If MacGyver and Survivor Man got together and handed out an award, they might give it to the inventor of this incredible DIY water wheel generator. With some empty plastic bottles, a little wire, and some ingenuity, Thomas Kim created his own hydroelectric generator that can charge a cell phone or power an LED lamp in the backwoods, if desperation strikes. Watch Kim’s YouTube after the jump to see the homemade generator in action.
In addition to being an intrepid inventor, Kim operates a power plant, so he’s no stranger to electricity. Although his video is a few clicks shy of a tutorial, it’s pretty easy to see how easily the hydroelectric generator would come together, if you have all the parts. Kim wrote in the video description that the generator is comprised of “plastic bottles, disposable platters, 3 Phase stepping motor, [and a] rectifier circuit.”
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The DIY generator seems to work, as Kim shows a smartphone charging and a LED lamp being illuminated. However, the inventor has a few components in play that the average hiker probably wouldn’t have access to if they were lost on a day trip in the woods. He appears to use a voltage regulator, which is pretty important for sending electricity to a device without, well, making it explode.
Essentially, fashioning a hydroelectric generator miles off the grid is possible, but it’s probably not a likely option for anyone actually stuck in that scenario. It would, however, make a pretty cool science fair project or fun afternoon experiment, if your family includes some science buffs. Folks who live near a stream, though, might be thinking about ways to scale up the model to trim their utility bills a bit.
Images via Thomas Kim/YouTube via screenshot