HOW TO – Build a 15,000 rpm Tesla Turbine using hard drive platters

HOW TO – Build a 15,000 rpm Tesla Turbine using hard drive platters

Luke Luck writes – “Here’s a project that uses some of those dead hard drives you’ve got lying around. In the Tesla Turbine, air, steam, oil, or any other fluid is injected at the edge of a series of smooth parallel disks. The fluid spirals inwards and is exhausted through ventilation ports near the center of the disks. A regular blade turbine operates by transferring kinetic energy from the moving fluid to the turbine fan blades. In the Tesla Turbine, the kinetic energy transfer to the edges of the thin platters is very small. Instead, it uses the boundary layer effect, i.e. adhesion between the moving fluid and the rigid disk. This is the same effect that causes drag on airplanes. To build a turbine like this, you need some dead hard drives, some stock material (aluminum, acrylic), a milling machine with a rotary table, and a lathe with a 4 jaw chuck.”Link.

0 thoughts on “HOW TO – Build a 15,000 rpm Tesla Turbine using hard drive platters

  1. XChip says:

    For me throwies is like taking a bunch of batteries and throw them around… I’m sorry but its contaminating

    Plus I’m kind of bored with this throwies :-(

  2. BrK says:

    Throwies suck.

  3. donkeybutter says:

    GRL takes it conceptually deeper by exploring political issues around prison time for graffiti artists

    Here’s a political issue to explore: don’t paint stuff that isn’t yours and you won’t wind up in jail.

  4. BrK says:


    My thoughts exactly. I can’t believe people actually think “grafitti” is something that needs an R&D effort behind. GRL comes off as a bunch of people who have nothing better to do with their time, and no solutions to real problems.

    A magnetic LED that ends up lasting for a day or two is hardly innovative. The fact that it’s only really visible in the dark makes it even less valuable as any sort of grafitti.

    MAKE: *PLEASE* stop with the LED throwies. They deserved a single mention, which they have more than gotten. Or, add a content filter so we can elimate some of the pointless juvenile things like throwies from our blog feeds…

  5. fungus_amungus says:

    It’s great that these very smart and gifted folks want to make life a little better for those in crappy neighborhoods. But somehow, I don’t think a few lights on a wall is gonna cut it. If you want to change their lives, take an active role. Don’t get your kicks for one evening and assume others will be changed by it. Change takes work, not a party.

    Also, Borf was a tagger. Some of his stuff bordered on art, most of it didn’t. If he cared about the message he would’ve let his name be a little smaller or not be there at all. Go nuts inspecting the majesty here:

    I liked the mention of finding information about disposing of the batteries properly on their website. Until I found that it’s not there.

    I truly believe these guys have their motivations in the right place. It’s just the actions don’t follow through.

  6. rautiocination says:

    Down with throwies . . . I am all to familiar with the annoying side of grafitti, as I live in a building where every weekend someone tags the shit out of the elevator/stairwell/common areas, and every monday means someone has to clean it up. Not too cool.

    I just know that its a matter of time before some company decides its economical to make them, and we’re gonna end up with em being sold at k-b toys and all over everything. Imagine being pulled over because unbeknownst to you your car got tagged with dozens of throwies, for example . . . unlikely perhaps, but not so fun

    An example of taking the grafitti spirit in a
    technological direction, imho, is projects like Hektor

  7. 2Short says:

    He sat you down and walked you throught the process?!? “Tape together a battery, an led and a magnet.” There’s your process. And there’s, at the outside, the amount of text Make ought to devote to throwies.
    Throwies are hands down the most trivial, uninventive thing mentioned on this blog in the last several months. Yet they are mentioned again and again, and again. They litter the blog like they litter the world. Just because their “inventor” wears black, and claims to be brilliant and cool doesn’t mean he is. Taping an led to a magnet isn’t brilliant, and litter ain’t cool.

    Making is, for me, a rejection disposability; thowies epitomize disposability.

