Introduction: Small Wind Powered Generator

Picture of Small Wind Powered Generator

As far back as I can remember, I've all ways wanted to make a wind generators.
My 1st and only attempt was back in high school, when I had built one using wooden blades and turning a bicycle generator.

So after getting hooked on Instructables .com and viewing other members wind mill projects, I've been on the lookout for DC motors and thinking of some ideas.

Then one night it hit me.... I had an old cordless drill that I was no longer using.
So after finding and disassembling the drill, is when the brainstorming began :)

Through the months I've added several steps about the 2 different wind generators and the modifications made to both of them as problems arose. 

Step 1: Step(s) After Intro.....

Picture of Step(s) After Intro.....

The chuck tightens down perfectly on the gear that is attached to the motor, which this in turn provides a "hub" for a larger disk for the blades to be attached too . The
blades will have to spin in a clockwise direction to keep the chuck tight.
I cut in half a section of pipe that is slightly larger than the outside diameter of the friction bearings that are between the hub and the chuck. I then used an water hose
repair connector to hold the cut pipe halves around the friction bearings which also will provide support.
I attached the assembly to a plastic peg board.
After getting the unit assemble/attached to the peg board, it fit perfectly inside an 10 oz coffee can

After attaching the blades and hooking up a voltage meter, I took it outside in a very light wind.

The completed unit spins freely and the small DC motor does create a small amount of DC current.
I can/could install a bigger motor using the "chuck".

The day I mounted it atop a pole, a thunderstorm came up with high winds and the wind turbine handle it just fine.

Step 2: Mounting the Unit

Picture of Mounting the Unit

I found an adjustable closet rod that I'll mount the assembled unit on to.

Step 3: Up and Going

Picture of Up and Going

The wire is fed down through the rod and tubing and comes out near the base of the tubing.
With the turbine being painted in a camo scene, it almost isn't noticeable against the tree line.
I live in a low wind area, but it does spin in very light breezes.

Step 4: Prep Work for the Larger Motor

Picture of Prep Work for the Larger Motor

The larger motor fits perfectly into the 10.5 oz coffee can. I cut the bottom off of the can and shoved thick packing foam between the motor and can, then put the plastic top on the bottom of the can
I put silicone around the top of the can and the front plate of the motor.
This motor being an high RPM motor, I'm afraid that it won't produce much more power.
But for $18 and $7 shipping, it's worth a try.

September 2011....
This motor was a flop!
It worked great as for fitting in the can, mounting to the mill and the chuck / blade assembly. But I was lucky to get .5 volts in a steady wind.

Step 5: Larger Motor Up and Spinning

Picture of Larger Motor Up and Spinning

My son and I got the larger motor up and spinning sooner than I had planned.
Like I had mentioned in the previous step, this motor put out very little voltage.

Step 6: On the Farm

Picture of On the Farm

After 6 weeks of watching it spin and weather through high winds from thunderstorms, I figured it was time to put the generator to use.
I have a solar LED lighting system at my parents farm house.
So I drove a metal fence post into the ground and then attached the windmill mast to the post.
Ran a old phone cord about 8' high from the mast to their front porch.
I soldered a blocking diode to a lead and then hooked the leads straight to one of the 12 volt dry cell batteries.
With the small amount of power that the motor/generator puts out, I figured it was OK to bypass the charge controller.
I shoved lots of extra wire back into the mast, in hopes that it would take a long time before the wire would get too twisted from turning into the wind(s).

Step 7: Test Model # 2

Picture of Test Model # 2

Here are images to some ideas that I'm working on for my 2nd test model.
The chuck is from an old Dewalt (R) cordless drill.
I used 2 blocks of wood to secure the motor/generator inside the "U"  bolt.
The drill chuck's bearing is resting in a block of wood that has a "key hole" drilled through it.
The assembled unit is then mounted to the board using the "U" bolt that is holding the motor.
The 6 blades are made from 3" PVC pipe, 18" long, mounted on a small metal disk.
They spin fast!

