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Wind powered Composter - The Green Twist , Exactly

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This is my Epilog Laser Cutter entry so please Vote if you think the idea is unique and worth supporting.

Composting is the easiest thing one can do to help your community. With a wealth of good soil you, your neighbors, and everyone else is stuck with the predictament of what to grow. Imagine such a world.

The problem is that the standard composter doesn't turn itself, and the average human is too everwhelmed with life's callings to take the time to turn the composter once a week.

Hence the self turning composter, wind powered so no additional power is needed.

I just added a laundry basket to the inside to help churn the soil. It was turning a 3/4 full load with no problems at all. I had to empty it out to paint it black, but once the winds pick up I will post a video of it turning soil.

The gear drive supplies more torque than it would ever require, I used vise grips and tried to stop it turning but could not. I estimate that I applied about 150 lbs with a moment arm of 8 inches and still it didn't stop! The gear ratio is 1255:1.

You will need:

A drum, or other round item that will server such a purpose. Note that I did not have a drum but I did have a large bucket I bought for 3 bucks at walmart.

Plywood-depending on how big you want to go will determine how much scrap you need. I used about a half a sheet of 1/2 inch ply for the turbine but I think twice as many layers would be better.

2x4's or 2x6's-The frame and upright uses about 2-8ft lengths of one or the other.

Screws-get a box of 3in deck screws, they last forever and are very strong.

A junk gear motor with a high gear ratio is also needed.

Tools-I used a drill press, angle grinder, hammer, screw driver and jig saw. My advice, you can never have too many tools.

Time: It took about a day to make this. I actually did it over the weekend but actual time was about 12 hours.

 
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kdunner (author) 2 years ago
Hey thanks for stepping in and answering sangretoro's question for me! Your answer is exactly right.
No Problem!
You stated that you picked up the motor for next to nothing at a local shop in FL, but I am not finding anything in TX. I've searched online, but the only things I've found are either dissimilar to your or very pricey! Is there an online store you might suggest, or any other advise you might give me and others to find a comparable motor?
try surpluscenter DOT com
kdunner (author)  GhettoEngineer2 years ago
first I'd lookup surplus stores or junkyards. If you go to a junk yard then try and find a windshield wiper motor since these usually have a worm gear reducer. However, you should be aware that a windshield wiper worm gear set only reduces the rotations less than a 1000:1 so the output torque won't be as high as my setup. But if you take this output and attach it to a bike spocket you can reduce it further with a bit of chain and a larger spocket attached to your composter. If you get my drift just nod. Basically just McGyver the hell outa it. That's what I did, my way isn't the right way, it is just a way.
Thanks for the response. Yeah, I'll take a look at windshield wiper motors. I know it's no science, but I am finding nothing above 1:100. I had considered bike chain and sprockets. I'll give it a go!
sangretoro2 years ago
Can you give us a few more specs on how powerful a motor you suggest? Can this turn slowly but still strongly?
1250:1. That is the strength of the motor. For every 1250 rotation input, 1 rotation is output. The fact that the output is turning so slowly in comparison to the input, makes it very strong! He also states that he feels it was a bit more than required to turn the barrel, but I'd suggest not straying from his choice too far.
Awesome! Ok - like others I am looking for a gearmotor to build one of these. Are windscreen wiper motors from cars geared down enough to work? Has anyone used a windscreen wiper motor sucessfully - or can anyone answer this question for me before I go out and buy one.
kdunner (author)  Hamish1212122 years ago
well if you can't find one gear motor to do it you can always connect two gear motors into each other. I don't think windshield wiper motors are geared down enough tho, they are usually single stage worm gears which are only 100:1 but.....two wiper gear sets in series would work.
diy_bloke2 years ago
great idea and done very well. Just two remarks (no criticism) The bin is kinda small for most gardens compostable material yield and i found the easiest way to compost is still to just leave it on a heap, no turning whatsoever. It will compost the way nature has always done it without the help of men.

