Wind Turbine With Bicycle Wheels




Introduction: Wind Turbine With Bicycle Wheels

This instructable uses bicycle wheels to create a wind turbine. Some construction ideas come from A Home Power Plant - Wind Power Generator Revised
by bhunter736
Making a simple Savonius wind turbine
The timber frame idea comes from wind turbine by faroun
Faroun Savonius Wind Turbine
plus other net published constructions I can't remember plus some original bits.

Step 1: Make Base and Top Frames.

Create two 700mm square frames
These frames to hold the axle bolt and make the whole construction simpler. I used 25mm pipe. Add an angle iron section across the the centre with a hole drilled at the centre able to take the wheel axle.
Fortunately I have a mate with a welder and is much better at it than me. Thanks Chris

Step 2: Add Bucket Base Anchoring Pieces

I used wheels from an old off road bike past its used by date. I have recently read that a ratio of radius to height of 6-8 is most efficient so wheels from a BMX would probably be better, but I used what I had. To hold the Savonius bucket base to the bicycle wheel fix two pieces of wood on opposite sides of the wheel to hold them. I made these the same width as my bucket base, but if you were using a full circular base you might want to use four of these. I used 35mm square timber. I actually used 70x35 framing pine which was ripped down the middle.
Drill through the rims and secure the timber to the wheel at each end with 50mm timber screws.

Step 3: Create Bucket Base and Buckets

I made the buckets by screwing the bucket templates to the base plate then screwing flat sheet metal to the templates to construct the buckets.
I made the base plates out of 18mm exterior board 330mm wide. 650mm accross. Draw centre lines on long and short axis. From the centre created by this intersection draw arcs from each end long axis. I used a pencil on a string to create the arc and cut along this arc with a jigsaw. If you use a full circle base make the circle of radius 325mm.
Four bucket base templates are required. I used semicircles but you could change this shape to increase the efficiency of the bucket. Read a few articles and you will get a few more ideas. I made them from an old 20mm pine shelf but chipboard would probably do in dry area or 18 exterior board if getting wet.
Fix the base templates to the base such that the flat sides are along the long centre line. I over lapped the the semicircles 80mm. I used three self tapping timber screws to hold each as well as contact adhesive glue. Next one I build I won't glue just use more screws as this will allow me to "play" with the bucket shape.
Cut a 50mm hole in the centre to allow the axle to come through.

Step 4: Fix Metal Sheets to Bases to Form Bucket.

Cut 2 flat galvanized steel sheet to form buckets. The thickness of the metal does not need to be heavy as the curvature of the metal stablises the bucket when the ends are secured to the templates.
My buckets are 900mm high and 450mm around the template. The circumference of the templates is 470mm but I had a sheet of 900x900 so used what I had cut in half.
To fix the tin to the templates I predrilled the templates then marked the holes on elictrical tape which I ran around the template. I then applied the tape to to the end of the sheet metal and drilled the holes in the sheet metal.
I fixed the sheets to the templates using 25mm self tapping screws with the outside edge "flush" to the outside edge of the template and the inside edge short.

Step 5: Fix the Bucket to the Wheels and the Wheels to the Top and Bottom Frames.

Attach the wheels to the bucket. I used two 50mm self tapping screws into each of the four pieces of timber screwed to the wheels in step 2. Take care here to centre the base plates on the axles. This is where the marked lines on the base board help in alignment.
If you intend to use the rear wheel cogs to drive generator or pump etc make sure the bucket rotation is correct. If it isn't correct turn the bucket upside down and it should be turning in the correct direction.
Bolt the end frames on to the wheel axles.

Step 6: Construct Mounting Frame.

I made the mounting frame by creating half width walls and bolting them to the metal frame top and bottom.
Each wall was 350mm wide. I made 8 35x35x1300mm posts by ripping 70x35mm framing pine in half.
Cut 4 320x1200mm pieces of 9mm B grade exterior board to brace the posts.
I then ran the router down the edge of each post to remove a 9mm section for the braces to sit in.
Take two posts glue and nail or screw the brace into the section cut out by the router.
Bolt the frame sections one on each side of the metal frames. I used 50mm self tapping roofing screws for metal roofs but predrilled the pipe the take up easier.
Make sure it is on the metal frames such that the wind is not blocked. ie that when the bucket is across the frames will be covering the back of a bucket. I saw this frame design on another project but I didn't keep the reference to acknowledge it. I am sure if you are looking you will find where it came from. Alternatives might be to use steel posts and fencing pipe clamp connections . Either way this turbine can be dismantled and reassembled fairly easily.

