Introduction: A VAWT Using an F&P Motor and a Turbine Development Charge Controller.

Picture of A VAWT Using an F&P Motor and a Turbine Development Charge Controller.

Your first question is probably, what's a Turbine Development Charge Controller?

It is a Charge Controller that can be used for both wind or solar and has been further developed so that it measures wind and rotor speed, the resulting amps and watts, and records the data, every minute, to a data stick. This device has proven invaluable to me in assessing the effectiveness, or otherwise, of any modifications or changes I have made to the turbine.

This Renewable Energy project, designed to help contribute to the running of a 600litre Reef tank (Marine fish and corals), was started way back in March 2014, it is now December. Delays have been frequent and for many different reasons but the version you see above, when connected to a load, starts to move in winds of 1 mph, easily spins in winds of 2-3 mph and starts to produce a charge from the F&P generator in wind speeds of 6-7 mph. This produces a rotor speed of around 55 rpm.

The entire project is a Hybrid, Wind and Solar. but I have cheated with the solar panel because I could purchase a 100W panel for less that I could make one, plus I'm crap at tabbing solar cells. This Instructable therefore concentrates on the wind turbine.

It is already well documented that a VAWT is not as efficient as a HAWT. However living on a housing estate, surrounded by sheltered, turbulent wind and neighbours, a VAWT had to be used. Please don't make the mistake that I made of researching the average wind speed in my area on the Internet, rather than using an Anemometer to do actual measurements. Take it from me, living in an urban environment has a dramatic effect on prevailing wind speed. The average for my area is documented on the Internet as being between 11-14 mph. The actual wind speed at the bottom of my garden when winds of 11-14mph are blowing is more like 4-5 mph!

The Instructable outlines some of the other difficulties I have encountered over the months caused by a lack of wind, the limitations of a VAWT, and a great many design flaws resulting in misalignment and resistance issues.

The version you see above is the first one following a radical rethink of the design. As can be seen from the images it starts with a vertical pole connected directly to the F&P motor. The connection between the two elements ensures alignment and is totally resistance free.

Please read on, and one thing I can promise is that this turbine WORKS. It generates a charge to the batteries in winds of 6-7 mph. This wind speed produces a rotor speed of around 55 rpm at which point the F&P generator is producing around 1/2 an amp. The F&P generator is capable of producing a maximum of 10 amps. That's 120 watts from a washing machine motor!

If anyone is interested in the Turbine Development Charge Controller, the guy that made it for me had a small quantity made prior to making it available commercially in the near future. I will happily pass on your messages to him. He has a small quantity left.

Step 1: The Short Story So Far.

Picture of The Short Story So Far.

This project has been on going since March 2014 and this Instructable shows some of the modifications and changes that I have made over the months to try to achieve my objective of a "renewable energy system" producing free electricity, 12 months of the year. The images show some of the previous versions of the VAWT.

When I started the project I knew nothing about renewable energy so turned to the internet for information. One thing that became very obvious from the outset were the plethora of opinions and approaches that had already been tried. This Instructable sets out to explain how I decided to approach the subject and I make no claim that it is the best approach, but what I can assure you is, that it works!

There can be little argument that to achieve some FREE electricity 12 months of the year requires a combination of approaches, or a very large, geared turbine. This fact alone was the reason I chose to build a Hybrid system so capitalizing on the resources of Sun and Wind.

After a few weeks of research I initially decided to purchase and use an Ametek30 on what I now know is called a HAWT. Further research, after purchasing the Ametek30, clearly indicated that I would need to use a VAWT and so my difficulties started. I believe it is appropriate to say that an Ametek30 is great as a generator on a HAWT, but not on a VAWT.

After a couple of months of trying to overcome the issues of torque and lack of speed, I decided to ditch the Ametek and purchase a Fisher Paykel washing machine motor. A few weeks later the F&P had been modified as shown later and work commenced to optimise the rotor. This increasingly involved overcoming the issues of misalignment and resistance between the 3 separate elements of the turbine, tower, generator and rotor.

