Here's how to build a waterwheel-based power generator

Using some basic materials, you too can make your own power generator.
Christopher McFadden

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If you want to make your own power but don't want to spend a fortune doing so, then this little project might be exactly what you are looking for. Using some wood, plastic-card, and some electrical components, you too can make your own little waterwheel power generator!

diy canal complete
Source: Mr.Construction/YouTube

As you can imagine, you'll need some tools and materials before you get started.

Materials and gear needed

With all your gear in hand, let's get on with the build.

Step 1: Make the waterwheel

The first step is to take your lengths of timber and cut them into a series of lengths of wood. With that done, square off the wood to make the basic components for the main water wheel frame as needed. 

Also mark out the position of any screw holes, etc. With that done, bore and drill any holes needed through the lengths of wood as shown in the video.

diy canal core wood
Source: Mr.Construction/YouTube

With the wooden parts of the frame cut and ready, the next step is to sand down the wood as needed. You can do this by hand or using something like an orbital sander. 

Next, grab your prepared timber and begin to assemble the frame for the waterwheel as needed. Part of the frame will need to have some furrows to enable the waterwheel to be lowered and raised as needed. 

diy canal frame
Source: Mr.Construction/YouTube

Where required, insert the ball bearings into the frame for the waterwheel. With that done, install your threaded metal rod between the ball bearings to make the axle for the waterwheel too. 

diy canal waterwheel axle
Source: Mr.Construction/YouTube

Now install the piece into the main part of the frame using nuts and bolts as shown in the video. Next, sketch a half hoop shape on a piece of plastic card or similar material.

Step 2: Make the main paddle wheel

With that done, cut out some quarter-hoops from the plastic card as needed for the different parts of the main waterwheel. Cut them out as required. 

diy canal waterwheel
Source: Mr.Construction/YouTube

With that done, glue the quarter-hoops together to make a large ring. Next, make some smaller circles of plastic-card to make some hubs for the larger wheels, and glue some lengths of wood around the hubs to make the spokes of the main wheel.

diy waterwheel spokes
Source: Mr.Construction/YouTube

With that done, glue the spokes to the main rings of the waterwheel as required. Trim off any excess bits of wood from the spokes as needed too. 

Bolt the two halves of the water wheels together using a threaded rod and nuts and bolts, as shown in the video. With that done, cut out a series of rectangles of plastic-card and glue them into place around the waterwheel to make the paddles of the wheel. 

diy canal waterwheel paddles
Source: Mr.Construction/YouTube

With that done, hand paint or spray paint the entire piece. In this case, the creator has chosen to color it black, but you can paint it whichever color you'd prefer.

Step 3: Assemble the waterwheel

Once the paint has dried, you can now complete the final assembly of the waterwheel. Attach the waterwheel to its axle, and install it within the wooden supporting cradle within the main waterwheel frame as shown below.

diy waterwheel assemble
Source: Mr.Construction/YouTube

With that done, adjust the nuts on the main threaded rod axle as needed to keep the braces apart while allowing the waterwheel to freely rotate. Next, cut out a small wooden circle and add this to one end of the axle. 

This will act as a drive wheel for the power generator. With that done, take your mini dynamo and attach this to its mounting bracket on the main assembly. Secure it into place using a metal ring or other bracing as needed. 

diy waterwheel motor
Source: Mr.Construction/YouTube

With that done, add a sprocket to the main rotor of the motor/dynamo, and another larger sprocket to the main axle of the waterwheel. 

Then connect the two sprockets together using a small length of bike chain or similar. 

diy waterwheel drive chain
Source: Mr.Construction/YouTube

With that done, take an old electrical socket and switch and wire them up to the wires from the dynamo. Secure the wires to the frame so that won't get damaged/pulled loose when the waterwheel is in operation. 

Step 4: Test your generator

With that done, your mini waterwheel power generator is now complete. Now all you need to do is find a suitable watercourse, like a little stream, canal, or culvert, and place your power generator in place across the waterway. 

diy waterwheel test
Source: Mr.Construction/YouTube

Then, lower the waterwheel into the water, flick the switch, and watch your little power generator do its thing!

If you enjoyed this little power generation project, you might enjoy making another

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