Make A Homemade Hand Powered Generator

Magnets are used in generators to create a steady flow of electrons.

Electricity and magnetism share a close relationship and form the basic principles of most electric generators. These types of generators function by having a motor convert mechanical energy such as that from a wind turbine, a hand crank or waterwheel into electrical energy. A moving magnet pushes the free electrons along in a conductor that is known as the “current,” while “pressure” is applied to the electrons in the form of voltage. You can build your own hand-powered generator, which can help you observe and understand how a generator works.


1. Place the wooden box on a flat surface to create a work area. Connect opposite corners on each 3-by-3-inch side of the box to form a “X” letter.

2. Drill a hole with a drill bit of approximately the same diameter as the 6-inch nail at the center of each “X” letter.

3. Insert the nail through both holes of the box. Wrap a small piece of tape around the pointed edge of the nail to avoid hurting yourself with the nail.

4. Place the four magnets inside the box. Secure two magnets to each side of the nail in a position that will allow then to spin freely when the nail is turned.

5. Use wire strippers to strip about 1 inch of insulation from both ends of the enamel-coated magnet wire. Insert one end of the magnet wire approximately 6 inches into the wooden box. Attach the wire to the box with a piece of tape at the 6-inch mark.

6. Begin winding the rest of the wire around the box without covering the nail. Do not wind the wire too tightly around the box. Wind the wire around the box until you have 6 inches of wire left. Use electrical tape to secure the wire to the box at the 6-inch mark.

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7. Remove the tape from the first end of the wire and pull the wire from the inside of the box. The two 6-inch end pieces will be used to attach the light bulb to the generator.

8. Connect one of the non-insulated wire ends to one of the light bulb’s leads. Complete the circuit by connecting the other non-insulated wire end to the remaining light bulb lead.

9. Power the light bulb by spinning the nail. Insert the nail in a drill to spin the nail in a quicker fashion.