Home >> Research >> Human Powered Machines >> ESLP 2007 ART

Pedal Powered Machines Action Research Team

Art Facilitators

Jason Moore
Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering Graduate Student
Bike Church Minister
Experience in appropriate technology design, primarily pedal powered machines.
Proficient in bicycle mechanical wizardry and fabrication.
jkmoor @

Alec Winters
Local Pedal Power Enthusiast
washvalley @


Broad Purpose: Human power has always been utilized as an energy source to complete various tasks. The invention of various tools and machines has allowed this power to be extracted more and more efficiently. The bicycle is a prime example of how a properly designed machine can be coupled with a human being to complete a very useful low power task in an efficient manner. There are many other tasks besides transportation that have power requirements that suitable for a human power output levels, most of which are traditionally powered by nonrenewable energy sources. If these tasks can be identified and machines designed to utilize the human as a power source, many low power tasks can be completed without relying on nonrenewable energy.

Specific Purpose: There are many low power tasks around campus that an efficient human powered machine could potentially be used for. The team will introduce the campus to these machines by designing and constructing one or more and making it available for use. This will foster interest in alternative uses for human power and will hopefully be a springboard for the construction of other machines around campus. This project will introduce alternative pedal powered machines to the campus, educate students on sustainable design, and reduce the campus’s dependency on nonrenewable energy sources.

Products: The primary goal of the ART will be to produce at least one working prototype human powered machine and to make it available for campus use. The team members will work collaboratively through the design and construction processes. If resources are available a production manual and user manual may be produced. Some potential machines follow:

  • Replace one or more electric powered bicycle pumps with pedal powered versions. These could be set up anywhere around campus and will not need connection to any power source
  • Replace or introduce agricultural machines for the student farm, EC Gardens, the Domes and the on-campus Tri-Coops (i.e. nut sheller, nut grinder, centrifuge for separation of nut oils, small plot plow, giant salad spinner)
  • Fabrication tools (i.e. band saws, drills, lathes, pottery wheels) for use in one of the on-campus shops (Craft Center, Student Farm, Mechanical Engineering Lab, etc)
  • Playground equipment (i.e. carousel) for Orchard park
  • Design of specialty cargo bikes or trailers to replace current automobile transportation of goods around campus
  • Kitchen appliances replacements (blenders, choppers, juicers, food processors) for various shared kitchens on campus
  • A pedal powered washing machine for on campus housing

Required Skills

This project is of a technical nature but both students with and without a technical background will be welcome. This will be a good introduction to all of the following skills: product design, mechanical knowledge, technical drawing, mechanical design, metal fabrication, dumpster diving, manual design, painting, etc.

Students who desire to use power tools (grinders, welding machines, etc) will need to pay for quarter access to the Craft Center or find other on campus resources (art department shop, engineering student shop, etc). Basic hand tools will be available for construction.




  • Darrow, Ken, and Pam, Rick. "Energy: Pedal Power," from Appropriate Technology Sourcebook pp.189-196. Stanford, California: Volunteers in Asia, Inc., 1977.


Time Requirements

The group will be expected to devote around three to four hours per week to the team. At least two of the hours will be for group discussions and collaborative work time. The remaining time will be available for students to work on the project individually or in small groups.

Timeline (click the week number for meeting minutes):

  • Week One (4/8 to 4/14)
    • Introductions
    • What is human power? Why human power?
    • Machine brainstorming
      • Where on campus could human powered machines be introduced?
      • What type of human powered machines could be useful around campus?
    • Research assignments
      • Visit various campus facilities and departments to find a need for pedal power
      • Learn how two human powered machines function and share at second meeting
  • Week Two (4/15 to 4/21)
    • Discuss interview assignments
    • Discuss machine research
    • Design process lecture
    • Preliminary designs
    • Discussion of resources
      • Bike Church, Dumpsters
    • Assign parts finding tasks
  • Week Three (4/22 to 4/28)
    • Choose one machine design
    • Human powered machine design lecture
    • Begin design process (sketches, preliminary calculations)
    • Design assignments
  • Week Four (4/29 to 5/5)
    • Team Design Session: Agree upon a basic design
    • Transport Cateye to the student farm shop
    • Dismantle Cateye and figure out how it may be used
    • Present to EPPC for funding
    • Visit to the ARC for testing: photos and videos
  • Week Five (5/6 to 5/12)
    • Decide on final design
    • Construct pedaling station out of cateye parts and bicycle parts
    • Spec out alternator/generator
  • Week Six (5/13 to 5/19)
    • Acquire a generator or alternator
    • Acquire wood for desk
    • Jackshaft/gear up design
  • Week Seven (5/20 to 5/26)
    • Generator mount design and construction
    • Order a belt for motor connection
    • Fabricate a flat belt sheave for a motor
    • Connect generator to flywheel
  • Week Eight (5/27 to 6/2)
    • Test laptop
    • Connect generator to pedaling station
    • Construct adjustable desk
    • Signage design and printing
    • Hook up inverter and power a laptop
  • Week Nine (6/3 to 6/5)
    • Prepare for presentation
    • Present machine Tuesday at ESLP



May 27, 2007


Belt drive motor Robbie's adjustable desk design  


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