Message In A Bottle: Bicycle Trailer On A Mission

Graffiti is a controversial subject, and whether you see it as art or vandalism usually depends where and how you come across it. From the scribbled tag on a house wall, to highly sophisticated murals, they tend to have one thing in common though: making a statement — whether that’s political, showing appreciation, or a simple “I was here”. [Sagarrabanana] had his own statement to make, but chose a less permanent way to express himself with his type of graffiti.

Unhappy about the lack of dedicated cycle lanes in his area, he built an automatic, Arduino-controlled water dispensing bicycle trailer, writing his message on every street he rides on. The build is documented in a video, and shown in action in another one — which are both in Spanish (and also embedded after the break), but pictures are worth their thousand words in any language.

Inspired by persistence of vision (POV), where moving LEDs sync up their blinking to give the illusion of a static image, [Sagarrabanana] transformed the concept to water on a road using an array of solenoids attached to a water tank. Each solenoid is controlled by a relay, and a predefined font determines when to switch each relay — the same way pixels on a display would be set on or off, except small amounts of water are squirted out as the bicycle is moving along. The message itself is received via serial Bluetooth module, and can be easily modified for example from a phone. To adjust the water dispensing to the cycling speed, the whole system is synced to a magnetic switch mounted to one of the trailer’s wheels, so you could theoretically take it also with you on a run.

Time will tell if [Sagarrabanana]’s mission has the success he hopes for, but there’s no doubt the trailer will attract attention anywhere he goes. Well, we wish him all the best to get the message through without requiring a too drastic alternative as writing medium. Although, we’ve seen a graffiti robot that uses chalk spray in the past, so there’s certainly room for a not-too-permanent upgrade if needed.


17 thoughts on “Message In A Bottle: Bicycle Trailer On A Mission

    1. Just requires some parking stops, plant pots, or concrete slabs for the main roads. And a few thousand modal filter bollards for the entire city (that includes suburbs), and speed signs, to improve access areas (residential and shopping areas). The second creates low auto traffic neighborhoods that preserves access for everyone but blocks auto through-traffic.

      London is creating 115 LATN, 60 school streets, plus 36 cycleways for just 22 million pounds. It only takes a dozen bollards to transform a neighborhood (including suburbs). Paris has transformed so much this past month too. Look up London’s old mini-Holland schemes for images.

      The total cycling network (which is more than just main routes) in NL is 80% LATN. Most trips in a lot of countries are local (<5km) even in the horrible suburbia of Auckland, and LATN would allow people to do lots of these (especially very local trips)- doing wonders for cycling. And when you add it cycleways, LATN are awesome feeders. A lot of them in NL can be opened/transversed by emergency services and public transport. A dozen bus gates -a special type of modal filter- would transform public transport and active transportation in your city centres. Oxford is installing them soon: https://twitter.com/OxLivSts/status/1266386140493471744

      And I'm not done yet.

      You know what a few cheap LATN around train stations would do, with a bit of parking? With a few cycleways being a bonus? The catchment area would explode to 3x the radius. 5x on an ebike. That is minimum *NINE* times the amount of people that could use it. Cycling and PT integration is often completely ignored. 50% of people start their train trips from a cycle in NL. Utrecht has a 12,500 parking facility, with more totalling to 33,000 parking spots, at the Centraal station. A few LATN and PT hubs would do wonders for long trips.

      LATN's are very powerful. They can get thousands of children cycling to school, since it is usually very local. To local shops in the weekend and weekdays. To local jobs. Create community. Encourage local businesses. Serve as feeders to cycleways, which without you would be faced with crap residential streets with lots of inappropriate through traffic. And they can kick start a cycling culture cheaply.

      A cycling culture can happen slowly then slowly, but it can also happen suddenly.

      My city Auckland is also going to do a similar thing to our city centre, starting next month. They call it Access For Everyone. They are also gonna reduce speeds from 30 June, 2020. I take the ebike on the train to the CC all the time, can't wait for a proper neighborhood for the 50,000 people living there :)

  1. Just realised his tank design isn’t going to do him any handling favors. When it’s emptied a little, the water can slosh from end to end. If he hits two or three bumps with the right period on either side, he might have it amplify and throw him off the bike. Will definitely make downhill handling very “interesting”.

    1. Yes, this is a problem that I would like to fix on the next version. But nowadays I don’t have a workshop, and since I make all this stuff on my living room… I was a little bit scared of welding at home, thats why I decided to use PCV.

      1. Baffles may be the solution as rtkwe mentioned in the post above. To do this with PVC tube, one could cut out disks of PVC notched around the edges, and cement them in place before you fit the end caps, with the same cement you use for the pipes. Alternatively, one could stack them, held by nuts on a threaded rod made of stainless steel, brass or nylon. –|–|–|–|– in which case they need not be made of PVC, but should be a material that will not deteriorate in the water. Flange nuts should be used on the ends of the threaded rod, or nuts soldered or epoxied to washers, so the ends of the rod does not punch through the end caps.

        ( This type of tube tank has been thought of in the past as a possible easy to make small water tank for tiny camper trailers of the teardrop type. Where a large bore tube can be hidden in the back of the kitchen area or slung underneath the trailer from side to side. So I just want to remind anyone thinking of that use, to make sure anything used to construct the baffles, epoxy, baffle material etc, is compatible with use for potable water.)

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