Small Wind Powered Generator




Introduction: Small Wind Powered Generator

As far back as I can remember, I've all ways wanted to make a wind generators.
My 1st and only attempt was back in high school, when I had built one using wooden blades and turning a bicycle generator.

So after getting hooked on Instructables .com and viewing other members wind mill projects, I've been on the lookout for DC motors and thinking of some ideas.

Then one night it hit me.... I had an old cordless drill that I was no longer using.
So after finding and disassembling the drill, is when the brainstorming began :)

Through the months I've added several steps about the 2 different wind generators and the modifications made to both of them as problems arose. 

Step 1: Step(s) After Intro.....

The chuck tightens down perfectly on the gear that is attached to the motor, which this in turn provides a "hub" for a larger disk for the blades to be attached too . The
blades will have to spin in a clockwise direction to keep the chuck tight.
I cut in half a section of pipe that is slightly larger than the outside diameter of the friction bearings that are between the hub and the chuck. I then used an water hose
repair connector to hold the cut pipe halves around the friction bearings which also will provide support.
I attached the assembly to a plastic peg board.
After getting the unit assemble/attached to the peg board, it fit perfectly inside an 10 oz coffee can

After attaching the blades and hooking up a voltage meter, I took it outside in a very light wind.

The completed unit spins freely and the small DC motor does create a small amount of DC current.
I can/could install a bigger motor using the "chuck".

The day I mounted it atop a pole, a thunderstorm came up with high winds and the wind turbine handle it just fine.

Step 2: Mounting the Unit

I found an adjustable closet rod that I'll mount the assembled unit on to.

Step 3: Up and Going

The wire is fed down through the rod and tubing and comes out near the base of the tubing.
With the turbine being painted in a camo scene, it almost isn't noticeable against the tree line.
I live in a low wind area, but it does spin in very light breezes.

Step 4: Prep Work for the Larger Motor

The larger motor fits perfectly into the 10.5 oz coffee can. I cut the bottom off of the can and shoved thick packing foam between the motor and can, then put the plastic top on the bottom of the can
I put silicone around the top of the can and the front plate of the motor.
This motor being an high RPM motor, I'm afraid that it won't produce much more power.
But for $18 and $7 shipping, it's worth a try.

September 2011....
This motor was a flop!
It worked great as for fitting in the can, mounting to the mill and the chuck / blade assembly. But I was lucky to get .5 volts in a steady wind.

Step 5: Larger Motor Up and Spinning

My son and I got the larger motor up and spinning sooner than I had planned.
Like I had mentioned in the previous step, this motor put out very little voltage.

Step 6: On the Farm

After 6 weeks of watching it spin and weather through high winds from thunderstorms, I figured it was time to put the generator to use.
I have a solar LED lighting system at my parents farm house.
So I drove a metal fence post into the ground and then attached the windmill mast to the post.
Ran a old phone cord about 8' high from the mast to their front porch.
I soldered a blocking diode to a lead and then hooked the leads straight to one of the 12 volt dry cell batteries.
With the small amount of power that the motor/generator puts out, I figured it was OK to bypass the charge controller.
I shoved lots of extra wire back into the mast, in hopes that it would take a long time before the wire would get too twisted from turning into the wind(s).

Step 7: Test Model # 2

Here are images to some ideas that I'm working on for my 2nd test model.
The chuck is from an old Dewalt (R) cordless drill.
I used 2 blocks of wood to secure the motor/generator inside the "U"  bolt.
The drill chuck's bearing is resting in a block of wood that has a "key hole" drilled through it.
The assembled unit is then mounted to the board using the "U" bolt that is holding the motor.
The 6 blades are made from 3" PVC pipe, 18" long, mounted on a small metal disk.
They spin fast!

Covered the assembly with 3" PVC pipe and end caps.

Bolted a floor flange to the bottom of the board with an 1/2" X 10" pipe screwed into the flange.
Then the 1/2" pipe was slide into a 1" X 10' conduit.

The fin is made from a piece of scrap metal.

It almost hit 6 volts during a gust on a fairly breezy day

I took this unit and hooked it up to the charge controller on the solar set up at my mom and dad house.

Step 8: Design #3 Using a 3 to 1 Gearing and a Furling Design

This unit is using the chuck and geared hub from #1, just reversed.
The gear on the motor matched the gearing from the chuck/hub.
I mounted the motor and chuck/hub to a thin metal plate, then bolted the plate to the windmill.
I used 4" PVC pipe and caps to enclose the motor and chuck/hub.
I'll experiment with blade designs for both speed and torque.

I installed 4 larger blades made from 4" x 2' PVC pipe.

