I had some time to make a crude LEGO prototype of the human-powered tool station. I made do with meshed gears instead of pulleys since I didn’t have any rubber bands to use as a belt. Given some of the constraints of spacing with LEGO, our brave Technic Man can’t actually pedal the machine, but I think it does get the idea across more or less.
Some of the internal workings of the LEGO prototype
Do you have any thoughts about the system? Are there LEGO parts that you like to use for prototyping purposes? Let us know below!
Solarpunk is about being friendly to the environment, so I’ve been thinking a lot about areas where human power could be used instead of electricity. I drew up this (very) quick sketch of a modular table that could accept a wide range of tools. It’s based on the old treadle sewing machines, but I think it could also use more conventional bike parts and be pedal powered. I’m not sure what the advantages are of treadle vs pedal, so if anyone knows why the old sewing machines used that system instead I’d be very curious to know!
A rough idea of a human-powered (treadle or pedal) modular system
Treadle sewing machine. The sewing machine folds out from the center of the table when needed.
Caleb Spears from Portal Bikes said that Portal was using a modified cottered bottom bracket spindle to drive the attachments for their system. I think using a similar setup would be beneficial when building the table since tools could then be interchangeable between both systems. Caleb mentioned that the Portal Bikes usually have one person pedaling and one person operating the tools. Having a PTO hookup on either the inside or outside of the table to allow one-person operation of smaller tools and two-person operation of larger mechanisms would be ideal.
This is the spindle picture I was sent by Caleb at Portal Bikes
I think my next steps will be to make a mock-up of the system in LEGO to see if there are any obvious flaws with the idea. If you can find an old treadle base for a reasonable price, I think it would be a great starting point for a full-sized prototype.
Treadle base with no top
Be sure to sound off in the comments if you’ve ever used a treadle sewing machine or any other kind of human-powered tools! Thanks for stopping by!