Namaste all,

I would like to create a thread dedicated to indigenous technologies or inventions created in India by creative Indians for their professional or personal purposes.

I was deeply inspired by the story of an illiterate Indian farmer named Siddappa Hullajogi who lacking access to electricity from an unresponsive government, decided to build his own windmill and watermill in his farm to ensure self-sufficiency in electricity for domestic self-consumption. His story inspired me to be a tinkerer myself and this hobby helped me to be creative, productive, make small repairs myself instead of accessing technicians, and have a lot of fun moments. This especially was helpful during the lockdown period.

Here's the article on Siddappa...

Farmer Siddappa G Hullajogi from Karnataka in India never went to a school but designed a windmill to generate power. "I use the electricity from windmill in my fields and my house," he said.

Siddappa Huljogi, 46, has been successful in carrying out experiments like setting up a mobile recharging unit using a tractor battery, and playing radio and tape recorder using a bicycle's dynamo.

When the local electricity supply company HESCOM refused to provide electricity to Sidappa and his brother’s home, 15 years ago, on account of its remoteness and sparse population, he decided to generate his own electricity.

Besides, windmills installed on the hills of Naragund had got him thinking: if he could replicate them, he would have power.

It was the windmills set up by some private power company in hills nearby his farm that fired Hulajogi’s imagination.After figuring out how the windmills worked he started off with his mission.

He started designing the windmill using waste materials. He purchased three tin sheets and used whatever scrap metal that he could lay his hands on. He then cut the tin sheets into blades and using them built a big wheel in which the blades rotated. He used wood and copper wires to make a spinning propeller for the machine and used wood, wires, parts from the pulley system, fan-belts, etc to build the turbine.

The propellers connect to two small wheels to increase RPM. Power generated in dynamo mode is stored in a battery box. An inverter is connected to the battery to convert the DC current in to AC for domestic usage.

Siddappa was quoted saying that he started an experiment in 2008. "In the beginning, we could switch on lights at the windmill, but the house was 50-60m from the mill. After repeated efforts, I was successful in 2009. Now, we get sufficient power for two CFL bulbs of 11 W each, a colour television and a mixer. When the wind speed is slow, we reduce usage."

In 2008 he built the windmill to support his farm. And now, the electricity generated helps to operate a bore well and provide electricity for his home as well as his brother’s home.

This is just another example of how rural innovations are impacting the community, society and the world at large.

Encouraged by the success of the windmill, he later on conceptualised and created a watermill in 2011 which proved to be more efficient in power production using the canal that flows near his home.The indigenous power-plant provides 150 watts to run his TV, radio, lights, and other smaller appliances.

The concept behind the watermill is very simple–it’s a giant vertical wheel with eight wooden arms, five feet each, joined at a central hub. At the end of each arm is a shallow plastic bucket (more like a tub), dangling loose. This setup is installed in a canal, and two pipes pour water into two buckets, causing them to move down and set the wheel in motion. The buckets empty themselves while going up, and the process continues, spinning the giant wheel, which is attached to another smaller wheel connected to a dynamo. The dynamo generates Direct Current(DC), and a converter converts it into Alternating Current(AC), which can then be used to power any appliance that runs on AC.

With a one-time investment of just Rs 5,000 Siddappa has eliminated the recurring cost of electricity bills and at the same time dependency on government authorities.

Though illiterate, Siddappa understands theories of dynamo technology without knowing the technical terms for processes and components involved. He also repairs his own tractors and has modified his one-row plough to a three-row one, providing three times the output. He has also attached a dynamo to his bicycle wheel that lets him charge batteries of mobile phones.

Like all experimenters, Siddappa also failed during the first few years of his development of the watermills. But constant improvements in the design & functionality made him successful after 2 years of brainstorming. Currently, he is working on increasing the height of the windmills he has installed on his farm to improve the efficiency & power output.

Siddappa may have only reinvented the (water) wheel, but he is driving a change here, by making himself self-sustainable, and working towards extending this to power the entire village, by creating a hydel power unit on a bigger canal through the village. Constructing low-cost sources of power would definitely help those living in the rural areas who do not have access to state-supplied electricity or is too expensive.

If an illiterate Indian farmer who has never been to an school , can create self-sufficiency in electricity production for himself and his family, so can anyone else in the world. As Siddappa showed, it only takes researching skills, creativity, intelligent application and tenacity to the point of completion, to do so.