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Wind turbine project

May 01, 2008 — BarryK
I felt that I needed another project, something outdoors and involving manual labor, as I have been sitting too long in front of my laptop. Often that's all I do for the entire waking interval, apart from meals and sometimes a bit of TV. Not healthy, mental or physical.

One thing that I have wanted, right back since the 80's, is a solar-wind power system. So, I decided, why not make that my next project? A few months ago I purchased a 300 watt wind turbine, just $499 Australian (about $470 US) - well, it's a lot for me, as my savings had already been depleted after the India-trip indulgence -- but I couldn't resist it. That's less than half the cost of other wind turbines, but this thing is made in China.

I don't have neighbors to complain about a 7 metre (7.6 yards) tower looming over their house -- of course in an urban situation I would not be allowed to put this up.

I got stuck trying to figure out a design for the tower. That's why the turbine has been sitting in the shed for awhile. But a few days ago I decided that I'll just start building it, and it will sort itself out as I go along!

I need to build it so that I don't have to hire a crane. which would likely cost as much as the turbine. The turbine is heavy, so how do I get it up on top of a 7 metre tower (and off again for maintenance)? I have roughly worked out a hinged design, that folds down onto my shed roof. So, I have to man-handle the turbine onto the roof, affix to the tower, then by means of a pulley raise the tower. Ahem, that's the rough idea.

I'm doing this on the cheap, so using whatever is lying around. I've got these 6.5 metre lengths of 46mm outside-diameter (1.8 inches) galvanized water pipe, so I have decided to use 4 of them and construct a rectangular tower, with lattice-work to reinforce it. The tower will be free-standing.

Ok, free-standing means I will need a substantial footing. A few days ago I dug a hole, 1.2 metres (3.9 feet) deep, and poured in concrete to bring it up to 0.8 metres (2.6 feet) deep, with galvanized reinforcing wire running vertically, also horizontal loops. That's what I have right now, and here is a photo:

Hey, while digging the hole I found an old water pipe, defunct. This was an old town site, all gone now. The place used to have the water supply from a nearby dam, which was also used for the steam trains. I found the reinforcing wire nearby -- lots of old bits of stuff lying around in the bush here.

Next step, I'll insert the pipes, held vertically by bracing from the shed roof (which is about a metre away). I haven't figured out how to do the lattice-work yet, probably weld bits of iron strapping onto it -- again, I found lots of old galvanised iron strap nearby.


Save a pipe - employ a tripod
Username: dogone
Barry, What a great surprise. To think that something like this could grab my attention just days before v4 final. I live in Flagstaff, Arizona and can relate to stark environs. Your plan sounds like a good one, but why not save a pipe and employ a tripod? It will be as strong and leave you with 7 meters of pipe for bracing, etc. Please post more photos and updates as you get along (here or at the forum). It sounds like a great project. A needed diversion from things Puppy but as always, safety first.

motor high
Username: urban soul
"I just can't resist to comment on this because I know the 'screen issue' and I like to construct all sorts of things myself... My first thinking was: Would it be possible to have the motor down on earth ? But you had this idea before me, I am quite sure. Urban

Windmill Fans
Username: Lobster
"I had the same problem of lack of physical exercise and no alternative Puppy mind set. My solution was taking up Tai Chi, martial arts, gardening and meditation training again. I rather like the kite/balloon windmill designs that use high altitude air currents but that is another issue . . . For mental stimulation how about using Skype to contact your other fans . . . :cool:

Tilting with windmills
Username: ANOSage
"Great fun and good exercise. Just don't expect it to payback! Even the industrial wind turbines that are sprouting up across the UK have dubious overall cost-effective, cost-efficiency. You can lift the beast with the help of an A-frame hoist, ropes and a couple of neighbours. Worry about bearings maintenance and extreme weather blade-feathering. The control circuitry is less than straightforward and requires ancillary motor(s) for aiming and possibly start-up depending on design. You will need a bank of industrial lead-acid batteries for storage - another expense and maintenance issue. Passive devices tend to be more rewarding. For example, old satellite dishes can be covered with foil to make a solar furnace - very high temperatures can be attained. Old radiators can be recycled as solar hot water collectors. Best of all, a ground-plate warm water plant is most effective, even without a heat pump. It has the added advantage of requiring massive long term digging exercise which should improve the heart pump. Keep us advised.

Wind mill
Username: kirk
"Ha! I'm completing construction of a house I've been working on for over a year. Sitting in front of a computer all day is sounding pretty good right now. Be careful, 7 meters sounds short and looks short from the ground, but it's a long fall. As far as the cost effectiveness goes, it would take about 14000 hours of rated output to break even at my electric rates. But if you have fun and get some good exercise, might be worth it. Plus it could provide some back-up power. Going to arc-weld it together? I've never arc-welded water pipe, just mild steel. Though water pipe looks like mild steel. If a special rod is needed maybe someone can post it. Getting a ~50Kg generator up 7 meters is going to be no fun. Maybe a Gin pole and a winch?

TX Sized
Username: Ted Dog
"Near My folks house, a company manufacturers those big honkin blades, each one is about three semi trucks long and wider than the trucks cab is tall. They use to only haul one at a time, with a flashing light escort. After a year or so, They found a way to haul two blades at a time and no escorts. Lots of those hugh windmills are going up somewhere.

Home Power Magazine
Username: pathfinder_cate
"For a magazine on generating power at home, try Home Power Magazine ( ). Lots of diagrams and articles including setting up towers for wind generators. Many articles can be viewed on-line or even be downloaded for free. One article from 2002 is "You Gotta Have Height: A Tower Construction Project in Iowa"; viewable at

Username: DonT
"Sounds like great fun. Just a little hint on welding galvanized material from a well-wishing friendly engineer. Suggest that you lightly grind away the galvanized surface material from any place that you wish to weld. If not, the fumes given off will cause a severe headache, if breathed. We Puppy fans have to look out for our leader.

Wind turbine project
Username: cthisbear
"Barry: New Inventors to the rescue. Tower Hinge The Hinged Windmill is designed for new windmills or as a retrofit to old windmills. For more information about Tower Hinge, contact: About the Inventor Lee Shier is a classic bushie. He and his wife live a fair few miles from the town of Mingenew, Western Australia. Where’s Mingenew? About 300Km+ North of Perth, 50Km+ South East of Geraldton. """""""""""""""""" Controversy as to whether this will be a reality. Something I would like myself. ////////////////////////////////// Another fantastic Oz invention. " *Of the 16 competitors we researched, Biolytix® uses at least 90% less energy than all of them. This is because the most common sewage treatment systems, aquatic systems, rely on energy-consuming blowers and mechanical parts to aerate and clean the wastewater. Our visionary "ecosystem in a tank" cleverly uses nature (worms and micro-organisms) to turn sewage into clear irrigation water for your garden. Biolytix® emulates the ingenious way nature breaks down waste - using minimal fossil fuels and no chemicals. /////////////////// Take care.........Chris.

More Help from the Web
Username: nic2109
"Barry; here in the UK (well actually it's Wales) there's a Centre for Alternative Technology that does research on this kind of project and publishes information sheets and so on. See They are likely to have done this sort of thing many times and are enthusiatic about sharing their knowledge. It's also a surprisingly good day out for anyone on holiday in the area!

Tags: general