This bike generator design is good for running low power devices such as:
- An iPOD
through a 12V Car cigarette lighter adapter like this one
- Cell phone chargers
- Portable DVD player
You can use off the shelf parts from local stores to make this 296 Watt pedal power bicycle generator or buy parts from Amazon.com
Through volunteer efforts, 24 of these pedal power bicycle generators were assembled and used for charging cell phones at a 3 day event with 60,000 people attending a day. More Info here
Any one who can use a drill, socket wrench, hack saw, wire cutters, and crimpers can do this project.
Step 1: How It Works
I hacked together a quick LabVIEW program and some sensors to hook up to the bike generator so you can get an idea of how it works. The chart below shows actual data while it was hooked up in the living room to our Sony play station PS2. The game being played is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
This test data shows Volts, Watts, Amps, Rear tire RPMs, and Heart Rate. The time period was about 3 minutes.
Note that the green line is actual wattage from the bicycle generator. When you first spin up the bike to about 275 revolutions per minute, about 5 seconds goes by while the alternator is developing a magnetic field, then the internal 14.8 Volt DC regulator kicks in and charges a 2 Farad capacitor.
This is the reason for the big green spike right at the beginning of the chart. After 2 seconds the capacitor is charged, and about 10 Watts of power is being consumed by an AC inverter which converts the 14.8 Volts DC to 110 Volts AC (The same stuff that comes out of your wall socket in your home).
Also note the red line showing that the voltage is stable at 14.8 Volts DC because the built in regulator is doing its job.
Next you will see where we turn on the Sony Play Station and the green line jumps up to 30 Watts.
Step 2: 16 Bicycle Generators on May 15th Ellen Degeneres TV Show
16 of these bicycle generators appeared along with Cameron Diaz on the May 15th Ellen Degeneres Green Show. I donated time and energy to make these bikes so the non profit group Global Inheritance could set them up on stage for the show.
8 Generators were setup on Ellen's stage, and 8 more were put into her over flow room next to the stage were they were hooked up to power two television monitors, some lights on stage, and charging 12V car batteries.
Step 4: Un-box the Ascent Bike Trainer Stand
The Ascent Bicycle Trainer Stand
comes packaged in a plastic bag with an upper and lower Styrofoam block. Keep the box because you can use it to ship the pedal power generator later after you are done.
Road bike or Mountain bike with "Quick Release" axle
The Ascent bike stand is supposed to work with a road bike or mountain bike that has the quick release lever. You know the kind that doesn't require you to use a wrench to remove your bike tires. You can get it to work with a regular bike axle that has nuts on each end, but the risk is that the stand may release the bike when you are riding it and cause personal injury.
NOTE!! It is not designed to work with a beach cruiser type bike which is a bike with a single rear gear. This is because the axle is too short on a one gear bike. The photo of the axle shows you what kind of bike axle the bike trainer is designed to connect to.
Step 5: Remove Screws From Ascent Magnetic 3 Level Trainer Friction Roller
The Ascent Bike Trainer Stand
comes with a friction roller that just wastes all of the useful energy you put out. Let's toss it in the scrap metal recycle bin.
At this point you will need to use the 5/32 Allen wrench shown below to remove the two screws shown at detail 1 and 2 in the picture. After you have removed the screws put them back in the silver barrel threaded barrel they came out of so you will not loose them.
Step 6: Step 4 - Remove Rubber Retaining Ring
Use some needle nose pliers or some one who has really long & strong finger nails to remove the rubber retaining ring of the end of the metal support shaft.
Once this is off, gently shake the friction roller around and push on the end of the support shaft with your finger.
It will then slide out.
Step 7: Find the Strut
Make your way through the tumult to the electrical area and find the spot shown in this picture "HERE" . That is the Superstrut rack section.
Pick yourself out a fine straight piece of Superstrut and try to make it out the store without mishap because it's really long and awkward to carry around the store, and if it happens to drop on the floor on accident like it did with me, it's so loud that people will hear it from one end of the store to the other.
