Around the world on a solar ebike

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fechter   100 GW

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Re: Around the world on a solar ebike

Post by fechter » May 21 2019 12:52pm

I remember the behemoth bike. Even with 105 gears, I can't imaging going up any kind of hill with that much weight. Solar panels were incredibly expensive back then so I only got to play with small ones.

Glad to hear you weren't hurt in the crash. Slow speed helped I'm sure. Now you know which areas need reinforcement or redesign to survive. Crashes are hopefully very rare, but I can totally imagine the rig getting tipped over by the wind when parked. This could be bad if you are out in the middle of nowhere.
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Re: Around the world on a solar ebike

Post by wturber » May 21 2019 8:39pm

I remember reading about Steven Roberts way back when in some computer magazine I think. As I recall, that helmet gave him a heads up display and he could actually type using his gaze, head movements or something like that. I don't recall the other two.
"Commuter - DC Booster"
Iron Horse 3.0 hardtail - 48V / 1000W / 470rpm generic Chinese DD Hub motor (ebay)
8 x 36v 4.3ah 10s 2P battery packs - 1500W 30A DC Boost Converter delivers 54v and about 1000 watts peak
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viewtopic.php?f=2&t=90369

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Charge during the day while sleeping, ride at night

Post by kauaicycler » May 28 2019 10:59am

I imagine you've considered this but I'm curious if charging during the day while sleeping, and then riding at night, would be a way to implement something similar to this without towing a trailer. Basically a folding solar panel charging batteries during the day and then riding at night.

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Re: Charge during the day while sleeping, ride at night

Post by wturber » May 28 2019 2:05pm

kauaicycler wrote:
May 28 2019 10:59am
I imagine you've considered this but I'm curious if charging during the day while sleeping, and then riding at night, would be a way to implement something similar to this without towing a trailer. Basically a folding solar panel charging batteries during the day and then riding at night.
Personally, I like sleeping at night and riding during the day. I want to see the places I'm traveling in. Though crossing deserts at night could be pretty sensible. But even if I didn't prefer night sleeping, I'd be worried about people futzing with my attention attracting solar ebike during the day while its sitting there soaking up photons while I'm supposed to be sleeping. I like the idea of being awake and near the bike when it is most likely to be seen and attract attention. So I'm pretty much in line with this guy's approach.
"Commuter - DC Booster"
Iron Horse 3.0 hardtail - 48V / 1000W / 470rpm generic Chinese DD Hub motor (ebay)
8 x 36v 4.3ah 10s 2P battery packs - 1500W 30A DC Boost Converter delivers 54v and about 1000 watts peak
53T/42T Sakae Road cranks - 30mph+ on flats
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=90369

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Re: Around the world on a solar ebike

Post by billvon » May 28 2019 2:16pm

wturber wrote:
May 21 2019 8:39pm
I remember reading about Steven Roberts way back when in some computer magazine I think. As I recall, that helmet gave him a heads up display and he could actually type using his gaze, head movements or something like that.
I think he used a one hand keyboard to type. (Nowadays of course you could just talk.)
--bill von

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Re: Charge during the day while sleeping, ride at night

Post by kauaicycler » May 28 2019 2:33pm

wturber wrote:
May 28 2019 2:05pm
kauaicycler wrote:
May 28 2019 10:59am
I imagine you've considered this but I'm curious if charging during the day while sleeping, and then riding at night, would be a way to implement something similar to this without towing a trailer. Basically a folding solar panel charging batteries during the day and then riding at night.
Personally, I like sleeping at night and riding during the day. I want to see the places I'm traveling in. Though crossing deserts at night could be pretty sensible. But even if I didn't prefer night sleeping, I'd be worried about people futzing with my attention attracting solar ebike during the day while its sitting there soaking up photons while I'm supposed to be sleeping. I like the idea of being awake and near the bike when it is most likely to be seen and attract attention. So I'm pretty much in line with this guy's approach.
Good point about missing the scenery and worrying about security.

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Re: Charge during the day while sleeping, ride at night

Post by solarEbike » May 29 2019 1:51pm

wturber wrote:
May 28 2019 2:05pm
kauaicycler wrote:
May 28 2019 10:59am
...I'm curious if charging during the day while sleeping, and then riding at night...
Personally, I like sleeping at night and riding during the day...
Exactly what wturber said. Also, sharing the road with other vehicles at night is more dangerous no matter how good your bike lights might be.

I imagine there will be times when I’ll do some riding before sunrise and after sunset to avoid the heat of the day, or at least plan my day so that I can rest in the shade while the batteries charge during the hottest part of the day.

Not having to mount the solar panels on the bike such that they are deployed while riding would certainly save a lot of weight. The solar panels account for only about 10% of the trailer weight. If I swap most of that weight for additional batteries, I might have a similar daily range.

Actually, probably less range or more weight if we consider that I would need to carry enough batteries to store an entire day’s worth of solar generation whereas with daytime riding, much of that energy is consumed as it is being generated so I can carry a smaller battery. The stationary-all-day charging would be more efficient in terms of sun angle and avoiding shade so it might allow carrying fewer solar panels though I suspect not enough to offset the heavier batteries.

billvon wrote:
May 28 2019 2:16pm
wturber wrote:
May 21 2019 8:39pm
I remember reading about Steven Roberts way back when in some computer magazine I think. As I recall, that helmet gave him a heads up display and he could actually type using his gaze, head movements or something like that.
I think he used a one hand keyboard to type. (Nowadays of course you could just talk.)
He got a fair bit of print and national media coverage in the 80's as the world's first digital nomad. I first heard of him last year and read his book: Computing Across America: The Bicycle Odyssey of a High-Tech Nomad.

