Introduction: Bicycle Generator to Power Hydroponics System

About: Mechatronics Engineer who loves to implement new ideas. Expertise in mechanical design, electronics, 3D printing, and robotics.

Having a small hydroponics system is becoming a new trend to gain the satisfaction of eating fresh vegetables within your home. This is a healthy living lifestyle that everyone wants to aim for but I believe that this product can be made even better especially if we add the element of exercise to it. So I made a hydroponics system that is powered by energy generated from human cycling. This not only gives exercise but grows fresh vegetables using green energy. Its a win for Environment, Food, and Health so I hope you like this project.

This project was done at Veggitech and soon we will release the final product of the above project so don't forget to follow them.


This project will cost $100 and need a workshop for this. Here are the parts which you will need:-

1) Bicycle

2) 250W DC Motor

3) Arduino Uno

4) Current Sensor

5) Voltage Sensor

6) 7805 5v Linear Voltage Regulator x 2

7) i2c 16x2 LCD Screen

8) Modular Hydroponics Kit

9) 18500 Lithium-ion cell

10) 18500 lipo battery charge module

11) Voltage Step-up Module

12) Welding/Cutting tools

Step 1: System Overview

The motor is connected to the cycle wheel with a driver belt in gear ratio of 1:8. This means for one revolution of a cycle wheel, 8 revolutions of DC motor will be made. Since the average rpm of cycling is 150-200 rpm, so motors rpm will be 1200-1600rpm. The operating parameters of this motor is 24V, 2750rpm, 13A and 250W. So at 50% speed of the motor, we can expect to generate 50% of power ideally and that is what I measured as well.

Once the energy is generated, it gets converted to 5v by regulator and charges lithium-ion battery. The voltage if the battery then gets converted to 12V by step-up module and powers the LED grow lights of modular hydroponics since it operates on 12v. The 5v from regulator also powers the Arduino, LCD, sensors and shows the amount of power generated on the screen. This is for me to find the energy produced and also to gamify the product so that it motivates people to pedal faster.

Step 2: Make the Frame

Build the frame which supports the weight of the cycle and a person sitting on it. I used Mild Steel material and frame can look like above. Add multiple supports on all sides since the structure will start vibrating if a person pedals faster. I don't have the mechanical CAD design since dimensions of all cycles will be different so you will have to make your own measurements. You will need welding and cutting tools to make this frame otherwise try to outsource it.

Don't forget to add angle support to your vertical bars. I noticed that cycling at higher speed generates lots of vibration so I had to add as many angle support as possible,

Step 3: Attach Cycle and Motor on the Frame

First I attached the driver belt inside the cycle wheel. Then the cycle was attached to the frame using welding and drilling. I used the above driver belt and pulley for this project otherwise your choices will depend on which motor and cycle size used for the project. Pulley was welded on the motor shaft with an extra hollow connector to fill the gap and the motor was screwed on the wooden base at the edge on cycle. The lower belt was hitting the base so had to suspend the motor few centimeters above the ground.

Step 4: Electric Circuit & Arduino Code

Above is the electric circuit where energy generated from DC motor is passed through 7805 5V linear regulators which power Arduino, sensors and charges 3.7V 186500 lithium battery which in turn powers modular hydroponics LED grow light. This light works on 12V so battery energy passes through a voltage step-up that converts 3.7V to 12V. This circuit can still be improved by adding capacitors and better linear voltage regulators but since this is a prototype so its fine for now.

Arduino Code is below

Step 5: Building Enclosure for Circuit

After creating a circuit, its time to build the protection around it. LCD screen and switch to control hydroponics grow light will be attached to the front of the wood casing. Components on the base were stuck on the bottom with double-sided tape. This wood casing can be open and closed like a door by using hinges at the bottom. It's also easy to debug if there is any problem arises.

Step 6: Done! Now Cycle It

That it! Now you can cycle to give you some exercise and give power to your hydroponics system. Here are some ways to improve this system even more:-

1) Add more gear mechanism to motor for increasing torque for pedaling and power generation

2) Add multiple motors to multiply power generation

3) Add multiple batteries in parallel to increase the storage capacity. This motor has the capacity to give 20A but only 1A is used in charging for time being!

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