Pedal Power Workshop

Spent Saturday of this weekend at the Silk Mill in Derby, an industrial museum. I was taking part in a workshop to create 4 pedal powered generators for the city to use in future community events, after hearing about it on twitter. The workshop was a collaboration between three groups – Sustrans, Electric pedals and Charity Shop DJ. Electric pedals has been going since 2007, and since then they have been using their generators for some really interesting projects, including conservation efforts in Uganda, where the native gorillas are at risk. The generators have been used to power a portable mini-cinema using a projector consisting of a low powered iPhone-based LED and guitar amp to show footage to local people, many of whom have never seen moving pictures or what a gorilla even looks like. They were also responsible for  the human power station project on BBC’s ‘bang goes the theory’ program, where 80 of the generators were used in an experiment to power a family home of 4 people.

Constructing the generator

Over the course of the day, we built 4 generators, and a circuit board, to combine the power from them and convert from DC to AC.

Control circuit, consisting of capacitor, charge controller, dump load and inverter

We then tested the system with a PA brought in by Charity Shop DJ who were putting on a free party on Sunday night. Electric pedals had also brought along a beefed-up version of the control circuit, housed in a plastic wheelie bin! Looking like something from Ghostbusters, this can handle the power from up to 25 bikes, and is a serious piece of kit – I want one!

Circuit board for up to 25 bike generators

We also had a demo of the cinema system used for educational purposes in developing countries, and in schools throughout the country.

Pedal powered cinema, as used in Uganda

I found out about the workshop after doing some research into pedal power generators after being set the task of creating a mobile solar/bike  generator to take to festivals with the National Trust. I had a lot of fun on the day, and learned lots of useful info to put into my own project, so after I have sourced some parts, I’ll start assembling my own model, and let you know how it goes!

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4 Responses to Pedal Power Workshop

  1. Tom, many thanks for blogging this – it is exactly the kind of thing we have been looking for to put on our stand for events as well. Helping people feel the effort required to power appliances brings a much better understanding of what we all take for granted.

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