That said: a great project
kdunner (author)  diy_bloke2 years ago
Thank you very much for the input! I really have been lazy on that project and I think I need to get back to it. I have a new design that has a scalable capacity. I need to find the research paper I once read about the rate effects of these rotating composters. Somewhere on the interwebs is a whitepaper that quantify this value. BUT, I never did similar research so now I guess I have a fun fall project. Indoor controlled enviroment, of course. ;)
jj.inc3 years ago
I know its been a while, but I was wondering if you may have some ideas. I have a bunch of grass clippings left after we mow the lawn and it would be nice to compost at least some of them. The problem with that is that I would need to contain like 3 to 6 months of clippings. Do you have any ideas for big versions, and also how do you compost just grass. I was wondering if it was necessary to contain or of you can build some kind of box with a stirring device. Obviously this would require a much larger turbine, but that is fine.
Hasersys3 years ago
Ahh, I like this a lot. Very nice build. It looks nice spinning in the wind like a lawn ornament. HEh Nice to see some one els in the area on instructables. I am in Sebastian.
Just saw this video on Catapult Design's vertical wind turbines. One metal & canvas design was specifically cited at costing $100, and the blue one is a looker... http://www.good.is/post/mini-wind-turbines/
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kdunner (author)  Mr. Kimberly4 years ago
Thanks for the link.....you are right it does look nice. I really hope to post the new version soon....but I have a idea for the gulf oil spill I'm working on right now and that is taking all my time. Again thanks for the research
jj.inc4 years ago
 That would work great, and it looks very mobile.
kdunner (author)  jj.inc4 years ago
Thx, I hope to begin making the final version soon.  It will look much nicer and will be easier to build.
mpledger4 years ago
This is really great. Good luck with the next model.
FTJ5 years ago
Can anyone provide more information on step 6 - Find a good gear motor? I tried to find something online but I couldn't find anything with such a high ratio (1250:1) What was attached to this gear motor? Essentially, I'm just trying to find out what to ask for at a local surplus store or search for online. Any suggestions, model numbers, keywords? Thanks!
kdunner (author)  FTJ5 years ago
Wow, sry for the late reply! I've been overtaken by school obligations again, I just got back from a research vessel mission. Now, about the motor: I'd try to do search junk yards for worm gear motors used for windshield wipers. They tend to have good gear ratios and are cheap. The maker of the motor I used here was: Fasco-von weise gearmotors It was a 50 volt dc 0.5 amp motor with serial number: H032 The model number is: V02575AF33 But any high gear ratio motor should do. I will be doing a remake of this instructable by july 1 (for makezine) so keep a eye out for a fiberglass version of this build!
brianfss5 years ago
Great Job! Fits right in with the Green Theme. Only one little nit picking thing--Get the rust off your drill press table. Your tools will work better and projects will stay cleaner. Take a random orbital sander with a 150 grit disc--spray the table top with WD-40--Sand for a few minutes--Spray again--change to 220 grit paper and sand again--wipe off with a clean cloth and paint thinner--wipe again with a dry cloth. Use a good paste wax on the table and re-wax it every 6 months or so. Again--no complaints on your project--WAY TO GO!
debpix5 years ago
Bravo on a very clever idea. I don't know how your final exams turned out, but you deserve an A+ on this. You are right about turning a composter being the biggest chore. I'm looking at my huge composter outside my home office window. The beast sits there empty because I'm too lazy to go turn the handle (or fill it, keep it moist, etc.). You didn't win the Instructable prize (though you shoulda), but maybe you can make your first bazillion $ by patenting and marketing it.
load_nikon5 years ago
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Wind Powered Compost System rough draft.jpg
Google sketchup!
I might be getting a small allotment with ma dad and I have a idea for a thing like this but Smaller Thanks this has helped me alot
kdunner (author)  stephenniall5 years ago
Well if it is smaller, you might be able to use a solar panel and a gear motor. That way you get consistent results and a easier build.
tht isnt a bad idea i have a very strong gear motor out of a old box of car bits i have Bought them all Loads of motors for 2£ (4$) Even a starter motor in the box was well chuffed with myself Anyway That could be a good idea or i could do a verticle Wind turbine to power it Hmm will look into it more Hoping to have it in a small allotment we may be getting
kdunner (author)  load_nikon5 years ago
It's nice to know my idea was thought up by many people. Well, at least two. It gives me hope for humanity to know that at least someone out there thinks as I do. At least on the subject of composters, that is.... : )
bkt5 years ago