A radical rethink of the design saw me create the version you see on the previous page. It works far better than previous versions and already exceeds the output data produced by a company involved with modifying and testing the F&P motor some years ago.

Step 2: The F&P Generator - Background and Sourcing.

Picture of The F&P Generator - Background and Sourcing.

As this element is so critical to the success of the project, I will divide it into various easy steps to explain the background, sourcing and re wiring of the motor. This one covers the background and sourcing of an F&P motor.

F&P Motor

The Fisher Paykel Direct drive washing machine motor, to give it its full title is made, obviously, by Fisher and Paykel, an Australian company. Their products have spread throughout the world but sourcing a used washing machine motor from the UK may prove difficult. I was fortunate enough to find a complete stator, rotary motor and housing in the States. It cost, including shipping, £140 that was partly financed by selling the Ametek30 that I was originally going to use on this project.

F&P motors have gone through 4 phases of development since their introduction many years ago. The first 3 models all have 42 coils, but the one you need, which has been available for some years now, has 36 coils. The 36 coil models were produced in 2 versions. The first, using copper wire to wind the coils, and a cheaper version, using aluminium wire. Obviously it is the copper wire version that you will need.

Identifying the correct type of F&P stator.

There are a number of tell tale signs that indicate the type of wiring used. The stator, wound with copper wire, weighs in excess of 4Kgs (8-9lbs) and when compared to the aluminium version, if you can, the coils are lighter in colour.. The aluminium wound version weighs around 2.4Kgs and has the letters AL stamped on it.

WORD OF CAUTION: There are a great many F&P clones available in the UK including from LG, Samsung and Whirlpool. I purchased a complete LG washing machine stator and motor body off Ebay, for £44. Result I thought, until I came to modify the wiring. The wire was aluminium! Don't, please, make the same mistake. I did get my money back, because the seller had told me that it wasn't aluminium because there was no AL stamped on the stator. Clones don't have the stamp!

Step 3: Rewiring an F&P Washing Machine Stator

Picture of Rewiring an F&P Washing Machine Stator

I bought the F&P motor on the recommendation of Karasouli because they believed it would produce the output I was looking for and was better suited to a VAWT. They had done extensive research for a client which not only proved the effectiveness of a rewired F&P motor but found a way to wire it that gained the best output figures. Once mine has been further modified by Karasouli I will be able to explain more..

Rewiring an F&P motor

You will see many video's on You Tube and elsewhere on the internet showing how to rewire an F&P motor to become a generator. There are a few ways to do it, the most frequently used ones being Star and Delta.

In a nutshell, the Star configuration produces a high voltage but a low current, whereas Delta produces a lower voltage but.a higher current. The benefits are that if you choose a Star configuration, your rotor will start easily and spin freely to produce volts in the 00's. A Delta configuration will see your rotor take longer to start , requiring more torque, but produce a higher current.

I have however wired my motor in what is referred to as 3x4 and then further wired the motor outside the stator so that I can switch from Star to Delta depending on the wind speed, all will become clear later.

Rewiring the stator.

As already mentioned you need a 36 coil stator. I found that taking time to familiarise myself with the way the stator was wired initially, made rewiring it very easy. So here goes.

There are 3 strings of 12 coils making up the 36. If you locate the 2 power points on the stator you will find 2 sets of 3 wires pressed into housings.

Locate the wire that leads to the first coil after the power connection and you will see the wire exits the first coil and joins/forms coil number 4, then to coil 7, then to 10. Therefore your first string of 12 coils is coils 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31 and 34. String number 2 is coil 2, 5, 8, 11 etc String 3 is coil 3, 6, 9 etc.