Step 9: Furling

After experiencing some minor damage after some recent high winds.
I figured I'd experiment with some type of furling mechanism.
This is about the best I could come up using only parts that I had on hand.
I also added a 2nd tail-fin due to the front of the wind generator being extended out several more inches.

The tension to the springs is adjusted by raising or lowing the nuts on the bolts.
The springs also acts as stopping posts for when it is furled back.

The below video is about the furling mechanism at work in approximately 25-30 mph wind gusts. For over 24 hours the wind generator was hit repeatability by sudden high gust of winds from different directions.
Proud to say that it actually made it through the night :)

Spring 2012
I had to do a modification to the tails fins.
I had to put more space between the fins and more distance between the fins and the blades.

More video of the furling at work while being nailed from high winds/gust from different angles.
The 14' conduit tower is absorbing a lot of the force from the winds.

Here is another video of the WG steadily spinning, but with no furling from moderate winds of another approaching storm.
The improved double fins keep the WG steered into the winds.

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    6 years ago on Introduction


    Well, has anyone been successful in building their wind generators?

    Any better ideas and improvements? So far, _CrashA_'s idea of the power/audio jack has been the best.

    It's been about over 3 yrs since my 1st try. I now live in central Texas where this is a constant wind. I was going to buy a "residental/commercial" windmill, but just reading the reviews alone was enough to forget that idea. So I'm back at it and working up a parts list.

    For me, finding a good motor is the biggest problem without spending hundreds of dollars that you'd never get back.

    So today I bought this motor and 10/8MM spindle adapter and will go from there. I'm planning to also use some form of a mounted bearing to keep pressure off the motor bearings and adsorb so of the forces from the vertical furling.


    Reply 5 years ago

    I have an idea after watching your videos. you generators seem to stop spinnin in direct wind and pick up when the wind pushes the generator to the side.
    So I looked at you blade design and I see the issue. You are trying to make them work more like a water wheel and not like an airfoil.


    Reply 5 years ago

    The blades are not stalling! It is the speed of the blades verses the shutter speed of the camera. Like in a western movie where the wagon wheels appear to be spinning backwards.


    7 years ago

    Great project!

    I also use the drill chuck idea on my Wind Turbine, I have a 1/2 UNF 4" Bolt going through a bicycle wheel and into the drill chuck - the threads match perfectly.

    One idea to stop your wires from getting twisted is to use an audio or power jack connector to act as the slip ring. If you plug in your headphones to your computer or phone, you can spin that jack all day long without it affecting the sound. Same principle for when the turbine is spinning into the wind, the female audio connector will stay stationary on the pole, and the jack to connect into it will spin with the generator etc.
    I'm going to be embedding this idea on mine when I can.

    Hope it helps! :)


    Reply 6 years ago

    Like the idea of the power jack. Thanks.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks and awesome idea about the audio/power jack!!!!!

    I one day soon hope to rebuild/built another wind generator!


    8 years ago on Introduction


    For recent updates please visit this other instructables site


    8 years ago on Step 9

    For an old update on the WG

    Copy and paste this link


    6 months ago

    Iv just stumbled across this post while doing some research as mostly my thoughts are just theory at this point. Have you guys thought about a car alternator for your source of power then convert the 12v via an inverter? You wouldn’t need to worry about vires getting tangled then you could run your wiring directly down the shaft of the support?


    2 years ago

    Great to see your enthusiasm. And never give up! thanks for sharing your project and greetings from the Netherlands


    3 years ago


    How much power can you generate from electric screwdriver?

    It is 5v like you mentioned it earlier or more?



    10 years ago on Introduction

    I do not understand why you are thinking so Small,
    how about this, a Gas powered Generator, One where the gas motor does not work,
    why can you not take the generator and make a wind turbin out of it?

    I mean come on, a drill is fine and dandy for a small school project, but lets get serious, we want to produce electricity, and there are alot of generators that dont work or need to have the gas motor repaired that would make a good
    Wind Turbin Generator, I was also thinking what if you hooked up a solar powered battery with a super gear setup to power the generator at night. just an Idea.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Have you made one like that using the generator port off a gas generator , this is what I have in mind to try


    6 years ago

    Would this motor work?
    dynamite dyn1171


    Reply 6 years ago

    it's hard to say. if it's a low RPM DC motor it should work. mine are low RPM, put out plenty DC volts, but not much amperage. I guess equivalent to s trickle charge :-\


    6 years ago

    I'm also busy building a wind generator. The Nema 23 24Vdc stepper motor is a great choice for small wind turbines. It will produce about 20watts of power that you can charge batteries with.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    that's cool! Good luck and keep us updated!


    7 years ago

    do you thing a 24v motor at 300rpm is a good idea? I mean..wouldn't it somehow burn?