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reviewed by Larry D. Barr

I read a book last weekend. Now, this is certainly not out of the ordinary. I read a lot of books. Some of them, like Stephen King’s The Stand, I read about once a year. And I’ve probably read almost everything Martin Caidin ever wrote four or five times. Or more. However, the book I read last weekend is certainly out of the ordinary.

It’s called Homebrew Wind Power – A HANDS-ON GUIDE TO HARNESSING THE WIND. The book is written by Dan Bartmann and Dan Fink, a couple of guys who live (and create wind turbines) in a small off-grid community somewhere up in the north-west part of Colorado. A few years ago, when I was the editor of an online publication called Energy Self Sufficiency Newsletter, Dan Fink was one of our regular columnists, writing under the handle of “The Wind Bag”. DanF, as he’s also known, proved himself very adept at sharing his vast knowledge and his insights into the vagaries of the wind, and the various ways it can be captured and cajoled into sharing some of its energy (but never more than 59.26%) in the form of usable electricity.

The Two Dans have been working on this book for several years, and about two weeks ago I got an email from DanF asking me if I’d like an ‘advance review copy’ to look over and possibly share my reactions with y’all, the readers of Rebel Wolf Online. Of course I said “Yes” and the book arrived in a few days. As I removed the book from the bubblepack envelope, it was immediately apparent that this was a quality tome. It’s 8” X 10”, with a soft 12 point C1S cover (C1S is printer talk for Coated with plastic on 1 Side), and contains 320 pages of 100% post consumer waste recycled paper, a spectacular cover shot of a wind turbine
flying in a Rocky Mountain sunset and more appendices than the Dionne quintuplets.

I don’t necessarily consider myself a wind energy expert, even though I lived off-grid for about 19 months back in the ’70s with a Wincharger 1222H as my main source of power. However, I’m pretty well versed in the overall discipline and so I wasn’t sure just how much I’d learn from this volume. I learned a hell of a lot.

Mick Sagrillo’s foreword, written in Mick’s usual “if you didn’t want the answer, why’d you ask the question?” style, will be a real eye-opener for the renewable energy newbie who thinks that wind power is a simple “plug and play” experience. Mick Sagrillo is one of the ‘gods’ of renewable energy and getting Mick to write the forward for your book is a lot like Enzo Ferrari looking at your home-built car and saying, “You done good, Kid.”

The first four chapters, which cover wind energy theory, basic electricity and elementary magnetics are intended to bring the wind energy neophyte ‘up to speed’, and basically served only as a review for me. I’ve always been comfortable with the theories and math of renewable energy. And ten years as a working electrician gave me a very solid grounding (sorry) in the electrical department.

When I got into Chapter 5, “Furling and Regulation” my wind turbine education truly began. You see, my little Wincharger didn’t furl – it just had a couple of centrifugally activated flaps that came out when the wind speed got too high and slowed the rig down to a hopefully safe speed. Anything faster than that and I was supposed to be home and physically set the brake and secure it. Primitive yes, but it was a 1930s era design and it worked fine in the area I was living in at the time.

However, that’s not the way it’s done anymore and The Two Dans have designed and implemented a virtually fail-safe mechanism for the self-protection of their wind turbine design. In the interest of historical accuracy, I should mention here (as The Two Dans acknowledge repeatedly in the book) that the original axial-flux design didn’t originate in the wilds of Colorado with DanB and DanF.

The credit for the original concept goes to Hugh Piggott, another of the gods of renewable energy. Hugh lives in Scoraig, Scotland, many kilometres beyond the reach of the grid and pioneered a radial-flux wind turbine design built from old truck brake drums., which was the first homebrew design to have a furling tail. Then, as the price of neodymium magnets came down, Hugh invented the axial-flux design. Remember that Hugh’s initial challenge was twofold.

First, to electrify the little settlement of Scoraig. His second challenge was to devise a turbine that wouldn’t self-destruct in the vicious winds coming off the North Sea at N 57° 55′. Now, I’ve never been to Scoraig, Scotland. But my friend Ash lives at N 55° on the northern coast of Ireland, and we’ve clocked winds of better than 80 mph at his house. I don’t imagine that things calm down any almost three degrees of latitude further north. So Hugh had his work cut out for him. And he met the challenge brilliantly. Before long, Hugh was traveling the world, giving hands-on workshops for building turbines and bringing electricity to places where it had never been before.

The Dans attended one of Hugh’s workshops in the US and liked it so well they went back for more. After a couple more sessions under Hugh’s tutelage, they got back to their shop in the wilds of the Rockies and started thinking and tinkering and making a few changes here and there. DanB came up with the idea of using Volvo disc brake rotors one cold, dark night and as the process continued, one change led to a couple more — ad infinitum — and the turbine that’s detailed in the book is something like “iteration n+1” and generations removed from Hugh’s original, primitive radial-flux wind generator.

