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Mechanical vehicle

Old 11-02-06, 03:51 PM
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Mechanical vehicle

Sorry the title is a bit confusing. I'm thinking about building a vehicle that uses only mechanical energy (not electrical, or gas power, or hydrogen). So in other words what i'm trying to design is a wind-up vehicle. Now i know there are already people either laughing or shaking their heads, but hear me out. Aside from being curious, I have seen the idea in a video game called Syberia and a movie called Castle in the Sky. In Syberia the trains are wind-up and are full sized. I know it's just a video game but it seems possible to me. The drawback is that you have to get the train to a huge winding station every time it runs out of power since the springs are so huge. In Castle in the Sky, there are similar vehicles only they are airborne and far more whimsical. So after seeing these examples and thinking about it, i thought "there should be a way to make a vehicle that could run via this method". I admit i don't know much about physics or engineering, but i know torsion springs would be involved. Someone else metioned something about a gyroscope. If anyone has any ideas or criticisms or hope-crushing remarks, then please let me know.
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Old 11-02-06, 04:00 PM
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The problem is friction and loss of power when transfering it to wheels, and inneficient methods of storing energy. Why do you not see any more wind up watches around? Which weighs more for a given amount of stored energy, a gallon of gas, or a giant steel spring?

Never mind the fact that a gas tank weighs reletively nothing compared to the amount of energy it contains when full as opposed to whatever would have to constrict your spring to keep it from exerting it's stored energy too soon.

I guess the biggest problem is that if you have an inneficient method of storing energy that is heavy you will use all your energy moving the thing rather than moving you or whatever it is you want to use.
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Old 11-02-06, 04:12 PM
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Old 11-02-06, 04:34 PM
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Steel springs are an interesting concept, but.

If they stay under constant heavy load, the will deform, and lesson their "k" value (spring constant).
If they get overloaded severely, they may fail severely due to stress fractures.

For energy for weight, a spring doesn't even come close to gasoline. I would estimate that for a pound of energy that is stored by burning gasoline, you will need about 50,000 pounds of tightly-compressed steel spring as well as a way to use that stored energy.
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Old 11-02-06, 04:39 PM
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Ok, ok, i've heard enough! lol. I knew you guys would have just the thing to say. More and more, the simplicity of the bicycle is charming me. It seems to be the most efficient vehicle out there. (especially recumbents) I've been asking around campus and all the answers are the same- it just wouldn't be worth it. Thanks a lot guys
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Old 11-02-06, 04:44 PM
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Embracing the OP's idea for a moment:
What if the spring were in the hubs of the bike? Use a drill (cordless even) or air compressor (home or gas station) to put it under tension. With a release mechanism (wired, electro magnetic, etc) that you can pull for a boost.
Silly, perhaps, but why not?
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Old 11-02-06, 04:48 PM
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originally i thought of the "boost" idea, but would the miniscule benefits outweigh the costs? probably not. I'll just stick to the simple, elegant bicycle.
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Old 11-02-06, 05:07 PM
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Forget the radical spring idea, go with the stretched rubber band - proven, mature technology.


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Old 11-02-06, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyclaholic
Forget the radical spring idea, go with the stretched rubber band - proven, mature technology.


My hobby is balsa wood, rubber powered, free flight models. A long winded name for toy airplanes. I've lost many models that flew miles away (12 miles is my personal record), all powered by rubber bands.
Although the "motor" runs for about 60-90 seconds, and the rest is the model catching thermals and soaring on its own.

--A
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Old 11-02-06, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by rabbitt
Ok, ok, i've heard enough! lol. I knew you guys would have just the thing to say. More and more, the simplicity of the bicycle is charming me. It seems to be the most efficient vehicle out there. (especially recumbents) I've been asking around campus and all the answers are the same- it just wouldn't be worth it. Thanks a lot guys
I am not going to take the tack the others have, nor the one you might want, but simply since you enjoy simple machines... look at sailboats.

Been around a long long time, basically use simple machines (levers, pulleys, screws, etc) to capture and direct wind to give motive power. If you enjoy simple machines, get thee to a sailboat.
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Old 11-02-06, 07:31 PM
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Fly wheels used to sound real good, but I don't know what happened to the idea. I do recall the Army's Beaver with the R-985 equiped with an inertial (flywheel) starter. For non electric starts, you could crank it with a hand crank, and it really would crank that massive engine enough to get a start. The trick seems to lie in a very high speed wheel, of a relatively small diameter. It's going to require a very high tensil material to hold together.
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Old 11-02-06, 09:01 PM
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_bicycle
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Old 11-02-06, 11:30 PM
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Scuba tanks

Hey, you could use compressed air as your spring.Scuba tanks are a lot lighter now than when I was fooling with them; they are aluminum, and can hold maybe a most of a cubic foot at 3000 psi? I wouldn't be surprised to find out that a jacked up scuba tank-maybe 4000 psi- could propel a bike several miles(maybe by having it turn a turbine that is hooked to a chainwheel).
Luck,
Charlie
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Old 11-03-06, 12:18 AM
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Well unlike everyone else I like the idea of having windup cars rolling around out there. It wouldnt work out but hey, it would be a more interesting world. I even want to see the huge winder sticking out the back end spinning around slowly while the vehicle is moving, mmmhmm.... clinky clinky clink.
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Old 11-03-06, 03:19 AM
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Old 11-03-06, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by phoebeisis
Hey, you could use compressed air as your spring.Scuba tanks are a lot lighter now than when I was fooling with them; they are aluminum, and can hold maybe a most of a cubic foot at 3000 psi? I wouldn't be surprised to find out that a jacked up scuba tank-maybe 4000 psi- could propel a bike several miles(maybe by having it turn a turbine that is hooked to a chainwheel).
Luck,
Charlie
Myth busters just did something similar with the large compressed air tanks. They tried to use them to power a boat (why I never really understood). I was screaming at the television, "Strap two to a bicycle!!!"

