If you happen to be out and about on Friday, April 19th, 2013 you might want to swing by Milwaukee Makerspace at 2555 S. Lenox St. in Bay View.
While we aren’t officially part of any gallery night events this time around, we’ll be open to the public on Friday from 6pm to 9pm for anyone who wants to stop by and take a tour, or check out some of the art (and art making tools!) we have at our space.
And if you want to see us in full art swing, you’ll only have to wait until the end of May. ;)
I’ve always been impressed with exercise bike generator displays at renewable energy exhibits. So, a while back, when I saw a classic Schwinn exercise bike at the thrift store, I nabbed it with the plan to make it into an EXERCISE BIKE GENERATOR!
Earth Week is only a week away, and since our local eco-group is hosting a BIKE-THEMED event this year, I thought I’d “get in gear” and quick put together a bike generator.
I really already had all the parts needed. Mostly, that’s a bike and a permanent-magnet motor. Besides that, it’s just some scrap wood, a bolt, nuts and washers and a bungie-cord.
At the heart of the project is a 12V electric motor. I still had a few parts left over from my electric car conversion project, including the electric radiator fan. My electric car didn’t need an engine or radiator, so I set the fan motor off to the side for future use. I pulled it out for this project. First, I had to remove the plastic fins, which were practically cast in place. I managed to remove them, and get it down to an aluminum hub mounted on the motor shaft.
Next, I cut a scrap of plywood, and used a hole-saw to make a hole in it big enough for the motor to sit in. I put the motor in place, and attached it with three small wood screws.
I drilled a 3/8″ hole through the corner of the plywood, and ran a long bolt through it into the front frame of the cycle. That way, I was able to test alignment of the motor shaft with the front wheel. It matched up pretty well. I would just need to smooth out the hub on the driveshaft and add a stabilizer and tensioner to the motor.
The hub on the driveshaft was bumpy, which made a lot of vibration on the exercise bike tire, and the gear ratio was just a hair off. If I could trim down the diameter of the hub a bit, it would smooth out the ride and allow me to pedal just a tad slower while at the right speed for 12V charging.
I did NOT have a lathe handy, so I thought it would be pretty tough to smooth out the hub. That’s when I realized there was nothing stopping me from JUST SPINNING THE MOTOR. So, I clamped the motor down to a work-table, grabbed the jumper cables from my truck and a 12V battery, and just spun-up the motor! I then used an angle-grinder (with a flapper disc) to smooth down the hub, and reduce its diameter a bit. Because it was spinning at high speed, it came out perfectly concentric and balanced. Not bad for an improvised “poor-man’s lathe”.
I put the motor back onto the cycle and added another piece of plywood opposite of it and a cross-piece to made a basic box shape. This holds the motor solid and lets it swing up and down but NOT side to side.
At that point, all that was left was a tensioner. I added a drywall screw to the wood and attached a bungie-cord from it to the base of the cycle. That applies a light, but steady, force of the motor against the wheel.
I clipped my volt-meter to the two wires coming off the motor and pedaled. Sure enough, it was pretty easy to pedal at a rate that gave me an output voltage between 12-14 volts, what’s needed to charge a 12V battery.
After that, I hooked it up to my Fenix Intl. Ready Set – a 12V battery with built-in charge control and 12V and 5 outputs. It also has a nice charge indicator light on it, and universal power input on the back, meaning I could just run my bare wires straight in and tighten them down without even needing tools. I then only have to pedal fast enough until the “Now Charging” light comes on to know what speed I need to maintain for 12V charging.
This isn’t exactly a fancy or high-power exercise bike set-up, but it sure was easy to build. I did some testing, and it’s simple to output 10 watts of energy. That’s just about perfect for charging an iPad. That also means it’s pretty easy to do something like designing a setup where if you want to watch a movie on the iPad, you have to pedal to make it happen!
Just think how much more fit the average American would be if we all had to pedal to watch TV!
This project took about an afternoon of work and cost me $8, the cost of the cycle at the thrift store. I already had the motor, nuts and bolts, bungie-cord and scraps of wood. All in all a nice little weekend project.
Have you built your own exercise bike generator? What do you power with it? What did you do different on your design? Let us know!
A while back, Jason G. and I were talking about notifying coworkers when working out of alternative campuses, coffee shops or being in the office but just away from the desk. Empty desks give you no story beyond looking for clues like a missing jacket, bag, etc. We thought it would be fun to use an Arduino to update a small display on our desk with a message to where we were. Jason set out to build the backend – using Google Latitude on our phones he could update a web server which also let us create geo-fences around map locations that would trigger an output during work hours. We called it Marco… get it?
