Design Review: Windmill

For my project, I am building a miniature windmill to put in my backyard. The windmill will be approximately 4 to 5 feet tall, and will look like the classic windmills that used to cover the countryside. The inspiration for this project was a windmill I saw in my hometown in Georgia growing up. I always thought it had an iconic look to it, and I wanted to created something that mirrors that feel, albeit on a smaller scale.

The aesthetic that I am trying to achieve with this project is the classic countryside/rural look. Windmills were historically used by farmers to mill grains and usually dotted the landscape while having a very distinctive look. They were generally constructed the same way as houses in the same era, meaning that the exteriors were usually made out of the materials available at the time. This means a lot of stone and wood and other naturally attainable materials. The best way to mirror the desired aesthetic would be to make it resemble the traditional design as much as possible and scale everything down to the size of the project. I am planning on making a base that is either made out of brick or stone, and the blades will probably be made out of wood with a fabric covering. The blade part of the structure will likely be mounted to the base using a pinion through the middle of the component that is attached to the base so that it can freely rotate.

For my proof of concept/initial prototype, I decided to build a model out of cardboard, mainly to get a feel for the size of the windmill, rather than the functionality. The base of the windmill was 4 feet tall, and the blades were 3 feet in diameter. The blade was able to spin about a wooden drumstick that I mounted to cardboard tube to allow it to rotate.

One other consideration with my project is that I want the windmill to serve some sort of alternate purpose besides spinning according to the speed of the wind. One of the ideas that was suggested during my design review was to include lights on the edges of the blades. I really liked this idea, and LEDs would likely last a long time, so that would eliminate the requirement of converting the wind energy to electric power.


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9 Comments. Leave new

  • Jeremy Parsons
    March 15, 2017 12:40 pm

    It is cool to see that you are drawing your inspiration from an iconic memory from your childhood. Have you thought about the aesthetics and materials for the roof section? As we discussed, you may be pushed to choose between accomplishing the aesthetic with the functional elements (lights, spinning, etc.) or the visual/historical design elements (structural design, brick vs wood, etc.). In any capacity, i am excited to see how your project evolves after the solid discussions today.

  • Wow this will definitely be a large scale project. Cant wait to see the size and outcome. I like the old fashion wind mill aesthetics as well. If the wind mill could have function as well, it would look nicer.

  • Sam Van Dreser
    March 15, 2017 12:35 pm

    Its nice to see a project that is more a type of ornament than some type of gadget. Maybe you could incorporate some lights into the housing of it and that only turn on when the blade are spinning. As for the older look for it, how do you plan on completing this? Maybe a stain of sorts…?

  • Avery Anderson
    March 15, 2017 12:34 pm

    I like how you drew your inspiration from your childhood. I would agree that it would be a nice touch if you incorporate a functional purpose like a windmill or wind turbine, but I am struggling to find a feasibility purpose as well. As far as your aesthetic, you could stagger the walls of your base to give the aesthetic of the classic windmills.

  • Super unique idea. Prototype helped to solve sizing so was good in that aspect. I like the variety of materials you’re planning to use. Maybe you could have the spinning power some sort of fake candle light on the inside of the windmill (if you’re going with some kind of windows/doors).

  • Scott Lowenstein
    March 15, 2017 12:32 pm

    Cool project idea! Your presentation of your design considerations and constraints was thoughtful, and helped to point out what you are aesthetically and functionally attempting to achieve. It looks like the prototype that you created will help you to appropriately size the final version, and get you started on figuring out which materials to use for the final build. Great job!

  • Really like the windmill idea. There’s a lot of room for aesthetic ideas to implement into the project. That’d be awesome if you found a way to generate your own power with the windmill but considering the time and budget we have to complete this project I feel as though it may be better to just focus on a design that does not generate its own power. Excited to see where the project takes you though!

  • Emily Pearson
    March 15, 2017 12:31 pm

    I love that you are designing a product that has sentimental value. You mentioned you wanted it to serve some alternative purpose and my thoughts are that you could add lights to it to make a spinning lamp. What a cool idea!

  • I agree with you, when I was growing up I would always watch older movies and there were always windmills in the movies. I like the countryside aesthetic you are going for, because it reminds me of older times and I also love nice countryside fields. Your design considerations are very smart, to make sure that your wind mill does not resist motion. Your size is a good size that you could put in your front yard as a cool decoration. If you are going for the typical country side look I suggest definitely going for some old dark wood as the windmill color and then some cool grey/brown brick or red. Good job!


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