Das PedalHaüs

OVERVIEWDESIGN PROBLEMBRAINSTORMINGDESIGNING THE PROTOTYPEDEVELOPING AND IMPROVEMENTSFINAL PRODUCT- THE SMART PEDALTEAM MEMBERS


OVERVIEW

Team Das PedalHaüs’ “Smart Pedal”

Team Das PedalHaüs designed and developed a self-aligning bike pedal for clipless pedal systems.  When riders are first learning how to use clipless pedals they often struggle with manually aligning the pedal when they are trying to clip in.  This distracts the rider and can cause a safety hazard, especially at dangerous intersections. To fix this problem, the design uses a motor, circuit board and accelerometer to rotate the pedal into the aligned position whenever the rider steps out of the pedal.  The system disengages the system once the rider is clipped in and they are ready to ride.  In addition, the 3D-printed enclosure protects the electronics from the environment and a rechargeable battery allows the system to run with daily charging at night.  The smart pedal has been manufactured and tested, and is ready for further development with clipless pedal manufacturers.

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DESIGN PROBLEM

In the fall of 2012, Team Das Pedal Haüs recognized that there was an inherent flaw in today’s available clipless pedal systems in that they are often rotated out of alignment when the rider is attempting to clip into their pedals. This causes frustration for many beginning riders and also divides the attention of all riders because they must manually align their pedals while balancing on their bike. Since many riders stop, clip out, and attempt to clip back in at busy intersections and along roadways the alignment issue also poses a potential safety threat. As a result, the team decided to create a product that would automatically rotate their pedals to be horizontal to the ground so that they may clip in more easily and without having to pay attention to the alignment of the pedal.

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BRAINSTORMING

Team Das Pedal Haüs spent several days brainstorming ideas to solve the problem of clipless pedal alignment. The first and most obvious potential solution was to develop a counterweight system that would balance the forces of gravity acting on the pedal so that when the rider clipped out of the system an uneven distribution of weight would force the pedal to rotate into alignment. However, a quick patent search revealed that this system already existed and that it would have to be heavily modified and balanced for every different pedal.

Image of patented “Counterweight” design

In addition, a magnetic system that would attract the pedal into alignment with the cleat was investigated but was also found to be previously patented. In addition, reviews of this product demonstrated that riders were unsatisfied with this solution because the magnet often disengaged inappropriately.

Proton Magnetic Clipless Pedals

Several other potential solutions were analyzed

  • Power screw and motor assembly that would actively move a counterweight to set the pedal to the desired orientation.
  • A cylindrical pedal and cleat which would allow the rider to clip in regardless of the rotation of the pedal.
  • A ratcheting system which would leave the pedal in alignment when the rider clipped out, but allow the pedal to freely rotate while riding.

However, the potential solution that seemed to be the most unique and provide the best opportunity to solve the problem was an active “smart pedal” that contained a microcontroller, accelerometer, and motor to rotate the pedal into alignment when the rider clipped out.

Having the solution selected the team set forth in developing the system.

Basic Design Concept

Specifications:

To ensure that whatever product they made actually solved the pedal alignment problem, the team created a set of specifications which, if all were met, would demonstrate that the product was a success. The specifications the team set out to meet with their product were the following:

•Withstand Common Pedal Forces
•Provide Alignment to within +/- 5 Degrees
•Provide Alignment in < 5 Seconds
•Withstand environmental impacts such as water

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DESIGNING THE PROTOTYPE

Proof-of-Concept:

With a clear set of specifications now developed, the team began the process of designing and building a “proof-of-concept” prototype.

The prototype was first designed using Solid Works® 3D drafting software to outline the dimensions of the different product components and determine the most efficient way to manufacture the prototype. In addition, circuit analysis was used to determine the power requirements of the system and how to provide enough power to each of the components.

SolidWorks Drawing of Prototype

Circuit Design

Once the design was completed, the team set forth in building the prototype. The microcontroller, an Arduino® Uno R3 micro contoller, was used as the “brains” of the prototype. The microcontroller took in a signal from the accelerometer which correlated to the pedal’s current rotation position and then sent out a signal to the motor to rotate the pedal back into alignment. The programming required to accomplish this was completed using if/then logic and the prototype was powered up.

