A small Portable Wind Turbine, mostly 3D printed!

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A wind turbine mostly 3D printed , which houses a Nema 17 stepper motor as an electric generator. Foldable and no larger than a 2L soda bottle. Simple to replicate and with a low manufacturing cost. CAD, STL and how to make it included.

Generally when I want to get away from the city and camp, I take some kind of power source with me. Within my preferences are the Power Banks. With a small and light one, of approximately 40 Watt hours (Wh), I can charge my cell phone about 2 or three times and that is fine if I am only going to spend a day and do not need to power other equipment such as my camera, for example. If I want to spend more time then I usually take a 222Wh “Solar Generator” with a 60W portable panel. For the energy needs that I have in this type of excursion, it is generally enough for me.
About a month ago I made an excursion of several days and to my surprise at the end of the second day my energy sources had been completely exhausted, also no Sun . I have discarded fuel generators because they are very noisy, polluting and can cause fires. There was a small stream near where I camped and there was also wind that I could have taken advantage of, but I really wasn't prepared for it. I promised to find a solution and include it in my new adventures. I am sure that there are several people around the world with this type of need, that is why I carry out this project so that they can also benefit.
In this project I show you how to make a small portable wind turbine, mostly 3D printed, capable of providing about 12W of power and with dimensions similar to a 2L soda bottle when folded. Although its generation capacity is limited, having it can be beneficial during emergencies or when access to more convenient energy sources is zero or very limited.
Although the initial motivation to carry out this project was not linked to teaching at school, I consider that it constitutes an excellent opportunity to link this type of technology with the teaching-learning process. To be able to present a product of this type at School Science Fairs, which harnesses the energy of the wind wherever the conditions exist, small, very portable and easily installed, should be striking and interesting. Students could answer questions and present the results of electrical measurements of their performance at different wind speeds. I think it would be an enriching experience for everyone.

For some time the idea of designing a portable wind turbine had crossed my mind. From my experience and for it to be useful I knew it had to be small, maybe the size of a soda bottle, able to fit inside a backpack. Its mass should also be as low as possible.
Since the plane of rotation of the propellers in typical wind turbines is perpendicular to the position of the electric generator, they are initially inconvenient to transport and store once assembled, even when small. I also didn't want to have to use tools to mount and dismount the propellers every time I was using it. Folding propellers, that was the idea, but how to implement it? It took me a while to come up with the answer. Have you seen the way bats sleep? The wings are folded towards the body, that could be the answer. Nature is an excellent source of inspiration, millions of years of evolution support it.
Taking the previous idea as inspiration, I designed this wind turbine.
Since on my travels I usually carry some kind of lightweight tripod to take pictures when the light conditions are low or to make time-lapses, perhaps also using it to support the wind turbine would save the need to carry other equipment. There are thousands of possibilities to support a camera and make it compatible with those pre-existing technologies, I think it would be convenient.
Regarding the generator to use, it was another difficult part to decide. Ideally it would have been to design and build a customed one, but  unfortunately, I did  not have the possibility of building a quality one as I did not have the required manufacturing technology at hand. That is why, a NEMA 17 stepper motor has been selected as generator due to its availability. Another reason to consider when selecting a stepper motor is that ...

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RAR Archive - 9.82 MB - 07/05/2022 at 17:09


x-zip-compressed - 17.68 MB - 07/02/2022 at 01:48



STL and STEP files (Proyotype 1)

x-zip-compressed - 8.45 MB - 06/23/2022 at 15:00


Full Bridge Rectifier+Capacitor Circuit (Gerber Files)

x-zip-compressed - 11.56 kB - 06/23/2022 at 14:51


View all 13 components

  • Rectifier Circuit + Capacitor ready!

    adriancubas07/29/2022 at 15:50 0 comments

    In a previous Log I published the Full Wave Rectifier + Capacitor circuit that I intend to use in this Wind Turbine. Thanks to PCBWay and his kind team this circuit is now a reality! From what I have been able to verify, the manufacturing and quality control process is very well structured and at all times the user can know what stage of the process their order is at. They have a very intuitive and very helpful Web platform. Something that caught my attention is that they sent me preliminary photos before the final assembly to check any detail that could be correct or not and correct it before concluding the work. After my confirmation they proceeded with the remaining steps.

