Electrically Powered Bicycle Trailer & Hand Cart (DIY)

electric powered bike trailer

The German-made Carla Cargo is a three-wheeled cycle trailer with an electric assist motor. It can be pulled by any type of bicycle (including a cargo cycle or an electric bike), and it allows you to carry heavy (up to 150 kg) and bulky cargo (a loading platform of 60 x 160 cm). Uncoupled from the bicycle, the Carla Cargo works as a hand cart for large or heavy loads. The vehicle weighs 40 kg including the battery, and has a range of 40 to 60 km.

carla cargo bike trailerThe electric motor is built into the front wheel and can produce 250 watts as a trailer (up to 23 km/h), and 500 watts as a handtruck (up to 6 km/h). The lithium-ion battery has a capacity of 11 or 15 Ah. The vehicle has two disk brakes and a parking brake, which are controlled via the handle or the bicycle handlebar.

The Carlo Cargo sells for about 4,000 euro. The construction manual is freely accessible online, but only in German for now. The trailer/handcart is present at the International Cargo Bike Festival, April 16-17, in Nijmegem, the Netherlands.

Previously: 8-wheeler cargo cycle.

How to Build a Biosand Water Filter Using a Wood Mold

biosand filtersBiosand Filters use sand, gravel, and natural biological process to filter out contaminants in water, making it safe for drinking. They’re a great low-tech drinking water solution:

  • No electricity or running parts to operate the filter
  • Made with 100% locally available materials (unlike larger community based systems where foreign parts typically need to be imported)
  • Labor intensive NOT capital intensive
  • Very durable, can last more than 25 years if maintained properly
  • Little maintenance required
  • Very effective for removing bacteria, protozoa, helminths from water and reducing turbidity

The main problem with concrete biosand filters is they require a heavy, expensive steel mold to make. [Read more…]

DIY Tools that Serve Disabled People’s Unique Needs

low-tech hacked prosthetics

“In response to a heart attack, Cindy experienced an adverse reaction to medication and multiple organ failure. These complications resulted in amputations involving all four limbs: both of her legs below the knees and varying amounts of each of her fingers. With time, though, Cindy regained her ability to walk and started to find a “new normal.” She got great care from occupational therapists, physical therapists, physicians, and prosthetists.

But she found that the standard tools provided to her, even at a top-flight rehab hospital, didn’t facilitate some of the most important things she wanted to recover—how to write a thank you note, feed herself, put on makeup and jewelry, turn the pages in a picture book as she reads to her grandchildren. So Cindy started to design and build what she needed. From small hacks on her hand cream jar to repurposing cable ties for pulling out drawers and salad tongs for holding a sandwich, Cindy has embraced an everyday engineering ethic that she never thought possible. [Read more…]

Critical Making

critical makingCritical Making is a handmade book project by Garnet Hertz that explores how hands-on productive work ‐ making ‐ can supplement and extend critical reflection on technology and society.

It works to blend and extend the fields of design, contemporary art, DIY/craft and technological development. It also can be thought of as an appeal to the electronic DIY maker movement to be critically engaged with culture, history and society: after learning to use a 3D printer, making an LED blink or using an Arduino, then what?

The publication has 70 contributors ‐ primarily from contemporary art and academia ‐ and its 352 pages are bound in ten pocket-sized zine-like volumes. The project takes the topic of DIY culture literally by printing an edition of 300 copies on a hacked photocopier with booklets that were manually folded, stapled and cut.

The entire collection is scanned and released online. Illustration: Prototype for a machine that inserts razor blades into apples.

Gravity-Powered Solar Tracker

gravity powered solar tracker

The SunSaluter is an ultra low-cost, passive, single-axis solar panel rotator (called a tracker) designed for the developing world. Using only the power of gravity and water, the SunSaluter enables a solar panel to follow the sun throughout the day, boosting efficiency by 30% and producing four liters of clean drinking water.

It is 30 times less expensive than conventional motorized solar panel rotators (which use complex electronics), much more reliable, and consumes no electricity itself. With improved efficiency, fewer solar panels are needed, and the overall cost per watt of solar energy is reduced.

The SunSaluter features an adjustable design which allows it to integrate with any solar panel – no special tools needed. The solar panels are mounted on the rotating frame, a weight is suspended from one end, and a special waterclock is suspended from the other. As the water empties and the container gets lighter, the panel slowly rotates. The user can set the rate at which the waterclock empties, which controls the SunSaluter’s rate of rotation.

The SunSaluter also contains a water purifier so that each day it produces four liters of clean drinking water. By combining energy and water collection into one simple device, the SunSaluter improves consistent usage of the purifier, which is the Achilles heel of clean water programs. SunSaluters are available for purchase anywhere in the world as a DIY-kit, or in India as prefabricated systems.

More information: SunSaluter. Via Makeshift, who made a video about the technology.

