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The $140 Wind Turbine

Do It Yourself (DIY) Instructions GreenDIYenergy.com

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Table of Contents

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The $140 Wind Turbine How It Works DIY Parts List and Costs Generator Blades and Hub Mounting Batteries Tower Caution Suggested Additions

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THE $140 WIND TURBINE:


The Do It Yourself movement is now becoming popular as a result of the high cost of sustainable technology. We have assembled an instructional manual that will help you build your own affordable wind turbine out of recycled materials and cheap buys. Wind power is an investment that will accompany you into the long-term. By following the instructions in this guide and constructing your own turbine out of affordable materials, you will save even more than you would from buying a retail wind turbine system which could cost thousands of dollars. We have provided you with many ideas, ranging from the best types of generators to the shaping and cutting of your own blades. Because there are many crucial elements to wind turbine construction and production, we have provided you with diagrams that detail these construction methods as well as images that depict how the turbine functions overall.

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HOW IT WORKS:
Wind turbines share five common attributes: 1. Generator 2. Blades and Hub 3. Mounting 4. Tower 5. Control Panel

The wind turbine in our example will provide a few hundred Watts of power. It wasnt designed to produce enough electricity to power an entire house or farm, but its incorporation within an existing electrical system can significantly lower your energy bill by taking pressure off of household loads.
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DIY PARTS LIST AND COSTS:

(Approximate figures)
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Generator:
The generator is one of the most critical parts of the wind turbine. Its responsible for taking power from the blades and turning it into usable energy.

Pictured above is the 30 VDC Ametek motor we used. Without having to go through the complication of building your own generator, there are several DC motor options available.
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When used as a generator, a motor rated for 325 RPM at 30 Volts could be expected to produce 12+ Volts at a reasonably low RPM. Your motor should have: High DC Voltage High Current Low RPM rating There are many motor options to choose from. We suggest the following options: Permanent magnet alternators (more expensive, but they are designed for wind turbine use) Old computer tape drive motors (surplus relics from the days when there were big reel-to-reel tape drives) Electric lawn mower motors Floor buffer motors

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Servo motors All Ametek motors (30, 38, or 99 VDC work particularly well)

NOTE: Car alternators and AC motors have been used for wind turbines, but we have found that they generally dont work very well and arent recommended. Before you make a final decision about which motor to use as your wind turbine generator, go to the manufacturers web site and research the motors specs. If youre browsing Ebay, ask the seller if he has tested the motor as a generator, or if he can test it for you. If a motor that can be used as a generator is selling cheap, you can buy it and test it by chucking it into your drill press (or lathe) and turning it on while attached to a load. If it handles the load, you can use it. If not, you can resell it on Ebay and get your money back.

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Blades and Hub:


Blades are another crucial element to a wind turbines functionality, transferring energy produced by the wind into kinetic energy. To construct your own blades: Acquire a 6 inch wide, 24 inch long PVC pipe

Quarter the piece of pipe around its circumference, cutting it lengthwise into four pieces (diagram on the next page)

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Cut one blade and use it as a template for the others (standard measurements provided)

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Our research has shown that 3 is the optimum number of blades - most commercially made wind turbines have 3 blades. Turbines with even numbers of blades tend to suffer from vibration problems. Single-bladed turbines need a big counterweight opposite the single blade to keep them balanced.

There are diminishing returns to adding more blades. Expense and complexity go up quickly, but performance only improves marginally. Also, adding more blades tends to increase torque, but this comes at the expense of speed.

Generators like to run fast, which is why you rarely see a wind turbine with more than 5 blades. In applications where torque is important, you may see turbines with lots of blades, like the ones pumping water on ranches, but they dont make good electrical generators unless their output is geared way-up in order to create enough speed.

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Use a belt/palm sander to smooth and shape the edges of your PVC pipe quarter-pieces It is critically important that all the turbine blades are the exact same size and weight

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Now the blades need to be assembled to a hub. Be sure to assemble the hub before you drill any holes in the blade so you can make sure that they line up correctly with eachother. Use a scrap disk of Aluminum that is 5 in diameter and in thick

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Bolt together a toothed pulley to fit on the motor of the shaft, making sure that the hole fits the motor attachment snugly Drill holes in the hub for the blades to be screwed into

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Attach the hub pieces together and then proceed to connect blades

After assembly, check for balance: Mark each of your blades with a number Assemble the blade/hub contraption upon a stable support, such as a pole

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Spin the blades approximately 10-15 times For each spin, document the number upon the bottom blade After spinning, notice if the same blade ends up on the bottom each time. This means that its heavier than the others, which could offset the entire turbines productivity

If your blades are unbalanced, you can sand a bit more off of the heaviest blades curved edge. Then, test it again by using the same process.

