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GasSavers_DaX 05-16-2006 04:04 AM

Senior Design Project Ideas
Well, I'm in my final semester @ Georgia Tech, and I've got Capstone (or Senior) Design this term. We pretty much have free reign with whatever we want to choose for our capstone project. I was just wondering if any of you guys had any ideas for something (I'm a Mechanical Engineering undergrad, so please keep it to strictly mechanical ideas) I could do my project on. I don't really want to do something with electrical components, because I really suck at that.

Anyhow, one project our teacher threw out that we may take on is designing a recumbent exercise bicycle for extremely obese people. Aparently there is a physical trainer somewhere that wants one built. The teacher didn't throw out too many ideas though, so another group may have already jumped on that one.

Anyhow, just thought I'd fish for a few ideas here. Also keep in mind that this is summer semester...11 weeks (no time at all). Whatever we do, I highly doubt we'll get a prototype built, but we'll have to do FEA on all the load bearing parts. This is why I think the recumbent bike would be good - easy FEA - it's just a bunch of beams.

krousdb 05-16-2006 05:27 AM

A recumbent bike sounds like
A recumbent bike sounds like fun and the FEA should be easy, yes. I used Ansys in college for FEA. What are you using?

Here is a link to what my senior project was about.


We built an adjustable rate shock absorber using a ball screw and a magnetorheological fluid filled clutch. By varying the current through the fluid, you could change the damping rate. It was way cool. You can find my name buried in the acknowledgements section.

IIRC, some exercise equipment/bikes use MR fluids to change the resistance level.

GasSavers_DaX 05-16-2006 11:37 AM

Ansys is still
Ansys is still around...we'll either use that or whatever FEA program is built into SolidWorks, as that's what I draft with.

I'll check out your project tomorrow when I have time...it sounds cool! Magnetorheological fluids eh? Sounds like fun.

krousdb 05-16-2006 03:09 PM

Solidworks eh? I am a long
Solidworks eh? I am a long time Pro/ENGINEER user since 1995. Solid modeling is da bomb!

The Toecutter 05-16-2006 09:27 PM

How about a CVT? Although,
How about a CVT?

Although, if you do a recumbant bike, try building a full faring over it to make it easier to pedal. That deviates from mechanical engineering to aeronautical engineering, but it isn't a bad way to touch up your project.

GasSavers_DaX 05-17-2006 05:00 AM

Re: How about a CVT?

Originally Posted by The Toecutter
How about a CVT?

Although, if you do a recumbant bike, try building a full faring over it to make it easier to pedal. That deviates from mechanical engineering to aeronautical engineering, but it isn't a bad way to touch up your project.

I would maybe try doing a CVT if it weren't summer semester. Way too short. Also, I don't know if I mentioned this, but the recumbent would be a stationary exercise bike.

budomove 05-17-2006 08:04 AM

A stationary bike w/ fairing
A stationary bike w/ fairing would be totally radical!

philmcneal 05-17-2006 12:21 PM

if you can invent a CVT that
if you can invent a CVT that can bump start your the man!!!

GasSavers_DaX 05-18-2006 09:16 AM

Well the teacher totally shot down all of our ideas that we came up with on our own! Back to the drawing board.

GasSavers_DaX 05-24-2006 03:15 PM

Ok, so we finally converged on a senior design project for the summer. I'm going to need lots of help from lots of people to make this work. I REALLY want to build a prototype before the summer is up.

Basically what our project is, is to build a bicycle that uses regenerative braking. The concept is really simple. Basically, we're going to take a bicycle and mount a DC motor/generator through a direct drive linkage to the rear wheel. The bike will operate in three modes - freewheeling (most of the time), power assist (using the DC device as a motor), and power generation (using regenerative braking to recharge the system).

This sounds really simple, but I really need input from electronics gurus like JANGEO on this - instead of recharging a battery, we want to store our energy in, say, a 1 farad capacitor. I don't need a lecture on how dangerous a capacitor of this size is...I already know. I don't think storing the energy is going to be a problem, but rather using the energy. The voltage potential is huge...how do I step down DC voltage to, say 12 V that is usable by the DC motor?

We're in the very begining of development stages right now, and I'm so excited about this project I can't sit still long enough to re-read my physics and Electric Machines textbooks. We really want to use a capacitor for storage instead of a battery. We'll use a battery as a last ditch attempt.

Krousdb or anyone for that matter - if you know someone FRIENDLY that knows a lot about this type of thing (electronics) that would be willing to talk to me about capacitors and stuff, please let me know. Maybe you know someone who knows a lot about this stuff through hybrids.

I hope all you guys will stay along for the ride (no pun intended), as there will be pictures and videos as we progress through the summer. Thanks in advance to anyone who helps out!

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