DIY Urban Root Cellar

urban root cellar

“As we experiment with cultivating a greater agrarian connection, it’s time for us to revisit the age-old wisdom of the root cellar. Traditionally, root cellars are underground structures used to store vegetables, fruits and other foods. Because the earth’s mean temperature hovers around 60 degrees, a root cellar serves as the perfect natural refrigerator.

Although building a root cellar may not be practical for everyone—especially for those of us who live in urban areas—we can still apply some of the same concepts and techniques utilized in traditional root cellars to keep our harvest naturally fresh and lasting longer. The design of this urban root cel­lar, by Elliott Marks, was inspired by an exhibition by Jihyun Ryou, called “Save Food from the Refrigerator.”

The design incorporates key elements of a good root cellar — a variety of shelves, humidity, and air circulation — while also being small and portable. It is easily achievable by anyone and we encourage you to adopt this design or create a version that works for you. The general concept is to create a storing space specifically designed to preserve the gar­den harvest using grandparents’ know-how.”

Read more: Make your own urban root cellar, Mother Earth News.

Preserving Food by Fermentation

kimchi“Extracting nutrition via the bacteria and yeasts that live on the surfaces of food sources has traditionally enabled people all over the world to make use of seasonal abundance for leaner times. In a climate-constrained future, when the use of fossil fuels (and thus refrigeration) will need to be greatly reduced, fermentation could play a key role in preserving both our food and our cultural diversity.

Before refrigeration came into our houses and global supply chains, most of our winter stores were salted, pickled, and dried. Many of the strong compelling flavors found in European delicatessens come via fermentation: cheese, salami, gherkins, vinegar, olives. Likewise the mainstays of Oriental cuisine—soy, miso, and tempeh—and the whole of the world’s drinks cabinet, including everyday luxuries such as coffee and chocolate.

If you were wary of venturing into this unknown territory alone, you could not hope for a more enthralling guide than Sandor Ellix Katz: “My advice is to reject the cult of expertise. Do not be afraid. You can do it yourself.” There is no recorded case, he assures us, of poisoning from fermented vegetables.”

Read more: Fermenting Change. Thanks to Aaron Vansintjan. More low-tech food preservation.

Micro Break: The Fast, Efficient Holiday

micro break with john travoltaAs mini-break holidays become ever more popular, now is the perfect time to launch a new concept in today’s fast moving, time strapped world, the Micro-break. Simply sit on the chair and the carpet tips and rocks as you watch a TV animation of your flight and coach transfer, ending up on a tropical beach. At this point the TV lamp swings up, shining a heat lamp in your face. After soaking in the heat, you’re whisked home again, the whole experience lasting less than 3 minutes.

Microbreak was my first attempt at making a simulator ride and also my first attempt at 3D animation, so it was particularly exciting. It’s also my favourite because I really struggle with real holidays. Holidays are essential for people who have stressful jobs or hate their jobs. But I enjoy working and don’t find it stressful. I like travelling for work, to have a reason to go somewhere, but find holidays more stressful than work and often thoroughly depressing.

micro break detailThis simulator ride is built on the chassis of a 1985 Sega Space Harrier arcade game. This provides the wonderful tipping and rocking mechanism. The animation is filmed in a model landscape made of weathered lumps of PU foam, which originally came from a float used to lay a north sea gas pipeline.

Written by Tim Hunkin.

Micro Break is on display at Novelty Automation, a new London arcade of Tim Hunkin’s home-made machines. All machines are introduced on the website, but if you’re in London we suggest you just head over to 1a Princeton Street (a 5 minutes walk from Holborn station) and suprise yourself.

Meccano Food Mixer

Tired of replacing the food mixer every few years? Build your own & repair when needed.

meccano food mixer

Scanned from a 1970s Meccano manual. More here. Previously: How to make everything ourselves: open modular hardware.

Mechanical 3D Printer

mechanical 3D printer“3D printing allows me to create products more swiftly and more efficiently than ever. But these products don’t feel mine. They are merely a product of this new technology. I love technology but how can I reclaim ownership of my work? Perhaps by building the machine that produces the work. Perhaps by physically powering the machine, which I built, that produces the work.”

Instead of building a traditional 3D printer, Daniël de Bruin decided to harken back to a past when pantographs and mills ruled the shop floor by making a device which doesn’t require software or electricity to work its magic. His 3D printer is driven by a 7.5 pound weight. “The weight allows me to be connected with the process because there’s no external force involved like electricity; it’s still me that’s making the print,” says de Bruin. “By physically building and powering the machine, the products that come out of it are the result of all the energy that has gone into it.”

For those who complain about the speed of FDM 3D printers, de Bruin says his machine is actually faster. It all comes down to a nozzle diameter of approximately 2mm – rather than the 0.35mm – 0.4mm which is the standard for most 3D printers. While there may be a slight loss in quality with his process, he says his old-school machine can print objects using clay material, pasta, starch bio plastics, and pretty much any material that can fit through the extrusion nozzle, which doesn’t require heat.

See & read more at Daniël de Bruin and 3Dprinterworld. Seen at the Milan Furniture Fair.