The sLEDgehammer is an interactive light challenge that harkens back to the classic carnival Sledgehammer game. But here, the aim is to convert your peak power output to a beautiful light display. The sLEDgehammer can be installed in several ways. Our favorite method is doing large custom installs like the ones shown on this page. They can either be done for a single event or on a semi-permanent basis.
Rules of the game:
Pedalers must overcome the challenge phase in order to see the reward sequence. The challenge phase consists of turning on 7 levels of light. As the pedaler passes the various voltage targets, more and more lights turn on, making it harder and harder to increase the system voltage. If they beat the challenge, they win the game. Their stored energy is then used up in a dazzling display of light. No additional power is needed for the entire activity, although connecting a laptop to the circuit provides additional info that can improve the educational possibilities.
The elements of a sLEDgehammer are:
- an efficient bicycle generator, such as the Electric Fender Blender Pro.
- the sLEDgehammer circuit, which comes complete in a strain-reliefed enclosure with an Ultra Capacitor and the all-important Difficulty Knob.
- LOTS of LEDs. See “Output recommendations” below.
- For custom installs: Installation help or guidance.
The sLEDgehammer is accurate, motivating, and visible from anywhere in the venue. It’s a fun way to get your event participants thinking, cheering, and breathing.

The Bike: Any of our hub generators will do. But more than our other activities, pedalers on a sLEDgehammer tend to use their whole body to try to beat the game. You may benefit from additional stabilization of your generator. The Electric Fender Blender Pro, with its 3′ wide stance, is particularly well-suited to this application.

The Circuit: The sLEDgehammer circuit is the brains of the operation, calculating watts as you pedal. The sLEDgehammer comes in an enclosed, strain-relieved circuit capable of handling 1000-Watt surges in power. Depending on how many LEDs you connect, you may need all that power handling. People will try to break this machine. The sLEDgehammer circuit runs cool, calm and collected even when your participants pedal their hardest. 

Shown below in prototype form, the sLEDgehammer comes in a properly strain-relieved enclosure.

It comes with the all-important Difficulty Knob, which scales the target voltages to make the activity harder or easier. Scaling can be done on the fly during the game. If a kid is struggling to win, and the crowd is cheering hard, you can flick the knob a little and let them win. If the same kid come back 3 times and expect the same treatment each time, you may choose to make it a little harder for them…

There’s a $40 upgrade option available for connecting your sLEDgehammer to a computer via USB to monitor wattage of each pedaler and accurately reset the difficulty knob.

The sLEDgehammer runs on an Arbduino Pedal Power microcomputer, using the open-source Arduino platform. What this means is that you can optimize or change certain parameters to improve the activity.

Recommendations for output devices, i.e. Light:

Please see above about “rules of the game”. There are two lighting segments of a sLEDgehammer — the Challenge Phase and the Reward Sequence. To make the Challenge Phase truly challenging, you need to connect at least 200 Watts of lighting, perhaps as much as 500 for the fittest riders.  The most impressive way to achieve this, and the best option for a large space is to use LEDs both the challenge phase and the Reward Sequence. This makes the Challenge Phase visible to much larger groups of people, which increases the crowd interaction. A lower-cost substitution is to use incandescent bulbs for the Challenge Phase, which has the benefit of highlighting the comparative energy efficiency of newer lighting technologies. With incandescents you can make the Challenge Phase truly challenging. Incandescents will cost less* because you need far fewer of them to achieve the Wattage goals of the Challenge Phase. (* That’s also the reason they are worse for the environment.)

Reward phase:

For the reward phase, bigger is better. The reward sequence shown above has over 8000 LEDs. We sell the raw materials for these projects.

You can hook it up with the following lighting options:
— 7′ tall Tower with Stand (Stand adds additional 3′)
— Comparative Energy Board, to show your pedalers how these pedaled watts relate to their everyday power use
— 3 LED Stage Lighting Panels

The 11′ Tower and Stand are a great way to show pedalers their power. To light up all six columns you need to hit 200 watts of effort. After that pedalers can light up the 300 watts of traditional incandescent bulbs, then 150W more of halogens when reaching the highest voltage levels.

These 24 volt LED panels are made of over 1,000 LEDs each, and can be wired to a sLEDgehammer to achieve a monumental tower of light. The panels are flat, which makes for a wide viewing angle and easy storage. They are mounted on a polycarbonate sheet, and covered with a colored bar-top finish to protect from damage. We recommend a total of 10 Stage Lighting Panels — 10000 LEDs! This amount can not be over pedaled by even the strongest cyclist.

Above: Red and Blue Stage Lighting LED Panels.

LED Panels: $2,225
Tower: $2,600
Board: $3,225
Circuit ONLY:

Rentable: no

Status: Made to order. Please give us 6 – 8 weeks to build custom circuitry.

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  • The sLEDgehammer has escaped the tube.

    pedal powered game

    Our Pedal Powered lighting challenge, the sLEDgehammer, has escaped the tube.  We’ve both advanced the circuitry and the creativity of this piece of gear, making it even more of a crowd pleaser.

    The sLEDgehammer is a Pedal Power game where you have to pedal really hard (but not for very long) to win. When you win, the power you’ve built up by pedaling gets unleashed in a dazzling light sequence. In the example above, a river appears to flow down the courtyard away from the pedaler, then the Peace & Love sign lights up. The 9-segment ‘reward’ sequence lasts only a couple seconds. When someone wins the game and sees the sequence, there’s a palpable release of energy. The celebrations are awesome to see. At the holiday party where we set this up, people were shouting “Peace & Love!”

    The installation above took almost 2 days to set up. We have some ideas for reducing future setup times, but this will never be as simple as some of our other activities, like Bike Blending. It makes a major impact at a nighttime event. Everyone sees it. It delivers a green message, but in a suble way. More importantly it gets people moving and breathing and cheering together. It would be a hit at any nighttime event or at an indoor event without direct sun.

    bike powered led

    The pedalers do not have to be fit cyclists. There’s a knob that you can use to dial in the difficulty, which is especially useful for kids. If a kid is struggling, but you want them to win, you can turn the knob. The power is still coming only from the bike, but the power targets become less strenuous and therefore the lights will be a bit less bright. The circuitry is robust and dependable. In the example above we connected over 10000 LEDs to the sLEDgehammer circuit.

    To make things more competitive, you ignore the knob, which means some people will not win. This could be a hit with certain crowds, as they will line up to who can beat the game. You could also set up two of these side by side and make it a race to see who beats it first.

    Our previous sLEDgehammer attempts either existed in the form of a polycarbonate tube…

    Or an informational board:

    If your aim is to move this activity around to events in different spaces, there are good reasons for the tube and the board. But now that we know the true potential of the technology to transform large spaces, we’re looking at landmarks, courtyards, lobbies, and even natural settings in a new way. The distances involved significantly increases the need for materials.

    Above: tensioning the Peace & Love sign, which uses 7′ tall symbols.

    A 500′ spool of 18 gauge wire feels pretty beefy when you handle it but doesn’t cover the requirements of a large sLEDgehammer install. Thus we recommend the custom sLEDgehammer activity only when you have a large space, ample setup time, the resources to fill it with up to 10000 LEDs, and plenty of people passing through, so that the activity gets enough interactions to be worthwhile. The sLEDgehammer is not the  cheapest way to demonstrate Pedal Power but it may be one of the most memorable.

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