Introduction: 12/24 Volt Wind Turbine Power Station - Starts Charging Batteries in 2mph Winds

This instructable shows how to build a complete standalone 12/24 volt Wind Powered Electrical Generator using old computer parts, a bike wheel, some wood, a coil and miscellaneous brackets and screws.

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After reading the following article on how well a bike wheel could work for generating power, I had to give it a try:

"How is it possible for a bike wheel to run so fast with almost no wind?" The answer lies in two aspects:

  1. The convergent design, which allows the wheel to start running at low wind speeds.
  2. The ability of accumulating kinetic energy, in the form of a flywheel.

If you want to get really technical about it, read this article:

Flywheels can deliver energy at rates beyond the ability of a variable energy source. This is achieved by collecting energy in the flywheel over time and then releasing the energy more evenly.

At the moment, the outer edge of the bike wheel is surrounded by 42 neodymium magnets from hard drives, making a nicely balanced and very heavy flywheel. But only 4 magnets (taped in red) are super strong and doing most of the battery charging.

With only 4 super strong magnets there's enough power for the generator to start working in the 12 volt charging mode. It's ready to switch over to 24 volt mode and store more power after replacing the weaker magnets with stronger magnets. I am trying to find a cheaper place to get 100 of these magnets:

Step 1: Used Parts List

It would be difficult to find the exact old parts that I used, and you don't need to. Be creative in mounting everything! I used MacPro sides, monitor stands, a 360 degree security camera's "slip ring connector" (so the bike wheel can keep in line with the wind and rotate 360 degrees while maintaining an electrical connection to the battery). I just kept looking around for old parts until the WindStation V1 was a functioning prototype.

Parts used:

  • STRONG Neodymium Magnets [The best place to find free neodymium magnets are inside old computer hard drives. The older and more you have, the better!
  • 3" to 4" steel bolt with two nuts for the core of the charging coil [optional soft iron from inside old audio amp transformers]
  • two pieces of 3/4" wood. each 16" x 24"
  • one 2" x 4" x 16" piece of wood
  • ~2 pounds of #23 to #26 magnetic wire for the charging coil
  • A bike wheel (26")
  • 4 x 1n4007 or other diodes for the full wave bridge rectifier - x 2 for two charging coils (optional)
  • big capacitor - I had a 5,100uF 200VDC cap laying around.
  • 2 to 4 wire slip contact ring (I got mine from an old 360 degrees Samsung security camera)
  • 4 mac pro aluminum sides
  • misc wood and aluminum pieces
  • 3 old monitor stands or equivalent
  • 12v batteries (from computer UPS)
  • solar battery charger (GAMMA 3.0 - 10A)
  • misc wire, connection blocks, switches
  • misc used mounting brackets, screws, nuts & bolts
  • 7 ft guy wire & two turnbuckles
  • black duct tape, black & blue & red & green electrical tape
  • wheel bearing/hub from a hand truck [like from home depot Model # FR1030], washers, (1/2 in. iron piece has to fit inside)
  • 2 x 1/2" iron connectors


I could only find four of the bigger 9/16" thick magnets as seen in the pics. Those 4 magnets are the main force behind charging the batteries. Then I found eight 3/8" (6/16") magnets that help some. The remaining 30 magnets are only about 1/8" (2/16") thick and really just help adding weight for the flywheel effect. This is where we must improve the power in the next version by covering the entire wheel with equally super strong magnets.

Step 2: Build Your Main Battery Compartment Base

Build a battery compartment base big enough to support the top bike wheel section, and big enough to hold all of the batteries, ups, charger, etc.

I had three old monitor stands and two pieces of 3/4 inch wood (each 16" x 24").

I used big wood screws to mount the monitor stand on the bottom piece of wood. At the top, I used 4 nuts and bolts (through the holes the monitor normally would be attached) for each monitor stand to attach to the wood.

My battery compartment frame is 17.5" tall.

So, basically you just need to build a strong "box" that's about 16" x 24" x 17".

Step 3: Build the Coil & Full Wave Bridge Rectifier

Making the Coil:

I had a bunch of Radio Shack magnet wire (26 gauge/green) and found a spool of 23 gauge (red) wire. When i ran out of the 26 gauge wire I soldered the end of it to the 23 gauge spool, and kept winding.

Wrap a piece of masking tape over 2 inches of the 3" long bolt's threads to protect the wire's insulation. Add 2" plastic washers to the top and bottom of the wrapping area (see pic) and start winding the magnet wire! Keep wrapping the wire up and down while turning the bolt until you have about a 2" x 2" coil. Leave about 5 inches leftover wire on both ends to connect to the connection block in the next steps.

The total resistance of my coil is 17 ohms. Yours should be close to 17 ohms, but don't worry if it's not.

Mounting the Coil:

You should have 1 inch of the bolt sticking out of your coil. Use this to attach to the mounting bracket. The adjustable mounting bracket I used was from an old satellite T.V. dish attachment and it's screwed into the 2x4x16 wood block. The 2x4x16 wood block is attached to the MacPro aluminum base with miscellaneous angle brackets and screws.

