GreenTerraFirma has some very cool links regarding DIY power generation and sustainability projects. This page deals exclusively with wind turbines, and posts several videos on how to make your own out of two 55 gallon drums. The project is dirt cheap if you can source parts well, and doesn’t take a lot of specialized tools either. The author machines gears out of some cheap cutting boards, but mentions that you can make an equivalent drive system out of belts and pulleys, which can be store-bought.
Vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs) are a nice alternative to the standard horizontal design because they tend to be more compact and don’t have blades of death constantly reducing your local bird population. We’re not sure what the power output of this puppy is, but if you’re looking for a low-cost solution to power a small battery backup or auxiliary system, this might be just the ticket. The authors seem to set a goal of about 50W of output for most of their smaller designs, so maybe that’s a starting point.
The site has other DIY turbine designs to explore, including a version made with bike wheels and PVC that looks to be just as straightforward. If you’ve been thinking about building some green power but were worried about cost or complexity, check these turbines out.