08-15

I love this idea, I've got all the parts I need laying in my garage, I just need to find the time to make it.

One suggestion for anyone else planning on using this for LED lighting (or anything else that is converted back into DC inside the device), is to make them use the DC that's in the battery. That would save power and cost by not needing an inverter. I think the author's LED string is probably wired in parallel with a resistor in each globe. If the wiring were changed to a series circuit, the resistor could be much smaller, or possibly non-existent if the voltage drop on each LED were enough. I don't think each LED is 25W, that would be super-bright, so some of that must be lost in the resistors.

Pushthatbolder (author)J-Ri2011-08-15

the LED lighting are globes all ready to plug into the power. (looks like a light globe) and i will be running them off of the stored battery power. so i ended up getting 20w Globes(220-240V) 67Lm/w. they are bright but it is a good bright . its the screw type so ill just connect them into the string line..(long power cord with 10x fittings for light globes)

ill probably put another step in for that (or another instructable) lol..
but. i run the power cable down the mast (through the support angle) into the sea container, into a voltage regulator, charging a bank of batteries(salvaged) then from there i just power lights (lights dont take up alot of power) ... if i wanted to i could rig it to my power meter and run my house from there.

If you did that you would fry something 12v to 120 v. wont be compatible! How can you hook it up to your power meter and run your house from there, as you stated ?

About This Instructable




Bio: a maker, creator, tinker and wiz ... i like to get my hands dirty skills included - Welding - Metal work - Woodworking - Electronics (construction and my favourite 'deconstructing ... More »
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