Posted by: andy idsinga | November 3, 2009

Building a windmill – part 1

This past weekend I was tearing apart and rebuilding the electrical circuit for my kitchen lighting.

One of the fixtures I was removing was an old cruddy ceiling fan.

As I was pulling it down I asked my step-dad, Don G, what I might use the motor for? I was thinking about figuring out how to use the motor for a grinding machine, but Don jokingly quipped : make a little power generating windmill.

Don’s suggestion sounded great and reminded me of a recent guest on John Stewart that really inspired me : The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

So I decided to make a windmill, share the project here on my blog and ask you for your tips, suggestions and moral support as I go :)

Here are the high level goals for the project:

  • learn a little about electric motors and applying them wind power generation
  • document the design and create “learning materials” that can be shared with public schools and youth organizations. I’ll use google sketchup to create a scale model and share other parts of the plans in PDF.
  • support charging 1 or more 12 volt batteries
  • on the other side of the 12 volt batteries support at least the following outputs:
  • design the windmill in such a way that it can be portable. Specifically, so that it can be setup, taken down and transported easily by one person with a car or small bicycle trailer.

Here is a picture of the fan parts I’ll be starting with:

the fan on my workbench

the fan on my workbench



  1. very cool.

  2. Thanks Tom!

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