    I have shared the project on the PCBWay digital platform at the following link. Through this you can order its manufacture and I guarantee that the results will be incredible.

  • Prototype 3!

    adriancubas07/05/2022 at 17:24 0 comments

    I have finished the mechanical design of prototype 3 and I think the final product should be very close to this design. Last changes can always arise, hopefully not many because it can be overwhelming. In this latest design, as you will notice, timing belts and pulleys have been used. I have used a 1:2 ratio but you can substitute it to a 1:3 ratio depending on the field tests. This time I do not plan to include any electronics in the body of the wind turbine, just a 3-pin connector for the three phases . Then I will design a box with the electronics and everything else.

    I went back to the original idea that it was an upwind and not a downwind wind turbine. This design offers the possibility of using other motors (generators) with some small changes in the central body part.
    I will publish in the gallery some renders that I have done. That's all, see you in a next Log!

  • Backyard's first tests of prototype 2

    adriancubas06/29/2022 at 01:12 3 comments

    I needed to do these tests because I have to decide if I need to use gears or other power transmission mechanisms, in which case I would change the design a bit.

    It is not enough to make the propellers rotate, it is necessary to generate an adequate voltage and current value for storage in batteries and subsequent use, hence the need for these mechanisms may arise.

    We should remember that I already tried to rewind BLDC motors to get higher voltages. The ferromagnetic cores of the stator have limited space for the copper wire and to increase the number of turns per pole it is necessary to use finer gauge wires which greatly limits the output power. Since this Wind Turbine has to be small because it is "portable" I find this solution unfeasible for the power I want with this new prototype. If the power is not something of primary interest, then I recommend building the Prototype 1 which is much simpler than this and guarantees about 3-6W of Power without major complications.

    During the first phase of the tests I verified that the propellers could rotate and start the movement by themselves without gears. In this case, the motor is directly coupled to the hub as it was assembled in the previous Log. Unfortunately there was no wind at all that day and I had to use a common household fan. You may not see it in the video, but the fan blades are much shorter than the wind generator blades. This constitutes a limitation, but in spite of it it began to rotate. From my previous experiments I have been able to learn that if it works with the turbulent and relatively low flow that a fan provides it will do very well in real world conditions. Luckily nothing came off or flew away hahaha!!! The maximum voltage obtained was 2.66V, a bit low for my needs. This voltage value corresponds to about 400 RPM according to my previous experimental results. I know that this voltage value could be increased in suitable wind conditions. My intention is to manage to charge 18650 lithium cells connected in parallel until they reach their maximum voltage of 4.2V. The number of cells in parallel will depend on the generation current. BMS, Buck boost converters, Power Meter and others are required that when I finish this part of the Project I will have to integrate.

    During the second Phase I did some tests on the generator, but this time coupled to gears with a 1:4 ratio. As can be seen, it is not capable of starting the movement on its own, although it is capable of sustaining it without problems once a minimum RPM has been reached. An automatic angle of attack variation system would perhaps be a benefit. A higher angle of attack would guarantee the start of the rotation and then the angle of attack would be decreased to achieve higher RPM and improve efficiency. This would make this project much more complex and would also make it more expensive, something that I prefer to avoid.

    I think I am going to redesign the generator to integrate a 1:2 ratio power transmission system. I would like to know your opinion.

    See you in a next Log!!!

  • Full bridge rectifier + capacitor circuit

    adriancubas06/23/2022 at 14:26 0 comments

    I have designed this rectifier circuit using Schottky diodes capable of withstanding 15 amps. Perhaps it is an exaggeration but I prefer to be prepared for any surprise. The use of these diodes guarantees lower losses in the rectification process compared to more common rectifier units.
    If you wish, you can now download the Gerbers Files and print the PCBs from the Files section.
    In my case I made the connections quickly with cable connectors as shown in the photo and it went very well.
    Having completed this stage guarantees to make the measurements and experiments that I want to do perhaps in the next week. I plan of course to post here the process and its results.
    See you in a next Log!

  • From design to reality!

    adriancubas06/09/2022 at 01:46 0 comments

    This video shows the position and assembly of the fundamental pieces of the central body. In a future log I will show some electrical measurements, before going into the design of the electronic rectification and regulation circuits.

