Unique Wind Turbine. Very Adaptable Design, Vawt




This is my home made wind turbine. What makes this one special is that the 
foils self adjust to maximize power.
It rotates vertically instead of horizontally. (also known as a VAWT) .  There are many different designs on the INTERNET where the foils adjust, but this is my own unique design. What makes this design nice is that it is easily scaled up or down in size, and there is no welding required.

Most of the parts can come off with a screw driver so you could really play with the sizes.  
Most of the tools used are standard tools.

There are two videos that I have made in association to this instructable, one shows the mechanics of how it works, the other is a short video of the working prototype.

Working prototype: http://youtu.be/9-jXDERwk3U
Mechanics of how it self-adjust:  http://youtu.be/X4YFPb60euE
( In this video I used gears instead of pulleys, but the mechanics are the same, and the blades/foils adjust the same)



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Step 1: Tools and Materials

Metal Grinder ( with cutting blade)
Drill press
Drill bits
Rivet gun
optional Tap die set, ( Screw and bolts will work also)

3 timing pulley. I used two 60 tooth pulley and 1 x 30 tooth pulley
2 timing belts ( Pulleys and belts purchased through "spd-si", Sprocket and chain would work as well)
multiple bearings . ( purchased online at "VXB")
Aluminum sheet metal ( any big box store)
Aluminum 1/2" inch tube, and 1 1/4" round  tube ( Big box store)
1/4inch and 3/8 inch metal rods ( big box store)
JB weld ( epoxy)
Polymer spacers (easy to drill and cheap, purchased at big box store)
Flat aluminum bar 1/8" thick, 1 1/2 " wide
2 x 1/4 inch polymer thrust bearing
1 x 1/2 inch thrust bearing

Step 2: Main Support

main support Material:
1 1/2" flat aluminum aprox 12 inch long.
4 bearings, 3/8" inner diameter , 4 mm thick, and 7/8" outer diamter
2  pieces of scrap metal to keep the top and bottom piece separated and aligned  ( to keep 1 1/2 " sheet metal seperated). my spacers are 1 inch thick
2  polymer spacers , 1/2' inch inner diameter 

Getting started:

I chose a distance of 5 inches from the center hole.
Mark the center and outside holes.  ( I like to use a punch or utility knife for my markings on metal)
Drill 1/2 inch center hole
Drill outside holes ( 5 inches from center) , ( outside holes should be size of your outer bearings ( mine were 5/8")
Glue your outer bearing in flat stock metal. ( I used JB weld glue , i should have purchase *flanged bearings instead)
Glue the 1/2 inch spacers to the center hole ( these help keep everything steady)
Glue 1 inch metal spacers between center and outer holes

Step 3:

Center tube:

Center tube is 12 inches long, 1/2 inch outer diameter.
Place 3 bearings on this tube.
1/2 inch Inner diameter bearing at the bottom. ( This one I glued in place)
1/2 inch inner diameter bearing, at the top, Used a white polymer spacer to keep the 2 nd bearing in place on the 1/2 inch tube
At the top of the tube I placed the 1/2 inch inner diameter THRUST bearing. Ensure this bearing has an outer diameter larger then your  largest tube. ( in my case the thrust bearing has an outer diameter slightly greater then 1 1/4 inch.) The entire weight of the rotating mass will be supported by the thrust bearing. 

Top part:
I used 2  bolts to keep the top parts together
note: My thrust bearing was not sealed, so I wrapped the top  support of the thrust bearing with a thin sheet of metal to create a dust shield.

Step 4: Stand

My stand is 36 inches high
Main support tube  is aluminum, and 1 1/4" outer diameter, inner diameter 1 1/8"
The base I made with a piece of wood with a bore hole 1 1/4".
Then I screwed 3 pieces of metal to create the base

The wind Vane needs to turn freely.
I placed a skateboard bearing (1/4" inner diameter) inside the 1 1/4" tube, The wind vane is supported by this bearing with the use of the 1/4" rod.

I placed the bearing on  a round piece of wood and screwed the piece of wood in place ( see picture)

The base can really be made of anything solid
I used adjustable bolt screws  ( or tensioner) so that the center pole can stay level on any type of ground.

Step 5: Assembly

Assembly of center tube and rod

Vane rod:
inner 1/4"  vane rod .  ( 1/4 inch round, steel, 28 inches long)
Place polymer spacer on bottom of 1/4" rod, I drilled the spacer and placed a set screw in it.
The spacer will rest on the inner skateboard bearing

Your 1/4 inch rod is complete once you've placed the bottom spacer on it, You can place it inside the 1 1/4" tube and it should be resting on the skateboard bearing that is set in the  1 1/4 tube.

Half inch tube: 

On the top part of the 1/2 " tube glue a small 1/4 inch bearing ( Mine is 1/4"x 3/8"x1/8")Take your inner hollow center tube ( Mine 1/2 inch OD, 12 inch long)
Install other bearings:
2  half inch bearing should be installed on shaft, or use a shaft support to  keep the bearings in place
Place thrust bearing on top of 1/2 tube.

