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Pedal power..

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Post by mark barker on 13th January 2012, 12:02 pm

Firstly, sorry if this is in the wrong section, but I struggled to work out where was best to put it... Mods please move accordingly!

OK, so heres the problem... I've been asked to produce a number of bike powered items to take to schools to support their curriculum. Stuff like smoothy makers are easy to build and are pretty common, but I'd like to be a little more adventurous. So, any suggestions?

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Post by Adrian on 13th January 2012, 12:59 pm

Washing machine?

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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 13th January 2012, 1:00 pm

I would suggest things that have a more everyday application to the kids you are showing them to. The smoothie maker is an example of pedal power that always pops up at Green events, but to be honest, I can't remember the last time I made a smoothie and it always rather puzzles me.
I think kids would respond much better to things that have more of a direct bearing on their lives - a mobile/iPod charger for example. (um, that's about all I know about kids lifestyles these days. lol) And ideally one that could be attached to a normal mobile bicycle - they clip their mobile or ipod on the handlebars, attach the dynamo and by the time they get to school it has charged. As opposed to the heath robinson static bicycle based smoothie makers you tend to see.
Not sure I am articulating my point very well, but hope you get my drift.

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Post by Adrian on 13th January 2012, 1:03 pm

agree

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Post by Chilli-head on 13th January 2012, 1:55 pm

Sounds interesting, but I had to Google "bicycle smoothie" to get an idea of what you meant - a blender strapped on where a dynamo might go, right ? I agree with Billy - not terribly useful except for fun at green events. But on the other hand, the phone charger idea is surely no more than the dynamo you might have already and a bit of electronics.

C-H jnr has always been impressed by those pedal powered generators that show you your output power in terms of things children understand; for example, can you pedal hard enough to generate enough power for a Wii console (*). Having to work for it conveys a really important message about how valuable energy really is; if it is not part of the school curriculum it should be.
(Aside - did you see the Bang Goes the Theory special with the bike powered house ? Really good illustration of how much we take energy for granted).

Regarding using a standard bike, there are arrangements to allow you to use a standard bike as an exercise bike - basically a pair of rollers for the back wheel and a quick release stand to fit the front forks. I can see how you might tumble washing/churn butter or even peel potatoes (!) with a setup like that, but as Billy says, it might not engage kids that much ...

(*) Perhaps if they had to, it would do them far more good than Wii Fit ever will !
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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 13th January 2012, 2:38 pm

At the Big green Gathering there was, I seem to recall, an offgrid live music stage - My memory is a bit hazy but I'm sure there were bicycle powered amps and so on. Which is kinda fun.

re the Wii Fit - you could take this a stage further and power the wiif fit from kinetic energy while doing the yoga workouts etc. Not sure how exactly but the idea is cool.

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Post by polgara on 13th January 2012, 2:54 pm

Why not ask for suggestions from the kids, they usually have some good ideas.

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Post by Dandelion on 13th January 2012, 5:23 pm

The thing which occurred to me (and I haven't a clue how you would do it, but you've asked for the 'what' not the 'how'....) is a zoetrope, so the children could watch some simple animation which was powered by the bike. I'm not mechanically minded, but I think you might need some sort of differential to do this.

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Post by mark barker on 16th January 2012, 4:38 pm

Thanks folks! I'm looking into generating some electricity from the bike, but realistically this is going to be limited by the fitness of the rider, so I'll have to couple together a few bikes to get anything near enough to power some impressive devices.

The Zoetrope idea is a nice simple one, and I'll have a working prototype by the end of the week! Wink

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Post by Chilli-head on 16th January 2012, 4:54 pm

mark barker wrote:Thanks folks! I'm looking into generating some electricity from the bike, but realistically this is going to be limited by the fitness of the rider, so I'll have to couple together a few bikes to get anything near enough to power some impressive devices.

If you haven't seen it, this is what they did in the Bang goes the theory special, The Human Powerstation. They had a family live in a house, without knowing that their electricity supply came from a team of up to 80 people on bikes. Great illustration of what energy means in terms of human effort !
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