It’s always exciting when you move from the brainstorming and drawing phases of a custom project into the hands-on, smelly, goopy, dusty build phase. That’s happening right now for a project that could hopefully have a big impact on how we do our largest Pedal Powered concerts. It doesn’t have a concise name at the moment, so I’ll call it the 3000-person Pedal Powered Concert System that Fits into a Briefcase, or 3PPCSFB for short.
It’s a new way to reduce the volume and weight of our 12-speaker concert PA system, using ultralight materials and a stacking / nesting / Russian Dolls redesign of the loudspeaker cabinets. It’s inspired by the America’s Cup sailing race, Fukishima & Global Warming, Bike Party, and Rube Goldberg.
Loudspeakers contain lots of air. Air is what allows them to reproduce low frequencies like bass notes and the beat of dance music. But it means that they take up lots of space.
When an event is scheduled to take place in another city, the problem of moving air gets more pronounced, because we have to ship our gear using the trucking system.Read More
Pamela Parker’s pedal board at the Peace Day SF rally. Photo: Nio.
OK, so you have a device or set of devices in mind (like a laptop and projector) and you want to know whether it’s possible to power them with people on bike generators. Here are the steps to figure it out:
First you need to measure the power consumption of the device you want to power. There are two ways to do this. You can read the writing on the product OR you can actually measure it using a device like the Kill A Watt. The second way is better for two reasons: It’s more educational and fun, and some product ratings are approximate.Some products use different amounts of power at different settings. For example, a loudspeaker will use way less power than its rating if you’re listening to music at moderate levels. So get yourself a Kill A Watt and get scientific!
Above: A Kill A Watt in use. Connect it to the wall, then connect your device(s) to it, and read the Wattage number. Careful to switch to Watt mode. The device may default to showing Volts. If the reading is very close to 110, then you are probably reading Volts (USA AC power voltage is 110). Look carefully and the Watt mode will have the units “Watt” next to the reading.
Next: Visualize what types of pedalers you are expecting at your event. The Wattage you can expect per person will change depending on what types of people are pedaling! This is common sense: a competitive cyclist can generate more power than a 3rd grader.Read More
Rock The Bike produced a Pedal Powered Knowledge Station in San Francisco’s beautiful Yerba Buena Gardens for VM World, a major software conference. A Knowledge Station is a combination of a Recharge Bar and a DJ Rig. It’s more than just a place to recharge phones; it’s downright groovy! It’s a place to relax, pedal, get your heart going, meet others, and send great music out to a larger space. Over the course of the four days, conference attendees pedaled nearly 5 KiloWatt Hours (kWh) of energy as measured dynamically by the sign in the photo.
Conferences are all about the sharing of knowledge and connections between people. Lately, both of those things involve mobile technology. People share knowledge and connect to each other with the devices they hold in their hands, and those devices require power. At the Pedal Powered Knowledge Station, each bike has its own USB ports and AC power outlets capable of charging up to 8 phones.Read More
What’s unique about the speaker is that it’s the only Pro Sound loudspeaker that can take DC power, i.e. bike power, as an input. Most Pro Sound loudspeakers require AC power. For the Pedal Power world this means you have to use an inverter to turn DC power into AC. But it only gets turned back into DC inside the speaker. Those two conversions aren’t needed with our system, so it runs considerably louder for the same amount of pedaling. Very impressive!Read More
When we heard 350.org was gathering 500 climate justice activists in Istanbul for the Global Power Shift conference in June, we offered to loan them our latest and simplest yet Pedal Power system, “One Bike / One Speaker” . Since several of the organizers were coming from the Bay Area, we reduced our smallest system to two boxes, both within airline regulations for checked baggage, bringing the shipping cost to 0. We met up with two of the organizers to hand off the two boxes, one at a BART station and one at our shop. 350.org would have to supply a bike in Istanbul and swap the rear wheel for the lightweight generator wheel we provided. We supplied detailed setup info to ensure the system would get good use. Next: wait for update.
Update from Kevin a few days into GPS: ”Hey! Just saying it’s rocking. We did a 500 person plenary outside which was great, and its become a staple for our daily announcements. Next up, the Open Mic…”
The photos show that this One Bike system was able to amplify music and speech for the entire conference.