Picture of Wind Whirler (plastic bottle wind turbine!)
I am passionate about free energy. It's all around us! ...often, unrecognised. I wanted to find a quick, cheap, entertaining way for anyone to to be able to experience this energy - something an adult or child could enjoy making, using only household items already to hand.

Wind is one form of available energy. This is a simple vertical-axis wind turbine (VAWT) which you can make for no cost in half an hour (or even 10 minutes!) from stuff you already have, then enjoy seeing it spin!

The pictures and videos may be enough for you, but written instructions are here too if you want.

It turns in a light breeze or even by your breath, and in a steady moderate wind it whirls impressively fast!

Wind Whirlers can be decorated so as to illustrate principles of optics and perception.
They can play a useful part in education: in Geography, studying weather; and in other science projects - such as the physics of friction, airflow and angular momentum.

I've demonstrated this quick craft project, in the past several years, with repeated success: as a Youth Group activity; as an Ecology-Centre activity with schoolchildren and in a shopping mall demonstrated quickly to passers-by; and at The Big Tent 2008 environmental festival.

It's fun to decorate your own Wind Whirler, to enhance its visible proclamation that Energy is Free for Everyone! And when poised, whirling, its ever-varying motion helps us to relate to the atmosphere around us, our weather and our environment, in a satisfyingly personal way.

When I've carried one with me as I travel, it seems to be an eye-catching attention-getter that people often have asked me about, leading to interesting conversations.

It also makes use of what's often thrown away - plastic bottles!

Fun - free - decorative - and educational!
Great work. I was looking for low cost very light reusable (garbage) propeller for a ducted fan auxiliary electric motor for my toy RC sail boat. You found it. Someone could make a wind powered boat like Captain Cousteau produced. Instead of sails, the vertical turbines like you have made, are converted from wind motion to drive shafts more or less at right angles to a ship screw. The angled drive might be a little tough, but if you can make this turbine and Captain can invent a way man can breath underwater like a fish, we are without limits. There it is electric ! No stupid mechanical right angle drive shaft. Eureka ! Actually when you had it all , put in front of me, I am embarrassed to be so slow. I'll tell others I thought of it, but you know better.
Scozza3 years ago
I'm pleased to say I now have a few of these around the place. I've also made double-deckers and even a solar powered one that spins an LED around at night (-: Next step is to tinker with a magnetic suspension system so they do blow off in high wind!


mayurasana4 years ago
Great post. I made one of these based off your tutorial. It works really great. Thank you!!
Scozza4 years ago
What a great Instrauctable! I'll be trying to make a couple of these on the weekend (-:


armadillozenith (author)  Scozza4 years ago
Thanks Scott! It is always encouraging for me to hear from people who are enjoying this.
macrumpton5 years ago
Fun project! A few ideas occur to me: 1) If you bent the vanes outward rather than inward it might make the turbine catch more wind since it would increase the area presented to the wind. 2) To stabilize the turbine you could try using a piece of fishing line instead of a paper clip, threading it through a hole in the top and bottom of the bottle and then add a weight to the bottom of the line. Stopping the turbine from swinging will let it spin faster. 3)Stack several bottles! 4) Attaching the bottle to a small motor (harvested from a dead toy or battery fan) as a bearing/generator would let you actually get some power out, possibly enough to light an led.
hlumbard6 years ago
Made a couple of these this weekend. Great project!

armadillozenith (author)  hlumbard5 years ago
hlumbard, Darwil, Gorfram, paulomichael, thanks for your recent comments! It is very heartening for me to hear of my simple idea being taken up, and spread further to others. I especially appreciate your photos and video being posted here. Smart work! :-)
wizard7445 years ago
if you could tell me a way of fasioning this into a way of getting a little bit of energy that would be nice :) ps nice ble'
armadillozenith (author) 6 years ago
A larger more robust version can be made similarly, using 3 or 4 litre bottles, as seen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YT1hzy7r0R0 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_Ky7a6L2rY.
These bottles have ribbed sides, which hinders bending: so wherever bends were to cross a rib, I drilled away the rib at that point before trying to bend the plastic.
The bottle cap was drilled to fit loosely over plastic electrical conduit, used as an axle. Into the top end of the conduit I fixed a piece of wood/dowel, then a small bottle cap on top (for smooth surface), and a washer; then added the bottle, upside down, with a small smooth hole drilled centrally in its base. As top pivot I used a screw or thin bolt, passing through the bottle, washer, cap, and then threaded into a pilot hole drilled centrally in that dowel.
Gorfram6 years ago
Thanks for this 'Ible. I've made an inverted wind whirler for my Community Garden plot (it's half of a raised bed), and am hoping it will help deter the local crows.
044 Twirler in the sunset.jpg045 Twirler Close-up.jpg
Darwil6 years ago
Hi, I quite enjoyed having a go at this, I now have lots of them working in my allotment to deter the pigeons from ruining my seedlings!!! One tip for anyone else (and yourself) is to use a small soldering iron to form the ends of the cuts, it helps a lot - I ruined a few bottles before I figured this one out. Thanks for a good idea that I'm finding useful, the other people at my allotment are taking up on the idea, good stuff :-)
very well done! a know a slightly different way of making this, by bending to the outside the cut parts of the bottle.
arirang7776 years ago
Simplicity is beautiful. I enjoyed the drawings, very "Industrial Design". The inverted design is also great. Will do this for sure. Thanks for a clear an neat project!
armadillozenith (author) 6 years ago
I've done as randofo requested, an initial finished image, and added videos too. Any feedback is welcome as this is my first Instructable... I'm aware it is quite long for a simple item - sorry! What works best, do you think: the videos, the drawings, or the text - or a combination of those? Any suggestions or developments of the idea, from those who follow this Instructable to make their own Wind Whirlers, are also most welcome ! Thanks!
hey, this is way neat! i might mount one on my bike as there is much untapped wind resistance anyway. maybe cars could recapture some of this energy as a way to charge batteries?
emdarcher6 years ago
can you make a good wind generator with this?
DeanC9936 years ago
This is super nice way of recycling i am so starting this! you should get a small dc motor and see if you can light an led or something great job!
armadillozenith (author)  DeanC9936 years ago
Thanks for your enthusiasm there DeanC993! Do have fun with this. About the motor, yes, there is scope for various 'next steps' with this and I am looking into some... I just missed getting this Instructable (my first) done in time for the TapNDy 'bottle' contest, but there's a 'green' Epilog contest about to start so watch out for an entry there from me. Maybe you will try too? Cheers!
Thanks, how many do you have in total i just made my one its good but not as good as your ones anyway the first time is always is the hardest i will probarly try out for the epilog but i only have a instructables account for 3 days so i will see did you win tapndy bottle contest? Cheers, DeanC993