Ski lift in at a European ski resort

Ski Lift Design Does The Impossible

Tis The Season, for those who are so inclined, to loft themselves to the top of a steep snow-covered hill and then go downhill, really fast. And if something gets in their way, turn. Whether they be on skis, a snowboard, or some other means, getting down usually involves using gravity. Getting up, on the other hand, usually involves a ski lift. And in the video by [kalsan15] after the break, we learn how technology has stepped in to make even the most inaccessible slopes just a lift ride away.

Ski lift in at a European ski resort
A ski lift that can only turn left.

In its most simple form, a ski lift is two pulleys connected by a steel cable. The pulley at the bottom of the hill is powered, and the pulley at the top of the hill serves as an idler. Attached to the steel cable are some means for a person to either sit down or grab a handle and be hoisted to the top of the hill.

Such a simple arrangement works fine if the geography allows for it, but what if there are turns, or there need to be multiple idlers to keep the wire taut but also close to the ground? Again, the most basic ski lifts have limitations. If the cable turns left around the idler, then the attachment for the handle or chair has to be on the right, making a right turn around the idler an impossibility.

How then can this problem be solved? We won’t spoil the outcome, but we recommend checking out [kalsan15]’s video for an excellent description of the problem and the solution that’ll leave you wondering “Why didn’t I think of that!?”

If you don’t find this hacky enough, then take a moment to learn how you too can not just make a gas-powered ski lift for your cabin in the woods, but then ride your slope down on your DIY Ski Bike!

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Snowed-In In The City? The Snow Bike Will Get You Where You Need To Go

If have ever gone snowmobiling, you may have thought about how to revive that thrill in the more confined atmosphere of an urban environment — to say nothing of their utility. In anticipation of heavy snowfall  over the winter in his hometown, [Ben] stripped the essence of the snowmobile down as an emergency vehicle and reshaped it into the Snow Bike.

This compact, winter transportation solution uses an e-bike controller, a chopped up ski, and a heavy snowblower track and a large RC plane motor for power all strapped onto a modified mountain bike frame. The motor mount is machined aluminum, the track rollers milled out of spare plastic — though they later had to be modified as they tended to get clogged by snow — and the front ski is simply bolted on using some 3″ square tubing.

Due to its small size the Snow Bike looks about as stable as a pocket bike, so perhaps some training tracks and or skis might help in deeper powder. [Ben] also notes that the present motor doesn’t have much power so the rider needs to keep it at full throttle to push through the snow. That said — seeing this thing smoothly cruising around in several inches of snow makes us wish we had one of our own.

If this ride isn’t fast enough for you, check out these rocket-powered winter vehicles.

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All This Bike Needs Is Some Snow!

It’s safe to say that the southern UK is not known for its winter snowfall. If you have lived through a British February then the chances are you’ll know a lot about rain and grey skies.

Happily this hasn’t deterred [Stuart]. Ever the optimist, he’s turned a pile of scrap metal and an unloved mountain bike into a fully functional ski-bike, and he’s just ready to go should the jet stream deliver a covering of the white stuff on the Thames Valley.

Using the facilities of rLab – Reading Makerspsce (he’s also a founder member of the up-and-coming Newbury and District Hackspace), [Stuart] didn’t just bodge together his “iCycle”. Instead he’s made it a really high quality build, with CNC’d aluminium fork stanchions to mount his skis, and foot pegs that are engineered not to let him down on the slopes. Best of all, the bike is nearly all made from scrap materials, only the bearings, axles and paint were brought in for the project.

Skiing hasn’t been featured very often in our coverage of the world of makers, however we have featured a skiing robot, back in 2009.

Self-Charging Jacket Eliminates Forgetfulness

Certain parts of the Northern Hemisphere are very, very cold right now. For those of us living in these colder climates, [Aaron] has a simple yet effective hack for keeping your hands warm when you go out for a walk in the brisk cold. He’s wired his jacket up for USB charging so he can make sure his hand warmers are always working.

[Aaron] bought a set of handwarmers that conveniently charge over USB, but he always forgot to actually plug them in once he got home, ensuring that they were always dead. To make his forgetfulness a non-issue, he built the USB charger for the handwarmers into his jacket, but he didn’t just run a wire out of the pocket. The USB charging circuit runs through the coat hanger, using some conductive cloth and steel thread in the inside of the jacket’s shoulders. From there, the cloth makes contact with the metal arms of the hanger and runs out of the hanger to the wall outlet.

This is a great cold-weather hack that might help any forgetful people on the north side of the planet keep warm. You could even use this method to charge batteries used in other wearable electronics. This project is a great reminder that sometimes the best hacks are the simple ones that no one’s thought of yet!