Step 8: Transport Strut to Parking Lot
Pay for the Super-strut and get it out to the parking lot.
Since you are working to achieve a small energy foot print and trying to conserve, you probably drive a fuel efficient car like a 1990 Honda Civic. This can present a challenge when you try to go to Home Depot to get your piece of Super Strut. Namely because it only comes in 10 foot lengths. You can see the piece below balanced on the shopping cart with the Honda Civic in the background.
Step 9: Locate Saw
At this point you reach into your front seat of your ride and grab your trusty hack saw.
Step 10: Hack the Strut
After about 100 strokes of your mighty blade, the Super-Strut yields.
NOTE: the piece you cut has sharp edges that can cut your hands. Handle with care. Bring a file with you to file off any sharp burrs that are there. Now you can easily load the Superstrut into your car and head home.
Step 11: Cut 24" Pieces of Super Strut
Now cut two 24" long pieces of Superstrut as shown in the photo.
NOTE: the piece you cut has sharp edges that can cut your hands. Handle with care. Bring a file with you to file off any sharp burrs that are there.
Step 12: Cut a 9" Piece of Super Strut
Cut a 9" piece of strut as shown.
NOTE: the piece you cut has sharp edges that can cut your hands. Handle with care. Bring a file with you to file off any sharp burrs that are there.
Step 13: Mark Your Strut for 1/2 Hole Location
Mark Your Strut as shown in the picture.
Step 14: Drill Your 1/2" Holes
You have three options for this step. (1) Use a small drill press to make your 1/2" hole (2) Use a hand drill to make your 1/2" holes (3) Get some one else or machine shop to drill your 1/2" holes.
If you use option (1) or (2) read the safety instructions in the manual that came with your tools. You are liable for injury or damage caused by your failure to comply with safety and operating guidelines of your tool.
Option(1) is the best in my opinion. For those of you whose modus operandi is to constantly try to justify buying more tools for your garage (like me) now is the opportunity to get a small drill press for $85 at your local hardware store. A drill press is nice because it drills straight through the Superstrut. With a hand drill this is a little harder. Note that the holes need to be straight through the Superstrut or your pieces will look crooked when they are mounted to the stand.
For this step you have to drill completely through both sides of the Superstrut. If you choose your drill press, set it to low speed. Don't press too hard. It should take about 1 minute per hole. NOTE: The tills (shavings from the hole) are HOT! You must wear safety glasses when doing this. You could get small piece of metal in your eye like I did on another project. It caused a rust ring in my eye and I had to do to the eye doctor to get it out.
Step 15: Remove Burrs From 1/2" Holes
Use a larger bit to scrape the sharp edges from the hole. If you don't have a larger bit, then use a round rod hand file.
Step 16: Assemble the Superstrut Frame
Put the strut pieces on the 1/2 Threaded Rod and slide them into the bike trainer stand bracket as shown in the photo.
Step 17: Attatch Alternator Cross Mount
This is the Alternator mounting cross piece. You will use the cone nuts and some short 3/8" X 1" bolts.
TOOL: Socket wrench with 4 Inch Extension.
Assemble as shown.
Step 18: Drill Mounting Holes in L-Brackets for 68 AMP Car Alternator
The hole in the L-bracket does not work for mounting the bike generator. You will have to make a small hole as shown in these 3 pictures.
Step 19: Put the L Brackets on the Alternator
Mount the L-bracket loosely to the alternator as shown. Loosely attach the spring nuts as shown.
Step 20: Slide Alternator on to Support Strut
Remove the springs from the nuts because they get in the way. Snip them off with a pair of wire cutters.
Slide the alternator on to the support cross piece as shown. Snug the bots up hand tight with enough play to allow you to make some adjustments.