Basically, all you are going to do is take each string of 12 coils, and cut the wires to form 3 sets of 4.interconnected coils. In other words, starting with String 1, your 3 sets of 4 are; 1, 4, 7 and 10.. 13, 16, 19 and 22,. Then 25, 28, 31 and 34. Do, one string at a time as it makes it much easier.. Also, before you go cutting any wires check, double check, and then check again to make sure you have got it right. I marked where I was going to cut each wire with tape.

Having cut the copper wire in the centre between the coils and removed them from the power connectors. You will then have an end (call it an IN), coils 1, 4, 7, and 10, and then an end (call it an OUT). Then an end (IN), coils 13, 16. 19 and 21 and an end (OUT). Finally, an IN, coils 25, 28, 31 and 34 and an out. With me so far?

What you are now going to do is connect (solder) the 3 INS to a single length of wire, see the image above. (I used 1.5mmj wire which is rated at over 10 amps) I also cut the cable long enough so that I had an extra length to take outside of the stator, again see the images above. Once you have connected the 3 INS to the wire, take another length of wire and do the same thing with the 3 OUTS.

Before soldering the copper winding wire to the 1.5mm wire you will need to remove the enamel coating with emery cloth. I removed it then tinned the wire to ensure I had removed all the enamel.

When you've completed the first string of 12, do exactly the same with strings 2 and 3. This will mean that you now have 6 wires coming out of the stator, which are infact 3 pairs. 1, 3 and 5 are the INS, 2, 4 and 6 are the OUTS. You will notice that I used brown wire for the INS and blue wire for the OUTS. I also, before putting the stator into the motor housing, identified each of the INS and OUTS and attached a piece of insulating tape and wrote onto the tape which end it was. Made life a whole lot easier later.

Finally I tidied everything up using zip ties, but also double checked the pairs of wires by doing a Continuity test.

To do a continuity test, set your Multimeter to the speaker symbol on the main dial and connect your probes to 1 and 2. The Multimeter should PING at you, indicating a pair. Then do the same for 3 and 4 and 5 and 6. Also test that non pairs don't ping, just belt and braces!

You are now ready to connect the rewired stator to a 3PCO switch and then to a rectifier. See the next page.

Step 4: Further Modifications to the F&P Motor

Picture of Further Modifications to the F&P Motor

As the new design called for the F&P motor to be connected directly to the rotor. This required me to modify the top of the motor.

I turned to good old polyester resin, fiberglass sheet and 10mm metal studding as can be seen on the images above.

The "mould" around the top of the motor was created using gaffer tape and the bolts held in place whilst the resin set by a temporary wooden template.

When completed, the top was heavier and far more rigid than the flimsy plastic top and this had the effect of making the top rotate much closer and in total alignment with the stator coils. This improvement became evident when I bench tested the motor attached to the rotor. With just a short rotation, the Multimeter registered over 20 volts when in the Star configuration and over 12 in Delta, previous tests had shown single figures.

Step 5: Connecting the Stator to the Rectifier.

Picture of Connecting the Stator to the Rectifier.

When you have completed the wiring in the previous section and completed your Continuity test to ensure the correct pairs have been identified. It is then time to wire the 6 tails into a switching device, and then to an AC rectifier.

I will draw a diagram of the wiring needed for the switching device and add it later but it is very easy to do.

Switching Device

You need 3 x 3PCO switches, something to mount them on, I used a small piece of 6mm acrylic, 6 x spade connectors and 3 x piggy back connectors. Finally, 2 short pieces of the wire you used earlier to common 3 of the connectors...

Attach the 3 x 3PCO switches to the acrylic. You now have 3 x up and down switches on one side and the main bodies, with 9 connection points on the other.

Attach 3 of the spade connectors to the tails numbered 2, 4 and 6. Then attach piggy back connectors to the tails 1, 3 and 5. Make 3 more leads of approximately 250mm and attach spade connectors to one end.

