Maker Studio HATCHedu ThinkFun (gravity Generator)




Introduction: Maker Studio HATCHedu ThinkFun (gravity Generator)

Generate your own electricity at home with this Gravity Powered Generator. This set up generates around 5 volts at a current of around .1 Amps (enough to charge a cell phone). In this tutorial I will show you how to generate a DC electrical current using the Maker Studio Winch kit a continuous rotating servo and some other household material.


Step 1: Gather Supplies

For this build you will need both gears from the MakerStudio kit, some two part epoxy (i like quick set), a power drill, dril bits, string, and a continuous rotating servo. If you do not have a servo sitting around, any of these will work.

Step 2: Construct Generator Shaft

Carefully drill a hole in the end of one of the MakerStudio rods that is about a quarter inch deep and the diamete of the drive shaft of the servo. Mix up some epoxy and apply plenty into the hole drilled into the rod as shown. Insert the drive shaft of the servo into the freshly epoxied rod. Then assemble the hubs and gear as shown in the final picture being sure to use plenty of epoxy. Position the large gear about a half inch from the servo.

Step 3: Assemble Power Shaft

Assemble the main power shaft as shown in the picture above. Make sure to use plenty of epoxy on the gear to prevent slipping.

Step 4: Final Assembaly

Insert the servo shaft and the power shafts as shown in the first picture. Make sure that the black hubs are positioned so that both shafts can spin freely. Assemble the winding spool on the power shaft as shown, be sure to use plenty of epoxy here. Insert a LED light or whatever you want to power to the power leads of the servo. The longer of the two leads on the LED is the positive lead, so make sure that this is plugged into the middle or red wire while the shorter of the two leads is plugged into the black wire. The string supplied in the Maker Studio kit is too small for this application. So find a longer piece of string and attach one end to the winding hub and the other to the hook.

Step 5: Run It

To run the gravity powered generator set it down flat on the end of a table or elevated surface so that the servo is braced by the surface, but the large gear can rotate freely. Clamp or weight down the back of the gravity powered generator to the elevated surface. Attach a weight to the hook at the end of the string. Make sure the weight is just heavy enough to move the servo and not too much more heaver that that.

To reset the generator, simply pull out the servo shaft so that the power shaft can spin freely. Rewind the line, push the servo shaft back into place and readjust the black hubs. The Gravity powered Generator is now ready to make some more power.



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    23 Discussions

    I'm working on making one of these right now but on a larger scale! I'm using parts from a weed eater and an old air compressor with multiple gear reduction but don't know wich motor is better! I'll send u a link to it when I'm finished if u would like to see it!

    This could be scaled way up. Think 100 foot tower and a couple of tons of weight. A 12kw motor geared down to slowly winch up the weight when the sun is shining, wind blowing, etc, and the same motor fumctioning as a generator when needed, using the stored kinetic energy as a sort of mechanical battery. Match the gear ratios and weight and drum diameter nand electrical load and motor power and you could store a lot of energy.

    1 reply

    I like Your idea! I live in a rowhouse at the ground floor, and we got a "Lichthof" (somekind of elevator mine) from rooftop (2nd floor) to ground, that is used for nothing. It talls 25 meters.
    I got also a 80watt solar panel, for HAM Radio purposes. (+charge controller, accumulator, some junk cordless drill, etc...)
    If You got any further ideas, and You would help me a little, I would make something with it.
    We can post it here, as a cooperation.
    Would You?
    Sincerely, "Bakter Bandi" (

    They are working with something like that for LED lighting in Africa...

    If you had two strings on the shaft, the one not in use would be wound up for you as the other one falls, so all you would have to do is but the bucket on the other string. Micro wave turn table motors have the reduction gear built in,if you turn them you get very high voltage out of them, VERY high voltage. enough to shock you big time.

    4 replies

    Good idea. I had no Idea that microwave turn table motors could make that high of a voltage. I need to get my hands on one of these. I can think of some fun applications for one.

    Polarity should be the same, He is using a RC Servo, rotation of the servo should make no difference, unless ? (as he dose not say so), he has removed the circuitry from the servo.

    Hi, I had to replace one some years ago that had gone bad, as they are less than £2 on ebay for a new one i just sent for a one.
    I got the new one I turned the drive shaft while touching the connections and it just about blew my head off. so don't shock your self, it's worse than HT leads on a engine. the plate drive makes a nice easy coupling and are made of plastic but cost as much as the motors. Output is AC current.


    3 years ago

    So to reset you have to lift the weights back up to the starting point manually?

    3 replies

    Yes, with the way I have this set up that is the case. I am planning on experimenting with different methods of raising the bucket automatically. DFTricks had the suggestion of using a solar panel to power the servo to raise the weight, then let gravity take over to generate power when solar energy is not available. This can be done with energy generated by other means such as wind, hamster, or whatever you can come up with.

    Funny project, good documentation

    But not much practical use... No pun against the author.

    In the same mail of featured ibles, there is a 1kW(compared to 0.005kW) wind generator with 2.3x10^6 views... i saw it first, when it was published. The interesting thing there is how the generator is made.

    As others mentioned here, gravity generated energy is mostly made via hydro power. Directly in water driven grain/hammer mills in the past, today hydroelectric plants. (Many old manufacturing plants used to be close to streams, before the invention of Watt's steam engine)

    A friend of mine has a tripod with a gravity-fed rotator made of a old tower clock... pretty cool, when you grill a pork or sheep over a 3 by 5 feet fire pit. By the way, the grav used is around 100lb lead weights and it lasts for around 20 minutes...

    Now beef it up using say an automobile 12V generator and a ton or more of weight. Then you'll have some serious backup power. Connect it up to some solar panels during the daytime to wind the weight back up to the top and you'll have a gravity battery system...

    I've been wondering how to use something like this for 'emergency electricity', since I have the old weighted, pendulum cuckoo clock as an inspiration. It wouldn't be that much effort to wind a few pulleys twice a day (like my clock) to gain a trickle-charge system. I've been wondering since I watched a documentary on Heron of Alexandria (youtube) and was fascinated with his mechanical skills. About 30 minutes in the documentary, he has balances, windings and weights - I always wondered how we could design something similar to generate current! "A little bit is a start" in my world, just like using a 3-foot water pump to get water up 10 feet: just set a water collector every 3 feet, move the pump as needed... Even if it takes 4 steps, it still has done the job. This is a great starting point for building on!

    My brother actually did something similar for his science project. I had a spare motor and helped him to set it up to be a wind turbine.

    I can see this being set up as a demo for high school energy physics insights ! Ep = mxgxh , Power = work /time etc Could be very educational ! Back about
    2008 I recall the OLPC (One Laptop Pee Child) crowd thought of a similar
    device for charging their laptop.

    For the effort,tedium & space involved
    not much power is produced however. The huge fall in solar PV prices ( ~ a
    few dollars a Watt) makes them FAR more practical now.

    4th grade science project when I was in school.
    Sure, it will make electricity (for a few seconds) every time you rewind it and drop the weight.

    Would the servo motors be powerfull enough to raise the bucket if the current was appropriate? (connecting it to a DC battery that is recharged by a solar panel)