The prototype worked, but I was struggling with half of my part, the physical object – screen sizes sucked, wi-fi v cable, and I couldn’t get it in the footprint that I wanted it.
The other piece that was bothering me was that, during a little research, roughly ~90% of the empty desks around me had an orphaned monitor. Most every empty desk had a blank monitor and I was toiling with a display problem… enter Raspberry Pi. Now the idea is to take over that monitor when the users are away. Most external monitors that we had offered multiple inputs, so a simple tap on the input button and Marco can display anything we’d like from our base of geo trap triggered messages, foursquare check-ins to even displaying a message that we text to it – “Elvis has left the building” [send]
*UPDATE* – Thanks to circulating this around with fellow Maker’s Pete and Vishal, we’ll explore using a passive IR sensor to wake the display when there is activity in front of it to save on screen and energy use.
He originally had a goal of $5,000 but the backers showed up in force to support his Folding USB Solar Cell project, and even though it’s been cloudy and raining all week here in Milwaukee, it’s all sunshine and smiles at the success of the campaign so far.
I finally finished up the last of my game boxes this past weekend. These ones are for the original Gloom game and Zombie Dice.
Since Zombie Dice is, as you may suspect, a dice game I decided it needed something a bit more secure lid-wise so it could be easily transported without worry of spilling the dice everywhere. This was a bit of a trick since the thing that locked it also needed to be mostly if not entirely contained in the lid since you need to use the cup as part of the game. What I ended up with was putting a slight lip around the top
Locking lid for the dice game
and making a bar to bolt to the top that was just long enough to hit the 1/8″ lip when turned one way. It works better than I expected it would. I also added some thin foam to the inside of the container because dice on wood was getting pretty loud when you shook the cup.
I happened to be in Chile last week traveling to see a friend, so I looked up the local makerspace and sent an email asking if I could get a tour. Shortly afterwards Florencia Edwards reached out to me and we set up a tour.
If you find yourself anywhere near the STGO makerspace, I highly recommend you get a tour. Not only will you be greeted with beautiful wood floors, exceptional lighting, and an exceptionally friendly group of makers, but you also have a chance to join in on the latest in international maker relations: Hacking Around the World.
It’s a pretty simple concept: make something fun, and have it ready to pass off to the next maker that visits from another hackerspace. If you visit a space where something is passed to you, the next step is even easier: hack whatever was given to you and pass it to the next visitor to your space. Whatever you want to do to it, do it.
When I got to the STGO makerspace, Florencia had a Barney themed childs toy waiting for me. She had already modified the noises and added a couple of new features. I plan to add to it and pass it off to the next nomadic maker that happens to come through the Milwaukee space.
If you want to get involved in hacking around the world, check out the google group or stop by the Milwaukee or Santiago makerspace and let’s start hacking around the world together.
This weekend, I built a bullet-proof coffee table.
For years, I’ve had a three-foot by four-foot piece of bullet-proof glass that I removed from a bank while working construction there. I saved the glass, thinking that it would make an AWESOME table. Well, I finally got around to building it.
I cut pallet-racking cross-pieces to build a frame that would wrap around the glass. Pallet racks already have a 1.5″ indent in them to hold lumber, which was perfect for a supporting lip for the glass.
The legs were two-inch steel square tube, cut to 18″ long. After cutting the pieces, I tack welded the whole frame together, checked for square, and tested it against the glass. I then did all the welds, capped off the ends of the legs, and ground round the top corners.
After that, it was a coat of primer, a coat of 1980′s bank industrial beige paint, and laying the glass into the frame.
I still wanted to test how bullet-proof it was, but simply, and safer than with a gun. I did have a bowling ball handy! Check out the video for how I made an interesting pattern in the glass!
After I marked the glass, I thought it would look really cool backlit! Once it was dark, I put a temporary light behind the glass, and was very pleased with the results. The cracks light up great! I’ll now have to permanently wire up some lighting under it.
A few weeks ago we got an email from Luxembourg. Well, more specifically, from Marc Teusch, one of the founders of syn2cat. He said he’d be visiting Milwaukee and was wondering if he could stop by Milwaukee Makerspace… the answer was YES!
Visiting other spaces is awesome. It’s great to see the differences (and similarities) between different hackerspaces. I visited Baltimore Hackerspace and highly recommend you try to visit other spaces in your travels.
Anyway, Marc stopped by during our weekly meeting, then afterwards I gave him a tour of our space and we talked about making, hacking, Luxembourg, the US, and all sorts of other things.