How To Generate Electricity With A Bicycle [Video]

DIY hurricane survival
Hackett's Bike Generator
Popular Science columnist Hackett has created some truly impressive projects this year. But our favorite is this hacked-together bike generator, which could help you charge your phone in a post-apocalyptic world. Photograph by Becky Stern

Hurricane Sandy left 7 million people without power. Chris Hackett, a Brooklyn-based artist who converts trash into useful objects, wants to help people prepare for the next power outage by teaching the finer points of homemade generator construction. In just under six minutes, he explains how to convert a bicycle and a deep-cycle battery into an electricity source.

Materials needed:

  • Deep-cycle battery
  • Inverter
  • Permanent magnet DC motor (scavenged from an electric wheelchair or something similar)
  • Bicycle
  • Metal spindle (to attach to the motor)
  • Scrap-metal frame
  • Charging circuit (Hackett uses the design found here, but also mentions commercial models work fine)

Note: It may be easier to acquire these materials if you operate an artist collective dedicated to salvage and metalwork, as Hackett does.

The whole instructional has a delightfully apocalyptic tone to it. Hackett jokingly recommends the generator because, “there’ll be another hurricane, there’ll be a snow storm, there will be Godzilla rampaging through the streets.” Next up: How to escape Godzilla on a bicycle.