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Many of the projects on TheBackShed involve using electricity at potentially dangerous levels. A F&P motor or other types of alternators can easily generate lethal voltages, even when spun by hand. Knowledge of electricity and its effects is your best defence against a deadly accident. If you do not understand the basics of AC power, the difference between single and 3 phase, and ohms law, then I highly recommend you visit All About Circuits, and in particular read the section ELECTRICAL SAFETY. Always use extreme caution when experimenting with electricity. TheBackShed assumes you have a high level of electrical knowledge and safety awareness before you proceed with any project published on this site, and takes no responsibility for any injury or damage to property.

General Information

Glossary of Terms:
A list of common terms and abbreviations.

Privacy Policy:
Every sites got to have one these days.

Electrical Information: Mechanical Information:

There are two forums here at TheBackShed. The original forum was something I put together back in 2004 as a way for web site visitors to share information. In 2005 I started up a new forum using the proven Web Wiz forum software. We now have over 1500 members.

Off Grid calculations.

Some basic maths on calculating solar panel, battery and inverter sizes .

Living Off Grid

My own expereince of living off grid.

Wind Speed and windmills explained.

By Don Brown. Originally a letter sent to Silicon Chip magazine as a comment on my original windmill article, Don explains the complex relationship behind windmill power and windspeed.

Whats a Watt?

The difference between Watts and Watt hours. The two terms are often miss used.

Standby power, and how to reduce its cost.

Standby power, the power used by appliances when they're not actually in use, could be costing you over $100 per year. Here's a few tricks to reduce your standby power costs.
Townsville Strand Windmill.

Ravenshoe Wind Farm

Paronella Park Hydro-electric
Power Station

Windmill projects and information
Mini Mill Battery Charger

Based on a stepper motor from an old floppy disk drive, and takes about 30 minutes to make. The Mini Mill will generate about 1-2 watts and charge a couple of Nicad batteries in a couple of hours.

Blade Materials Compared

Written by Ron Lin of WindyNation, this article describes the pro's and con's of using PVC, Timber, Fibreglass and Aluminium as a blade material.

Making a set of turbine blades

Some information on windmill blades, materials and options.
Chainsaw Blades!

Forum member Oztules shows us how he made his windmill blades with a chainsaw.

Building a Lenz2 turbine

Turbine Balancing.

A very accurate way of balancing your windmill turbine.
Understanding Swept Area

A look at how the swept area, and therefore the power, of a turbine changes with diameter.

How much power can we extract from the wind?

There's a limit.

Pumping Windmills.

A personal favourite, some info and
links for Southern Cross and Comet windmills.
Improving those cheap
Chinese Windmills.

The cheap import Chinese windmills are popping up everywhere, and you can buy the blades separately. But they are very noisy. There are two parts to this article, firstly how I modified the blades to give more power and make less noise, and secondly, how a forum member, Kevin, modified the windmills to improve tracking and reliability.
Furling explained.

Furling is used to protect the windmill in high winds, but how does the furling system on small windmills work, and some calculations to work out the furling speed, tail lengths, etc.

Homemade sliprings using
hardware store items.

Mounting extruded blades

Some best practice tips.

Looking for windmill parts?

Check out the Kits & Parts page.

The F&P Smartdrive
What F&P is that?

How to identify the different F&P types.
How to pull apart a
F&P washing machine.

Instructions on removal of the F&P motor from a dead washing machine
Decogging the F&P smartdrive

Cogging can affect the low wind performance of a iron core alternator based windmill, like the F&P. So what is cogging and how can we fix it.
Rewiring the F&P stator

How to reconfigure the F&P stator for charging 12v batteries.
The 7 phase cogless F&P

Using a magnet hub from a late model F&P washing machine, and a old stator, its now possible to make a cogless 7 phase alternator.
Staggered Stators

Modifing the F&P stator for a better power curve.
 Fisher & Paykel Windmill

Using a F&P Smart Drive motor, this windmill is capable of producing up to 300 watts. This new design replaces the windmill kit I sold.
Electronic projects and information
PixAxe Chips

What are they and how do you get started.


Pump Controller

A little PICAXE project. Reliably controls my water pump for the header tank.

