One of the most annoying things about bicycles is that they don’t stay up on their own, especially when they’re stationary. That’s why they come with stands, after all. That said, if you had plenty of advanced electronic and mechanical equipment fitted to one, you could do something about that, and that’s just what [稚晖君] did.
The video of the project comes without subtitles or any translation, but the gist of it is this. A reaction wheel is fitted to the seat tube, along with a motor which can turn the handlebars via a linkage attached to the head stem. There’s also a motor to drive the bicycle forward via a friction drive to the rear wheel. Combine these with an inertial measurement unit and suitable control system, and you have a bike that can balance while standing perfectly still.
The performance of the system is impressive, and is even able to hold the bike perfectly upright while balanced on a fence rail. Thanks to an onboard camera and LIDAR system, the bike can also drive itself around with no rider on board, which is quite a spooky image. Find a way to do the same while hiding the extra mechanics and you’d have one hell of a Halloween display.
Similar projects have been attempted in the past; we featured a self-balancing bike built as a university project back in the distant past of 2012. Video after the break.
The system consists of a 300 mm steel flywheel mounted in the center of the bike’s frame. It’s connected to the rear wheel via a chain and a clutch which [Tom] assembled himself using bicycle disc brake components. The clutch is controlled by a handlebar lever, allowing the rider to slow the bike by charging the flywheel, or to charge the flywheel to maximum speed by pedalling hard with the clutch engaged.
The actual utility of the flywheel is minimal; [Tom] notes that even at its peak speed of 2200 RPM, the flywheel stores a small fraction of the energy content of a AA battery. Practical demonstration shows the flywheel is only able to deliver a small push to [Tom] when riding the bike, too.
Despite the lack of performance, it’s nonetheless an interesting project and one that demonstrates the basic principles of flywheel energy storage. The underwhelming results perhaps serve as a solid indication of why it’s not something we use particularly often, on bicycles at least. We’ve seen [Tom]’s bike experiments before, too. Video after the break.
The major challenge here is transferring pedal power to the front wheels, especially around the headset. [The Q] solved this by effectively building a differential from the parts of a very old hand drill. Since the front wheel needs to rotate at the same speed as the rear, one long chain loops from the rear wheel to the headset, tensioned by a pair of derailleurs. This front sprocket turns a series of spur gears and bevel gear arranged around the headset, which transfers the power down to the front wheel via another chain.
It would be interesting to feel what the bike rides like in soft sand, mud, and over rocks. We can see it has some advantages in those conditions but were unsure if it would be enough to offset the penalty in weight and complexity. The additional chains and gears certainly look like they’re asking to catch foliage, clothing, and maybe even skin. However, we suspect [The Q] was more likely doing it for the challenge of the build, which we can certainly appreciate. With the rise of e-bikes, adding a hub motor to the front wheel seems like a simpler option.
It’s built around the Arduino MKR GSM, a special Arduino built specifically for Internet of Things project. Sporting a cellular modem onboard, it can communicate with GSM and 3G networks out of the box. It’s paired with the MKR GPS shield to determine the bike’s location, and a ADXL345 3-axis accelerometer to detect movement. When unauthorised movement is detected, the tracker can send out text messages via cellular connection in order to help the owner track down the missing bike.
The tracker goes for a stealth installation, giving up the deterrent factor in order to lessen the chance of a thief damaging or disabling the hardware. It’s a project that should give [Johan] some peace of mind, though of course knowing where the bike is, and getting it back, are two different things entirely. We’ve seen creative techniques to build trackers for cats, too. It used to be the case that such “tracking devices” were the preserve of movies alone, but no longer. If you’ve got your own build, be sure to let us know on the tipline!
The device consists of an ultra low power microcontroller from Texas Instruments, paired with a pressure sensor. Set up for Near Field Communication, or NFC, it’s designed to be powered by the smartphone that queries the microcontroller for a reading. We featured a prototype back in 2015 which required mounting the device within the inner tube of the tyre itself. However, this required invasive installation and the devices tended to wear out over time due to flex damaging the delicate copper coil antenna.
The new design consists of the same microcontroller hardware, but mounted in a modified valve extension that fits to the fill valve of the bicycle tyre. The PCB is directly epoxied on to the valve extension, ensuring air can’t leak out over time. The assembly is then overmoulded in an injection moulding process to provide further sealing and protection against the elements. This should help immensely in rough-and-tumble mountain biking applications.
The new device provides a simple screw-on solution for tire pressure monitoring that’s set and forget — no batteries required. [CaptMcAllister] is currently investigating options for a production run, and given the simple design, we imagine it couldn’t be too hard to rattle off a few hundred or thousand units. We could imagine it would also pair well with a microcontroller, NFC reader, and a display setup on the handlebars to give live readings where required. We look forward in earnest to seeing where this project goes next!
The internet is full of self-proclaimed challenges, ranging from some absolutely pointless fads to well-intended tasks with an actual purpose. In times of TikTok, the latter is of course becoming rarer, as a quick, effortless jump on the bandwagon is just easier for raising your internet points. Cyclists on the other hand love a good challenge where they compete with one another online, testing their skills and gamifying their favorite activity along the way. One option for that is Everesting, where you pick a hill of your choice, and within a single session you ride it up and down as many times as it takes until you accumulated the height of Mount Everest on it. Intrigued by the idea, but not so much its competitive aspect, [rabbitcreek] became curious how long it would take him to reach that goal with his own casual bicycle usage, so he built a bicycle computer to measure and keep track of it.
While the total distance and time factors into the actual challenge, [rabbitcreek]’s primary interest was the accumulated height, so the device’s main component is a BMP388 barometric pressure sensor attached to a battery-powered ESP32. An e-paper display shows the total height and completed percentage, along with some random Everest-related pictures. Everything is neatly packed together in a 3D-printed case that can be mounted on the bicycle’s handlebar, and the STL files are available along with the source code in his write-up.
One of the keys to efficient cycling performance is a consistent pedalling cadence. To achieve this the cyclist must always be in the correct gear, which can be tricky when your legs are burning and you’re sucking air. To aid in this task, [Jan Oelbrandt] created Shift4Me, an open-source Arduino powered electronic shifter.
The system consists of a hall effect sensor at the pedals to measure cadence, an Arduino controller, and a servo mechanism to replace the manual shifter. Everything is mounted in a small enclosure on the frame. The only way to get one is to build your own, so a forum is available for Shift4Me builders, where the BOM, instructions, code and other documentation is available for download. Most bikes should be easy to convert, and [Jan] invites builders to post their modifications and improvements.
Since the only input is the cadence sensor, we wonder if the system will interfere more than help when the rider has to break cadence. It does however include allowance to hold on the current gear, or reset to a starting gear by pushing a button. One major downside is that you will be stuck in a single gear if the battery dies since the manual shifter is completely removed.