Chapter 6 of the book, “Shop Safety” is an absolute must-read chapter. I don’t care how long you’ve had a shop, worked in a shop or if you’re a rank newbie at building anything. Read this chapter. Then go back and read it again. It will keep you, and those who help you, from getting hurt. As you build your wind turbine, you’ll be working with all kinds of things that can hurt you badly. The magnets used in the turbine are among the strongest, most powerful magnets this side of the Large Hadron Collider and and if you let your hand get in between the two magnet rotors, the resulting collision will turn your fingers to Alpo. So pay attention. The chapter is broken down into sections regarding the safety procedures for each step of the build and each fabrication process you’ll be using. One of the good points that’s made in the
metalworking section is to treat every piece of metal that’s been cut, welded or ground, as if it’s hot. Mighty fine advice. However, I’d recommend that you also do what we always do in my shop. Once you’re done grinding, welding or cutting on a piece, just take your soapstone marker and write “HOT” on the piece in big letters. It might have cooled off by the time your co-worker goes to pick it up, but it’s much better to treat a cold piece of metal like it’s hot than the other way around.

Chapters 7 through 18 take you step by step and piece by piece through the entire process of building your own axial-flux wind generator. Each chapter, each step, each process is illustrated with photos of the components. As you learn what to do and how to do it, you also learn what not to do. The Two Dans also do a wonderful job of of explaining why you’re doing it that way.

Knowing why you’re doing something is vital in a process of this nature, because it gives you a solid foundation in the subject and prepares you for the sometimes not-so-simple task of living with and maintaining the wind monster you’ve created. Even if you’re consumed with an almost overwhelming haste to get the rig in the air, don’t skip over the ‘why’ parts of the book. You’ll need them later.

Chapter 19 is titled “Failures and Prevention”. It’s a machine. It can fail. There are a lot of things that can go wrong with any complex mechanism. This chapter details what to watch for – those little signals a machine gives to let you know that all is not well. The proper maintenance methods are described and, again, illustrated with myriad photos. There’s a very informative section with pictures of machines that have failed, along with a bit of failure analysis so you know why it happened and how to avoid that failure mode with your machine. The chapter concludes with a section on Troubleshooting. You built it, so nobody knows that machine better than you do. You’re also the one that’s going to be repairing it if something goes wrong. Nobody’s better qualified.

If you’re not satisfied with the 10 foot turbine described in the building process in the book, Chapter 20 “Scaling it Up and Down” may be for you. It describes a 17′ unit and also a downsized 7′ turbine. These two units are not as far along in the development process as the 10 footer that we build in this book. The guys have built and flown a few of them, but they don’t have near the hours in the air that the 10 footer does. I’d recommend building the 10 foot turbine first and getting some first-hand experience before setting off into less-charted waters. However, there is some advanced theory in that chapter that will certainly improve your technical understanding of the subject whether you build a larger or smaller unit or not.

Of the remaining two chapters of the book, one is devoted to sources of information, supplies, components, kits, towers, web resources and just about anything else that’s wind energy related.

Chapter 22 is the Glossary wherein you can find definitions for most every wind related term from “AC” to “Zymurgy”. The latter being one of my favorites.

Six appendices round out the book and contain information on tap drill sizes, wire gage, those sometimes pesky metric to English conversions, tools, wind data and other just generally useful brain fodder. I was gratified to see in the production credits that the book was almost entirely produced using free, open-source software. I believe that open-source software will be the force of the future and the fact that a book of this quality can be produced using OSS is proof that the free software movement is coming of age.

Dan Bartmann and Dan Fink have done a magnificent job in the writing and production of Homebrew Wind Power. They’ve created a book, written with a vast amount of knowledge and experience in the subject, loaded it with photographs that clearly show the processes involved and enabled any wind energy amateur to successfully build his or her first wind turbine and enjoy the rewards of living off-grid. The writing style vividly demonstrates that The Two Dans enjoy what they do and while they take the subject of wind energy very seriously, they never take themselves too seriously. They have fun building wind turbines and it shows in the book.

Do I have any grumbles about the book? Just one. I live on a 70′ X 100′ lot in the city and I don’t have room to fly one of these turbines even if I built one. I’d need a tower bigger than the lot to get above the trees. So, here’s a book that’s got me all fired up to build a wind turbine and I’ve got no place to fly it. What a book! I heartily recommend it.

By the way, you’ll love the “Dog Haiku”.