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Once you are convinced that the blade/hub contraption is balanced, attach a domeshaped vent cap for protection

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Mounting:
To create a mounting for turbine mobility: Strap the generator to a piece of 2X4 wood Cut a 4 inch diameter PVC pipe to make a shield for the motor, protecting it from the weather Construct a tail to keep the blades turned into the wind with a piece of heavy sheet of Aluminum (tail shape varies by preference)

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Shown above is our mount with the generator and tail attached. You need to make sure that your blades are functional and always facing into the wind. Create a bearing that allows for ample mobility in the wind current: Attach a 1 in iron floor flange, centered 7 in back from the generator-end of the 2X4

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Screw a 10 in long iron pipe nipple to it (displayed below)

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This photo shows the newly constructed head and base of the wind turbine, prior to final assembly. Disassemble the generator and tail

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Completely coat all wooden parts with UV protected latex paint - three coats is ideal to protect it from harsh weather

After painting, this photo shows the finished head unit with the generator, blades, and tail attached.

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Batteries:
Collecting and using the power created by your new wind turbine requires the following: A charge controller A blocking diode to prevent power from the batteries being wasted by spinning the motor/generator One or more batteries to store power produced by the turbine A secondary load to dump power from the turbine into when the batteries are fully charged Power Inverter Car batteries may seem like a good material to recycle for wind turbine utilization, but they are not a good choice for a wind or solar power installation. If discharged too deeply, they become damaged. Car batteries are designed to deliver a quick burst of power to start the engine. They are not meant to be deeply discharged and recharged repeatedly.
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Recycled golf cart batteries and other types of deep cycle batteries work much better with wind turbines and will not be destroyed quickly from over-usage. Whether you build your own or buy one, a charge controller for your wind turbine is crucial. It will: Monitor the Voltage of the battery(s) in your system Either send power from the turbine into the batteries to recharge them, or dump the power from the turbine into a secondary load when the batteries are fully charged (to prevent overcharging and destroying the batteries) If you did not have a charge controller, your battery would overload from an abundance of energy, making its life run out faster. A controller is a necessity for your wind turbine, as it will interrupt the system before it overcharges. Without a controller, you would have to slavishly watch the voltage on your batteries and connect and disconnect them from the wind turbine manually.

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Pictured above is the inside of our charge controller, of which we chose to construct. However, you can easily purchase a charge controller online at Ebay or other electrical stores. Before wiring everything together, speak with an electrician about the best size gauge of wire to ensure maximum turbine performance

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Voltage output from a wind turbine varies wildly with wind speed. Without a battery bank and charge controller in the system, connecting directly to the wind turbine could cause damage to the inverter or another appliance. The load from the battery bank smoothes out the Voltage to something the inverter can handle, providing power during periods of little or no wind. Your wind turbine should function in the diagram presented below:

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Tower:
You must now construct a sturdy tower that will support everything you have created thus far. To assemble the tower upright: Use a 10 ft long piece of 1 in conduit To test, anchor the pole to four big wooden stakes - driven into the ground with nylon rope

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The photo above shows how the guy-lines should attach near the top of the tower. Use chain-link fence brackets as tie points for your guy-lines Place a steel hose clamp at either end of the stack of brackets to keep them in place

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Later, for a more permanent turbine establishment: Replace the wood and nylon with steel and cement the tower into the ground

This photo shows the base of the tower, staked to the ground. A wire from the wind turbine exits from a Tee below the conduit tower. Cut off both ends of an old extension cord (to connect between the turbine and the controller) Put spade lugs on both ends
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Threading the wire through the tower is fairly easy, but you may have to use a fish-tape or string line to pull the cord through the conduit. Grease the pipe on the bottom of the head and slide it into the top of the conduit

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When the wind starts blowing, the turbine head should snap around into it and begin spinning up quickly until the output Voltage exceeds the battery Voltage plus the blocking diode drop (which is around 13.3 Volts, depending on the state of the battery charge)

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This photo shows our controller, battery, inverter and associated electronics wired up to the turbine. Once maximum Voltage is exceeded, the turbine suddenly has a load as it begins dumping power into the battery Once it has a load to power, the Voltage from the turbine only goes up a little as wind speed increases RPMs only slightly increase as wind speed increases
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Remember: More wind = More Current into the battery = More load on the generator

Here is a close up of the electronics. The meter shows that the wind turbine is producing 13.32 Volts. The electric shaver and battery charger are providing loads on the system through the AC inverter.

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To do maintenance on the wind turbine or in cases of high wind, you will need to shut down the wind turbine by shorting the turbine output. This will halt the blades and make the turbine safe to work with.

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Caution:
The whole head-assembly can swing around if winds change direction during maintenance. Be careful! Generally, the wind turbine created in this guide isnt loud. However, it may be overhead by those situated in close proximity when the wind is blowing hard.

There is no big tendency for the cable to twist up. However, if you use your turbine excessively and it does become twisted, you can always disconnect the wires at the bottom of the mast and manually untwist them.

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Suggested additions:
If you are interested in investing a bit more time and money into your wind turbine, here are some options: Add meters to monitor battery Voltage and charge/discharge Current Add tachometer to track speed of spin To increase reserve storage capacity: add more batteries To increase power production: add a second wind turbine or solar panels

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