How to Turn Scrap Metal into a Working Wind Turbine
Read on to find out how.
As you can imagine, like any project of this nature, you'll need some tools and materials before you get started.
Materials and gear needed
- Scrap 10-inch (24.5mm) old uPVC piping
- Corrugated plastic or metal sheet (for rudder)
- Scrap 3/16 of an inch (5mm) mild steel plate
- Scrap Tubular steel
- Scrap printer parts (stepper motor)
- Scrap Small-bore uPVC piping
- Scrap 15 foot long (4.57m), 2-inch (50.8mm), 1/8 of an inch (3mm) thick steel post
- Scrap 3/16 of an inch (5mm) thick, 2-inch (50.8mm) wide mild steel strips
- Cable ties
- Angle grinder
- Welding gear and safety equipment
- Magnetic metal welding clamps
- Various nuts and bolts and rivets
Step 1: Make the blades and supports
With all your gear and materials in hand, it is now time to get on with the build. First, grab your uPVC piping and cut it into 5-foot-long pieces.
Mark out the shape of the blades and cut them out too. You can use something like an angle grinder to make short work of this.
With the blades ready, take your mild steel plate, and mark out a square 10-inches (25.4cm) by 10-inches (25.4cm).
Grab your angle grinder and cut out the square. With the square removed, rub the angle grinder over the cut edges to remove any barbs and other sharp edges, as needed.
Next, use something straight, like a metal ruler, to mark out two intersecting diagonal lines across the plate. This is to find the exact center of the steel plate.
With that complete, mark out a horizontal and vertical line that also transects the center point.
With the plate ready, return to your turbine blades and, if not already in place, cut two bolt holes on the base of the leading edge of each blade.
Take a measure of the distance between the holes.
Return to your steel plate and mark the position of the first bolt holes on the vertical and horizontal lines of the plate about 3/8 of an inch (10mm) from the edge.
Punch the holes using a hammer and nail or center punch. With that complete, drill 1/8 of an inch (3mm) holes through the punch marks for the first blade mounting points.
Also, drill a hole through the very center of the plate. Next, mark out the second bolt holes the same distance away from the first as they are on the blades.
Punch the points once again and drill pilot holes as before. With that complete, enlarge all the holes to 15/64ths of an inch (6mm). Be sure to add some form of lubricant when doing this (coconut oil is pretty good FYI).
Once complete, clean down the steel plate and remove and barbs and other sharp bits of metal using your angle grinder.
Step 2: Complete the main turbine support struts
Next, take the steel strips and mark out a series of lines for mounting the rotor support plates.
Once complete, drill a series of 5/64ths of an inch (2mm) pilot holes along the mounting points. Enlarge the holes to 15/64ths of an inch (6mm).
With that complete, cut up the metal strip into smaller strips using your angle grinder.
Remove any barbs and sharp edges from the cut edges as before.
Step 3: Weld the rotor supports
With the main rotor supports complete, we can now begin to build the turbine. Take the remaining long steel strip and start to spot weld the rotor supports steel to it.
Take one of the longest smaller strips to spot weld it at 90-degrees to the very end of the main strip. Then take a long bolt and mark out the position of the second long piece of metal.
Ensure both pieces are perfectly square and perpendicular to the main support. Also, test that the bolt can freely move.
Once happy, fully weld the pieces and keep checking that bolt (which will be a rotor) can fully, and freely, rotate.
Take the smaller plates now and weld them to the other end of the same larger strip of metal. As before, ensure the plates are square and perpendicular.
Adjust as needed, as before, to ensure the guide bolt can freely rotate.
Step 4: Assemble the blades and begin to complete the turbine-proper
Take your square metal plate and add an M6 blot through the central hole. Add washers, and secure the bolt into place using nuts.
Once complete, take some smaller 6mm bolts and nuts and affix each blade to the plate. Add each blade at 90-degrees to one another.
With the blades now fully secured to the hub, take the entire assembly and mount it to the main support bar using a long bolt.
Add a nut to the end of the bolt to keep the hub in place, but do not tighten fully to allow it to move freely. Next, clamp the entire frame to an equally sized length of square tubular steel.
Weld the two pieces together, as needed.
With that complete, erect your main turbine post in place. Secure it into place as needed (whether by cementing into place) and then add your main wind turbine assembly to the top of the post.
With that complete, take your old plastic or metal corrugated sheet. Mark out the design and dimensions of the rear rudder for the turbine, and cut out the piece using your angle grinder.
With that complete, drill mounting holes through the rudder to attach it to a support pole for later attachment to the main turbine assembly.
With that complete, take an old piece of uPVC piping, or wood, and secure it to the rudder using the mounting holes you just drilled. You can use old metal brackets, or cable ties to get the job done.
With that complete, transfer your entire rudder assembly to the main turbine and secure it to the rear of the blade support pole. Again you can use cable ties to do this, or create a more stable method of mounting the two pieces.
Once complete, leave the structure to move freely and see if the blades rotate and the entire assembly moves with any changes in wind direction. If not, adjust accordingly.
Step 5: Build the turbine's power generation system
With the main mechanical assembly of the wind turbine now complete, we can move on to building the electronic gubbins. Take your old printer, locate and remove the stepper motor in as complete a condition as possible.
Test the motion of the gears, and lubricate if needed. Next, if you want to, you can wire the motor up to a volt-meter and test that it generates power when you manually turn the gears.
Once you are happy, design and build a mounting fixture for the stepper motor to your wind turbine assembly.
Next, build a coupling to connect the turbine blade axle to turn the gears of the stepper motor.
In this case, the creator used a pair of bolts to build a forked assembly that will be used for this purpose. Cut off any excess bits of metal as needed.
Once complete, couple the stepper motor to the main turbine shaft as needed.
With that complete, reattach the turbine main assembly to the wind turbines mast or pole.
Once mounted, test the action of the turbine and stepper motor. As the blades turn, they should easily turn the stepper motor.
If not, adjust the assembly as needed. Once again you can wire up the stepper motor to your voltmeter to see just how much juice your turbine puts out.
You can also wire up some other small electronic devices like an LED emergency light. The turbine should generate enough electricity to power it!
With that, your DIY scrap wind turbine is now complete. All you need to do now is decide what you want it to power on regular basis.
If you enjoyed this project, you may enjoy some other scrap-to-engineering-gold projects. How about, for example, a stylish outdoor hose holder?
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