  • ​ The Mechanical Design of Prototype 2 is almost complete!

    adriancubas06/01/2022 at 19:28 0 comments

    I have been working hard to finish the mechanical design of this new variant of Portable Wind Turbine. As you can see in the image some changes have been made. It is now a Down-Wind Wind Turbine. A new blade grip system has been designed that allows you to manually change the angle of attack of the blade and experiment without having to glue it down. Although folded it is of similar dimensions to prototype 1, its power is much higher. Blades are almost twice as long.

    As I have designed the pieces I try to print them and physically test them with the rest of the assembly, if everything goes well I continue the other parts of the design. Printing them is taking me a long time since I have printed them at 100 percent infill except for the Blades
    I am impatient to test this new model.


    adriancubas05/27/2022 at 23:39 0 comments

    I have sacrificed a bit of the efficiency of the Blade2 for more portability. If it didn't, the Wind Turbine became very high. These are the results of the SPLIT-BLADE2 modeling.

  • BLADE 2 is Here!

    adriancubas05/25/2022 at 16:47 0 comments

    I have finished the design of the new Blade that I want to use in prototype 2.

    The geometry I got from the QBLADE 0.96 Software which you can download and use for free. I've attached the design and simulation file for my new Blade if you'd like to take a look. I would appreciate any suggestion.
    In order to obtain the power values that I want in this new prototype and to make its performance consistent with those obtained in the BLDC generator that I presented in the previous log, I had to increase the length of the Blade Prototype 2 to approximately 435mm. Since the 3D printer I have is unable to print objects of that height, I have sectioned the Blade into two parts which must be assembled later with epoxy glue and inserts.

    Kyle ( ) works for Essentium Inc ( ), an industrial grade 3D printer / materials company based in Austin, Texas and has been kind enough to print some parts of prototype 1 in the following materials:

    He just sent them to me. The use of these materials, with exceptional properties, guarantee an incredible durability and resistance of this Wind Turbine.


    adriancubas05/20/2022 at 18:30 0 comments

    I have been experimenting with different motors (generators) in order to increase the generating power of the wind turbine. As I presented earlier during my measurements, the nema 17 stepper motor is only capable of delivering 0.65A of maximum short-circuit current even though the RPM is notably increased. I know I can get more than that.

    My first intention was to design a new permanent magnet rotor for the stepper motor and I did so but the results I got were still poor, plus it required modifying the stepper which could be challenging.

    I also rewound a 12 pole BLDC motor, salvaged from a LASER printer. This motor initially had 35 turns per pole and I was able to rewind it to 50 turns per pole. In the measurements that I made, I obtained acceptable values of current and voltage to charge lithium ion batteries of the 18650 type. In the end, I discarded it since it has a high mass due to having ceramic magnets in its external rotor.

    Looking for alternatives, I found 130kV BLDC motors at a good price on Aliexpress. They are motors used in the Matrice M600 drones of the DJI company. Perhaps they were discarded due to bearing wear or because this Drone is already out of production, I don't know but I do know that its capabilities as generators are exceptional.

    Below are the results of the measurements I made. My conclusions from these measurements are as follows:

    • They deliver a lot of current even at low RPM. In the measured range, the short-circuit current had a linear growth behavior as a function of the RPM.

    • It was verified that they are 130KV motors (revolutions per volt) as can be seen in the trend adjustment equation. To obtain voltages of 5 V or more, more than 600 RPM is required, which leads to the redesign of the generator blade to operate at higher RPM.

    • At approximately 840RPM, a charging current of 1A is obtained in an 18650 cell, which exceeds the generation capacities of the stepper motor at the same RPM.

    I can tell you that I have already finished the first variant of the Generator Hub (BLDC M6010) and I am now working on the redesign of the new Blade with the GPL software QBlade 0.96.

    Greetings to all


    adriancubas05/05/2022 at 17:58 0 comments

    During the field tests on prototype 1, the maximum voltage value obtained in the internal capacitor was approximately 22V. The wind speed recorded that day was 22km/h, with gusts of 26-28km/h.

