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Pedal-Powered Machines

A few years ago, a handful of ECOS members traveled to Guatemala to build and design bicimáquinas – bicycle machines. These can be used to do just about anything that employs mechanical energy – washing clothes, grinding coffee, making smoothies, etc. But the technology is not limited to Central America.  There are opportunities to use pedal power technology in Columbus as well! There are three ‘types’ of bicimáquina that have prototyped, but this project affords a great degree of latitude for the creative student.

Goals and purpose:

  • Design, build and potentially mass produce three types of bicimaquina:
    • an electrical generator
    • a kitchen-suited machine with fittings such as a blender, egg beater, etc.
    • a washing machine
  • Promote sustainable technologies
    • Pedal-powered generators were used to power displays at Earth Day 2009 events
    • Display some of these machines in use on spring days in the oval
    • Work with the RPAC to purchase bici-generators that serve as workout equipment and also power iPods or other personal devices
  • Empower students and other members of the campus and Columbus community
    • Offer off-campus students pedal-powered washing machines for use in their homes
    • Offer all community members, especially those with low-income, alternative technologies

Current resources:

  • A welder (we own a stick welder, can access more welders)
  • Expertise in design and creation of bicimáquinas
  • Plenty of donated steel bicycle frames
  • Space to work in the welding engineering department
  • Support from students with experience (including teaching how to weld and designing machines)
  • Support from machine design faculty in Mechanical Engineering

Volunteers needed as:

  • Project leaders
    • Lead the design and build of a specific pedal-powered machine
      • Involves
        • Organizing a design team
        • Documenting progress
        • Meeting deadlines
  • Team members
    • Design and create these new machines

Each team will have 3-6 people working together on a different pedal-powered machine. All majors are invited, but those pursuing degrees in engineering, art, architecture or industrial design may have the best fit with this project. Project leaders will have substantial responsibilities above and beyond that of a volunteer.