Hydro-Power Generation

DIY Hydro-Generator

This was a project in partnership with classmate Ryan Denham.  We set out to build a three-phase mini-hydro-electric generator from average easy-to-find materials.  And, this is how we did it..

Tools List:

  1. Saws
  2. Hacksaw
  3. Jigsaw
  4. Miter saw
  5. Table saw or Skill saw
  6. Drill Bits
    1. 1/4”
    2. 1/2”
    3. 1 & 1/8” Spade Bit
  7. Glue Gun
  8. Measuring Tape
  9. Straight Edge
  10. Quick Square
  11. Clams
  12. Wrench
  13. Soldering Iron
  14. Volt-meter


Parts List:

  1. 28 AWG Enameled Magnet Wire
  2. Electrical Tape (Blue, Green, Red)
  3. Hot Glue Sticks
  4. Two Pieces of Ply Wood (12” x 13”) wide and (3/8”) thick
  5. Two Circular Bearings (1/4” inner diameter and 1 & 1/8” outer diameter)
  6. 1/2” Solid Metal Bar
  7. *Epoxy or Alternative Chemical Binder
  8. One (12” x 12”) piece of light wood (3/8”) thick
  9. 12 – 24 Large Washers
  10. 12 – 24 Large Neodymium Magnets
  11. Handles
  12. 4 Bolts (6” x  1/4″) with 12 nuts
  13. Two 1/2” Inch slices of PVC
  14. Sandpaper
  15. Compass
  16. 12+” Diameter Fan Blades
  •  Use Fan Blade style for high velocity (low head)
  • Use Pelton Wheel for high pressure (high head)

NOTE:  Pressure = (Water Density)(acceleration of gravity)(height)



Step 1)   Build Stators

  1. Cut Both [pieces of plywood into (12” x 13”) rectangles
  2. Place tape 5/16” from tip of 1 & 1/8” spade bit
  • Drill 5/16” into inside center of both pieces of plywood
  1. Clamp both pieces of plywood together in alignment with 12” square of light wood
  2. Drill through center of all three pieces of wood at once with 1/2” drill bit
  3. Drill into four corners using 1/4” drill bit
  • Draw 12” diameter circle around the hole just drilled on all pieces of wood.
  • Secure circular bearings into insets drilled into inside center


Step 2)   Wrap Coils

  1. Wrap magnet wire into a coil with 200 turns and approximately an inch in diameter
  2. Tape coil on both sides using colored electrical tape
  • Using the same continuous strand of wire, repeat 3 more times.
  1. Using different colors make two more sets of coils. [Four Coils per Set]
  2. Repeat entire coiling process if both sides of rotor are to be utilized for power production
  3. Use hot-glue to secure coils around 12” circle made around center of stator
  • Wire in three-phase [Diagram]


Step 3) Build Rotor

  1. Cut 12” diameter circle around lightwood using Jigsaw
  2. Secure solid metal rod into center 1/4” hole drilled in step 1
  • Glue 12 large washers evenly around the circumference, repeat on other side if both sides of rotor are to be utilized
  1. Carefully place magnets onto washers, alternating polarity [Hint: compass may come in handy]

Step 4) Assemble

  1. Slide rotor rod into circular bearings of stators using PVC spacers sandwiched in-between.
  2. Place 6” screws into four corners of stators [place nuts on each side of stator]
  • Use voltmeter to test


*Bonus:  For major hydroelectric generators, we need to divert the fish around the dam.  A “fish sorting center” separates BIG FISH from small fish… and can sometimes be traumatic as shown below.




..or maybe you’d like to try your hand at another form of power generation.

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