Little Trike Update

I know I should be putting up my final pictures and instructions on the dollhouse, now that it’s an essentially finished project, but I’m in trike mode. Among other almost non-stop reading, I ran across the term “CAD”. Not as in computer aided design, but as in cardboard aided design. I actually came across it on a really cool site about building DIY wooden bikes (which is another story, and also recommended browsing), which suggested building a full scale paper doll version of yourself so that you have a very tactile hands-on way of designing your bike (or furniture, or whatever). It’s one thing doodling totally-not-to-scale dream vehicles on paper, but this brings you so much closer to something you can actually build without eons of fine-tuning all your measurements. My two mannequins, one for me and one for Nefarious, were made by drawing body element after body element on cardboard and holding it up to the body to ensure it was the right size and that the joint was the right location. The joint itself is made with a hole through each piece, and then a circular “rivet” that has two tabs cut out of it that go through the holes and are taped to the back side. Like this:

You’ve already seen my 2D profile mock-up, but let me post another shot to just show some other consideration that was done — planning for a second seat. The law on e-bikes permits passengers, but the seat has to be part of the bike’s initial design (so I was thinking a rumble seat). That said, after some thought and some perusing of the laws, I think that rather than technically building an e-bike, I’m going to be building an electric wheelchair. This is for two main reasons — first of all, the legislation seems to be much looser on them, and second of all, that way I can skip a pedal/human-power drive system since it’s not as if my legs are strong enough to use them anyway. I suppose I could make something arm powered, but I’m running out of muscle tissue in my arms and the last thing I need to do is accelerate my becoming a cripple. So I don’t know whether a back seat is even allowed.

After getting that profile all done I tried to pull it into the third dimension, both by printing it out and drawing it, and by trying to make it on the floor by laying out some clothes in the shape of my body and making the chassis with strips of cardboard. After a couple awkward doodles, I ended up with something in my head that was half way between Ed Roth’s Globe Hopper Trike (the last Rat Fink vehicle, built by Big Daddy in 87, and used for a massive road trip up to Alaska and beyond) and the awesome extreme-rake trikes built by Phoenix Trike Works (probably my favorite trike company alongside Rewaco‘s older models). Anyway, I created what was in my head by taping together some roughly 1.5″ square pieces of foam tube that I cut out of a big sheet.

Feel free to zoom in by clicking the pic and doubling its size.

So next I’m going to make a second version of it, much more precisely, out of foam that’ll be glued or heat-fused together rather than crudely taped. Then it all gets covered with fiberglass (sort of inspired by the folks who are making those amazing Pepakura plus plastic resin masks and so on, or more precisely, like RQ Riley’s XR2 recumbent bike), and after it’s cleaned up, boom, I have a chassis. Metal tube is going to be built in for mounting the front forks and the rear wheels of course, but the rest is all glass and foam. Most of it is going to be [fiberglass] “tube”, and some of it filled in with flat sections, so I guess technically it’s semi-monocoque. It should weigh almost nothing and be very strong.

Oh and if you’re interested in cheap gadgets, check this out:

It’s a light-up top that a friend picked up for Nefarious, I think bought at Giant Tiger (sort of like Walmart) for under $3. It’s pretty amazing to me that something like this, a light up top, that has a bunch of LED lights, a laser diode sort of thing, a speaker and a sound chip, as well as a casing and packaging, and associated costs like shipping and advertising and all that, can be made that cheap. I’m sure it’s Chinese slave labor, but still… Oh, and the thing that’s really neat about it is that it doesn’t have batteries. The act of winding it up (and it just takes a couple quick twists, a second or so of work) fires up a generator that powers the lights and circuits and sound. My friend was with someone that bought a hundred of them to use at dance venues or something like that. Dunno how they’ll go over there, but they were a hit here.

Anyway, I have other stuff to do this weekend project-wise, but I’ll try and be more diligent about posting. I also have some really good news for folks looking to solve some Christmas shopping dilemmas, so that I definitely will post very soon (Friday night I imagine).


  1. starbadger wrote:

    keep trucking son

    da daddo

    Friday, December 3, 2010 at 9:11 am | Permalink
  2. bonnie wrote:

    It’s awesome to see the level of your creativity. Your body may be giving you a hard time, but your mind…priceless!

    Friday, December 3, 2010 at 9:24 am | Permalink
  3. Ash wrote:

    Hey Shannon – I go to school for packaging design and know a lot about CAD.. We use this program, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, called ArtiosCAD, and it makes cartons and containers. I use it all day at work and I actually have a cad table where I can program things in ArtiosCAD and the table will cut out the shapes or boxes for me. Might be worth looking into :) The program is very expensive but I know people who have been able to download it.
    Love your blog and your creativity, you’re always on the go and making something and its an inspiration! Looking forward to seeing more of the bike :)

    Saturday, December 4, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Permalink
  4. Shannon wrote:

    Ash, I’m not talking about CAD in that sense of the word. CAD in the sense I’m using it means “cardboard aided design”, as in making your design at full-scale using a cardboard mock-up. It’s a play on words. I’m familiar with computer-based CAD as well, but don’t find it very intuitive and prefer working with my hands given the choice.

    It’s actually quite interesting to me watching (for example) car design change as CAD software has grown. You can directly see new features in software appearing in the physical universe around us. A good example would be watching the effect that NURBS software had on design.

    Saturday, December 4, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink
Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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