Step 21: Remove Rear Bike Wheel and Tire
Turn your bike upside down and remove the rear tire. The ascent bike stand comes with a spare quick release axle. It has hardened ends in the optimal shape to fit with the Ascent Bike stand. If you quick release axle has plastic ends, don't us it! Use the axle that comes with the bike stand.
Remove the tube and tire from your rear wheel so it looks like this. You can leave the rubber liner thing on if you want. It doesn't seem to make a difference.
NOTE: Make sure that your quick release handle is on the opposite side of your wheel that your gears are on. It must be that way to work in the Ascent Bike Stand!
Step 22: Put the Belt On
Put the belt on as shown.
Step 23: Put the Wheel Back on the Bike Frame.
Put the wheel back on the bike frame as shown in the picture.
Make sure the wheel is equi-distant from the frame. This is a very common mistake. Notice in the picture below how the gaps between each side of the wheel and frame are the same size. you need to do the same comparison check.
Step 24: Mounting Your Bike to the Ascent Magnetic 3 Level Trainer
Follow the instructions that came with the Ascent Trainer to mount your bike.
Some of my tips are:
Unscrew the tension knob out all the way as shown in the first picture.
Insert the axle end first that does not have the handle on it as shown in second picture.
Adjust your quick release handle so that it is on the top of the axle. Next adjust the landing cup of the bike trainer so it's wide opening is also facing upward. This will allow you set the axle end right into the cup as you tighten the tension knob. (refer to 3rd picture)
Step 25: Aligning the Belt to the Wheel
WARNING: DO NOT TEST OUT YOUR BIKE PEDAL POWER GENERATOR WITHOUT AN ELECTRICAL LOAD HOOKED UP TO THE ALTERNATOR - IT WILL KILL THE ALTERNATOR. IT HAS TO HAVE AT LEAST a 150 OHM Resistor across it or a small 2 Watts Light Bulb. That way the regulator won't go to high voltage output , and burn out.
Since you only hand tightened the bolts, you can know adjust the car Alternator as shown below. By doing a proper alignment, you have a more efficient bike generator because there will be less friction. And it will keep the belt from jumping off when you are pedaling.
When alighned, the belt should look like the picture. Also make sure the alternator is square wit the rim. Adjust the angle of the the alternator so its pully is perfectly aligned with rear wheel.
Step 26: Cut Alternator Hook Up Wire
Prepare the In-Line Fuse Holder wire by crimping on a 1/4" inner diameter ring terminal on one end and a female spade connector on the other.
Next prepare a 9 inch black wire with a large 3/8" inner diameter crimp terminal ring on one end and a crimp on male spade connector on the other. These need to be YELLOW which means these connectors are rated for high current up to 20 Amps.
Step 27: Attach Hookup Wire to Alternator
Use lock washers when you put these on to help make sure they don't get loose.
Make sure you have a 20 Amp Fuse in the fuse holder. This 12 AWG wire is only rated for 20 Amps. So do the right thing and play it safe. Even though the fuse holder comes with a 30 Amp fuse it's not ok to use it.
Step 28: Lay Out Your Low Voltage Electrical Box
(1) First lay out your electrical box the way you want it.
(2) Next Mark your holes with a sharpie
Step 29: Drill & Clean Holes
(1) Get a scrap piece of wood to put under the electrical box so you don't drill a hole into the nice table below like I did.
(2) Drill your holes in your box. Use a 1/4" bit.
(3)De Burr your holes for safety reasons - to avoid cuts
(4) Use a vacuum to clean up the shavigs - they are sharp!
Step 30: Mount Box ELectrical Components
Use some 8-32 machine screws that are 3/8" long. Also you need some lock washers.
You need two people to make this go quickly without dropping parts. Tile the electrical box up on end. Have one person hold the DC-to-AC Power Inverter part being mounted while you stand at the rear of the box and put the lock washer and the nut on.
Mount capacitor, terminal strip as shown in photos.
