HOW TO build cheap floppy drive wind generator
Mini floppy wind generator is a quite simple DIY project. Eventhough it looks like a toy, mini wind generator can be used in various situations. Especially if you are camping, fishing, sailing or anyplace where power greed is not available. Our wind generator can be used to recharge AA/AAA batteries (NiCd, NiMh...), mobile phones, MP3 players or for direct energy supply of smaller lightbulbs (LED lights) or similar devices that draw up to few watts. The "heart" of mini wind generator is made of parts taken from an old 5.25" floppy drive!
Our first choice was to use stepper motor taken out of old floppy drive for several reasons. PC technology is "ageing" very quickly, thus floppy drive can be obtained very cheap, in most cases even free of charge. Stepper motors are very convinient for small wind generators because they do not need any kind of gearing mechanism and the rotor can be attached directly to a turbine (propeller) which is simplifing construction work and also lowers the noise produced by the windmill. Step motor produces stable voltage even on low rpm (200 rpm) which is a great advantage comparing to DC alternators/motorsvwhich require 10 to 15 times more rpm. This is very important, especially during the low wind speed periods.
Supply and charging of connected devices is regulated with small electronic circuit (few diodes, resistor, condenser and integrated circuit), everyone who has used soldering iron can construct it.
When it is windy outside, generator of our small windmill produces electric energy sufficient for one small lightbulb or charging several batteries. Application is virtually limitless, we have attached USB female connector (with stabilized voltage 5V) to wind generator which makes it possible to connect all modern mobile devices (Ipod, MP3 player, HTC phone...) that are usually charged via PC USB port.
5.25" FLOPPY DRIVE WIND GENERATOR - CONSTRUCTION DETAILS
First, we have found an old generation PC286, then opened it and removed 5.25 inch floppy drive unit - Picture 1. As you already guess, floppy drive will serve as a "donor" for the most important part - power generator. After opening floppy drive unit, it is necessary to carefully remove stepper motor (pictures 2 and 3).
We have drilled two holes with stationary drill on the shaft as shown in Figure 4. This we allow us to directly attach the
turbine (propeller) of windmill onto stepper rotor, using two screws.
Electronic componenets shoud be soldered according to the schematic diagram above. Wires coming out of stepper should be connected to rectifiers, in our case diodes 1N4004 (picture 7 - shown on the left side).
WARNING! Stepper motors usually have 5 wires coming out although
you can find those who have 4, 6 or 8 wires.
We have bought USB extension cable (Picture 8) on e-bay, cut it in half and connected wires coming
out of female USB connector directly to the output of windmill electronics (picture 7 - shown on the right side).
USB extension cable has 4 wires, but we need only outer two, plus and minus 5V (Picture 9).
WARNING! Before connecting any USB device it is MANDATORY
to check polarity and exact voltage (it has to be between 4.9 and 5.3 Volts) on windmill USB connector using multimeter!!!
Now we have to make the remaining mechanical parts for the wind generator. We need to prepare a bracket and a turbine (propeller).
Bracket can be made of aluminum tube diameter 3-4mm, and do not forget to fix it firmly. If you plan to frequently move wind generator,
easiest solution is to fix the bracket using the umbrella stand to ensure mobility (Picture 11).
During strong winds (over 10 m/s), mini windmill can produce an average of 5 watts of electricity.
This is in principle a maximum with a generator in the form of floppy drive stepper motor, but power also
depends on the dimensions of the turbines as well.
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Although the power of this wind generator is quite small, it can easily power LED lighting in your backyard (10-20 Hi-Power LED) or serve as autonomous power supply for mobile phone charging on camping. The most important thing is that the successfull construction of such mini wind generator encourage you to subsequently make a much stronger wind generator which can reduce consumption of non-renewable energy and decrease carbon footprint.