Someone try it, put it on U-tube, and send us all the link.
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Old 11-03-06, 08:07 AM
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It would take energy to wind up that spring. You cannot get more energy than you give. You would need some massive fuel powered engine to wind the spring or some other method which requires energy. Not sure how you are saving any energy.
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Old 11-03-06, 10:21 AM
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Compressed air powered car.
http://www.theaircar.com/models.html
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Old 11-03-06, 10:43 AM
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Range is too limited without constant power going in...if your putting human power in, just pedal the vehicle and leave all the apparatus weight home. UPS is having some success with a hybrid vehicle that uses hydraulic bladders to capture braking energy. This pays off big in a delivery vehicle with constant starts and stops.
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Old 11-03-06, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by bike2math
Myth busters just did something similar with the large compressed air tanks. They tried to use them to power a boat (why I never really understood). I was screaming at the television, "Strap two to a bicycle!!!"

Someone try it, put it on U-tube, and send us all the link.
Now that I think about it, maybe have a turbine directly drive the back wheel. It would probably make most sense to have the thing equipped like a Moped, so you could pedal up to speed, and then use your turbine/airtanks to hold a steady speed. The bike/tanks/turbine would probably have to weigh 30+ lbs more than an ordinary bike.I can't see it being practical; it would make more sense-and be lighter-to use a battery and electric motors for storage/power etc. Luck,Charlie
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Old 11-03-06, 12:59 PM
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I always thought it'd be cool to store the kinetic energy lost when stopping on a bike. As one approached an stop sign one could activate whatever switch you'd install, and your momentum would start to wind the springs or turn the flywheel. You could then reverse this process later to assist in pedalling or give an initial boost from startup.
Hybrid cars use some of the energy normally lost in braking to further charge the batteries.

I also think it'd be cool to couple gym excercise equipment to generators. So many people trying to work off extra weight in my university's gyms, why not put generators on all those treadmills, rowing and bike machines?
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Old 11-03-06, 02:18 PM
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Some Gym equipment has magnetic resistance

Fillthe cup,
Some gym equipment has magnetic resistance already-I have a semi recumbant stationary"bike" that has this kind of setup. It is about 90% of a generator, so I can't think of any reason to not make it a full generator..Now we don't produce a lot of power.I would guess most of the time our/my output is no more than 1/15 HP-or about 50Watt Hrs per hour.This is about 1/2 cents worth of power per hour.This much power could push a fairly light, aerodynamic car about 400 yards at 20mph.Still every little bit helps-might as well get something other than sweat for an hours worth of pedaling.

There have been generator driven lights on bikes ever since I was a kid-1950's. You must have seen them-you pull a lever and a little knurled wheel moves onto the tire and is spun-it direct drives a generator which powered a really dim(by current standards) headlight..
No reason a device like this couldn't be used as a brake.The only downsides would be weight-generator/battery/electric motor and cost.
There are currently5 passenger 3000 lb hybrid cars that get an honest 45 mpg in pure city driving. I don't see any reason a 30 mph electric/hybrid/bike/Moped(150 lbs with lights,enclosed fairing,cockpit etc) maybe a semi recumbent couldn't get 40 miles on 10 cents worth of electricity-(1000 watt Hrs).It would be like getting 800mpg.
Oh well, running a bit wide here.Luck,
Charlie
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Old 11-04-06, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by AllenG
My hobby is balsa wood, rubber powered, free flight models. A long winded name for toy airplanes. I've lost many models that flew miles away (12 miles is my personal record), all powered by rubber bands.
Although the "motor" runs for about 60-90 seconds, and the rest is the model catching thermals and soaring on its own.

--A
I used to do the same! lost a few to thermals over the years .....eventually went on to RC, thermal gliders and powered aircraft as well. Just recently I started mucking around with electric power (brushless motors + li-po batteries = $$$ ).
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Old 11-05-06, 05:25 AM
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Originally Posted by CrimsonEclipse
You're one to talk with a name like that.

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"CrimsonEclipse" ??

When you get done playing dungeons and dragons...nevermind.
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Old 11-05-06, 02:58 PM
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i'd like to see a large human powered vehicle, that'd be cool. probably useless, but a good statement. like perhaps a train where everyone rides an exercise bike-like thing that all contribute to spinning the wheels, then a few people at a time could take breaks etc... so it'd be a sheltered bike touring type thing. or perhaps a city transit bus powered completely by pedalers. i could walk to the bus stop, get on the bus on a exercise bike seat, and everyone pedals to all the stops. though you'd wanna have them hooked up to a generator to charge a battery to help propel the bus when there's fewer than required riders.
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