Covered the assembly with 3" PVC pipe and end caps.

Bolted a floor flange to the bottom of the board with an 1/2" X 10" pipe screwed into the flange.
Then the 1/2" pipe was slide into a 1" X 10' conduit.
The fin is made from a piece of scrap metal.

It almost hit 6 volts during a gust on a fairly breezy day

I took this unit and hooked it up to the charge controller on the solar set up at my mom and dad house.


Step 8: Design #3 Using a 3 to 1 Gearing and a Furling Design

Picture of Design #3 Using a 3 to 1 Gearing and a Furling Design

This unit is using the chuck and geared hub from #1, just reversed.
The gear on the motor matched the gearing from the chuck/hub.
I mounted the motor and chuck/hub to a thin metal plate, then bolted the plate to the windmill.
I used 4" PVC pipe and caps to enclose the motor and chuck/hub.
I'll experiment with blade designs for both speed and torque.

I installed 4 larger blades made from 4" x 2' PVC pipe.

Step 9: Furling

Picture of Furling
After experiencing some minor damage after some recent high winds.
I figured I'd experiment with some type of furling mechanism.
This is about the best I could come up using only parts that I had on hand.
I also added a 2nd tail-fin due to the front of the wind generator being extended out several more inches.

The tension to the springs is adjusted by raising or lowing the nuts on the bolts.
The springs also acts as stopping posts for when it is furled back.

The below video is about the furling mechanism at work in approximately 25-30 mph wind gusts. For over 24 hours the wind generator was hit repeatability by sudden high gust of winds from different directions.
Proud to say that it actually made it through the night :)

Spring 2012
I had to do a modification to the tails fins.
I had to put more space between the fins and more distance between the fins and the blades.

More video of the furling at work while being nailed from high winds/gust from different angles.
The 14' conduit tower is absorbing a lot of the force from the winds.

Here is another video of the WG steadily spinning, but with no furling from moderate winds of another approaching storm.
The improved double fins keep the WG steered into the winds.



ddavis662 (author)2015-08-04


Well, has anyone been successful in building their wind generators?

Any better ideas and improvements? So far, _CrashA_'s idea of the power/audio jack has been the best.

It's been about over 3 yrs since my 1st try. I now live in central Texas where this is a constant wind. I was going to buy a "residental/commercial" windmill, but just reading the reviews alone was enough to forget that idea. So I'm back at it and working up a parts list.

For me, finding a good motor is the biggest problem without spending hundreds of dollars that you'd never get back.

So today I bought this motor and 10/8MM spindle adapter and will go from there. I'm planning to also use some form of a mounted bearing to keep pressure off the motor bearings and adsorb so of the forces from the vertical furling.

Festrada007 (author)ddavis6622017-02-28

I have an idea after watching your videos. you generators seem to stop spinnin in direct wind and pick up when the wind pushes the generator to the side.
So I looked at you blade design and I see the issue. You are trying to make them work more like a water wheel and not like an airfoil.

ddavis662 (author)Festrada0072017-02-28

The blades are not stalling! It is the speed of the blades verses the shutter speed of the camera. Like in a western movie where the wagon wheels appear to be spinning backwards.

_CrashA_ (author)2014-11-30

Great project!

I also use the drill chuck idea on my Wind Turbine, I have a 1/2 UNF 4" Bolt going through a bicycle wheel and into the drill chuck - the threads match perfectly.

One idea to stop your wires from getting twisted is to use an audio or power jack connector to act as the slip ring. If you plug in your headphones to your computer or phone, you can spin that jack all day long without it affecting the sound. Same principle for when the turbine is spinning into the wind, the female audio connector will stay stationary on the pole, and the jack to connect into it will spin with the generator etc.
I'm going to be embedding this idea on mine when I can.

Hope it helps! :)

volkvanmyn25 (author)_CrashA_2015-06-28

Like the idea of the power jack. Thanks.

Great idea!!!

ddavis662 (author)_CrashA_2014-12-02

Thanks and awesome idea about the audio/power jack!!!!!

