Brilliant auto-off feature for a bike light

auto-off-bike-light-switch

If you’re going to use your bicycle as transportation at night you really must have a head and tail light in hopes that the crazy drivers don’t hit you. For good reason, these lights don’t turn themselves off. But [Miceuz] kept forgetting to shut it down upon arrival and always ended up with dead batteries. His quest for an auto-off feature that actually worked ended in a brilliant and simple add-on circuit.

He first thought about using an accelerometer, but couldn’t find one that fit the bill without also adding a microcontroller. He came up with an even simpler circuit, which can be seen at the base of the black plastic housing. It’s a bit of copper clad board with a small spring attached. The spring completes an RC timer circuit which drives a MOSFET. When that circuit is charged, the MOSFET connects power to the bike light. When the cap runs out the MOSFET threshold cuts power and everything turns off. Since the spring jiggles while he rides it provides the momentary connection necessary to charge the capacitor. Stay stationary for about 30 seconds and the auto-off kicks in.

Barometer tells you to take your bike or the train

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Before beginning his day, [Richard] needs to decide whether he should ride his bike to work or take the London tube. All the information to make that decision is available on the Internet – the current weather report, and the status of the subway lines and stations he’d be taking. The problem, though, is all these pieces of information are spread out in multiple places. [Richard]‘s solution to this was to make a bicycle barometer that pulls data from these places and makes the decision to ride a bike or the tube for him.

[Richard]‘s barometer is built around a nanode and an old clock he found at a flea market. The nanode queries the UK’s weather bureau and the London underground’s line and station status. All the variables under consideration are weighted; if it’s snowing, the output is much more likely to decide on the tube than if there was a slight drizzle.

It’s a really cool build that certainly makes a great use of the publicly accessible APIs made available by the London underground. You can check out a video of the barometer after the break.

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Wooden cargo bicycle

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This is a cargo bicycle made almost completely out of wood. [Niels] and three of his classmates built it at Wico Campus Tio, a science and technology school in Dorpsstraat, Belgium. There’s a lot to be impressed by in this build. Sure, the guys concede that not everything is wood. They used metal screws as well as hubs, a crank shaft, and gears from a bicycle (not seen in this image). But everything else was made from Beech or Padouk wood. This includes the leaf springs that help cushion the cargo box from the bumps in the road.

The box itself acts as the handlebars. You can see the bracket which holds one end of a dowel spanning the left side of the box. This image was taken before the seat and cranks were added, but once they’re in place the front axle will turn along with the box for steering.

You can get a good look at the finished bike in the video after the break. You’ll also find a link to the Power Point slides there. Since that presentation is in Dutch we translated the text and pasted it below.

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Building an automatic bicycle transmission in a week

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Every year, the ECE department of Carnigie Mellon University hosts Build18, an engineering festival intended to get students out of the classroom and into the workshop. [Andrew Toth] along with team members [Jenna MacCarley], [Peter McHale], and [Nicolas Mellis] have been busy this last week putting together an automatic bicycle transmission.

Most cyclists agree that a cadence of 80 RPM is just about right for most cycling. The team’s transmission uses Hall effect sensors to sense the cadence of the rider and will change to a higher gear if the cadence drops below 60 RPM and a lower gear if the cadence is above 100 RPM.

One of the requirements of the Build18 festival is the completed project must cost less than $250. By using an Arduino Mega and a servo to change gears, the team has a fairly low cost solution to automatically changing bicycle gears.

It’s a very cool project, and hopefully we’ll see a video once the competition is over at noon, EST today.

Robot performing a tightrope act

This robot is able walk the tightrope (translated). Well, it’s more of a shuffle than a walk, but still a lot better than we could do.

In the video after the break you can see the bot starting on the platform to the right. As it steps out onto the wire (which rides in a groove on the bottom of its foot) the robot spreads its arms to help maintain balance. When the other foot leaves the platform that is the last stride we will see until it reaches the other side. The rest of the act consists of sliding the feet a little bit at a time until it gets all the way across.

[Dr. Guero] has been working on at least one other balancer as well. Also embedded after the break is a robot riding a bicycle. It actually puts a foot down when stopped, and gives a stuttering push-off to get going again. This guy would be right at home riding past you in the hallways of the Death Star.

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Gravity bike

This bicycle has no pedals and really nothing that resembles a seat. It’s not so much a way to get around as it’s a way to get down. Down from the mountain, and down low to the pavement. This is a gravity bike built by the guys at S.I.N. Cycles.

The frame is a long triangle which stretches the wheel base to make room for the rider. After getting the layout just right and welding the frame together they added the rather unorthodox building step of pouring molten lead into the hollow frame tube. This bike is used to descend a mountain road with the force of gravity, so the extra weight will help pull it just a bit faster. There’s one thing you’ll want to make sure is working before you climb aboard — the single front brake which you’ll need when coming into the curves. Check out some ride footage on this thing in the video after the break.

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Personal Energy Orb prevents your life from being swallowed by the Internets

We love the Internet, but we are definitely guilty of losing track of the time we spend traipsing around our virtual haunts. This project will not only remind you to get out and exercise, it will cripple your digital experience if you don’t heed its colorful warning.

[Janko Hofmann] calls it the Personal Energy Orb. It’s really just an Arduino and an RGB LED. But as with most creations, the idea is what makes it great. The orb has a dock next to your computer. It tracks how much time you spend online, changing colors as you rack up the hours. If you don’t heed the warning signs of overuse it will even start to slow down your mouse cursor. But never fear. Full functionality can be restored by topping off your personal energy. As you can see above, there’s also a docking station on [Janko's] bicycle. The orb monitors your mileage, moving out of the red zone so that your computer will be unencumbered the next time you sit down for a long session of flash games. Don’t miss his video presentation embedded after the break.

[Read more...]

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