How I Built a Wind Generator in My Backyard for $150. Part 2.
Surprisingly, building a simple wind generator only requires very basic hand tools, and if you are desperate you won't necessarily need all of them. I used...
I wanted to be as minimal as possible with my design (I'm a poor college student), so I took the already simple designs from around the web and made them even simpler. All of the parts are available at any local home improvement or hardware store, and the entire setup can be constructed in as little as a weekend. Many of the parts you may already have lying around, and lots of substitutions can be made (instead of 1" steel pipe for the tower, you could use an antenna pole for instance). Here are the parts I used to build my generator...
All of the above parts (with the exception of the motor), can be picked up in a single stop to any large hardware or home improvement store. For the motor, the most popular types are old tape drive motors manufactured by a company called Ametek. The key is to finding a motor that puts out the highest voltage per RPM. For instance, the Ametek is rated for 30V at 325 RPM, making it excellent as an electricity generator. However, pretty much any permanent magnet motor with a good volt/RPM ratio will do. Keep in mind that if you want to generate useful electricity, you will need to produce at least 12V to charge deep cycle batteries or run an inverter. My setup can easily achieve 300-400 RPM in a pretty average wind (for Oklahoma). These instructions assume an Ametek motor with a 5/8" shaft, but can easily be adapted to other motors (search ebay for "wind generator" and you will get a listing of lots of good motors).
Arguably, the most important part of a wind generator are its blades. A lot of people like to carve their own blades out of wood or composite materials. However, for the rest of us, it's quite easy to make a good set of generator blades from common PVC pipe (and the efficiency isn't too bad either). A 2-3 foot section of either 6" or 8" PVC pipe will do the trick. Before we go any further, here are a few blade theory quickies...
Cutting the blades for this machine is very simple. You will need to cut your PVC pipe into 3 sections, two 150 degree sections and one 60 degree section (I've attempted to illustrate this VERY APPROXIMATELY in my favorite CAD program--and by CAD program I really mean MS Paint). The red lines are cut marks. You will want to use a good tape measure and possibly some construction paper or newspaper to mark everything before you cut. The 150 degree angles will result in wide blades that start up in lower wind speeds, however this will lower the shaft turning speeds. In practice, you will find that the optimum angle could be anywhere from 75-150 degrees. The best idea is start out with a wide set of blades that you can always thin out later if you need to. Remember, measure twice and cut once!
After the blades are cut, I like to go ahead and smooth out all of the edges. If you want to follow aerodynamic theory, you can round the angled (leading) edge and flatten the straight (trailing) edge, but in practice I haven't seen this make much difference with PVC blades. So, you should end up with something roughly like these...
To be continued ...
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