Step 31: Cut the Ends Off of the Watt Meter
Now cut the ends off of your Astro Flight DIGITAL WATTS/VOLT METER
Step 32: Strip and Crimp Watt Meter Wires
Now strip the ends of the wires so you can crimp some connector terminals onto them.
It should like the picture below when you are done.
Step 33: Install Watt Meter
Now connect the right side (Also known as the supply side) of the Astro Flight DIGITAL WATTS/VOLT METER to the terminal strip. Tighten the screws firmly to get a good solid electrical connection that will handle 20 Amps. Don't over tighten! It may strip the threads of the screw.
Step 34: Modify Cigarette Lighter Plug Splitter
Next take off the male connector of the cigarette lighter plugs. These are used for low current charging of cell phones or game poys, or portable play stations or I pod devices. Strip the ends of the wires so you can put crimp on ring terminals onto them.
Step 35: Verify & Label Wire Ends of Splitter
Thes plugs are what you can use to charge cell phones with. They are optional.
Use an ohm meter to make sure you know which wire is positive and which is negative. If you don't do this right, you could end up blowing fuses or damaging your bike generator. Set you $10.00 volt meter from radio shack to a resistance measurement.
Next put one hand probe on the end of one wire and the other Ohm meter hand probe on center contact post of the cigarette lighter plug. You will see it when you look down into the barrel of the cigarette lighter plug. If the ohm meter shows 0.2 to 1 ohms then you know the wire you are holding is connected to the positive terminal.
GET a piece of tape and mark that wire so you make no mistake when putting it together. If the ohm meter doesn't show any measurement change when you touch the two ponts, then switch your hand probe to the other wire end to confirm that it is the positive voltage wire.
(2)Do the polarity check described above on both pairs of the ligarette lighter sockets. Now twist their wire ends together. Make sure the positives are twisted together.
(3)Now crimp on the ring terminals to the ends of these wires.
(4) Now to make extra sure you don't get mixed up, mark the conectors positive and negative with a permanent marker as shown below.
Step 36: Make 10 Inch Jumpers With in Line Fuse Holder
This step is to enable power to the cigarette lighter plugs. If you don't plan on using the cigarette lighter receptacles for charging cell phones then you can skip this step.
The wire needs to be size 12 AwG, black and red is preferable.
Prep an In-Line Fuse Holder with two crimp on ring termals as shown below. This will hold a 10 Amp fuse for whatever you plan on providing power to. The reason why it has to be 10 Amps is because the wiring fo the cigarette lighter plugs can only handle a max current of 5 Amps each. So 5 + 5 = 10 Amps.
After you prepare the In-Line Fuse Holder cut a black wire of the same length and put crimp on ring terminals on both ends of it.
If you want to charge 10 cell phones at once, you can buy a splitter to plug into the these receptacles. This will give you more placed to plug the cell phone chargers into.
Step 37: Attach Jumper Wires to AC Inverter & Terminal Block
Connect one end of the black wire to the negative (Black) terminal of the 450 Watt DC-to-AC Power Inverter terminal along with the negative (black) wire from the Astro Flight DIGITAL WATTS/VOLT METER as shown on the picture on the right.
Then connect the other ends of the two wires as shown on the left.
Now connect the cigarette lighter receptacles as shown in the picture.
This step is optional. It is only necessary if you plan on using the cigarette lighter receptacles for charging cell phones or other 12V type of electronics.
Step 38: Hookup Negative Side of Capacitor to Terminal Strip
Now you are ready to hook up your 2 Farad Digital Capacitor
This is a really cool cap because it has a slick bult in blue LED voltage meter so you can always know what exactly your generator is running at.
You have to look very carefully at the markings in the plastic housing. Make sure you see which one has the plus sign and which one has the negative sign before moving forward.
REMEMBER: if you want to power up a TV set, having short thick wiring to the DC-to-AC Power Inverter is the key. This is because a TV set has a very large current spike when it turns on. So make the wiring short, and the crimps of a good quality.
