For my final project I have chosen to construct a wind turbine that I can actually use at my home.  I came up with this idea from another one of my classes, where my group is creating a business plan for a hypothetical hydro turbine company.  After doing plenty of research on small turbines, I realized that these turbines are not that hard to build, and you can get pretty creative with the final design.  My first impression of this project is that it would be far too expensive to create given that I have almost none of the required materials at this point.  However, after doing more research on the topic, I have found that you can construct one of these for less than $150.  This may still seem like a high price, but this project is something I can use in the future and refine indefinitely.

Upon first impression, I want this turbine to look very sleek and  low profile.  It will need a custom housing to hide all of the technical components that go into it.  The goal that I have set for this project is partially technical, but mostly aesthetic.  I don’t want to simply create a DIY wind turbine that looks like it was assembled in a garage and barely functions.  I also want it to appear very modular, so that you can place the turbine head on many other fixtures using a few household fasteners.  I know that I won’t be able to create a perfectly sleek and functional turbine with the time and resources I have, but I really hope that by the end of the semester I have a starting point that I can continue to work on into the future.

Below are a few DIY wind turbines that I found online.










These are clearly not very aesthetically appealing.  All of the wiring and components are exposed, and although they function correctly, they wouldn’t look very nice if they were mounted in your front yard.

The hardest part of this project will be creating a fully functional wind turbine that actually creates electricity. I understand all of the technical components that go into this project, but I know that when I actually start assembling the turbine, I will run into problems.  I think the critical component of this project will be the fitting for the generator.  I need to ensure that the rotor from the blades effectively connect with the generator, and that the lift from the blades is sufficient.  Once I acquire the motor, I will be able to create a prototype fitting that I can refine before heading to the machine shop.

I am still working out the exact cost of this project, but I don’t see it going over $150.  The required materials are: high DC Voltage / Low RPM motor, directional vane, blades (pvc?), hub, blocking diode, controller (may not get to this point).  I know that I will have smaller components, but I will most likely be able to find those lying around the ITLL.

As far as the timeline goes, I would like to have all the major parts ordered/drawn out by the end of next week.   The week after spring break, I can hopefully assemble the unit and begin troubleshooting any problems.  The week after that, I hope to address the aesthetic portion of the project and brainstorm ideas about how to make the turbine unique and sleek.





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5 Comments. Leave new

  • Hi Chris.
    For an aesthetic, you might want to check out some Miyazaki films, like Porco Rosso,, and Castle in the sky. Very cool vintage Italian aeroplanes.

  • Andre Szlendak
    March 7, 2016 11:59 am

    I like that you’re attempting something you have limited experience with in terms of the electronics. I’d be curious what sort of optimal (assuming ideal efficiency) power you could get out of this and how it would compare to maybe your expectations and results.

  • Roshan Misra
    March 6, 2016 11:21 pm

    This is a cool idea! What kind of scale were you thinking for it? I know one thing with wind turbines is that its hard to get substantial power out of them without them being really fine tuned, and generally really big, so I’m not sure how much power you’ll realistically be able to pull from it. As far as aesthetics go, I think it would be pretty cool to try to model it after a tree somehow. Maybe add on branches or leaves to make it blend better with the nature surrounding it. One nice looking wind turbine I found online is this one:

    For the blades, you might consider buying wood and fastening it together somehow to create the shape of blades. It may be easier to make it aesthetically pleasing, while still hopefully minimizing weight if you use balsawood or something similar. You could also check out sheet metal. I know you can get 3’x3′ sheets from and can bend them at the physics machine shop. Its also a light material but relatively easy to shape.

    I’m impressed with the scope you went with for this project! Its ambitious, but could create an awesome and worthwhile product in the end. You might want to look in to talking with some folks in Environmental Design since this is kind of their specialty. Good luck! I’m excited to see your progress through the semester.

  • Joseph Yoshimura
    March 6, 2016 11:06 pm

    This is a great project! Unlike my project, I think yours is incredible due to the fact you can use this forever. In addition, in the long run it can save you money. I’m surprised by all of the different approaches there are to this, such as using AC or DC. It will most likely be difficult and challenging, especially since Roshan is the only member of our group with a great deal of electronic work. However, I am sure that if you plan and think this through enough you will be able to come up with a design before actually building that will prevent many of the potential problems you could encounter later.

  • Jacob McCormick
    March 6, 2016 8:39 pm

    That’s a sweet idea, how are you planning to address the fact that most of these do it yourself windmills are not very aesthetically appealing. Also, do you have an estimate for how much power it will output?


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