You now have 3 rows of 3 connections on the main bodies of the switches, top, middle and bottom and the tails with spade connectors as listed above. Attach, from left to right, tails 3, 5 and 1, the ones with piggy back connectors and in the orderwritten, along the top row. Then attach, again from left to right, tails 2, 4 and 6, along the middle. Using the 2 short pieces of wire, solder them to the 3 connections on the bottom row. Then you can add your 3 extra wires with spade connectors to the piggy back connectors along the top row.

What you have now is a manual switching device that enables you to switch from Star to Delta as the wind dictates. When all 3 switches are in the down position you are in Star and in the up position, Delta. It is highly likely that this switching between Star and Delta will be achieved automatically in the near future.

Connecting the rectifier

The 3 extra wires attached to your piggy back connectors are now wired into the 3 input connections of the rectifier, the order isn't important.

Checking output

You can now check your work by attaching a Multimeter to the 2 output connections of the rectifier. Simply put the +ve lead of the meter into the +ve connection of the rectifier and similarly the -ve. The red probe is in VNmA and black in COM, set the dial to 20 volts and spin the top of the motor. You should see the voltage register.

Once you put the motor back together and connect it to the rotor. You are now ready to test the entire turbine by attaching the rectifier to a car battery.

Step 6: Building the Rotor

Picture of Building the Rotor

Right, we now have a generator capable of producing a charging voltage (15V) at a speed of roughly 60 rpm, with a maximum output of just over 12 amp at a speed of around 200rpm. I've seen the data from Karasouli.

It is now a case of building a rotor that spins fast enough in the prevailing wind speeds to generate the current. This has proven to be the time consuming element of the project because rotors that look good and rotate well in the workshop have often proved totally useless once attached to a load, my motor and a battery.

Please don't fall into this easy trap to fall into of "testing" without a load attached. A rotor with a load attached is the ONLY WAY of knowing that it is effective. Trust me, been there, done that, got that tee shirt..

The images you see above is a new prototype I built after a radical rethink about how I could overcome the issues of misalignment and resistance. It is already proving itself to be the best design so far, largely I believe because of the resistance free rotation.

Like previous versions the blades are made from guttering. However, unlike others, the guttering used is referred to as Industrial Guttering, HUNTER to be precise. With the motor and a load attached this rotor starts rotating in fluffy gusts of less than 5 mph. I have an Anemometer.

Because of the simplicity of the rotor design, I am reluctant to go into great detail over how it is made, but I do need to provide some simple information.

The Blades

Hunter Industrial guttering is 200mm wide, and I cut it lengthways using a panel saw to produce "blades" with a basic aerodynamic shape that were over 7" wide, see the image.. The blade was cut to 1200mm in length and attached to wooden supports, again see the image, through which was drilled a 7mm hole to take a 6mm wingnut and bolt to allow me to easily fix and adjust it on the disc to allow for easy optimisation.. This design has seen a reduction in the number of blades down to 7.

The discs

The discs are 600mm in diameter and are made from 18mm marine plywood. Alarge hole was cut into the centre of the bottom disc to accommodate the scaffold pole

Connecting the motor to the rotor

The image shows how I attached the modified motor to the top of the rotor. The connection is made using the 4 x 10mm bolts. I placed a 12mm plywood disc on top of the motor top. then 4 x metal tubes that I'd had made for a previous version. Then the top of the rotor was attached and secured with 10mm nuts and covered with plastic covers to protect the nuts from the elements.

Connecting the motor to the scaffold pole

This was the critical part of the build because the housing had to be strong enough to hold everything in alignment. I created the man housing using 70mm x 70mm square tubing with 4mm walls. This gave an internal dimension of 62mm, the housing on the motor was 62mm square so with a few strokes with a smooth file, it slipped into the square tube.

Then it was a case of holding the motor and bearings (see later) at the correct height. I purchased a solid cube of aluminium 60x60x60mm. This was slid down inside the square tube to the correct height and then a 12mm hole was drilled through the square tube and the solid block and then a 12mm nut and bolt was passed through the hole and secured in place. Then I had to fit the round scaffold pole into the square tube.

