Unique Wind turbine. Very adaptable design, vawt

Picture of Unique Wind turbine. Very adaptable design, vawt
This is my home made wind turbine. What makes this one special is that the 
foils self adjust to maximize power.
It rotates vertically instead of horizontally. (also known as a VAWT) .  There are many different designs on the INTERNET where the foils adjust, but this is my own unique design. What makes this design nice is that it is easily scaled up or down in size, and there is no welding required.

Most of the parts can come off with a screw driver so you could really play with the sizes.  
Most of the tools used are standard tools.

There are two videos that I have made in association to this instructable, one shows the mechanics of how it works, the other is a short video of the working prototype.

Working prototype:
Mechanics of how it self-adjust:
( In this video I used gears instead of pulleys, but the mechanics are the same, and the blades/foils adjust the same)


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Step 1: Tools and materials

Picture of Tools and materials
Metal Grinder ( with cutting blade)
Drill press
Drill bits
Rivet gun
optional Tap die set, ( Screw and bolts will work also)

3 timing pulley. I used two 60 tooth pulley and 1 x 30 tooth pulley
2 timing belts ( Pulleys and belts purchased through "spd-si", Sprocket and chain would work as well)
multiple bearings . ( purchased online at "VXB")
Aluminum sheet metal ( any big box store)
Aluminum 1/2" inch tube, and 1 1/4" round  tube ( Big box store)
1/4inch and 3/8 inch metal rods ( big box store)
JB weld ( epoxy)
Polymer spacers (easy to drill and cheap, purchased at big box store)
Flat aluminum bar 1/8" thick, 1 1/2 " wide
2 x 1/4 inch polymer thrust bearing
1 x 1/2 inch thrust bearing
suharto_u1 year ago
i newbie in VAWT.
thank you very much how to install generator? I have one of small axial flux wind generator (homemade).

anybody can help me,email me at
radhu2 years ago
Hi, I am a total newbie
Love your designs but what kind of motor have you used and how did you attach it ?

radhu2 years ago
Hi I'm a total newbie,
Love your design but what kind of motor is used and where is it attached ?

jcvillar2 years ago
This design dates back to the 19th century. You usually see it with four vanes. This version, though, is the first lightweight and portable one I've ever seen. Typically, these VAWTS can deliver high torque at low speeds so you might be able to either pump water with it or get some electricity out of it if you rig up a drive train thingamajig and drive an old alternator you should be able to pick up at a junk yard.
paqrat jcvillar2 years ago
Being that is it lightweight and portable aren't you concerned that it might just blow over?
james123cb (author)  paqrat2 years ago
lol, Two weeks at my parents cottage and it blew over and damaged one of the foils. I thought it would never blow over. I posted a new video with it turning in strong gusts of wind. Notice the two sand bags at the base. Thanks for the comment....I should have replied earlier.
kretzlord2 years ago
super impressed with this design! Thanks for sharing. Do you think an airfoil blade shape could be integrated with any benefit?
james123cb (author)  kretzlord2 years ago
My blade is 1/16" and then in the center it's a 8/16" (or 1/2 inch) center support is really not aerodynamic. I Think the blade shape could really be improved.

Since the blade rotates 360 degree ,an airfoil with lift would work great on one rotation , but then would be counter productive on the next.

We would need a neutral Airfoil that is aerodynamic but does not provide lift.
Firstly, this is a brilliant design. I would rather suggest that in stead of focusing the aerodynamics of the airfoil, consider this. Rather try to increase the number of blades per section, say to 3 or 4, so that instead of having a maximum applied force every 180 degrees, reduce it to 120 or 90 degrees. It may get complex, but I think that it would be more effective.
I suspect you'd either reach a point where the trade-off of drag, friction etc against performance reaches an equilibrium at - just guessing - probably no more than three sails ... OR ... it might evolve into a complete circle of tens, hundreds, who know of sails.
Brilliant concept. Many thanks.
You're right, at some point it will be useless to to add more blades, but starting at 2 and calculating the force the air exerts on the blades along with drag and the resultant moment about the central shaft, I think that an optimal blade count is possible.
I suspect trial and error would be more reliable than calculations! No me though!
found a similar one
james123cb (author)  kretzlord2 years ago
Yes , I saw that one too.
Here are a few more, if you search youtube:

