Introduction: Turnabout - a K'nex Windmill

Picture of Turnabout - a K'nex Windmill

Many a time now I have tried to come up with a design for a little windmill, and this is my latest and most successful attempt. It's a small, simple and stable design that catches the air very well. The best feature of this windmill is the rotating head, which allows the tail to rotate the blades straight into the wind, regardless of direction.  It preforms very well in light wind yet can handle very rough and gusty weather. I've left it out for days on end without having it malfunction.


All photographs and video taken in Whiteshell Provincial park, Canada.

Step 1: Parts List

Picture of Parts List

Here's the glorious parts list. Gather them up and head onto the next step!

Green - 165
White - 152
Blue - 232
Yellow - 69
Tan - 1
Black - 1

Dark gray - 4
Light gray - 20
Red - 28
Green - 28
Orange - 61
White - 17
Purple 3d - 112
Blue 3d - 46

3-holed triangle panel - 18
9-holed square panel - 14
37-holed square panel (photo 2) - 1
Small wheel (with tire) - 4
Blue spacer - 3
Silver spacer - 6
Y-connector - 4
Gray cap (photo1) - 1
That's it! Let's make a start.

Step 2: Tailpiece

Picture of Tailpiece

Here you will be building the tailpiece. Nice and easy.

1: Build this tail fin
2: Make this middle bit too
3: Connect the two. Use whatever colored panels you wish.
4-5: Build this little bit
6: Now make another identical piece
7: Build this little piece
8-9: Now connect the pieces built in photos 4-7
10-11: Now connect the tail fin with the bit you just made to get the completed tail.

Cheers! On to the head of the windmill.

Step 3: Head

Picture of Head

Step 4: Blades

Picture of Blades

Here we build the part of the windmill that does the actual spinning. Yay!

1: Make this blade
2: Now make seven more. Mix and match colors as you wish.
3: Build this very complicated piece:
4: Add on a blade like so
5: ...Now put on another...
6: Keep going until all the blades are on.
7: Depending on which way you want the blades to spin, you c an flip the blades around now.
8: Build this center wheel
9: Start connecting the blades to the other axle center
10-11: Keep going until you've built the entire blade like so


Step 5: Top Assembly

Picture of Top Assembly

Step 4

1: You should have these three pieces
2-3: Connect the tail to the head of the windmill
4: Grab these three pieces
5: Put the two spacers on that black rod
6-7: Slide the blades on and put the cap on the end of the black rod

Cheers! Now put this part aside, and we can start work on the tower section.

Step 6: Crown

Picture of Crown

Time to start work on the top of the tower. This at the very top of the tower, thus the name...

1: Build this circular piece
2: Make this awesome thing
3-4: Build this little bit
5: Build three more, to get four in total
6-7: Attach the four wheelie bits onto the awesome pieces from photo 2
8-9: Connect that wheelie bit onto the circular part from photo 1
10: Make this pokey thing
11-12: Put said pokey bit through the part you've been working on
13-14: Slide the black panel over the tan rod through its middlemost hole
15: Grab these four pieces
16-17: Put the spacers onto the tan rod and cap it off with the clip

Nice work!

Step 7: Tower

Picture of Tower

A bit of a longer step. Let's get on with it!

1-5: This long piece constitutes the main part of the tower. Build it using these five photos.
6-8: This is a reasonably bizarre piece that goes in the main tower. Pay attention to the white rods on the bottom.
9: Line up the two pieces that you've made like so
10-13: Now put the smaller piece inside the longer piece (don't put it in upside down!)
14-16: Build this long strip
17-19: Attach it to the other part of the tower (again, be sure to put this in right way up.)
20: Build these long strips
21-24: Connect them in on the sides of the tower. Note that the connectors just sit on the horizontal rods on the main tower, they don't actually clip in.

Way to go! We're nearly there.

Step 8: Feets

Picture of Feets

We need to put some feet on this thing.

1: Build these two parts
2: Connect them
3: Make three more of them
4-5: Attach them onto the bast of the tower, all connections should be obvious
6: Now make this piece
7: And build three more of them
8-10: Add them onto the base of the tower as shown

One last step!

Step 9: Final Assembly

Picture of Final Assembly

The final step!

1: Connect the crown to the top of the tower.
2: Be sure to connect the two 3d connectors there
3: Smack the head attachment right onto the panel on top
4: What it should now look like

Cheers! You're all done.

Step 10: Finished!

Picture of Finished!


All done! Enjoy you new K'nex windmill. If you have any comments, suggestions or whatever, leave me a comment!