    In the lab, if we spin the generator rotor until we get that 22V, we could measure the maximum RPM reached during the field tests. Other values of electrical magnitudes could be determined to try to characterize the nema 17 stepper motor in its role as generator in this Wind Turbine.
    To carry out the experiments, a three-phase induction motor was used, which could vary the frequency of the supply current with a Variable Frecuency Drive (VFD) and with it, the RPM of its operation. This motor was attached to the chuck of a drill with which the generator shaft would be fixed. Attached to this mandrel was a small magnet that would pass close to a 2000-turn coil of fine gauge wire, when the entire assembly rotate. This coil would be connected to the signal input of an oscilloscope where pulses would be detected. Measuring the time elapsed between pulses with the same phase and determining its reciprocal, the frequency expressed in Hertz (Hz) would be determined. In turn, a multimeter would be placed at the generator output and the voltage and current would be measured based on the RPM. At the end graphs of dependency of these magnitudes based on the RPM would be generated. One area of interest was determining the best series-parallel configuration of 18650 lithium cells to be charged by the generator. Two 1500mAh 18650 cells balanced at a voltage of 3.7V were used in the experiments. Conclusions:
    • The nema 17 stepper motor (generator) apparently is not capable of supplying a short-circuit current greater than 0.65 A. From 500 RPM, a pre-limit value of 0.6A is obtained.
    • The 22V obtained during the field tests correspond to about 870 RPM of the generator. Typical values would be between 500-700 RPM.
    • The open circuit voltage has a linear behavior as a function of RPM. At 600RPM approximately 14.5V is obtained.
    • At typical 700 RPM  you get 0.5A charging current on a 1S2P 18650 system, versus approx 0.26A on a 2S1P 18650 system.
    • It makes no sense to use configurations of three or more 18650 cells in series. High RPMs are required that this wind turbine could hardly reach.
    This is all for now, tell me your opinion!

View all 11 project logs

  • 1

    You can download the pieces from here in the FILES section. As I make changes to any of them, I will replace the corresponding file so that the most up-to-date ones are the ones that are published.

    I've included a STEP file in case you want to take a closer look at the assembly or change something depending on your interests. If you need any special type of file format let me know and I'll see if I can help.

    I have printed my prototypes in PLA. I will probably end up printing it in ABS or PETG, although PLA has worked very well for me so far.

    In this system, the parts are subjected to relatively high mechanical stress. That is why I have printed all the pieces at 100% infill with the exception of the propellers and tail, that I finally decided to print at 40%. The thickness was 0.28mm in all cases. I used a Longer LK4-PRO printer with a 0.4mm nozzle.

    The propellers were printed one at a time. They took about 6 hours each. I used supports and the position was as shown in the picture. The support pattern was CUBIC and I used CURA slicersoftware.

  • 2

    To do this you must insert it inside the hole that the Central Hub has. On the other side, place and adjust the nut until the assembly is tight. Since the Blades and Hub will rotate in the opposite direction to the tightening direction of the Collet Propeller adapter, there is less risk of the assembly coming loose.

  • 3

    All the holes in the designed parts are for M3 screws. Place the pieces as shown in the images, but do not overtighten them. The Blade Ends shall be able to articulate freely 90 degrees.

View all 7 instructions

Enjoy this project?



Michael Bravo wrote 08/03/2022 at 15:03 point

What are your design expectations on mounting the turbine in a lightweight "adventure" usage scenario? Just use a stick? :) Photo tripod should probably do, but not everyone has one with them.

  Are you sure? yes | no

adriancubas wrote 08/03/2022 at 15:20 point

Haven't given it much thought yet but I think a viable alternative would be an extension pole, ropes and ground anchors.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Biffabelly wrote 07/03/2022 at 15:07 point

Do you think it would it be ok, to use a 1000V 10A Bridge rectifier instead of the 3Amp ?

  Are you sure? yes | no

adriancubas wrote 07/30/2022 at 22:09 point

Yes, there is no problem with using 10A rectifiers, although they are usually larger. My recommendation is to use Schottky diodes. Please see log 11 for more details. Regards

  Are you sure? yes | no wrote 05/20/2022 at 22:30 point

When you're closer to a finalized version I'd definitely be interested in purchasing it from Tindie!