Fabulous! I just started a little garden and really want to start a compost. But with a small yard and busy family the thought of having to turn a tumbler does sort of intimidate me. Anyway, I thought a wind-powered tumbler would be the perfect solution and went about searching for one. I think I'll try to hike up the hole thing so I don't get little curious fingers pinched in the tires. That should also help with getting the turbine higher. And potentially for emptying the barrel... I know very little about composting, but are there supposed to be air holes in the bucket? I think I better do a bit more research before I take the plunge. Thanks for the great and inspiring instructions! I've never been here before but signed up so you could have my vote. Excellent work.
kdunner (author)  bkt5 years ago
Thanks, I love how so many people have come up the same inspiration, to the extent that the search keyword "wind powered composter" unites them here. It will need holes, this is just version 1. I'm working on version 2 over the next week for makezine.com . Once I get that one up and running you should have all the inspiration you should need.
load_nikon5 years ago
Glad to see an old idea of mine was brought to fruition. I've always wondered how big a turbine I needed to turn a good heap of compost with what kind of gear reduction. Here's a pic of mine with a few components not yet drawn in... Kinda large and not too pleasing to look at it. I like your idea's compactness and it's design makes a bold statement to the neighborhood.
kdunner (author) 5 years ago
Well I know I said I would update this instructable on Wednesday but it turns out that my last final ended up being on thursday. After that, I took friday and today off to go camping and fishing with my girlfriend, both needed the time away from all things electronic. But now I'm back, so I should be able to apply some hours on sunday and monday to apply the changes suggested by ninapratt, macrumpton, and others. Well, just as soon as I unpack the car ; )
macrumpton5 years ago
Great idea! I think the frame and the turbine could be simpler but it is really great. To take it to the next level, if there was some way to make it so that you could drop more stuff in without removing the bucket, and if there was some way to have the composted stuff drop out automatically that would make it even more awesome. My idea for getting the stuff in would be to add a hatch (or maybe attach a cut off rubbermaid container and lid) to the center of the lid of the bucket. maybe the way to get the compost out would be a small hole in the bucket covered with a coarse mesh. The small hole would have a cover to keep the moisture in and only open when the hole is facing down. The big question is the best place for the hole. does the composted material tend to sink or float on the uncomposted stuff? Congrats again on a great project. It is on my favorites list.
kdunner (author)  macrumpton5 years ago
Thanks for all the suggestions, I will be implementing them as soon as finals are over, Wednesday of next week. I'm also planning on making the composter have double chambers, so that once one chamber is full you can switch to the other. That way the full chamber will have plenty of time to decompose without new additions, thus avoiding the random uncomposted stuff when you go to use the soil (ie, that banana peel you added at the last moment, but has yet to be digested). Oh Yeah, Just wanted to tell everyone that make magazine wants to run with my Instructable! So keep your eyes peels for the composter in the next few months. ok, now back to wave theory studying, oh yea, good times.
Great idea. This is worthy of a win.
kdunner (author)  Master Roda5 years ago
Thanks, I tend to think so but I'm a bit bias ; )
rednhez5 years ago
how do you fill it?it seems like as soon as you open it the compost would fall out.
kdunner (author)  rednhez5 years ago
I will post the update on the fill door as soon as I get some time. It is finals week and I must study or I might spontaneously combust during the exams. I want to make a proper write up for the door and now I'm going to implement macrumpton's suggestions so that will involve changing some stuff around. I will be done with finals on next Wednesday so expect all these updates then.
n3rrd5 years ago
I think this idea is incredible. My one question is: why the plywood instead of something like a plastic bucket cut in half (such as Build-your-own-Savonius-VAWT) ? Just out of preference?
kdunner (author)  n3rrd5 years ago
Well, first off, all the bucket builds look ugly in my opinion. Second, I like my buckets as buckets, they don't hold much water after you cut them. But mostly it was a choice made by desire to achieve a elegant design that people would WANT to have on display and not tucked away out of site(as is the stigma of composters in general). I wanted to make the composter the center of attention and thus potentially change outsiders opinions on such devices. Basically, I wanted to invent something that made the public WANT to own a composter. And plastic buckets just didn't do that for me when I was initially visualizing the build.
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