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Probably one of the first associations that people get when they think about The Netherlands: Windmills.
We got a lot of them. Old (classical) ones which were used to grind flour, and plenty of new ones too. I once noticed the site www.otherpower.com. At this site quite some people are building their own windmill for generating energy. Free energy. I gave this a try too, but unfortunately I do not have the nice wood carving tools available like all the people at the forums have. I wasn't very successfull, but when I say windmill or magenet to my friends they start to smirk already .
This windmill was made of wood, and was my first one. All three blades were made with a saw. A tedious job! Hence the blades weren't very equal too each other. But with some bearings I managed ot get it rotating in the wind. I tried creating my own alternator (dynamo) using old copperwire from a vacuum engine and magnets from about 25 broken harddisks. Never saw much energy from it though. One lesson learned: buy some things so it fits, do not try to use everything you got, really.
For more photos check out this photo gallery
Different approach here. This time I used a PVC pipe. (Also called "drainage pipe" I guess, used for rain transport from the roof). From one pipe you can make six blades when done correctly. I should write the plans online here, which I might do a bit later. The positive point of PVC blades is that you can cut these very quickly. And they seem to perform quite well. The negative point is not completely confirmed, but people are scared to use these. UV (sun) might "dry out" the blades, so that one day they might shatter to pieces. Although this imght take like a year, or even longer, to happen.
When it's very cold outside, the same might happen too. I actually heard from one person in a shop that it isn't allowed to place those drainage pipes when it's freezing; it might shatter to pieces. PVC is very cheap though, so I thought it was worth a try. I bought 1m (about 3-4 feet) of PVC and made some blades out of it. It worked quite good! This time I wanted to try an old printer motor (from an HP 520 orso) to generate electricity. Unfortunately, I never managed to find a way to connect the two axle's properly (lack of tools, again). Maybe later this year.
One important lesson learned: Never run the blades unloaded (see pics).
For more photos of this windmill check out this photo gallery.
If the above projects are too complex, try out this simple, but fun project.
This tutorial will tell you step-by-step how to turn an empty Pringles can in a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT)! Nearly every step has it's own photo.
Proceed to the Pringles windmill gallery for more photos.