  Are you sure? yes | no

adriancubas wrote 05/20/2022 at 23:16 point


  Are you sure? yes | no

goldrick31401 wrote 05/12/2022 at 00:19 point

So I guess using gear reduction would be in order?

  Are you sure? yes | no

adriancubas wrote 05/12/2022 at 01:21 point

I'm trying to avoid using gears, but it might be a workaround. I have already gotten a bldc motor to deliver 6V at 600RPM with a short circuit current of 2.6A (had to rewind that motor). With those values i can use a boost converter and stabilize an output voltage. I keep experimenting. Greetings

  Are you sure? yes | no

tomasfarken wrote 05/10/2022 at 07:46 point

I like the project very much!!!! :-)

  Are you sure? yes | no

adriancubas wrote 05/10/2022 at 15:35 point

Thank you, I really appreciate your comment!!!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Todd Medema wrote 05/10/2022 at 00:36 point

What wind speed range will this work in? Would love to see a wind speed vs watts graph!

  Are you sure? yes | no

adriancubas wrote 05/10/2022 at 15:34 point

Right now I am trying to improve the generation efficiency of the stepper motor. Apparently, when the RPM exceeds around 800 RPM, the increase in the frequency of the alternating current generated leads to a notable increase in impedance, which greatly limits the output current. I work on two solutions: A new permanent magnet rotor for the stepper motor and a rewound BLDC motor. When I get an acceptable output power, I will publish the dependencies between magnitudes, including the one you suggest. Greetings

  Are you sure? yes | no

cr15 wrote 05/08/2022 at 03:07 point

Can you be a little more specific on the collet adapter? When I click on the link it's just pulling up an amazon search.

  Are you sure? yes | no

adriancubas wrote 05/08/2022 at 03:42 point

You need a "prop adapter" that is capable of holding the 5mm shaft of the stepper motor(generator) and has a thread length of 12mm or a little more. The thickness of the screw is 6mm. The one I used is out of stock. i think this can work

  Are you sure? yes | no

cr15 wrote 05/13/2022 at 15:43 point

Got it. Will post something when I get everything put together. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Alexey Vazhnov wrote 05/03/2022 at 17:54 point

Adriancubas, amazing project!

Could you please share it under some opensource license?

  Are you sure? yes | no

adriancubas wrote 05/03/2022 at 21:10 point

Sure, no problem! How do i do it?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Alexey Vazhnov wrote 05/03/2022 at 21:19 point

If you have already selected a license, then just add a file like "LICENSE.txt" to the files and maybe add a note into "details" or "description" chapter.

If you didn't select a license yet, then I can suggest something like "CC-BY 4.0 or newer" or a "public domain", but this choice is completely up to you, of course.

  Are you sure? yes | no

tazelaar wrote 05/01/2022 at 18:52 point

more interested in a belt wind turbine like humdinger 

  Are you sure? yes | no

adriancubas wrote 05/02/2022 at 20:45 point

Yes I will definitely do one of those in the future!

  Are you sure? yes | no

dzuljo wrote 04/30/2022 at 05:48 point

Hello,thanks for the project,I like a lot. 
Maybe is my printer problem or dimension on the printed file is wrong. 
Extremo de Hélice inside hole is 14mm. 
Hélice is 15mm. 
Not possible to fit together.
Kan you please check?

  Are you sure? yes | no

adriancubas wrote 04/30/2022 at 12:09 point

I'll check the model as soon as I get home. If I have any interference in this part of the assembly I will correct it and let you know. I know others have already started printing the parts. Has anyone else encountered this problem? Glad you liked this project!

  Are you sure? yes | no

adriancubas wrote 04/30/2022 at 13:47 point

I just checked and I have no interference in the design. The pieces between each other have a gap of 0.2mm. The Blade 15mm cylinder would go into the 15.2mm hole in the other part. I just uploaded some pictures of this in step 4 of the instructions. Send me a close up photo of the problem to see if I can think of a solution.

  Are you sure? yes | no

SirDezzy wrote 05/14/2022 at 08:49 point

Hi, this is a very good project but I am also having printed size issues. So far, none of the propellers are fitting into Part B. Also D does not fit onto A. Very odd.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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