Grinding a Bicycle Crank for Power Analysis

For [Mark] and [Brian]’s final project for [Bruce Land]’s ECE class at Cornell, they decided to replicate a commercial product. It’s a dashboard for a bicycle that displays distance, cadence, speed, and the power being generated by the cyclist. Computing distance, cadence and speed is pretty easy, but calculating power is another matter entirely.

The guys are using an ATMega1284 to drive an LCD, listen in on some Hall Effect sensors, and do a few calculations. That takes care of measuring everything except power. A quick search of relevant intellectual property gave then the idea of measuring torque at the pedal crank. For that, [Mark] and [Brian] are using a strain gauge on a pedal crank, carefully modified to be stiff enough to work, but flexible enough to measure.

A custom board was constructed for the pedal crank that measures a strain gauge and sends the measurements through a wireless connection to the rest of the bicycle dashboard. It works, and the measurements in the classroom show [Brian] is generating about 450 W when pedaling at 33 mph.

Video below.

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Offset Unicycle Built Mostly from a Single Bicycle

[Lou’s] friends all said that it would be impossible to build a unicycle that had offset pedals. Moving the pedals to the front of the unicycle would throw off the balance and prevent the user from being able to ride it. [Lou] proved them wrong using mostly components from a single donor bicycle.

The donor bike gets chopped up into a much smaller version of itself. The pedals stay attached in the original location and end up being out in front of the rider. The seat is moved backwards, which is the key to this build. Having the rider’s legs out in front requires that there be a counter balance in back. Moving the seat backwards gets the job done with relative ease.

To prevent the hub from free wheeling, [Lou] lashes the sprocket directly to the wheel spokes using some baling wire. He also had to remove the derailer and shorted the chain. All of this gives the pedals a direct connection to the wheel, allowing for more control. The video does a great job explaining the build quickly and efficiently. It makes it look easy enough for anyone to try. Of course, actually riding the unicycle is a different matter. Continue reading “Offset Unicycle Built Mostly from a Single Bicycle”

RGB Bike Rim Lights

[Yvo] sent us his latest creation, this awesome POV RGB bicycle rim light build, which features a circular interweaving of common RGB LEDs that face outward along the rim as they display constantly changing animations based on the wheel’s rpm.

Like many POV wheel builds, [Yvo]’s takes advantage of a hall effect sensor and stationary magnet to determine how fast the wheels are spinning. Unlike most POV builds, however, [Yvo’s] creation doesn’t have just one or two RGB sticks clamped onto a spoke. Instead, his wheels boast several individual RGB LED modules mounted along the rim.

Each wheel has six modules, and each module contains a scratch-build LED controller (a daisy chain of 74HC595 shift registers) that fits into a custom-made 3D-printed enclosure. The enclosures mounts onto some aluminum strips along with the RGB LEDs, and the aluminum strips mount to the wheels by straddling the rim.

At speed, the lights go into POV mode to simulate headlights / brakes with white in the front and red in the back. Check out the difference these custom circular modules make when riding and when at rest in a video below.

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DIY Bicycle Roller Helps Cure The Winter Blues

Winter’s a-brewing and that is a downer for the everyday cycling enthusiast. There are certainly ‘bike trainers’ out on the market that will let you ride in your living room but they clamp to (or require replacing the) the rear axle. These bike trainers hold the bike in an upright position so that the rider can’t tip the bike and might feel a little boring for some. There is another indoor biking solution called a bicycle roller which is, just as it sounds, a few rollers on the ground that the bike wheels rest on and is not attached to the bike by any mechanical means. When the rider pedals the bike, the bike wheels spin the rollers. Even with the lack of forward momentum the spinning of the wheels is enough for the rider to stay upright.

[Sky-Monkey] wanted to bike during inclement weather and felt that a bike roller was simple enough for him to try building one. He likes building things and already had all the necessary parts kicking around his shop. The rollers are standard 3″ PVC pipe with plywood discs pressed into each end. The discs are counter-bored to accept standard skate bearings. Off the shelf steel rod make up the axles. The 3 rollers and axle assemblies are mounted in a wood frame made from dimensional lumber. It’s important that the front bike wheel also spins so [Sky-Monkey] made a power transmission belt out of cloth strap that spins the front roller with the rear.

The result is a fully functional bike roller that only cost a few hours of time to make. Video of this puppy in action after the break….

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Edge-Lit Clear Plastic Bike Combines Nighttime Riding Safety With Aurora Borealis Flair

Several years ago [dan] saw some plastic frame bikes designed by MIT students. Ever since he saw those bikes he thought it would be cool to make an edge-lit plastic framed bike.

The frame is made from 1/8″ and 3/8″ thick polycarbonate sheet. The parts were designed with tongue and grooves so they fit together nicely. The joints were glued to hold everything together. Holes were drilled in the edge of the plastic large enough to fit an LED. Once the LED was inserted in the hole, it was wired up and secured with hot glue. There are about 200 LEDs on the bike, powered by a constant current LED driver circuit that [dan] designed specifically for this project.

The build process was certainly not flawless. For example, the plastic holding the bottom bracket (where the crank and pedals attach) broke. This can be avoided by increasing the amount of material in that area prior to cutting out the pieces. [dan] was able to fiberglass his broken parts back together.

[dan] admits that the bike is heavy and a little wobbly, but is definitely ride-able. He did us a favor and made all his CAD files available to anyone that wants to make one themselves. If polycarbonate is too expensive for your blood, check out this bike make from cardboard.

Cordless Drill Turned Into Bicycle-Powered Generator

The bicycle is a great invention. It is an extremely efficient method of transportation, even more so than walking. So why not harness that efficiency for other things? [Tony] had that same thought so he ordered a bike generator but after waiting too long for the company to send it, he decided to make his own.

[Tony] is an bicycle enthusiast so he had an old bike and an old training stand he could use for the project. Generating electricity from pedaling the bike requires some sort of generator. Lucky for him, [Tony] happened to have a cordless drill that stopped going in reverse. Since he had since upgraded, this was the perfect candidate for the generator. The drill was mounted to the training stand so that a pulley inserted in the chuck pressed against the rear wheel. Wires were added to connect the drill’s battery connectors to a 12vdc to 120vac inverter. As the bike is pedaled, the rear wheel spins the drill, which spins the drill motor creating DC voltage. That DC voltage is then converted to AC by the inverter. With a multimeter connected to the output from the drill, it is easy to adjust the pedaling speed to keep the output in the 11-14v range which is required by the inverter.

In the photo above, you can see a light bulb being powered by the bike. However, the bike powered generator could not power the larger load of a computer. The remedy for this was to purchase a solar charge controller and a 12 volt battery. The bike charges the battery and the battery can power the computer through the inverter.

Redesigned Bike Light Controller

[JP] was looking for a bicycle light to do some night biking around his home. He found a reasonably priced light that suited his needs, but when he started using it he found that the controller was a little lackluster. To solve some of its problems, he ended up building his own lighting controller from scratch.

The original controller’s main problem was that the it didn’t debounce the input from the single pushbutton. This meant that a single press of the button might cause it to cycle through two or three different modes, which was inconvenient and annoying. The new controller took care of this along with implementing several new brightness modes and a “strobe” mode for commuting to work to help alert other drivers of [JP]’s presence on his bicycle.

While [JP] notes that an Arduino would have been very easy to use in this situation, it wouldn’t have fit in the original enclosure. He went with an 8-pin ATtiny45, which was perfectly sized for what he needed. Everything fit together perfectly and is much more useful than the original. Maybe next he could pair it with a light that is even brighter than the one he’s currently using.