I one day soon hope to rebuild/built another wind generator!

ddavis662 (author)2014-04-22


For recent updates please visit this other instructables site

ddavis662 (author)2014-02-23

For an old update on the WG

Copy and paste this link

Seangood17 (author)2016-03-09

Would this motor work?
dynamite dyn1171

ddavis662 (author)Seangood172016-03-10

it's hard to say. if it's a low RPM DC motor it should work. mine are low RPM, put out plenty DC volts, but not much amperage. I guess equivalent to s trickle charge :-\

volkvanmyn25 (author)2015-06-28

I'm also busy building a wind generator. The Nema 23 24Vdc stepper motor is a great choice for small wind turbines. It will produce about 20watts of power that you can charge batteries with.

ddavis662 (author)volkvanmyn252015-06-30

that's cool! Good luck and keep us updated!

kahrloz (author)2015-01-08

do you thing a 24v motor at 300rpm is a good idea? I mean..wouldn't it somehow burn?

CarlGemarino (author)2014-09-27

does the wires twist? if so, how do you manage twisting wires?

rwarwick1 (author)2014-08-01

Awesome gearing tactic! Got my gears spinning.

dannyb123 (author)2014-05-19

how do you stop the battery over charging and also do you need ac or dc current to charge a car battery?

ddavis662 (author)dannyb1232014-07-27

over charging wasn't an issue since at the max it would only produce around 13 volts (DC).

You need DC current to charge automobile batteries.

ogremills (author)2014-06-18

Doesn't the furling take away a lot of the potential energy being created? It may be the safer way to go on that slender pole you have the turbine attached to, but I'd think a more substantial pole cemented into the ground could take the higher wind gusts and provide better energy conversion.

ddavis662 (author)ogremills2014-07-27

I had the tension set on the furling mechanism to where it would only furl in high winds or heavy gust during thunderstoms.

felohidalgo (author)2013-10-10

With that amount of wind which is the total voltage pruduced ?

ddavis662 (author)felohidalgo2014-04-22

with those steady high winds, it would put out around 12 volts

felohidalgo (author)ddavis6622014-04-22

Thanks Davis

pbickwermert (author)felohidalgo2014-02-16

Yes. What voltage will it hit in good wind. How many amps or watts does it make? What voltage cordless drill did you use?

Your windgen looks great! Thanks for taking the time to document it.

ddavis662 (author)pbickwermert2014-04-22

In the highest gust before it would furl would be around 13 volts.

I have no idea as to how many amps or watts.

The drill was a cheap cordless drill that was given to me years ago.

ddavis662 (author)pbickwermert2014-02-23

Thanks for the compliments and sorry for the very late reply!!!

It would produce around 12 volts during the high gust of wind.

Not sure about the amps or the watts.

The friction bearing housing finally gave up after a series of heavy thunderstorms.

DIY ZE (author)2014-03-30

you should have left gears from drill attached that way it would hit 12-18 volts on 10m/s wind.

ddavis662 (author)DIY ZE2014-04-22

Yea, your right about that! All I would have had to do was cut the handle off and mount the drill to the base and attach the blade assembly.

1301028 (author)2014-04-09

What do you do when it rains?

ddavis662 (author)13010282014-04-22

Nothing, it was all incased in the PVC pipe with caps

MacOSJoey (author)2012-08-09

You really did a beautiful job with this machine. It's such a simple yet very effective looking design. You're furling system is the first DIY attempt at this style. I'm personally working on my own turbine, but I haven't been able to find a good way to connect the shaft on the blades to the generator. I think I will use your idea, as it seems to work very well. Only two things I would recommend: See about making the generator housing a little more weatherproof. I'm not sure where you are but where I am ice, snow, rain, dust, etc. can wreck havoc on anything. Also you should really see into connecting this turbine to a charge controller and batteries or a grid tie inverter. For how much it spins, it shows potential for a decent power yield.

