Rodent-based power generation

Your hamster lives to good life, with food delivery and a maid service that cleans up after him. [DanF] helped to brighten up this hamster’s life even more by improving its exercise equipment and giving it a small night-light as well. This project adds a low RPM alternator to the hamster wheel.

The first part of the process was to reduce energy lost to friction by fitting the wheel with a bearing. From there a ring of permanent magnets was added which will pass by a stationary coil and induce a current. It works, but unfortunately there’s not enough power generated to charge a battery. That means the light is only on when the hamster is running. But maybe you can figure out a way to use a super-capacitor like we saw in that exercise bike hack.

One nice finishing touch to the setup is a bicycle computer to track how much time was sent on the wheel, and the distance traveled.

[Thanks Dizzy]


  1. that was removed from a Prius, right?

  2. net says:

    One step closer to my hamster powered computer.

  3. Kids Next Door Rule!

  4. Mr Hacker says:

    is that nasa’s rodent propulsion lab

  5. Kelly says:

    Sounds like a good time to employ a “joule theif” circuit

  6. Marco says:

    How many hamsters would it take to power your gaming rig ? Do hamsters count as renewable energy source? So many questions…

  7. Chajtek says:

    How many hamsters do you need to charge cellphone?

    By the way I think that all gym’s should have similar equipment. Single man can produce 100W.
    Gym would produce enough energy to heat water at least for showers. Rest of energy can go to sauna.
    This would be good mobilization for workout.

  8. Colecoman1982 says:

    @Chajtek: I remember hearing about someone trying that at a commercial gym. I don’t think it was producing anywhere near as much energy as you think it can (in fact, it didn’t sound like it was even close to being worth the money it took to retrofit the equipment). The problem is that even if a person does produce 100W, much of that is in waste heat that can’t be collected. What percentage is converted to mechanical motion can be harvested, but the efficiency isn’t very high.

  9. mostlymac says:

    Reminds me of the good ol’ days playing The Incredible Machine. Except that used a belt attached to the hamster wheel to turn a generator.

  10. Hirudinea says:

    Damn it, you stole my joke!

  11. Trollicus says:

    Try a chinchilla, they are super hyper(like an ADHD hamster on drugs, lots of drugs) and much bigger. If you have never seen a chinchilla on a large wheel you would be amazed, you can barely see the wheel it moves so fast. A 19″ OR LARGER chinchilla wheel would make a good generator. The small wheels(under 15″) are to unstable and the chinchilla wont get up to speed as they need a larger area, they jump like a kangaroo. When my friend took his old 14″ wheel out and put in an 18″ we made, the thing MOVED fast. Really fast. The chinchilla loved it and would go for a long time.

    Definitely enough to charge a phone.

  12. Pandaemonium says:

    Didn’t I see one of these in a cartoon when I was a kid?

  13. Limey says:

    Ah, good memories of The Incredible machine, they should re-release the original on steam (there has been imitations but nothing has come close to the original).

  14. biozz says:

    XD surprisingly i have seen this as a joke for years and years and years but this is the first time i have seen it in use irl XD

  15. Firestorm says:

    Yes finally a powersource powerfull enough to fire the DEATHRAY !

  16. Spinner says:

    Thanks to Dizzy, all of my electronics are now Rodent powered!!!

  17. ferdi says:

    mmm thats a photo from
    when site is overload you get a masage that see
    or hamster powerd server is overoad come back later tis no joke

    now i no how it look thx

  18. The Cageybee says:

    Man, I wish there was video of Skippy in action. Please we need video.
    Nice write up, plenty of humour.

  19. James says:

    A decent cyclist can knock out a constant 200W, peaking around 450W on a sprint. FYI.

  20. James says:

    However most people bearly break a sweat at the gym.

  21. cgmark says:

    tip for future consideration. Use a stepper motor as the alternator. They can produce a fair amount of power without much rpm at all. I use one for a hand cranked light. a few turns can power an led for several minutes.

  22. gottabethatguy says:

    Where’s the stick to poke him errr persuade him into charging the circuit?

  23. CB4 says:

    ” The bicycle computer gives you an incredible amount of data for your project! It always shows you the speed of the hamster in miles or kilometers per hour. It remembers maximum speed, and keeps track of the total miles run by your rodent, with a resettable trip odometer too. The resettable timer shows you how many Hamster-Miles (hM) were run each night, and it will also compute the average speed maintained when the wheel is turning.”


  24. syale says:

    Will Skippy’s brain be affected by the magnetism? Those Neodymium-Iron-Boron are quite powerful…

  25. syale says:
  26. Malikaii says:

    Mike, were you drunk when you wrote this?

  27. Alex says:

    Not sure if the night light is a good idea, might just make him fat:

  28. RJSC says:
  29. You may be able to use one of the new energy harvesting chips, or just a dc/dc converter

  30. PocketBrain says:

    Funny, I have been planning to use a similar setup added to my exercise bike to get it to calculate my calories without using batteries. Those little magnets are like a quarter apiece, so ya gotta spread ‘em out a bit to remain cost effective. Aw, but who needs to be cost effective?

  31. Dave says:

    I’ve ALWAYS dreamt of building a hamster generator.

    Uhm I mean an electricity generator run by hamsters.

    The only thing that’s kept me back is the lack of a hamster. I travel too frequently and long for one to survive in my flat.

    :D Kudos!

  32. tapius says:

    Hysterical! I did that for my 5th Grade science fair project. I fed 2 hampsters different diets to see if their proformance was any different.

  33. Haha I love the CritterTrail cage. Mine is well-powered too :)

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