I achieved this by inserting a length of 60mm diameter circular tube into the square tube. I secured the round tube in place by drilling and then tapping 2 x 12mm holes into which I screwed 2 x 12mm bolts. These bolts served a dual purpose of holding the tube in place and enabling me to secure the housing directly to the scaffold pole.

Special note re the scaffold pole.

I keep referring to it as a scaffold pole but it is actually a pole used on a scaffold tower. The difference is that the standard diameter of a scaffold pole is 48.3mm whereas the diameter of poles used for a scaffold tower is 50.8. This diameter of pole gave a slightly better fit between th housing and the main pole.

Achieving resistance free Rotation

Finally I had to create something that would take the weight of the motor and rotor, which was fairly substantial, and would produce resistance free rotation.

I turned to a single 13mm ball bearing which I sat directlyy onto the top of the load bearing bearing with the 12mm bore that I had been using from the outset. I drilled a small grove into the bottom of the main drive shaft which then sat on top of the ball bearing. See the image above.

This "unit" was then dropped onto the solid block of aluminium into a short piece of the round tube used in the bottom section of the housing to help centre it. The complete unit and ball bearing was covered in silicone tubing and the motor housing was then lowered down into the square housing and sits on top of the 13mm ball bearing.

The result is a rotor that starts to rotate with the merest touch.

Below is a list of the materials I used, and the rotor image should then be enough for any competent DIY'er to put together.

Materials required to make the rotor.

2 x 4m lengths of Hunter Industrial PVC guttering

Wood to make the gutter supports. I used Timberboard from Wickes.

18mm marine ply to make the discs

Assorted 12mm nuts, washers and couplers for the drive shaft.

7 x 6mm wing nuts

7 x 6mm bolts to attach the blades

Yacht varnish for the discs

Materials required for the housing.

500mm of 70mm x 70mm x 4mm square tubing

300mm of 60mm diameter round tuning with 4mm walls

Solid block of aluminium 60mm x 60mm x 60mm

12mm nut and bolt

2 x 12mm bolts

1 x SKF Explorer bearing with 12mm bore
Aluminium holder for the Explorer bearing.

13mm ball bearing. Best quality you can afford

Silicone grease for bearings.

Final thoughts and advice

If anyone does need further information about how to make the rotor, please leave a message below.

Step 7: Optimising the Rotor

Picture of Optimising the Rotor

This is the most time consuming element of the project, unless you are lucky with the wind, or have access to a Wind Tunnel.

Also remember that you should only optimise the rotor with a load attached.

Obviously the purpose of optimising is to producer a rotor that spins as fast as possible in the least amount of wind. This is achieved by changing the position and angle of the blades. The basic rules are, blades closer to the centre of the disc, the faster the rotor will rotate, up to a point where insufficient torque is produced to turn the motor. Optimising for more torque, the blades are moved outwards. Every time you move the blades, you need to modify the angle slightly.

To make this whole process easier I pre-drilled holes in the discs to accommodate the bolts that hold the blades and fitted wing nuts so making adjustment of the angle even easier. I also marked the discs so that I had a measure of the angle.

Iit was then a simple case of setting the blades in a hole, adjusting the angle and waiting for the wind to blow so that I could measure wind and rotor speed and the resulting output.

Step 8: Base Unit.

Picture of Base Unit.

Was made using scaffold pole, fittings, wooden base and all screwed onto a concrete block.

The centre section rotates so enabling me to lift and drop the entire turbine when, or if. I need to do any maintenance to the rotor but have to admit that I do most of this in situ by climbing on top of my shed


craftclarity (author)2014-06-13

I'd love to see a video of it in action! It looks really well-designed.

lauriesed (author)craftclarity2014-06-13

Thanks for your interest, movie attached to the front page