Great job!!

ddavis662 (author)MacOSJoey2012-08-10

Thanks for the compliment on my work! In connecting the chuck to a shaft, be it the generator or a blade hub, I use a pair of channel lock pliers and vise grips to tighten the chuck as tight as possible. The PVC housing seems OK and I have the wind generator hooked up to a regulator that is part of a solar charge system with 3 dry cell 12 volt batteries at my mom and dads country home.
Check out this instructable,
When I get a chance I'm going to delete it and add it as a step to this instructable.
As you can see the gearing has worn very little and the interior seems fairly clean.
On the housing cover, you can see that the gearing has spun so fast, that it has slung Teflon grease onto the cover.

MacOSJoey (author)ddavis6622012-08-25

Also, does the turbine make as much noise as there is in the video? Is it bothering?

ddavis662 (author)MacOSJoey2012-08-25

yea, the gearing hums that loud. Not bothering at all, it's kind of cool to hear.

Electronics Man (author)2012-06-08

How do you keep the wires coming from the motor from tangling up when the turbine spins around? Is there some kind of stop attached so it cant rotate freely? And also, do you have any ideas on how to make a homemade charge controller for a wind turbine? , do you buy your charge controllers? If so what brand do you recommend?

Sorry for the late reply, I've been on vacation. I just have an old phone line running through the pipe/tower to the generator. If it does twist up, I have to untwist the wire. As for controllers... I don't use a charge controller since the power that is being generated is normally less than 12 volts.
Check this guys site out for a lot technical information that mine lacks...

ddavis662 (author)ddavis6622012-07-18

7/15/12 I took my windmill down to relocate it. This is how twisted the phone line was. Doesn't look to bad to me.?

Wow, that looks really good. I thought it would be worse than that.

ddavis662 (author)2012-06-11
the furling mechanism being put to the test!
Electronics Man (author)2012-06-03

I love the furling mechanism you made. At what wind speed does it start to lift up, and how could you adjust it to lift at different speeds?

Not sure about the wind speeds. I guess somewhere between 20 and 30 mph winds. The furling mechanism can be adjusted by raising or lowering the nuts on the bolts that the springs are attached to.

wow thats great! I never thought of making it that way but now i really want to try

ddavis662 (author)2012-06-04
here is a good video of the wind generator steadily spinning and steering in the winds as a storm approached.
harsat (author)2012-04-04

I do not understand why you are thinking so Small,
how about this, a Gas powered Generator, One where the gas motor does not work,
why can you not take the generator and make a wind turbin out of it?

I mean come on, a drill is fine and dandy for a small school project, but lets get serious, we want to produce electricity, and there are alot of generators that dont work or need to have the gas motor repaired that would make a good
Wind Turbin Generator, I was also thinking what if you hooked up a solar powered battery with a super gear setup to power the generator at night. just an Idea.

ddavis662 (author)2012-01-08

Step 9 is about a furling mechanism that I made after the wind generator blades came loose after a day of high winds.

ddavis662 (author)ddavis6622012-02-12
Check out the furling mechanism at work in 20-30 mph gust.
ddavis662 (author)2012-01-04

Update 1/2/12
Our area experienced high gusty winds, some at over 30 MPH for about 2days.
My four bladed wind generator made it through most of the high winds, then the blade assembly finally spun loose and then was spinning freely on the bolt that was being held by the chuck.
Then the blades wildly spinning wobbling and were striking the mast and ripped off the cover to the gearing and motor.
Only a minor chip on one of the blades.There was times I thought the mast was going to bend, as the generator was spinning wildly in the high gusts.

I should have the wind generator back up and spining in just a matter of days.

ddavis662 (author)2011-11-04

Wind generator in the back ground, with the solar panel mounted to the deck railing, the Night Watch Man mounted on the right/center post and the LED lights hanging down behind both center post.

ddavis662 (author)2011-09-24

An idea that I'm working on using the chuck from #1, but reversed.
The gearing on the small 12 volt motor and the "hub" match.
Then it will be easy to experiment with different blade designs by using the "chuck" to hold the blades.

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