Build Your Own Mini Wind Turbine From Printer Parts

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Video screen capture. ScienceTubeToday

Here's a fun little DIY project that can bring home the clean, quiet nature of wind energy.

For all the DIY-ers and parents and teachers who want to get hands-on with renewable energy, building a micro wind turbine could be a great little project. It's not nearly big enough to power anything large, but it could certainly be put to use as a demonstration of wind energy, and might even be worth building as a mini charging station for portable electronics or small outdoor lighting accessories.

Why Build a Mini WInd Turbine

I'm a big fan of small solar chargers for keeping gadgets and gizmos charged, and while I do know that it is possible to build your own DIY version of these portable power plants, I have yet to see good plans for building one that uses scavenged or repurposed materials, so I've not done that yet. I'm also a big fan (pun intended) of wind energy, and have built a couple of really tiny wind generators with my kids as a homeschool project (see the KidWind website for some great resources), but we haven't built one yet that is big enough to provide enough energy for practical purposes. But that may soon change, because I came across these instructions from ScienceTubeToday that looks to be just what the clean energy doctor ordered.

About the Materials and Instructions

For the generator, the instructions call for using what's called a stepper motor (which is a bit different than a standard DC electric motor), which can be scavenged from an old inkjet printer, and which is said to be a much better choice than just using a DC electric motor as a generator. The author says (in the video comments) these stepper motors are very good "when compared with the same size DC motor," as they can generate electricity "at very low speeds, say, 200 rpm whereas a DC motor will need thousands of RPM."

The stand is made from PVC pipe, which isn't exactly a green product (but it is an item that's readily available or that you may already have around), but I think you could easily build your own stand from other repurposed materials, which would make this project a bit more eco-friendly.

The video instructions are completely without narration, which makes it surprisingly effective in getting the information across (although you may need to pause it to jot down notes), and the background music on it is, well, a little different from your average instructional video, but again, I think it adds to, rather than subtracts from, the content. Check it out below:

This version uses a model aircraft propeller, which most of us probably don't have lying around, but there are a fair number of plans and diagrams on the web for DIY turbine blades, so it's quite possible to craft your own (and which can add to the educational nature of this project). According to the video, by using the 12V auto lighter socket paired with a charging adapter, this wind turbine will produce a steady 5V 1A output in a breeze (which is great for charging our rather delicate electronics), but it could also be used without the charging adapter, in which case it produces a much higher voltage (which could be an advantage in charging a larger battery), but at the risk of having a variable output. Your mileage may vary, so you'll want to double check the output of the working unit before plugging your gadget into it.

A few more details on the project, as well as instructions for some other DIY electricity and science projects, can be found at ScienceTubeToday.