Renewable Energy Innovation

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There has been a spate of pedal power projects in the re-innovation workshop recently.

This post shows one recently built for Nottinghamshire Healthcare. The pedal generator was designed as a challenge with a twenty second test to see the amount of energy the cyclist can generate. It also needed to be relatively portable (to fit within the boot of a car).

The systems consist of:

  • a shunt regulator (rated at 400W) to dump any excess power
  • a LED bar graph display as a visual read out of power generated
  • an LED display which shows the actual power output in Watts
  • a 20 second test display with an output in Watt-seconds
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I've just put the finishing touches to a pedal-powered DVD player which will be installed at a Stubbington Study Centre in Hampshire.

This pedal generator is designed to be entertaining and fun, while also being educational and robust.

There are three parts:

    • Pedal generator - based on an exercise bicycle
    • Large bar graph display
    • DVD player and LCD screen

In this post I've put up videos of the unit in action, along with build details.

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This was a project to pedal power 'Cheese' a theatrical adventure through the twists and turns of a system too big to fail.

It turns out that theatre productions are not usually the most energy efficient performances, using high power lighting and sound rigs. This highly efficient show will be powered using human pedal power.

Three pedal generators were built from converted exercises bikes. The generators recharge a bank of bateries. These will be placed in local gyms for people to earn energy 'credits' for money off the theatre performance. The battery bank will be taken and used to fully power the lights and sound rig for the production.

More details are available at the pedalling power website.

The pedal power system was designed by Magnificent Revolution. RE-Innovation built and installed the remote display unit and installed and tested the pedal generators. This blog post gives an overview of the pedal power system.

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Magnificent Revolution run pedal powered cinema and music events. I have worked with them extensively, mainly on their electrical systems. They have a  8 and a 20-bike pedal power unit which can generate quite a bit of power (around 2kW with 20 riders). They wanted a display to give feedback on the amount of power being generated. It needed to have a large, highly visual display. A remote and wireless display was required as it would save running cables around the equipment.

They asked RE-Innovation to build one. So here it is, along with a run through of the parts and how it all works.

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I've recently finished work on another pedal powered smoothie maker. This time its a bit different: its designed to fit 20" wheels of BMX bikes.

This was commissioned by London Bike Hub (who already have a large pedal smoothie bike, pedal powered scaletrix and a pedal powered electricity generator from me). They wanted a smoothie bike that was more accessible to younger folk with shorter legs.

Here are some photos and discussion about the build and finished unit.

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{jcomments on}Re-Innovation's LED bar graph and energy bike were hired by Bristol University Sustainability department for use at the university freshers fair.

The pedal generator was used as a power generation challenge, with the highest output power winning a fair trade hamper. This meant that it was tested to the max with over 10,000 students visiting the fair and lots of them trying to pedal as fast as possible.

There were a few teething problems (mainly due to difficulties mounting the display onto the backing board) but it all worked well with one student generating 270W of electrical output power! I didn't even know it went up that high!

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{jcomments on}For the past three years I have been running an 'introduction to solar photovoltaics' workshop at the Small Is.... festival and this year was no exception.

The Small Is... festival is a collaboration between Practical Action and Engineers Without Borders UK set in the grounds of Practical Action's headquaters, The Schumacher Centre, near Rugby. The festival is inspired by the ideas and philosphy of E.F Schumacher who wrote the book 'Small is Beautiful: Economics as if people mattered'. There were numerous hands-on workshops, talks and discussions relating to appropriate technology, international development and envirnmental awareness.

This year the standard was raised even higher with a larger venue, more speakers and workshops, amazing decoration and some top-class music.

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Have you ever wanted to build your own pedal powered machine? Fancy making a holiday of it in somewhere slightly more sunny than the UK? Then here is your chance....

Renewable Energy Innovation has teamed up with Magnificent Revolution and Sunseed Desert Project to bring you not one but two in-depth pedal power courses. These will both be run at Sunseed, an amazing off-grid centre for hands-on permaculture solutions and environmental education in southern Spain.

One 3-day course will look at building mechanical pedal powered devices, such as washing machines and water pumps. The other 3-day course will look at building electrical generating pedal powered machines to run sound systems and cinemas.

The courses will run on 20-22nd October (electrical) and 24-26th October (mechanical), or stay for both!

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With summer here and sun every so often shining through, we have recently been involved with loads of pedal powered activities. One recent event was pedal powered water cannons which was run as part of the Celebrate Cycling event at Nottingham University Jubilee Campus which was part of a larger programme of events celebrating 125 years of Raleigh Bicycles.