Amazingly for my first try it does work!!
How much power I get when I hook the chain drive to my generator is yet to be seen.

Check out the video set up on my veranda.



    • Fix It! Contest

      Fix It! Contest
    • Creative Misuse Contest

      Creative Misuse Contest
    • Tiny Home Contest

      Tiny Home Contest

    25 Discussions

    dear engineers please design a portable windmill so i can take a wheel...of my bicycle ...duriiing nite recharge... nite---10 lbs extra? with a bike wheel windmill

    1 reply

    How about a genertor attached to the wheel while you ride so that it is charging on your way to your destination ?

    Hi Does anybody know what would sort of motor would be best for my wind turbine (perhaps that I could get from an appliance around the house etc)? Thanks Tim

    Looks GREAT and is a great idea. I could see this with a dc motor and maybe an Car alternator but to make alternator work you would need it to generate about 1600 rpm to get anything out of the alternator. Thinking a dc motor would work best. However this is a GREAT IDEA and leaves allot to experiment with as well. Now if I could just get the video to work.....

    1 reply

    the video should work if "Open with" Quicktime. It was done from a still camera rather than a video camera.

    Check out TMA's VAWT for air foils in combination with vertical turbines. They report efficiencies at 40+% with the airfoil design

    1 reply

    Foils have been on my mind. My father in law is a model plane enthusiast so I have three wings made from hot wire cut foam, (his incomplete projects), but I won't be able to get them in until mid next year

    Also if you left the tire on you might be able to use that to drive a small generator or DC motor by direct contact with the tire using friction.

    1 reply

    have tried solid rubber cord glued with superglue driving a generator. That works but I am waiting to get it into the field to to actual testing

    Instead of fabricating the buckets from flat sheet metal why not use air-conditioning ducting or stove pipe?

    Looks fantastic. I love the view of the veranda. The turbine seems so at home there. I love the fact that the baffles seem to help in a real world test too. I have not been able to answer that question with any certainty. I cant wait to see what kind of output you end up with. They are mesmerizing to watch arent they? : )

    3 replies

    Thanks! The baffles idea comes from one of Faroun's projects I think. I haven't tried it without them but I would like to see the difference. I am going to replace the timber frame with pipe and fencing clamps. Yes it can be mesmerising. The view is Balmoral, Brisbane, Australia.

    i do belive that i am the first to frame it and Direct the wind to the blades now, how about this idea, take a v belt and place it inside the rim with the pointy edge to the outside and then use a pm alternator or treadmill dc generator and place a pully on it and spring load it to the v belt. if you go to my project you will see that i did the same using a timing belt and it works. easy and you have the rim already. regards Faroun

    I hadn't considered using the rim as the drive but it would give a significant gearing advantage. My current plan is to use the bike chain to drive off the largest rear wheel cog. Fortunately the derailer cog off the bike fits the shaft of my fixed magnet generator exactly which gives a reasonable gearing ratio to up the revs. I will probably still need a spring loaded system to keep a little tension.

    This is a really cool idea, does that get spinning very fast in the wind? i was thinking of using that design for mine, i was just going to use 1 bike wheel for a horizontal design, instead of a VAWT. i wanted to just screw in a hub on top of the piece of wood across the wheel and put blades on it but i wasnt sure all that weight would make it spin very fast. Great works that looks very cool ~DanLoney

    2 replies

    Mine only spins relatively slowly but if you use smaller diameter bike wheel with the same height blades it should spin faster. I did try this with one bike wheel and vertical blades when I was getting under way. I used cardboard for blades in testing. It went fairly well. If you use a horizontal design it may be more important to "balance" the wheel. ie after it is built spin it slowly and adjust the weight distribution of the whole construction. Have fun I just like to "Try it"!!!

    True. Also, when the time comes, you can probably just use a treadmill motor as the generator. The torque should be pretty good, even with only one tier it should self start too. : )

    nice work, i like the simple i dea of using bicycel parts and such. in my project i have created the wind direction idea to achive more tork and Yes it does work, cause at the same time where the back of the blade there is a vacume. in my project i am aiming for 400 watt but i am still at 180 at 20mph wind so i am working on another custom alternator, what are you aiming for? regards