Felis (above) and I are currently obsessing about wind power. So we have just read two new books with detailed plans about building wind generators, Home Brew Wind Power by Dan Bartmann and Dan Fink, and A Wind Turbine Recipe Book by Hugh Piggott.
Both books are very hands-on, and describe very similar designs. (Piggott and "the Dans" often mention each other, the makers of wind generators are not a large community, after all.)
Only some years ago, most information on home made wind generators was based on designs that incorporated either electric motors or car alternators. This goes for the early construction notes from these authors too, who maintain aesthetically unfortunate but incredibly interesting and informative websites, Otherpower and Scoraigwind, respectively.
Now it seems, the cutting edge when it comes to making wind generators is making them from scratch, the electric motors and the alternators were not intended for generating electricity from wind anyway. Obviously the people who know what they're doing in this field have become thoroughly sick of maintaining and repairing machines that incorporate these elements.
This move away from what seemed like a short cut is very similar to what happened to hippie home builders in the 1970's. There was an intense interest for a short while in building geodesic domes. "The building's round, man! Down with the corners of patriarchal tyranny and capitalism!" However, beautiful as the domes were in many ways, they seem to have proven themselves to be almost impossible to waterproof. Even the people who made the how-to guide Dome Book lost interest, and started writing about how to build much more conventional buildings instead, notably in the wonderful book Shelter.
Sometimes old ideas are just nonsense, burning witches and beating children comes to mind. But sometimes new ideas aren't too hot either, I guess.
But these axial flux permanent magnet wind generators, they seem pretty cool.