i want to build a generator.
The cheapest generator is simply a used motor with some outside source of energy spinning the shaft.
Can you explain what you want you want this generator for, and what the power source might be?
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either a wind turbine or a tesla turbine they both look very interesting.
So your goal isn't to power anything in particular, but to see what kind of working electric turbine might be fun to build?
To actually make a generator from scratch, you would need to pass a wire or winding through a magnetic field or else spin or move a magnet such that its field passes through a wire/winding. It's very similar to making an electric motor.
You can spin a cordless drill to produce electricity. Take apart something that has a DC motor and use that motor as the generator. So you would connect your wind turbine (kinetic power source) to the shaft to make it spin. A direct connection won't likely produce the most power possible. You can experiment with gears if the turbine has a lot of torque. Otherwise, a larger motor is the way to go. There are a lot of old printers junked in which you can salvage small DC motors.
Check this link it may help http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/tools/msg1022451628136.htmlor search Google , there are plenty of easy to build designs out there.
to make a good AC generator, comparable to one you could buy and use for household devices… you would just have to find spare parts and make one that way. if you have to ask, then i honestly don't think there's any way you would be able to make a decent one on your own. unless you meant just a little DC one like NIP is talking about. you might be able to find a used bicycle generator. or check this out just to give you an idea.