  8. philliptorrone says:

    2Short, everyone, yes, throwies have been posted here maybe 4 times out 5,000+ posts? we won’t see them here, this was it (i think).

    that said, i don’t think anyone can assume the led throwies are left to hit the water supply, wasted, littered or whatever, in fact, the makers i know who made throwies disposed of the batteries, reused the magnets and the LEDs. i can only speak from experience and observation, but i’ve never seen a throwie “left” somewhere.

    makers are smart, responsible and i think we (makers and the makers of make) do a pretty good job of teaching while still striving for reuse, recycle, remake…

    throwies, oddly enough, have really taken off – they’re simple, teach about electronics and they’re a lot of fun – some have even started thinking about making it easier to retrieve them.

    all this being said, not every project in MAKE is going to be 100% green (we will always strive for that though!) and not every project is going to use things that are battery powered either (but a lot do, it’s the nature of electronics and technology) – ideally, over time more and more people will think about better power sources and more eco-friendly solutions for anything that requires power – so perhaps next year, or sometime soon we’ll have a solar / wind powered throwie project.

    but yah, i don’t expect to see throwies here that much.

  9. 2Short says:

    My previous post was perhaps a bit over the top, sorry. I surf a number of Make-like sites and blogs, and throwies have been all over the place lately; as you say, they’re quite popular. So I’m probably unfairly blaming Make for much more of my throwies-hype exposure than you deserve.
    The first I heard of them, GRL seemed to be advocating throwing them up against something unreachably high; which certainly sounds to me like the fun thing to do with them, but also predisposed me to view them as litter. GRLs whole self-promoted “champion-of-the-downtroden-don’t-say-vandalism” image doesn’t help; they just come off as complete poseurs next to the humility of most makers.
    Basically my problem with throwies is that a few hundred of them sound like fun. But not enough fun for using up a few hunderd button cells, even if you do recover them. And not nearly enough fun for the hype they’ve generated.
    Sorry, I’m getting all critical again. Throwies aren’t so terrible. But MAKE does such an excellent job generally, that every time there’s a new post here, I expect to see something really cool (doubly so if it involves LEDs). So keep up the good work and don’t be too annoyed by cranky guys like me :)

  10. Bre says:

    I listen to feedback. No more throwie videos for a while!

    I was thinking it would be fun to get a couple of rare earth magnets from hard drives and slap them onto the side of a mini rc car and then be able to drive it around on the side of a metal structure. Those magnets have holes for screws and so they could just bolt on the side of an xmods car or one of those little teeny rc cars.

    The first structure I that I think would be fun to modify is the “hammering man” in front of the Seattle Art Museum. An rc car with a bunch of leds on it that would make the shape of a blinking eye on it would look cool and be fun to drive up the side of the scupture. It would be easy to drive down again too! It’s not the most political statement, but it would be fun.

    With all the fuss over net neutrality, I’ve also been thinking it would be interesting to do something media worthy with leds that might bring attention to that issue, but I haven’t come up with anything yet. Any ideas?

    I’m getting to the end of the maker faire podcasts. With 400 or so makers there, I couldn’t video everything, but believe me, I tried! Coming soon I’ve got a bunch of videos to edit of makers from Dorkbot and Mindcamp.

  11. XChip says:

    Hey Phillip,

    Apart from my critics to the throwies I just wanted to say thank you because Make is the first web page I read when I turn on the computer in the morning,

  12. philliptorrone says:

    hey – thanks for all the kind words about MAKE and the support!

  13. Oracle1729 says:

    I find about a dozen referrences to throwies in the blog alone from the search above.

    Phil, how can you say most makers collect their old throwies when the articles all talk about throwing the out of reach? When the basic concept says to make it very hard to recollect them, why would you think most are colleted again?

    The whole concept encourages waste and littering. There’s post after post here that people don’t want to hear about throwies anymore.

    I don’t see any educational value at all. You connect an LED across a power source. This is a horrible idea, LEDs are current devices and you’re effectively shorting the battery through the LED. The only reason throwies work at all is the internal resistance of the tiny little battery is so high. There’s nothing I’ve read about throwies that gets into how they work though.

    I love Make magazine, but I’m about ready to cancel my subscritpion in protest.

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