Tuesday, April 7, 2009


This experiment has been going on for most of my life now. I was in high school during the OPEC oil embargo and energy crisis of the 70's. I was also a debater, and the last year I debated, the subject was energy policy. I studied the subject fastidiously. I went to a summer debate camp at Baylor University and spent 20 hours a day studying for two weeks. I filled cases with index cards sorted by subject and position. I learned that there was always someone saying something about any given subject. Quotes are irrelevant if the sources are not bona-fide. Somewhere between the doomsday people and the naysayers lies the truth. New technologies will not allow us to continue our petroleum addiction forever.
The Experiment has taken various forms, some recognizable, some not. Back in the 80's I tried making a solar powered refrigerator, but didn't know how to make a good enough heat transfer, or have enough heat. A few years ago I got excited about ethanol and did extensive research on it. I realized that the VOC emmissions from large scale production were a serious (expensive) issue, and then the price of corn shot up and people in other countries began to go hungry because corn was going into our tanks, and everyone knew this wasn't a good answer to the energy question.
A couple years ago I was also living in a mountain community that had thoughts of going solar, so I researched it, and I decided concentrated solar power (CSP) held an advantage over photo-voltaics (PV). This was too radical for the community so nothing happened.
Last year a friend of mine scored a new 2hp DC motor while dumpster diving, and it got me to thinking. The motor was for a treadmill. You can always go on craigslist and find a treadmill for free. What if I could make a simple electric vehicle using treadmill motors? Exploring this idea led me to recumbent trike designs, and I wanted to come up with something that would utilize old bike frames. While investigating motor drivers, I came across a website (www.robokitsworld.com) that really sparked my imagination.
Several years ago I toyed with building a robot, and also built an interface card for the PC, but I didn't get too far due to a lack of robot mechanicals which were much harder to find than they are now. When I saw the little microcontroller boards with motor drivers, and digital and analog I/O, I was excited. I knew these little boards could make an idea come to life, but what idea?

No comments:

Post a Comment