Prototype in Action

The prototype worked well within specifications, demonstrating that the design solution had some real potential! Following the success of the prototype, the team tested the product using varying degrees of alignment and rotation scenarios to determine where any design issues may lie, and how to improve upon them for a final product.

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DEVELOPING AND IMPROVEMENTS

Improving the Prototype:

In addition, to meet the remaining specifications that the team set out to accomplish, the team would have to develop an enclosure to protect the system from the environmental conditions experienced by pedals in day to day use, as well as integrate a switch to turn the system off and on when the rider was clipped in and out.

One of the biggest improvements that the team sought to make on the prototype was decreasing the overall footprint of the device to minimize the weight and loss of clearance provided by the system.

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FINAL PRODUCT- THE SMART PEDAL

Final Product:

With all of the pieces in place, the final product was ready to be tested. First the team ensured that the system worked in a lab setting by testing that the components all worked individually.

Internal Components of the Final Design

Testing:

The first test was to determine if the product could withstand the common forces experienced by clipless pedals during use. The product was placed on a bicycle and tested.

The rider was able to clip in and out of the pedal with ease and the enclosure was unaffected by the forces of pedaling.

Once this was complete, the final product was attached to a testing crankshaft. The pedal was placed out of alignment, switched on, and the results were recorded.

The pedal rotated into alignment within 5 degrees.

It rotated into alignment from the “worst case scenario” (180 degrees out of alignment) within 5 seconds.

And the enclosure protected the internal components while being held under water.

With all of the specifications met. It was time to take the product to the streets…

One group member was already an avid clipless pedal user so she was selected as the test subject to test the product in real world situations. Rachel rode her bike with the self aligning pedal for several days around the streets of Reno, NV, stopping and taking her foot on and off the pedal to test the alignment. After reviewing her experience, it was shown that not only did the pedal operate as specified; it maintained operation while working in the actual environment.

Hence, Team Das Pedal Haüs’ “Smart Pedal” was a success. The pedal system offers a real solution to the pedal alignment problem, fulfills the specifications set out by the team, and can be expected to operate in real world environments.

Acknowledgments

Team Das PedalHaüs would like to thank Dr. Emil J Geiger for his advice, direction, and tireless patience with our group as we developed this product. In addition, the team would like to thank C.J. Dudley for donating pedals to the final product and Milan Heninger for assistance with 3D printing.

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TEAM MEMBERS

 

Casey Baker
  • Senior in the Bachelor of Science Mechanical Engineering program at the University of Nevada, Reno
  • Reno/Tahoe resident for 28 years.
  • Major project permitting and legislative experience
  • Documentation and Data Analysis experience within corporate and government atmospheres
  • Interests include renewable energy, electronics cooling, data center design and development, and smart homes.
Cole Fife
  • Senior in the Bachelor of Science Mechanical Engineering program at the University of Nevada, Reno
  • 20 + years’ experience in manufacturing industries
  • Nevada resident for 25 years.
  • Involved in manufacturing for 24 years.
  • Happily married with 4 children.
  • Has a university “ten year” plan
  • Knowledge of the design of power transmission systems
  • Pressure and Environmental sealing of housings or dynamic (rotating) systems
  • Experience in applying for and receiving a product patent
Rachel Green
  • Senior in the Bachelor of Science Mechanical Engineering program at the University of Nevada, Reno

 

Misha Pascal
  • Senior in the Bachelor of Science Mechanical Engineering program at the University of Nevada, Reno
  • BS Applied Economics and Statistics
  • 12 years in residential construction industry
  • 18 years in Reno
  • 2 sons, amazing wife
  • Mechanical Engineering is by far the best experience in my career
  • Geothermal power plant intern
  • Heavy equipment management in mining industry

 

Mike Sturm
  • Senior in the Bachelor of Science Mechanical Engineering program at the University of Nevada, Reno
  • Born in Carson City, Nevada and has been a Nevada Resident all his life.
  • Hobbies include playing and writing music, flying, camping, and traveling.
  • An affinity for problem solving and has a knack for thinking outside the box.
  • Experience in a wide variety of disciplines including woodworking, metal fabrication, car repair, and renewable energy projects.
  • Will be graduating May 17th of 2013 with a bachelors of science in mechanical engineering with a minor in speech communications.
  • Recently married and enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife.
  • With his graduation imminent, they are hoping to start a family in the very near future.

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