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Wind works

The following wind-based projects were created for the Wind Works Workshop for Maker Day Brasil 2021.

While step-by-step instructions don't currently exist for this project, you can watch the full workshop recording here (English) or here (Portuguese).


  • Cardboard

  • Cardstock 

  • BBQ skewers

  • Straws

  • Paper clips

  • Brads

  • Popsicle sticks

  • Tape


Pinwheel Mechanism

For the basic pin wheel mechanism, I used a skewer and a pinwheel made of paper.

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One thing I was really excited to experiment with was combining wind power with DIY gears! However, since cutting a spur gear shape by hand is difficult (and there's a fair amount of backlash when you're using wind to power your gears), I experimented with other methods to make gears.


For my first attempt, I used slices of cardboard for teeth. This didn't work too well — I made a mistake in the geometry so the gears didn't mesh correctly, so the gears tended to get stuck. Additionally, the cardboard slice method I used to make the gears required hot glue which I wanted to avoid for the workshop.

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For the second try, I used skewers as pegs on the gear wheel, which turned out to be easier to make and more forgiving of backlash. The gears were then attached to full length skewers as drive shafts. The base is made of cardboard and uses plastic straws as sleeves (bushings) for the drive shafts.



I decided to demonstrate the functionality of the gears by making a wind-powered bicycle.


Cranks & Linkages

Gears aren't the only cool mechanism that work well with wind power! Many high-speed, low-torque rotating movements that work with a motor can be adapted to wind power. This frog was the result of using a crank and linkage mechanism. The cardboard circle acts as the crank, while the leg is the linkage. The movable joints are made of pieces of a paper clip. I eventually attached the frog to the bicycle, but he rides because of the way the gears are set up (check out the video at the beginning).

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Simple Crank

The last experiment was using a very simple crank made out of a paper clip, inspired by Noga Elhassid and the Tinkering Studio's Whimsical Whirligigs.

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Wind Works Workshop happened on September 25, 2021

Last Updated July 9, 2022

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