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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Build and install your own high-end cycling power meter

Cycling power meters can set you back quite a pretty penny. [Keith] quotes prices starting at $1500 and going up to $4000. We know several serious cyclists who would think twice about spending that on a bike, and wouldn’t even consider putting that kind of investment into an accessory for it. But if you’ve got the time [Keith] will show you how to build and install your own cycling power meter.

The link above is a roundup of all the posts and videos [Keith] made along the way. We’ve embedded his introduction video after the break where he discusses the goals of the project. The system allows for independently measuring the power of each leg. This is accomplished using strain gauges on the cranks to monitor torque. This data is combined with cadence measurements (how fast the rider is turning the cranks) which is all that is necessary to calculate the power output of the rider.

The parts list comes in at about $350. This doesn’t include the equipment he used to test and calibrate his calculations.

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The quest for a bicycle power system

[Garote] has been extremely busy. Busy building an electrical system into his bicycle, and even busier writing a monumental post about it. He covers an impressive range of topics, starting with the goal of adding a generator, battery, charging system, lights, and accessories to the bike. From there he clicks off one thing at a time, researching and ordering a wheel with a Dynamo hub for the generator, assembling and testing the cells of his battery, choosing the controller board for the charging system, and designing the accessory circuits like the iPhone charger above. If he adds too much more to the two-wheeled rig he’s going to have to plan a big road trip with it.

[Thanks Xuxo]

Bike brake light senses you slowing down


Group riding can be a bit dangerous if the pace is fast and riders don’t notice a slowing in the front of the pack. [WyoJustin] designed a brake light system for cyclists to try and remedy this issue. LEDs are mounted in the end caps of the handlebars on a road bike. When an accelerometer senses the bike slowing down the LEDs light up, warning those behind you that you’re slowing down.

The system is made to be portable, as a lot of serious riders have multiple bikes. To make this happen, all of the electronics are housed in the handlebar tubing for easy transfer. This includes an accelerometer with built in voltage regulator, an Arduino to control everything, and a battery. Take a look at the brake lights in action after the break.

Most of the bike lights we see are for the front of the machine, but this backward-facing package is a clean and easy solution we can get behind (safely).

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