We set up two pedal powered water pistols which were used to know down environmentally themed targets, such as a coal fired power station or a fat-cat banker. At the same time a sound system kept energy levels up. We also rigged up a children's bike with a bubble machine for the smaller children. While the weather was not so kind to us, the water cannons were in constant use throughout the day.

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Last Friday saw the Magnificent Revolution 20 bike cycle-in cinema being set up for the Milton Keynes Fringe Festival for an event organised by Independent Cinema MK.

The event attracted loads of keen cyclists, both young and old. Team MK were there and pedalling for the whole 3 hours. We even had power generated by the Mayor and a number of local MPs.

The event ran throughout the day and showed a number of interesting family-friendly animations, chosen by local animator, Tim Searle.

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I have recently finished a number of display and control units for pedal power demonstration systems. These projects have been in conjunction with Magnificent Revolution, who have been providing the actual pedal generators.

The systems consist of:

  • a shunt regulator (rated at 200W) to dump any excess power
  • a LED bar graph display as a visual read out of power generated
  • an LED display which shows the actual power output in Watts

 These systems have been built for the Arcola Theatre, the Carbon Smart program, Magnificent Revolution and for myself. Read on for more details and a video of the units in action.

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re-innovation have worked with London Bike Hub on a number of projects, providing their pedal powered sound system, bubble machine and pedal smoothie machines.
London Bike Hub are involved with all activities related to the promotion of cycling, including cycle training, educational workshops to get people onto bikes and bicycle maintenance.
They approached us to build a pedal powered Scalextrix to provide a fun way of promoting cycling and we obviously accepted the challenge.

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Re-innovation was recently comissioned to build the display system for an energy bike at the Arcola Theatre in Hackney, London. The energy bike is in the front-of-house at the theatre to help demonstrate and educate on energy consumption and efficiency.
This display system fitted to a pedal generator built by Magnificent Revolution. It has a bar-graph read out of the power and an actual value in Watts.
The system also worked as a voltage regulator, limiting the output voltage to 12V DC and shunting away the excess as heat, so that devices, such as phone chargers, can be plugged in for demonstration. The display is fully powered by the generator.

 

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Re-innovation was asked by Magnificent Revolution to help build an 8-bike pedal powered generator for use over in Australia. Greer Allen has started up Magnificent Revolution Australia and has been working with Magnificent Revolution in London. She will be taking the generator over to Australia for a cinema event in Sydney.

 

She came up to Nottingham to build the main power equipment and wire it all up and test it. We had a fun week crimping, drilling and waiting for packages to arrive. She kept a great blog with photos here.
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I have been working with Magnificent Revolution for a couple of years now. They do all things pedal power related such as pedal powered sound systems, stages for festivals and cinemas. They also do loads of pedal power workshops (build your own!) and educational events. I have been working on an LED power and energy display for them (check this blog post). We got to try it out round a month or so ago at the Portobello Road Pop-Up cinema. Here is a video of the set-up process of their 20-bike generator system. The funny green thing under the screen is the power display.

The cinema was part of the In-Transit festival 2011. There are more photos (by Paul Bence) of the event and the people here.

 
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We already supply the pedalog - a power and energy monitor especially for pedal powered generators. It also works with other forms of energy generation such as solar and wind and also energy consumption of DC loads.

One issue was displaying the data so that it is interesting and informative. One customer (Magnificent Revolution) asked for a large display for use on their multi-bike generator. This would be for use at events where the crowd wanted feedback of how much power and energy they are generating.

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Pedal power is a great, inter-active demonstration of power generation and consumption. Building your own pedal generator is also an amazing learning experience. There are a number of plans and designs around for the generator and stand (check out our own here), but information about the electrical systems is usually lacking.

Here is a full design for a shunt regulator for pedal power systems. A PCB, kit of parts and a fully built circuit will be available.

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RE-Innovation joined forces with Magnificent Revolution to increase the pedal power capacity of Bristol. Check out Magnificent Revolution's website for more details.

This included a two-day workshop for a number of bicycle related community groups to produce four pedal power generators, a one-day public pedal power workshop and a two and a half hour pedal powered screening of Metropolis at the Cube cinema. This was organised with the help of Sprockets and Dust.

 
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Pedal power is a great, inter-active demonstration of power generation and consumption. The effort required to pedal is a direct link to the power consumption of the loads.

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