The coil is about an inch or less from the magnets, and is adjustable for the best efficiency.

Build the full wave bridge rectifier [FWBR]:

Configure your 4 diodes into a full wave bride rectifier (see pic). I used a little blank pcb board to make things organized. The FWBR is mounted below in the battery area. The ac input for the FWBR will be from the coil via the slip ring connector. The output of the FWBR will go to the solar charger. These connections are also explained in more detail later.

Note* For this project I used two pre-made FWBRs. The second FWBR is for the second coil.

Step 4: Build the Aluminum Base, Mount the Bike Wheel & Tail

Build the 360 degree swivel base:

  • For the 360 degree swiveling base, I used another MacPro 19" x 16" aluminum side piece.
  • Drill a 3/4" hole directly in the middle of the MacPro aluminum side piece base (or what ever base you use)
  • The wood battery compartment below the aluminum 360 swivel base has an old hand truck wheel bearing/hub [home depot Model # FR1030 style] mounted directly in the center (see pics)
  • Place a 1/2 inch x 3 inch metal pipe inside that hub. [Mueller Global Model # 583-030HN]
  • The top of the 3 inch pipe attaches to the aluminum base using several 3/4" washers and the 1/2" Iron connector.
  • The bottom of the 3 inch pipe is held securely to the hub with more 3/4" washers and another 1/2" iron connector
  • The wires from the coil are routed from the top of the 3" iron pipe down through it, and connecting to the slip ring connector's "input" which is mounted on the bottom of the 3" iron pipe.
  • The wires from the "output" of the slip ring connector are connected to the input of the full wave bridge rectifier which is mounted below in the battery area.
  • The output of the bridge rectifier is connected to input of our battery charger, with a big capacitor connected in parallel

Mount the 26" Bike wheel:

  • I used a 3/4 in. x 36 in. Aluminum angle bar to mount the front of the wheel, and two old audio face plates to hold the back of the wheel (with misc angle brackets). Use whatever you can find that is not attracted to magnets for the wheel mount. Regular steel bike forks are out of the question. Try not to block too much of the wheel so the maximum amount of wind will hit it.
  • One goal was to use up every old piece of "stuff" I had laying around for this project!

Add the Tail:

  • I used an old micro fiche blue screen cover plate for the tail mounted directly to the back vertical aluminum audio face plate. The tail may eventually have to be extended farther away from the wheel, and those experiments will happen when i get the device outside in stronger winds.

Step 5: Make the Blades and Place the Magnets on the Wheel

To make the blades on the wheel place aluminum tape on the spokes. Leave a small gap at the top and bottom. See the pic and copy it.

For the magnets, use electrical tape to secure them to the wheel. It's best to completely cover the bike wheel rim with magnets in a N S N S fashion, so one magnet will have its NORTH side facing out, the next magnet will have its SOUTH side fading out, then back to north, etc…

If you can't completely cover the entire wheel with magnets, and lets say only have 12 magnets, do not space them evenly around the wheel. It's best to crunch 6 together at one end and 6 at the other end, 180 degrees apart. This will produce more charging power. Always keep the wheel as balanced as possible using this method with whatever number of magnets you have.

Step 6: Attach Connector Block and Guy Wire

I added guy wire support to the top of the 36" aluminum angle piece. I also added an electrical connector block to make things more organized for the coil and optional second coil. See the pic's notes for more details.

At the top of the 36" aluminum angle piece, drill two small holes for the guy wire to run through. I added black electrical tape around the guy wire at the top to help keep the aluminum from cutting in to it.

To tighten up the guy wire, install two turnbuckles at each corner of the aluminum base. Attach the guy wire to the turnbuckles.

Step 7: Add the Sides

I used double sided tape to attach the MacPro aluminum sides.

There were two little notches I had to cut to make sure the sides would fit flush to the wood.

Later, after everything is complete, put 4 - 6 screws in each side to secure.

After adding the front of your choice (I'm still deciding) make sure everything is water proof.

Step 8: The Battery Compartment - 12 Volt Mode - Videos

Inside the battery compartment is a really simple configuration:

  1. The coil's two wires connect to a slip ring connector
  2. The slip ring is just connecting the coil to the FWBR
  3. The output of the FWBR goes to that Solar Charger's input.
  4. The big blue capacitor is connected in parallel with the Solar Charger's input.

Other than that, hook up your 12 volt battery to the battery terminals on the solar charger.

I like this solar charger because it has a 5 volt USB port on the side you can use to charge a phone.

Since there are only 4 out of 100 super magnets installed at this time, charging even a phone would a good start, which I have successfully done with an earlier version.

This could be set up as a remote power station with no exterior cables connected at all (keeping all the bulky batteries and components outside your house). Or you could run an extension cable from the inverter to inside your house. If you wanted to hook up more batteries in the battery compartment, you could move the inverter to inside the house too.

Please note that this is a rough prototype, but it's a good proof of concept.

I can't wait to get more magnets for the next improved version!

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