Thanks very much,



jprovenzo87 (author)2016-08-31

other than that, your creation in prety cool

Im hoping to build it in the future. thank you.

jprovenzo87 (author)2016-08-31

Hi I_am_Canadian

Some of the pieces like the the 37-holed panel, and the gray cap at the end of the blades are super rare online.

where do you suggest to buy those pieces

Please reply. ;)

the_boss_builder (author)2013-01-07

how many yellow 5 way connectors

Bah, I forgot to put them in the piece list I see, my apologies. I'd say somewhere between 50-70.

thank you very much very helpful

knexinventions 49 (author)2012-11-22

dood, the max. wind power is 20mph. mine fell over then!

Well 20MPH is pretty brisk. Make sure it's on a really flat surface, it should be able to handle quite a bit.

it was on the sidewalk.

Huh! Strange, beats me. You could always fill up a soda bottle with sand and stick in in the base if you really wanted more stability (or you could extend the feet).

Okay, thanks! I'll try that when it's windy again! :)

mdman10 (author)2012-06-03

great job this looks sweet! i tried to build a wind turbine out of micro knex and i wrapped the blade frame in paper. the head doesnt rotate though.... anyway nice windthingy

I_am_Canadian (author)mdman102012-06-05

Thanks! I too tried using saran wrap blades, it was effective, if not a little flimsy.


Knexman15 (author)2011-10-05

I really want to build this, and I have all the pieces except I only have two (2) square-9 hole panels. Help?

wrap the frame in plastic wrap duct tape,packaging tape, a it'll work even better ;)

I_am_Canadian (author)Knexman152011-10-06

Sure, just make as dense a panel as you can with snowflake and yellow connectors, green and white rods. It probably wont be quite as efficient, but hey, its K'nex :-)

Knexman15 (author)I_am_Canadian2011-10-07

Ok, I wasn't sure if it would still spin because of more gaps in the tail and the blades, but I guess it will work. Thanks!

I_am_Canadian (author)Knexman152011-10-07

Im sure it will work, it probably just wont spin as fast.

Can you make it so the video is only viewable from instructibles not youtube???

Why would I do that?

the_burrito_master (author)2011-10-23

Ha i knew this was from you just by looking at the first picture. Wonderful job.



MegaMetal8 (author)2011-09-26

Very Nice, keep it up.

I_am_Canadian (author)MegaMetal82011-09-26

Thank you!

MegaMetal8 (author)I_am_Canadian2011-10-01

Tis Ok

I have a question I_am_Canadian next ball machine can u make it not using the orange 5-ways with tabs? because I only have 20 of those and I can't build any of your ball machines (but maby the circle one

Im Not IAC. You replyed to me. =)

anyways he still got the message so it doesn't matter


I did ???


Hey :-)

I'm not building another turnpike-style ball machine, but most of my ball machines use those pieces regardless.

Stay tuned :-)

Cool I only have 26 of the orange tabbed but I have a butload of peices and just something else I built your circle ball machiene and I have big ideas I'm building a ball machiene on top of it :D if I make a vid I'll give u a link

Sounds great!

knex builder36472418 (author)2011-10-15

hey mate, this looks sweeeeeeet, i might build this

~Vortex~ (author)2011-10-04


I_am_Canadian (author)~Vortex~2011-10-05

Thanks very much!

DJ Radio (author)2011-09-26

Cool stuff bro. What exactly is the purpose of the wheels though?

I_am_Canadian (author)DJ Radio2011-09-26


It allows the head to rotate on the base, so that it can take wind from all sides.

DJ Radio (author)I_am_Canadian2011-09-28

Couldn't that happen without the wheels though?

TheFoofinator (author)DJ Radio2011-10-04

Ball Bearings, works in the same way.

I_am_Canadian (author)DJ Radio2011-09-28

You could, but depending on your design you'd either have enormous amounts of friction or just an extremely unstable connection.

Seleziona (author)2011-09-27

I don't know where anyone gets any of those square panels. I personally don't have any and have never seen one before. But anyways, that's a great windmill you have there :D

I_am_Canadian (author)Seleziona2011-09-27

Thank you :-D

I'm working on a substitute, as apparently those panels arn't too common. I think one came with Trampoline Tower, thats where I got mine at least.

Seleziona (author)I_am_Canadian2011-09-30

Ohh, okay. I never really got any big knex sets like that. I usually got my knex from garage sales, and you get what you get from them. lol

I_am_Canadian (author)Seleziona2011-09-30

Too true :-p

TheRacker (author)I_am_Canadian2011-09-28

I have tons of them from my 6ft ball machine, a really old knexcavators set, and some from other places too.

I_am_Canadian (author)TheRacker2011-09-28

Score! I'm glad I'm not the only one :-)

Shadowman39 (author)2011-09-28

This is great! You have a lot of panels. For the record, it would be cool to build 100 and line them all up like a wind farm. :-P

Thanks! Yes it does use a lot of panels... Perhaps a bit of a drawback.

The K'nex windfarm would be a pretty awesome sight :-)

instruct39 (author)2011-09-27

very cool, great job!

About This Instructable




Bio: K'nex is my thing!
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