A Seven Year Battle Against Fraud to Maintain the Turgo Turbine Design in Public Domain

For over seven years Joseph Hartvigsen of Hartvigsen Hydro (Utah,USA) and Peter Ruyter of Cargo and Kraft (Sweden) have used the Internet to successfully prevent the alternative energy community around the world from using the turgo water turbine design, and continue to do so. (See recent archives, This was accomplished by posting very strongly worded claims to ownership of the turgo design on the world’s biggest micro hydro discussion site, 

Hartvigsen and Ruyter started making these claims when they began producing and selling this type of turbine them selves. Their company is now the largest producer of this particular design. The prevention of the public from using this design has been a great loss to the world wide alternative energy community. This turgo design is generally the best all around type of turbine wheel for small scale water power uses. It is very easy to build in small local workshops, or in schools. Uniquely, this design has the potential to revive the use of small scale water power. Small scale water power remains a valuable and nearly untouched resource in many parts of the world.

Over the years Hartvigsen and Ruyter stated a number of times that they would be able to provide definite and clear proof of their design ownership to any competent patent attorney “in minutes”. On Dec. 24,09, Joseph Hartvigsen met with patent attorney Brian Kunzler in Salt Lake City in order to present proof of ownership claims made by himself and supporters on the Internet regarding the turgo design. According to Kunzler Hartvigsen was unable to provide any proof whatsoever that his years of claims to the public were other than completely fraudulent.

Very recently (May 2013) the issue of ownership of this design has again been raised on the water power discussion site. There has been a renewed request to Hartvigsen and Ruyter to present proof of their turgo design ownership claims to the public, which they are still unable to do, or to stop preventing others from using it. They have refused to reply.

In light of an ongoing seven years of apparently fraudulent turgo design ownership claims and various threats of legal action against anyone in the world who would use this design without their consent, the world wide alternative energy community should consider taking some type action against Hartvigsen and Ruyter to prevent them continuing to make these claims to the public and continuing to profit from these claims. At the least the same amount of publicity should be given to the fact that the ownership claims of Hartvigsen and Ruyter were completely false.

This is a matter of concern for the entire alternative energy community. While pretending to be contributing to the use of natural energy Hartvigsen and Ruyter have actually done a great deal with their false design ownership claims to prevent people around the world from using a great source of natural energy, small scale water power.

The exact method which Hartvigsen and Ruyter used to use their fraudulent claims is called “copyfraud”. Copyfraud takes advantage of the relative looseness of copright laws to take over designs in public domain. False ownership claims are made to the public, then can be dropped with little legal consequence if the fraud become untenable. Of course, as any attorney will confirm, the very claim that copyright protection applies to an internal working machine part such as a turbine wheel is in itself fraudulent.


Ron Davis
Watermotor on Facebook
Watermotorturbine on Youtube


Busting Wind Turbine Ratings

There’s a lot of mis-information on the net surrounding the output of a wind turbine. A great many scam artists are over rating their turbines to make it sound like you can get a lot more power than you really will. Even commercial manufacturers tend to over rate their turbines, by using wind speeds that are not commonly seen at John Q. Public’s homestead. We have put together an online calculator that will help you sift the wheat from the chaff so to speak. Plug in your numbers and see what you can expect from a given wind turbine at your location.

Don’t forget to get our DIY Homebuilt Wind Turbine Instructions!

Update! We have completed the metric version of this calculator, and added English and metric Air Density calculators as well.


Solar Powered Steam Generators

Our good Friend Robert Saunders has done it again. A few years back he published a document on slotted turbines that generated a lot of interest:

Now he’s come up with another gem, electricity from solar produced steam.

And now on 2/25/09, another chapter to the continuing saga:

It’s a good read, and we recommend it.


DIY Bladeless Disc Steam Turbine

Build Your Own Bladeless Disc Steam Turbine Generator

Need for Decentralized Power.
The reader can be certain there is competition to develop new and innovative products that promise to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and gas. One way to reduce this dependence is to generate our own electricity from local energy sources, such as solar energy and biofuels. What is needed is a way to decentralize production of electricity to reduce our dependence on the grid. If every household could do that, we would succeed in meeting the stated energy goals of every President and Congress of the United States for the past thirty-five years. So far, that has not happened and here is a way to take one positive step in that direction.

An opportunity for all.
This is an opportunity for anyone with the right skills to build a small 5KW to 10KW steam turbine for less than $200.00. The cost of adding a generator or alternator will partly depend on the size of the unit and the amount of power it can provide. What should be important to the reader is that the author is willing to share this information with anyone interested enough to take advantage of a proposal for becoming part of a select group. This may end up becoming a pioneering effort by those who participate, but there are no guarantees.

