Midterm Project: Arduino Bike

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Project Due on October 28th


Columbus Day Weekend

  • Long bike ride to Riverside, RI on the East Bay Bike Path gave me an opportunity for reflection
  • I realized that Rider Spoke [1] a Blast Theory project that utilized bikes and digital technology in a really creative way.
  • an Arduino could easily be integrated with a bike by hacking things like Odometers and Light Generators (for Power)
  • Discussion Forum discusses cool things that a bike could do [2]
  • Long Bike ride makes me realize how much I would enjoy making the bike an intelligent "physical computing interface"
  • Perhaps the bike could be used as a "narrative object"
    • Pre-programmed story told at certain distance intervals, forcing a certain riding-the-story experience
    • Alternatively, the bike could be used as a gallery object/large participatory controller
      • Shifting, Braking, Pedaling as inputs for a projection or whatnot.


  • Order Cheap Bike Parts to Hack n' Mod for my purposes
    • Schwinn 17-Function Computer (really the magnet mount wheel odometer that I am interested in) - [3]
    • Bell Wheel Powered (Generator) for light system on Bike [4]


  • Found a really cool project that uses bike wheels for led display [5]


  • Project will be due on the 28th
  • Presentation of ideas
  • Guy, the RISD kid, has an awesome idea on making physical John Conway's "Game of Life"

10/15: Maybe not a bike, but something

  • Wondering if the bike idea is not my best
  • Realize that there needs to be a
  1. battery
  2. input (odometer)
  3. output
  • for the bike project and I'm not sure what the output should be
  • Perhaps I could keep track of how long the bike runs, and how long it stops
  • Then upload this information to have it "map" my ride
  • OHHHHH!!! Mapping the ride -> There's a cool idea
    • All of the inputs will produce information for a single output
    • Which would be an image

Graphite Path Ideas

  • Imagining a full path of these things
  • Inspired by Drawdio -> [6]


  • Just because I've been needing/wanting one, I ordered a little LCD Screen from Modern Device [7]

10/19 - Bike Workshop

  • Got the odometer and light kit in the mail
  • Installed the odometer -> Now, I'm going to hack it, hopefully in such a way as to use it creatively
  • Hacked the odometer
    • Turns out its really a switch of sorts -> You got to put power into it
    • Or you can "listen" to it.
  • Set up a basic arduino interface with the bike, which is exciting
  • Problem is, the little odometer sensor is giving too many good readings
  • Ok, managed to debug the arduino code and get the bike working a little more
  • I can't really tell where this project is going, I feel pretty bored by it
  • Nevertheless, progress has been made in this experiment.
  • Here's the code I used:

Bike LED Control Code

//Bike Control

//Uses an odometer sensor to control an LED light

// constants won't change. They're used here to 
// set pin numbers:
const int buttonPin = 2;     // the number of the pushbutton pin
const int ledPin =  13;      // the number of the LED pin
// variables will change:
int buttonState = 0;         // variable for reading the pushbutton status
void setup() {
  // initialize the LED pin as an output:
  pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT);      
  // initialize the pushbutton pin as an input:
  pinMode(buttonPin, INPUT);     
void loop(){
  // read the state of the pushbutton value:
  buttonState = digitalRead(buttonPin);
  //buttonState = buttonState/1.5;
  // check if the pushbutton is pressed.
  // if it is, the buttonState is HIGH:
  if (buttonState == HIGH) {     
    // turn LED on:    
    digitalWrite(ledPin, HIGH);  
  else {
    // turn LED off:
    digitalWrite(ledPin, LOW); 

Bike LED Control Schematic

  • (Very Simple)
ARDUINO _________________LED  
GROUND                    |
                      PIN !3 
3V3        PIN 2 
 |           |
 |           | 
 \           | 
1K           | 
 /           |
 |           | 
 |           |
 |           |
 \           /

How Bike LED Works

  • When the Magnet lines up with the sensor, the LED lights
  • Otherwise the LED is off

Graphite Experiments

  • Does Graphite (from your average pencil) conduct electricity?
    • YES!

How to Make My Playhead Device

  1. Set up simple Arduino Sketch that will light LEDS for "TRACKS" of Graphite
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