The Blue Max: Affordable Home Wind Power

Here's an inexpensive home wind power generator you can build from recycled parts.

| May/June 1985

  • home wind power - closeup of turbine assembly
    Closeup of the Blue Max generator assembly.
  • home wind power - full turbine view
    The Blue Max wind turbine uses an alternator to generate electricity. The blades are covered in polyethylene tarp to capture the wind.
  • home wind power - spinning blades
    Spinning blades of the Blue Max home wind power plant.

  • home wind power - closeup of turbine assembly
  • home wind power - full turbine view
  • home wind power - spinning blades

Last issue, we published a complete how to article detailing the construction of a homemade, dollar-a-watt windplant, the Red Baron, designed with the first-time builder in mind. That "trainer" set the stage for the second-generation wind machine you see on these pages: a 350-watt generator that isn't much more difficult to assemble than the first version was, yet which employs a number of fairly sophisticated — but simply executed — features.

We've dubbed our latest project the Blue Max, and because of its potential as a reliable small-scale home wind power producer, we opted to go the extra mile and include some machined parts in the design to enhance its serviceability and performance.

Still, even with the added machining expense, this "deluxe" windplant — less the tower and battery storage — is an even better bargain on a cost-per-watt basis than was the simple trainer. Though we spent $347 on new and rebuilt parts, a creative scrounger could probably use a junkyard alternator and second-hand plumbing fittings and build the machine for $200.

The Blue Max is a first cousin to the earlier design, specifically in the use of fabric "wings" and iron-pipe frame components. Naturally, we've upgraded the fitting sizes and utilized an automotive alternator for this beefed-up version, and we've also added a disc brake and a tail with an improved span-to-chord ratio.

Furthermore, other features were included to enhance the plant's performance: Both the rotor shaft and jackshaft are machined to accept industrial-rated drive sheaves and ride on sealed ball bearings mounted in fixed seats. The rotor hub incorporates a pitch control mechanism which, together with the blade frames, allows a smooth and efficient transition from start-up to generating speeds.

Unfortunately, we weren't successful in avoiding the use of welded joints entirely, but those that do exist are simple enough to be set up and farmed out. As for the threaded pipe joints, we'd suggest drilling the fittings and locking each of them with a 1/4" thread-cutting screw once the parts are assembled.

7/1/2007 4:05:06 AM

please send me information on cheap rear blade , designed for road grading& mintenance... pull w/ a 2" ball h. ( pick up or similar), gracias , atentamente , JAMES.

6/21/2007 12:56:42 PM

I have a copy of first design wind mill. Is up graded versin better and does it not use threaded pipe to assemble! I have my own machine shop! I can turn all parts myself. But, has anyone use a differt alternator than the gm one shown in piture. I would think a dyno generator would work better! It has no brushes and it turns easyer. The dyno generator comes on kabota tracktors. Check your local tractor dealer for a used one. Usally they just need new bearings installed in them. Most dealer replace the hole thing an through it in scrap barrel! Oh, some of them look like a water pump, but, only have a water fitting on them! So my basic question is is upgrade of wind mill w/o threaded pipe! Thanks

5/8/2007 3:48:12 AM

Hi, I read your BlueMax windmill but I can't see the drawings or diagrams? Regards, Edgar Mother Responds: The illustrations are in the Image Gallery at the top right of the article, under "Related."

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