There’s almost no limit to what a creative person can do with pedal power. For anyone that is seriously considering going off-grid, pedal power should be investigated. A simple, modular pedal drive unit could be easily fabricated to perform a multitude of tasks that are conventionally performed by electrical appliances and power tools. Kind of like the water-wheel powered factories in the early 20th century except you don’t need any moving water
A “universal” power supply like this would be invaluable not only to the homesteader but for the preppers that are looking to get through an extended energy crisis or rebuild after a disaster.
The combination of legs and pedals can not only to produce electricity but they can also power mechanical devices. This can be done by building a pedal powered generator from scratch instead of using a road bicycle, or by ditching one or several electronic components in the power transmission chain. All approaches can be combined, resulting in a pedal power unit that can power a multitude of mechanical devices and generate electricity more efficiently.
It’s funny how you can see history repeating itself if you live long enough. These machines were gaining attention in the 70s, which, like today, was a time when energy costs were skyrocketing. Relief workers in Africa began to experiment with single and two seat versions.
The Dynapod was made using a custom-built frame. Pedals, cranks, chains and sprockets were the only things salvaged from bicycles.. The first designs used wooden frames, while later versions were based on a steel frame. Since the design relies on a weighted flywheel old wheels were filled with concrete. This project has the potential to cost virtually nothing by using salvaged material.
If you’re like me, you’ll probably want to build this while you can using metal for the framework and taking the time to do it neatly. Using a balanced flywheel would be the second modification I would make. The nice thing is they could be crudely duplicated very easily in less than ideal conditions and still function somewhat reliably.
The Dynapod could drive pumps, corn grinders, blacksmith blowers, grinding wheels, drilling machines, paint sprayers, crop dusting equipment, coffee grinders, grain hullers, seed-oil presses, band saws, tire pumps, washing machines and sewing machines. It could also be used to generate electricity.
The Dynapod should be equipped with more than one drive ratio. It could be operated with a direct drive having a ratio of 1:1 (when a lot of torque was needed at a slow speed), a chain drive with a ratio of up to 3:1 (a compromise between torque and speed for operating grinders, threshers, etc.) or a belt drive with a ratio of up to 10:1 (for electrical generation and other uses where high speeds were required). The machine was easily adapted from one drive to another. Multiple drives on pedal powered machines were not a novelty – some earlier pedal powered machines had them too.
I’ve been quietly collecting bicycle parts for a couple of years. Our machine shop has multiple power sources already and could function without grid power almost indefinitely. A dynapod is definitely going to be added to our shop’s contingency plans.
Here is the original Dynapod Manual in a PDF download: The Dynapod by Alex Weir If you only download one PDF this year, this should be the one. Grab it while you can, it’s no longer in print.