Bob Saunders


The Nautilus Water Turbine

The Nautilus is specifically designed to power off grid homes. Remote homes and shops. Medical clinics and small villages and village industries. A special model designed for an agro-processing is available. With a conventional renewable energy battery storage and inverter technology the Nautilus will power your home or village on only 4 ft (1.2 m) of net head and discharge only 1330 gpm – 84.4 l/s at 550 watts output. On ten feet of head it’s possible to power several homes or a small village industry at 2300 watts output for the 10 inch (254 mm) throat runner, the 8 inch (203 mm) model will produce between 360 watts on 4 feet of head (1.2 m) and 3.4 KW on 18 feet of head (5.5 m).

Thousands of existing small mill dams can benefit from the Nautilus and be put back to work. Often no dam is required. Only a 24 inch high diversion weir made from wood or piled rocks sealed with canvas is required. We supply intake systems and/or parts. No machine need ever approach the stream. Get wet and do it by hand.

The Niade is the first micro-hydro turbine in the Renewable Energy Market that develops usable power on from two to four feet of head.

The Niade utilizes a tiny cast iron high-speed propeller turbine set at an angle to capture ultra low head power. It is shipped as a complete package, ready to drop into a hole that can be dug by hand. The Niade comes complete with a slide gate to shut of the water flowing into the turbine, a large area trash rack to protect the turbine from sticks, stones, and other debris, and a draft tube. The turbine can be regulated with an included cylinder gate.

The unit can be lifted with enough man power or the front end loader of a tractor. It is set into a level position, attached to a penstock, and backfilled. We feel that the Niade will revolutionize micro power production around the world.


EverLift’s Looped Airfoil Wind Turbine (LAWT)

LAWT model_0Those attending the recent Windpower 2013 exhibition could get a first-hand explanation of the Looped Airfoil Wind Turbine, a concept said to overcome shortcomings of horizontal wind turbines. Devised by a startup called EverLift Inc. in Nassau, Del., the device looks a little like a conveyor belt with airfoils for cleats. The airfoils cut through the wind and push the belt along. Electric generators would be driven by the moving chain via a rack-and-pinion setup.


More residents getting “sick” from wind turbines?

The residents of the town of West Lincoln, Ont.  are reporting a variety of stress related illnesses they attribute to a wind farm nearby.

“‘It’s too late, two years too late,’ said Helen Kzan … ‘I’ve been to the doctor. They told me to move. My stress level has skyrocketed. My physician told me my stress will kill me before the wind turbines.”

Many people attribute these illnesses to the reported sounds, vibrations, and light patterns made by the moving blades. What’s wrong with this picture?

The wind farm hasn’t been built yet.

These people are reacting to the anti-wind advocacy groups reports on what they think will happen. It’s not wind turbines that make you sick, it’s listening to the lies and made up statistics of the anti-wind groups.  It’s their own fears that are making them sick, and the anti’s are creating self fulfilling prophecy.



Busting Wind Turbine Ratings

There’s a lot of misinformation on the net surrounding the output of a wind turbine. A great many scam artists are over rating their turbines to make it sound like you can get a lot more power than you really will. Even commercial manufacturers tend to over rate their turbines, by using wind speeds that are not commonly seen at John Q. Public’s homestead. We have put together an online calculator that will help you sift the wheat from the chaff so to speak. Plug in your numbers and see what you can expect from a given wind turbine at your location.

A weather station is recommended in order to track Wind Speed, Temperature, Humidity, and Barometric Pressure. These are the four variables that you will need for the following calculations.You can learn to build one at


The Ultimate DIY Wind / Electrical Resource

Want to learn how to build a wind turbine, not sure about amps, watts, volts, etc.? There is one source that explains it all in an easy to understand method. You will learn everything you need to design, build, and use the power from your own wind turbine, at a fraction of the cost of a commercial unit. I’m not talking about those cheezy 3′ units, I’m talking about whole house sized units.

Dan Fink and Dan Bartmann wrote the definitive resource on DIY Wind Turbines. It’s called Homebrew Wind Power, and we feel it’s the best resource on learning the basics, and getting the full story of hands on wind turbine design.

A Hands-on Guide to Harnessing the Wind

Have you ever wondered how wind turbines work and why they look like they do? Are you interested in adding wind power to your off-grid electric system, but have been put off by the high cost of equipment and installation? Well, now you can build and install your own wind turbine!

Harnessing the wind can be a tricky business, but in this groundbreaking book the authors provide step-by-step, illustrated instructions for building a wind generator in a home workshop. Even if you don’t plan on building your own turbine, this book is packed with valuable information for anyone considering wind energy. It covers the basic physics of how the energy in moving air is turned into electricity, and most importantly, will give you a realistic idea of what wind energy can do for you–and what it can’t.