Gizmo's PICAXE Windmill Controller/Charger

Based on a PICAXE 28X chip. Features menu driven setup, serial logging output, staggered dump load and LCD display of volts, amps, watts and watt peak.

PicLog. Windmill logger

Yet another PicAxe project. This unit logs windmill data ( volts, amps, windspeed, RPM ) to your PC via the serial port, and works as a simple shunt regulator. The PC software displays the results on a graph.

Gill's Anemometer logger

Gill has put together a clever anemometer
( wind speed ) logger using a PicAxe chip and EEPROM's for data storage. The logger has low power consumption and can record weeks of data ( depending on the sample rate ).

Derek's Windmill Doctor

Derek has put together a nice windmill data logger and performance testing software package that works with a LM3S6965 microcontroller.

12V sensor light

Converting a mains powered sensor light to 12v operation.

Making Circuit Boards

Pete's step by step guide to making circuit boards.

Understanding Rectifiers

A crash course in converting AC to DC.

LCD Panel Meter

How to make a volt and amp meter for your battery bank.Click Here
Expanded Scale Voltmeter

Adding a expanded scale voltmeter to my old battery charger
Simple Windmill/Solar controller

Based on a TL084 op amp, this is a easy to build controller suitable for wind and solar applications.
Buliding a 300 200 watt dump load

A dump load is used to drain off excess power. This design uses a few 50watt light bulbs and with some parts from the junk pile, shouldn't cost more than $20 to build
Floor fan converted to 12v

Converting a burned out 240vac fan to 12v operation.

Building encapsulated resistors

How to build a high power dump resistor from used heater elements.



Gordons Cap Mod

Adding capacitors to a wind turbine alternator can improve the output power curve to better match the wind speed. Read how Gordon has used capacitors to increase the power of a F&P and a axial flux wind turbine.

Build a variable power supply

Linear and Switching Voltage Regulator Fundamentals

Great article, thanks to Bryan for finding this one. PDF format.

Build a Gauss Meter

Handy for measuring magnet strength and polarity.

Introducing the Maximite

This little box is a complete computer, programmed in BASIC, and you can plug in a screen and keyboard. Plus, its got 20 I/O pins to experiment with! Comes as a kit for $79.95AU

Looking for Maximite
parts and kits?

Alegro Current Sensors. A few tips to using the Alegro chips for your electronics project.

Pete's Magnetic Levitation Project.

Just for fun, and educational too!


Miscellaneous Projects and Articles
Pedal Power

Building your own pedal powered generator.
Car Alternator Rectifiers

How to use a rectifier out of a car alternator.

Make your own Solar Panels

Oz shows us how.

Rebuilding Lead Acid Batteries.

Ron ( wind-pirate ) has written a proceedure on rebuilding wet cell batteries to give a few more years service.


Getting started with IRC

IRC ( Internet Relay Chat ) is a way for RE enthusiasts to keep in contact, or "Chat" with eachother. This page explains how to get going with IRC.


Watts2C Solar Installation.

See how the professionals do it.

Home made portable charger

A small petrol engine and car alternator can make a handy portable charger. Great for quickly charging a flat car battery.


Solar Pump

Building a solar pump on the cheap. Flows about 80 litres per hour.

Composting Bins

Build a simple composting bin

Some of my own projects
Induction Motor Conversion

This was a little project to convert a small induction motor to a permanent magnet windmill.
Oatley DC Motor Windmill

Based on a 300watt 24v DC scoota motor, this little windmill would work well if I could boost the output voltage.
AC Servo Motor Windmill

A windmill built around a 3 phase servo motor from an old welding robot.
CNC Router

Now this was an interesting project.
Modern Electronics.

I've been in the electronics business for almost 30 years now and I dont like the way its heading.
My own RE installation

My Photos

A bit outdated, but here for interrests sake.

If you have a interesting home made renewable energy setup that you would like to share, please contact me using the About Us page.

Projects by our forum members
Matt Lyons double stator
F&P windmill.

Martins Windmill

Rob's roof top mounted windmill

Phills RE Grid tied system

Oz's EV

A wind powered car built by Oztules

SpitsFire's axial flux windmill and plans.

Len's 4kw wind turbine.


Members blogs about their own back shed projects.

Lost, looking for the homepage?