DIY Wind Turbine Project Goes Open Source

If you live in an area that sees a fair amount of wind and you’d like to reduce your utility bill by harnessing some of that wind power, a wind turbine might be a good idea. The trouble with most commercially made home wind turbines, though, is that they’re fairly expensive, extremely tall and, if you have neighbors, they might not appreciate the new addition to the neighborhood.  Washington state resident Mike Marohn commissioned an inventive alternative. It’s called The Zoetrope and it’s a vertical-axis wind turbine made out of easily attainable parts and, according to this article,  it can be assembled by just about anyone.

Applied Sciences, which did the work, notes that the intention of this product was to provide supplemental water heating. The result is this wind turbine made of materials that you can find at Home Depot and online. Applied Sciences provides what you need to know to build one yourself, including some videos of the turbine and its parts in action and some other valuable resources that will help hopefully get the turbine connected to your home and operating.


image via Applied Sciences

During testing, the turbine was witnessed outputting approximately 150-200 watts of power in a windy period with gusts reaching up to 20 MPH. Under its current design, the actual average output is difficult to gauge. This is because certain parts in this turbine were tailored to withstand gusts of up to 60 MPH, conditions which are common here in the Northwest and likely to burn out more sensitive parts.

To encourage others to get involved in the development process,  Applied Sciences decided to make the design of The Zoetrope  “open source” so that anyone interested and industrious enough can help to refine the design and/or  customize it for use in different geographical areas with differing wind conditions. The idea is appealing simply as a interesting science project, but the potential to save money and generate renewable energy in the backyard is rather compelling.

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  • Reply March 22, 2011

    Kevin Espeseth

    Two suggestions:
    1, set the system horizontal, with bearings / supports on both ends,
    2, instead of bending the airfoils perpendicular to the short side, put the bend line from point to point (on 180 deg. of the 4 corners, try it with an envelope).

  • Reply March 23, 2011


    By putting the system horizontal, you have now made it sensitive to wind direction… it now only works with winds coming at a somewhat perpendicular angle to the axis.
    Leave it vertical, but put a good support bearing at the top. That way, wind direction will have little impact.

  • Reply March 23, 2011

    Nole Buddy

    I remember the draft at the abandoned cement plant chimney as a boy. Guarantee your power (wind) supply:…

  • Reply September 6, 2012

    Arnoldas Geguzinskis

    Sadly this is not being implemented anywhere.

  • Reply September 14, 2012


    be the change u wish to see in the world

  • Reply May 10, 2013

    Rockne O'Bannon

    My house is about ideal for this. We have gusts of wind for about three months of the year that rush down from the mountains and move through two distinct channels next to the house. On some houses nearby, the force is strong enough to just rip the siding, gutters, etc. off.
    Hate to beat a dead horse, but storing the power from things like this presents the biggest problem.
    Anyway, if someone has some advice, please chime in.
    Meanwhile, let me offer an improvement that I would make for my case. Looks to me like you are using pop rivets of something on your blades. Certainly you want the device to be robust. But many people might only use this seasonally. A design that can be broken down into four or five easy to store and easy to assemble components would be a real winner.
    In Washington, for instance, you put them up in winter all over the place. In summer, you take them down to enjoy the view. Nobody complains about anything when there is snow on the ground and blowing dreary rain.
    Plus … camping. Nuf said.

  • Reply June 4, 2013


    am going to set up the one made from a plastic barrel, with support bearings top and bottom and run an alternator via drive chain, at my location up in the mountains

  • Reply June 12, 2013


    Very limited use here folks… but give it a shot…

  • Reply August 3, 2013


    Any wind turbine of any design will not generate much usable energy when mounted within 5m of the ground, unless it is in a perfectly flat area with no structures or trees around it, or on a bare hilltop. Often, the cost of the tower is a large part of the installation, but doing without that height may equate to a waste of money. Every site should have a full analysis to see what would produce the best cost:benefit.

  • Reply August 13, 2013


    Thought you might also like

    Gary Hawkins

  • Reply September 6, 2013


    How will Applied Science solve the safety problem?

    1 – for children & animals

    2 – for adults

    accidentally getting in the way of the blades?

    That’s a second, unexpected benefit of a tower or roof-mount.

  • Reply December 19, 2015

    nakul chandra

    I have mad a wind generator . It is not working . Any one in NJ can help me?

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