Eolienne à axe vertical EolProcess
vawt with rudder 2 ( my favorite one )
Variable Pitch Vertical axis wind turbine
Lego rotating blade vertical axis wind turbine

Theres some debate as to the optimum amount of blades on this type of self adjusting VAWT. My theory was that if you want more power ...just make the blades larger. The more moving parts needed the more expensive and complicated it gets,
gdawgtuk2 years ago
I am curious what kind of wattage outputs you were getting?
I want to see this in very large scale. If using this idea to capture energy from waves in the beach, may be the same principle can be great.
Dr Qui2 years ago
Interesting idea, that's a lot of mechanism to be exposed to the elements. Do you have a video of it in a say a 8-10mph wind which is a decent outdoor test.

Excellent build quality, I highly recommend that you take a look at the work of Edwin Lenz and try his Lenz turbine, its an unconventional design for a VAWT but produces serious torque and is self regulating and self start from any wind direction. You have the skills with aluminium that would produce an excellent Lens turbine.

Just one thing I noticed is you mention the a chain drive would also work, from my own experience chains do not like running on a horizontal plain they much prefer the vertical plain, on the horizontal plain your sprocket need to be perfectly concentric to the axle as any play at all will have the chain coming off constantly, i had this problem on my first turbine attempt and rules out horizontal chains from all future designs.

Good luck and keep it up.
V belt drive instead
The flat belts from washing machines are useful, and easy to scavenge. a flat toothed belt would be best to eliminate slippage in wet weather
schmitta2 years ago
You should have patented this. Now it can't be patented.
Orngrimm2 years ago
Sure, it may not be the perfect and-solution... But hey: It is a prototype.
And it seems to work.

What do you think are the main-benefits in comparison to "normal" propellers? May your idea be better in low-wind-situations than the common design we know? Or in very harsh winds?

Anyway: I am looking forward what may be changed and developed with this idea. Go on and dont listen to the Ney-sayers... :)
james123cb (author)  Orngrimm2 years ago
Thanks to everyone for the positive comments and suggestions.

Typical propellers in high winds need to be shut down because of the vibrations.
Typical Propellers might be difficult to start in low wind
High rpm leads to unwanted noise

This design will work well in low and high wind speeds. ( I took a leaf blower to it and it still spun real nicely)

Possible future design changes:
Enclosed belt design ( to protect it from uv rays)
Polymer bearings on exposed parts(Eg: "Igus" bearings), ...Weather no longer issue ........
More aerodynamic foils
kevsplace2 years ago
your design is awesome!! I understand that you made a "design concept" or "working model" do go on from. As for the concerns that others have about the losses due to friction others are bringing up, that is where new designs come from, thinking past the losses for the gains.
Your instructions and labeling were also great. Keep going!!
wgrube2 years ago
Using profiled blades (like airplane wings) instead of flat blades, improves the torque, also this design could use Jacques Cousteau's turbosail principle (very interesing!), but that would be too complicated. The beauty of this design is in it's simplicity. Another idea is too carve little dimples on one side of the blades, this will create an air layer and increase the air speed on this side creating a vacuum, and consequently increasing the torque. Just suggestions! ;) Your design is really great!
Jimmimak2 years ago
Well done! I had a similar idea a few months ago, but I never made a physical model. I'd be very interested to know how much more efficient it is. Keep up the good work!
sheldor2 years ago
That looks to be a very elegant design.

Have you been able to produce power measurements using it?
james123cb (author)  TormundGiantsbane2 years ago
I'm more mechanical then electrical, so I have not gotten around to calculating the power output yet ...that will be the next step.
shortyl2 years ago
Realy great design. I think I may try and make one of these only modify to use wooden gears. It appears that the ration is 2:1 for the gears. Thanks for sharing this design with us.
Jakwiebus2 years ago
it's a genius design,
but won't you lose a little energy caused by the toothed wheels turning on each other?
so in you would want to hook a generator to it, won't you lose less energy than you gain with this design?
profpat2 years ago
very good! but looks complicated!
rimar20002 years ago
Very clever design!

I suppose this WAVT is more efficient than others.
Scott_Tx2 years ago
Very nice!
rickharris2 years ago
Really Neat well done. Worth trying out.