Your 1/2 inch tube should now have 4 bearings: 2 x 1/2 "bearings, 1 x 1/2" thrust bearing , and a glued 1/4"bearing at the top.
You can now place your 1/2 " tube in the 1 1/4" tube

Step 6: More Assembly


Outer timing Pulley assembly:
Pulley has a 3/8" hole and two set screws
Pulley is set to a 3/8" rod aprox 8 inch long
3/8" rod ( mine is aluminum) needs two holes to screw or bolt foils to. (make sure the two holes are lined up

Is made with 1/2" tubing , 10 inch long
and 1/16" aluminum sheet metal.( 4"x10")
Take a grinder or hack saw and  cut the 1/2 inch  tube  in half, for the top 5 inches, now slide the sheet of aluminum in the cut and glue it in place.
Drill a small hole an inch from the bottom of the 1/2 tube ( to enter a screw into the timing pulley assembly)

Pulley assembly with 3/8" rod will fit on metal support
Place thrust washer under Pulley assembly
Connect 10 inch timing belt
Place top metal support
On one side place another timing pulley
Slide small timing pulley on 1/4 inch van rod
Connect 5 inch timing pulley

Aligning foils:
Foils should be perpendicular to each other, Use set screw to adjust

Aligning Wind vane:
Wind vane should slide on to 1/4 inch rod,
Use the set screw or bolt to set the VANE parallel to 1 side ( In the picture the  Vane is set Parallel to the foil on the right) in this case the wind turbine will alway turn clockwise

Step 7: Detail View of Wind Vane

Wind Vane  Assembly

Main tube:
1/2 inch tube,  15 inches long 
Drill small hole in tube to place set screw or bolt

Horizontal rod:
1/4" rod, 20 inches long
2 holes for rivets

1/16" aluminium sheet metal, 8 inches square piece that was later cut into a triangle
2 holes for rivets

Drill two holes in your 1/4 tube and in vane."
Rivets VANE and 1/4 tube
On top of the 1/2" tube drill 1/4" hole and insert 1/4 inch rod
I used metal putty to glue 1/4" rod and 1/2" tube in place.

Your wind vane assembly is now ready to slide onto the 1/4 inch center rod.

If you have any questions send me a msg on my youtube account.

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    34 Discussions


    5 years ago on Step 2

    i newbie in VAWT.
    thank you very much how to install generator? I have one of small axial flux wind generator (homemade).

    anybody can help me,email me at suhartou@gmail.com


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, I am a total newbie
    Love your designs but what kind of motor have you used and how did you attach it ?



    7 years ago on Introduction

    Hi I'm a total newbie,
    Love your design but what kind of motor is used and where is it attached ?



    7 years ago on Introduction

    This design dates back to the 19th century. You usually see it with four vanes. This version, though, is the first lightweight and portable one I've ever seen. Typically, these VAWTS can deliver high torque at low speeds so you might be able to either pump water with it or get some electricity out of it if you rig up a drive train thingamajig and drive an old alternator you should be able to pick up at a junk yard.

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Being that is it lightweight and portable aren't you concerned that it might just blow over?


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    lol, Two weeks at my parents cottage and it blew over and damaged one of the foils. I thought it would never blow over. I posted a new video with it turning in strong gusts of wind. Notice the two sand bags at the base. Thanks for the comment....I should have replied earlier.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    super impressed with this design! Thanks for sharing. Do you think an airfoil blade shape could be integrated with any benefit?

    7 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    My blade is 1/16" and then in the center it's a 8/16" (or 1/2 inch) ...my center support is really not aerodynamic. I Think the blade shape could really be improved.

    Since the blade rotates 360 degree ,an airfoil with lift would work great on one rotation , but then would be counter productive on the next.

    We would need a neutral Airfoil that is aerodynamic but does not provide lift.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Firstly, this is a brilliant design. I would rather suggest that in stead of focusing the aerodynamics of the airfoil, consider this. Rather try to increase the number of blades per section, say to 3 or 4, so that instead of having a maximum applied force every 180 degrees, reduce it to 120 or 90 degrees. It may get complex, but I think that it would be more effective.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I suspect you'd either reach a point where the trade-off of drag, friction etc against performance reaches an equilibrium at - just guessing - probably no more than three sails ... OR ... it might evolve into a complete circle of tens, hundreds, who know of sails.
    Brilliant concept. Many thanks.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    You're right, at some point it will be useless to to add more blades, but starting at 2 and calculating the force the air exerts on the blades along with drag and the resultant moment about the central shaft, I think that an optimal blade count is possible.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I suspect trial and error would be more reliable than calculations! No me though!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Yes , I saw that one too.
    Here are a few more, if you search youtube:

    Eolienne à axe vertical EolProcess
    vawt with rudder 2 ( my favorite one )
    Variable Pitch Vertical axis wind turbine
    Lego rotating blade vertical axis wind turbine

    Theres some debate as to the optimum amount of blades on this type of self adjusting VAWT. My theory was that if you want more power ...just make the blades larger. The more moving parts needed the more expensive and complicated it gets,


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I am curious what kind of wattage outputs you were getting?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I want to see this in very large scale. If using this idea to capture energy from waves in the beach, may be the same principle can be great.

    Dr Qui

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Interesting idea, that's a lot of mechanism to be exposed to the elements. Do you have a video of it in a say a 8-10mph wind which is a decent outdoor test.

    Excellent build quality, I highly recommend that you take a look at the work of Edwin Lenz and try his Lenz turbine, its an unconventional design for a VAWT but produces serious torque and is self regulating and self start from any wind direction. You have the skills with aluminium that would produce an excellent Lens turbine.

    Just one thing I noticed is you mention the a chain drive would also work, from my own experience chains do not like running on a horizontal plain they much prefer the vertical plain, on the horizontal plain your sprocket need to be perfectly concentric to the axle as any play at all will have the chain coming off constantly, i had this problem on my first turbine attempt and rules out horizontal chains from all future designs.

    Good luck and keep it up.

    2 replies

    The flat belts from washing machines are useful, and easy to scavenge. a flat toothed belt would be best to eliminate slippage in wet weather


    7 years ago on Introduction

    You should have patented this. Now it can't be patented.