Idea: lasercut mini wind generator

Imagine an affordable parts list: small rare earth magnets, spool of copper wire, laser cut acrylic or wood parts.

Put it all together and you have a small demonstration machine, science fair project, model electric railroad set showpiece. Outdoor generator.

Power LED lights, arduino, charge a battery, or more, depending on design. Kit could allow hand cranking or wind operation.


that’s a really cool idea. I’ve been thinking the same thing. or use an alternator from the scrap yard? then you just have to build a housing, stand, and a big enough fan

Here’s a non-laser project build for something similar, described as a wind lantern.


My dream is to provide plans for something everyone can build with their glowforge, and is very lightweight/portable. An alternator is 1.) very heavy 2.) requires someone to dig through a scrapyard or buy one, 3.) perhaps a lot more friction than what i’m thinking for the mini generator. 4.) I also like the idea of a configurable size: plans would be anywhere from 4-12inch radius, and the vector art could even be scaled up/down depending on size of magnets chosen.

This could also be a great story about the glowforge, how it is enabling green power generation, etc… Could we build a big one, or even mount 20 little ones, on our rooftop and wire them together to add a little power back to our home? Charging cell phones in small villages or remote areas? hmmm…

The design I really want is similar to this:
And described in this paper (with cool multi disc diagram:


good point, I just enjoy reusing stuff from scrap yards… so much fun. best part is, i fell in love with a woman that enjoys it as much as i do. Anyway, I think you definitely could, design something effective. For the light weight materials that the GF would cut, though your two options become, layer materials to withstand harsher weather or make them collapsible/mobile if they aren’t capable of handling a heavier load. Cool idea, 12 in radius…on my roof alone I could attach at least 750 of them. if each one produced .017 (.02 essentially) cents worth of electricity a month, my current E bill would be free. That would most definitely be worth those 2 cents.
yes my current (pun intended) electric bill is only 13 dollars a month.


I like the remote applications possibilities. I think Glowforge challenges would be great. Not in a compete-against-each-other kind of challenge, but more hack-a-thon. Half this forum / half OpenIDEO. Collaborating on beneficial solutions (that sounds way more buzz wordy than I intend).


With an Axial Flux Alternator design (disc of acrylic, with magnets placed flat)

, I think you could easily make using laser cut acrylic in layers, glued together… One cut for the magnet disc, another couple cuts/layers for holding the magnets. One cut for the 2nd coil disc, and another couple cuts/layers for holding the coils. And some more cuts for making your own winding bobbins for creating coils…

What is really exciting is optimizing/iterating on the design. Bet you dont need to use that much acrylic at all. i.e. instead of layers to hold the magnets/coils, use epoxy. In fact, epoxy is best anyway, because I believe that reduces wear on the wires rubbing against each other… It could be a very simple design to cut, more complicated to wire. :slight_smile:


I don’t understand the principles. I’d love to learn, though. I’d love to do a science fair for myself. I’d love to learn together with my kids. Really cool. I’d love to try it, to find out what I do wrong, and to see the collaboration on it. Maybe even contribute, eventually.


Exactly, as a learning tool, I love this… Great educational opportunities in magnetics and power generation. And the design I mention above, is so scalable. You can get it working easy with only 2 discs, BUT! you can go the distance and stack as many discs together as you like for even more power! How cool is that.

And with a scalable design (scale the vector art up/down), you can use very small/cheap rare earth magnets. So the barrier to entry is really low. Anyone can do this!


You can’t scale completely infinitely. The force to drive the electrons through the wire to make electricity exerts a counter force back on the rotator that eventually will mean you need a hurricane force gale to spin it.

Sure, but within reason you could. You’d have to use your mind, but yes, the driving force may increase, so you’d have to scale your blade design up as well. :slight_smile:

I had looked into building a wind-power generation system when I lived off-grid. The wind was too strong at my place for normal windmills, so I had started looking at vertical-axis towers, which can survive much higher windspeeds. Since I had full southern exposure all day it made more sense for me to upgrade my solar setup, so I never ended up building one. Now I am thinking about wind-powered sculpture (especially after watching @jkopel 's latest beta project).

I saw this on the internets:

which led me to a free download page for the CAD file here.


put some tubercles on it. will help reduce vibration and increase efficiency!


Is that the new “put a bird on it”?


tubercle : bird :: engineer : hipster