DIY Wind Turbine




About: "CAN'T can't do anything until TRY comes along and does it" -Grandpa

This instructable will demonstrate how to build a power generating wind turbine. My inspiration came from seeing other wind turbine instructions online. I hope to simplify the process with clear, easy to follow instructions.

Thanks to mdavis19 for his instructable How I built an electricity producing wind turbine which really sparked my interest in wind energy.

Step 1: Parts & Tools

Battery - - - $58
Battery Box - - - $8
Battery Connectors - - - $2.25
500 Watt Inverter - - - $45
Generator - upcycled treadmill motor - - - $0
Tail - scrap metal - - - $0
6'' PVC pipe 10' length - - - $30
Bolts & Screws - - - $5
1'' Iron pipe 60'' length - - - $14
Pipe Nipple - - - $2.50
Pipe Flanges - - - $8
Pipe Swivel Connector - - - $3.50
16 Gauge Wire (already owned) - - - $0
Black spray paint (already owned) - - - $0

Total - - - $176.25

Power tools
Drill & drill bits

Jig saw

Table saw

Belt sander

Hand tools
Various screw drivers
Tap set
2 pairs of Channel Locks
Measuring tools (I used a tape measure and a caliper)

Step 2: Motor

The most important part of this project is the electric motor. Luckily, I had a nonworking treadmill in my garage just waiting to be scrapped out.

DC motors, when turned, will generate current. Be sure the motor you plan to use is DC powered, and it's helpful if it has a flywheel attached.

Step 3: Blades

Another vital part is the blades. I cut mine from 6 inch PVC pipe with a jig saw and table saw.

Cut a 2 ft length of pipe, split it in thirds, and then cut the shape from each third. The jigsaw was used to rough cut the shape, and the table saw to straighten them. My cuts were less than perfect, so I had to sand them down for even weight and size.

Step 4: Backbone

There will need to be a backbone to connect the motor to the tail and the stand. Mine already had a section of square iron attached.

At this time, add the tail and find the balancing point. The balancing point will be where it attaches to the stand.

Drill, tap, and install the pipe flange.

Step 5: Flywheel

To prepare the flywheel to accept the blades, you will need to drill and tap holes in 3 spots. I used 1/4"-20 thread machine screw for my blades.

Drill and tap the first, measure 120 degrees around, and repeat. You should now have 3 holes evenly spaced across the flywheel.

Drill 2 holes in each blade.

Screw the blades into the 3 holes you just drilled and tapped on the flywheel.

You should currently have the blades screwed on with only one screw, so that they can pivot. Measure the distance between the tips of each blade. Once they are all even, mark your 3 additional holes on the flywheel, making your marks through the second hole you drilled in each blade. Drill and tap at each mark, and screw your blades on with an additional screw.

Step 6: Assemble

Paint the parts. Assemble everything together and take it for a test drive. I wanted all the bugs worked out before it was in the air, so I strapped it onto a trailer and took it for a whirl.

For the turbine to be most effective, the blades and flywheel should all be in balance. To be sure it's well balanced, spin the blades several times, marking whichever side ends up on bottom. The marks should all be spread around randomly. If they are all in one spot, you need to lighten that side by sanding or drilling away some material.

Step 7: Wiring

The test drive and balance tests were a success, so it was time to wire everything together.

The negative wire from the inverter and from the turbine both connect directly to the negative battery terminal. The positive from the inverter connects to the battery with a fuse in line. Connect the positive wire from the wind turbine through a diode and a fuse.

The turbine can be mounted on a portable stand (as pictured) and held with guy lines, or mounted to a permanent structure. I plan to permanently install mine on a marker post at the corner of the property.

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions please post them below, I will be glad to answer them.

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    57 Discussions


    Question 4 months ago

    How quickly does this charge the battery? what is the voltage output? how many amps?


    4 years ago

    Won't the wires tangle if the thing turns toward the wind all the time? Just curious as how that is to be handled.

    5 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    I built one of these myself. I put the wires in the pipe. They do not get tangled up like you think.

    DIY Daved3ath101

    Reply 4 years ago

    I'm planning to leave the wires fairly loose so they won't get twisted too badly. The turbine won't make full circles often, usually just partial rotations

    RyanB215DIY Dave

    Reply 3 years ago

    And this is the very reason you don't need to worry with slip rings. The chance that the wire would twist enough to snap is near zero.

    ConarymorDIY Dave

    Reply 4 years ago

    I would install a swivel connection inline on the wiring. While it won't spin constantly around the post, it will eventually twist your main cable until it breaks. Otherwise, great Instructable.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Easy-Peasy, as some kids say; either use slip rings (better), or rotation-limiting hardware and a wire leads loop.

    Cats Science Club

    3 years ago

    I like what you did here and this is one of the best explanations I have seen! Nice!

    We have a mini version that is more of a model for the classroom.

    photo 1 (1).jpg
    1 reply
    DIY DaveCats Science Club

    Reply 3 years ago

    great job, that's really neat. I might have to build a mini turbine too

    hello there !, a bring a question from santiago de Chile.

    about the wire, how do you deal whit the full rotation of the wind turbine whitout tearoff the cables from?

    ps: nice work by the way

    1 reply

    I suspect you have found out already by now, but you can use a 'capsule slip ring' which allows the current to flow through it without twisting the wires.

    Slip Ring 15A.jpg

    4 years ago on Introduction

    is a great indestructible for a wind turbine

    Very cool instructible. Do you not run the risk of overcharging the battery without some sort of shutoff though?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    have 4200 Watt solarpannels on my roof, next thing from mother earth to collect is wind. Not allowed to install a windturbine where i live, so i'm thinking of an installation that blows into a round window in my rooftop, kind a tunnel with a mill inside.

    So i would not install it outside, but inside my house.

    This simple set up seems perfect to start trials...

    6 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I wonder if you could make your attic wind tunnel out of a length of PVC running from one end to the other, using computer fans inside as the generators. Those things move fairly easily and you can probably get an endless supply of them for free.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    The inefficiency of such a contraption would cause it to generate so little power as not to give payback in its service life time.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I believe it, I was just chucking out an idea. I only knew the cost of such a thing would be near nothing, I'm not an electrician, so I didn't know if you could get any current out of ten fans or not. Regardless, I wish you well in your quest!


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Unfortunately, computer fans cannot be used as generators, because they are brushless. Any attempt will produce zero volts. Check yourself...


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    The fact they are brushless is not the problem. The problem is that they are fed by a controller.

    So (two wires) ---> brushless controller ---> brushless fan.

    The controller would block the back EMF from being tappable.

    But in reality, most windmills are undoubtedly brushless, but you need a proper rectifying circuit for the brushless motor.