(1) Remove nuts at end of terminal shafts
(2) Crimp a 3/8" ID (inner diameter) connector onto the end of a black 12AWG Wire as shown in the picture. Attach this end onto the NEGATIVE terminal of the 2 Farad Capacitor- it is VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU GET THIS RIGHT!!
(3) Route your black wire over to the terminal strip and cut the wire to a length that will reach the terminal screw as shown in the next photo.
(4) Strip and crimp on a nother connector - the smaller ID size to connect to the terminal block. Do a tug test on the connector and wire to make sure it is secure.
(5) Use a phillips head screw driver to tighten
Step 39: Connect Positive Side of Capacitor to Terminal Switch
(1) Cut a length of size 12 AWG red wire so that it will reach from the Positive side of the capacitor to the terminal strip.
(2) Strip each end so that 3/8" bare copper is showing.
(3) Use wire crimpers to crimp on connectors as shown in the photo. One end has the larger 3/8" inner diameter terminal. That end will be connected to the positive side of the cap.
(4) Install the red wire as shown in the photo. Do not tightend to the capacitor side yet. Just the terminal strip side.
Step 40: Connect 10 Feet of Wire to Capacitor
Now it's time to make a wire connection from the power box to your bicycle generator.
(1) Buy about 10 Feet of size 12 AWG Stranded black and red wire.
(2) Strip the insulation of each end so about 3/8" of bare copper is showing.
(3) Use crimpers to crmp on large yellow erminal connectors that will go onto 2 Farad capacitor
(4) Slip the ends through the box as shown.
(5)Tie a not in the wire as shown in the photo. This will act as a strain relief in case some one trips on the wire some day.
(6) Connect the yellow terminals to the capacitor termianls. MAKE SURE YOU PUT THE RED wire on the positive terminal. You must get this right or very bad things could happen.
(7) Use a 1/2 Inch deep socket as shown to tighten down the terminals. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN. The nuts should be just tight enough so that the ring terminals can't slide back and forth around the shaft when you push on them with your finger.
Step 41: Twist the Wires
The ten foot red and black wires are very easy to get tangled in so you need to twis them together using a drill as shown.
(1) Cut your wires to ten feet. If you want to cut them shorter you can do that.
(2) Tighten the chuck on the drill so the wires are securely held
(3) SLOWLY Rotate drill as shown in video. YOu need to have another person hold onto your box so you won't pull it off the table.
Insert ends of wire into drill.
Step 42: Add Crimp on Connectors to End of 10 Foot Wires
Now you will crimp on some connectors to the 10 Foot pieces of wirs as shown in the picture.
You will need to strip and prepare the ends of the red and black wires as shown below. The red wire needs to have a male yellow crimp on spade connector. And the black wire needs to have the opposite- a female yellow spade crimp on connector. This will help to ensure you hook up to the bike generator with the right polarity.
Step 43: Install Night Light
The GM one wire alternator only regulates to 14.8 Volts if it is hooked up to something. So you need to install a small 4 Watt night light so that the voltage does not creep up over 15 volts. Going over 15 Volts is bad because if it does this, the AC inverter shuts down by going into over voltage protection mode.
Install a 4 Watt night light into the Cobra Power Inverter
This will make sure that the inverter has some kind of load on it so that bike generator won't over shoot the inverter's operating range of 15 volts.
Note that many night lights are automatic and only turn on at night. So if you have one of these automatic lights, put a piece of dark tape over the light sensor on it to block out the light.
Step 44: Final Hookup
Now connect your 10 foot wires to the connectors on the car alternator. YOU ARE READY TO RIDE!!
If you are just charging cell phones or a car battery, then turn off the AC inverter.
If you are providing power to the television, playstation, or something else, then make sure the AC inveter button is in the "ON" position.
Step 45: How It Looks Hooked Up to a Playstation PS2 Video Game
Now you're ready to be a green lean power machine!
The photo shows how it looks when you hook up your bike generator to your playstation video game. If you want more information go to pedalpowergenerator.com