The helmet had a "head mouse" but the keyboard was 4 buttons on each of the handlebars. He taught himself to type by entering the 8-bit ASCII code for each letter. He said he could type 35 words per minute while riding. The idea was to support himself by working as a freelance tech writer while traveling. Video of Steven describing this (at time index 2:45). At 4:44, he addresses the question of solar power running or not running the wheels.

BEHEMOTH-handlebar-chord-keys.png
BEHEMOTH-handlebar-chord-keys.png (140.77 KiB) Viewed 1278 times
Alee Denham's post about Steven Roberts has a 2017 response from Steven himself near the bottom of the page ("UPDATE: I Contacted Steven About What He Would Change...").
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Re: Around the world on a solar ebike

Post by thundercamel » May 29 2019 2:28pm

That 8 bit ascii is ridiculous! :shock:
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Re: Charge during the day while sleeping, ride at night

Post by kauaicycler » May 29 2019 3:42pm

solarEbike wrote:
May 29 2019 1:51pm
Actually, probably less range or more weight if we consider that I would need to carry enough batteries to store an entire day’s worth of solar generation whereas with daytime riding, much of that energy is consumed as it is being generated so I can carry a smaller battery. The stationary-all-day charging would be more efficient in terms of sun angle and avoiding shade so it might allow carrying fewer solar panels though I suspect not enough to offset the heavier batteries.
This is the part is was wondering about. If there are any off the shelf folding solar panels I might consider carrying them for emergency charging if I'm far from an outlet. I'm planning to ride the Southern Tier Bike Route next year from Florida to California.

Good luck on your trip!

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Re: Around the world on a solar ebike

Post by billvon » May 29 2019 3:46pm

thundercamel wrote:
May 29 2019 2:28pm
That 8 bit ascii is ridiculous! :shock:
Yep. You can do it with six buttons in a _much_ easier way.
--bill von

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Re: Around the world on a solar ebike

Post by wturber » May 29 2019 4:54pm

billvon wrote:
May 29 2019 3:46pm
thundercamel wrote:
May 29 2019 2:28pm
That 8 bit ascii is ridiculous! :shock:
Yep. You can do it with six buttons in a _much_ easier way.
Then you need to get that six finger hand. Maxwell Smart had one. :^)
"Commuter - DC Booster"
Iron Horse 3.0 hardtail - 48V / 1000W / 470rpm generic Chinese DD Hub motor (ebay)
8 x 36v 4.3ah 10s 2P battery packs - 1500W 30A DC Boost Converter delivers 54v and about 1000 watts peak
53T/42T Sakae Road cranks - 30mph+ on flats
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=90369

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Re: Charge during the day while sleeping, ride at night

Post by solarEbike » May 29 2019 5:02pm

kauaicycler wrote:
May 29 2019 3:42pm
...If there are any folding solar panels I might consider carrying them for emergency charging if I'm far from an outlet. I'm planning to ride the Southern Tier Bike Route next year from Florida to California.
There are lightweight folding solar panels like this. But for my needs, the overlap between "light enough to carry as a backup" and "powerful enough to justify carrying" simply doesn't exist if we're talking about charging ebikes as opposed to smartphones and camping lights.

Here's a YouTube for you:



He says "weighs like 2 pounds" meaning 2.6 lbs + 0.5 lbs for a boost charge controller (1.4kg total) for the 60 watt model. And by "quite a bit of juice" he means that a 60 watt-rated panel laying flat like this on a warm day will deliver 40-50 watts at noon or about 2-4 miles of riding for every hour of stationary charging. Before 10 AM and after 2 PM, you'll need to find a way to prop up your solar blanket to get any useful energy out of it.

Pay close attention to the energy density (Wh per unit weight) and be wary of marketing claims and published specs, especially at the lower price end. I've bought enough $2/watt solar panels to know better.

Here's one of my costlier lessons. A US$400 panel purchased via AliExpress. Claimed to be 200 watts and 3.3kg. Actual output was 110 watts at STC and actual weight was 4.1 kg. I measured the 110 watts using a calibrated solar irradiance meter and an infrared thermometer and calculated the STC value using the published temperature coefficients. The combined reduction amounted to half the stated power per unit of weight. I opened a dispute and eventually received an $80 refund because the package arrived visibly damaged.
AliExpress disaster.jpg
AliExpress disaster.jpg (176.21 KiB) Viewed 1246 times
The PowerFilm products mentioned above sell for US$10+ per watt but they've been around for a long time and even sell to the military whose attitude about specs is altogether different from that of AliExpress.
Last edited by solarEbike on May 29 2019 8:31pm, edited 2 times in total.
SWB recumbent, Grin all-axle hub, Phaserunner, 6x LiGo battery, 248 watt sun-tracking solar trailer and 82 watt solar roof with 3 Genasun MPPT boost controllers (in progress), CA3 (solar FW), GPS Analogger, Rohloff hub. Solar ebike build, Website, Instagram

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Re: Around the world on a solar ebike

Post by billvon » May 29 2019 5:29pm

wturber wrote:
May 29 2019 4:54pm
Then you need to get that six finger hand. Maxwell Smart had one. :^)
Well, two buttons for your thumb.

https://patents.google.com/patent/US6822852 (figure 6 worked the best)
--bill von

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Re: Around the world on a solar ebike

Post by solarEbike » May 29 2019 5:56pm

billvon wrote:
May 29 2019 5:29pm
https://patents.google.com/patent/US6822852 (figure 6 worked the best)
"Inventor: William Von Novak, San Diego, CA" ...you're not related, are you? :shock:

So... a subset of ASCII? Did this ever make it into a commercial product?
SWB recumbent, Grin all-axle hub, Phaserunner, 6x LiGo battery, 248 watt sun-tracking solar trailer and 82 watt solar roof with 3 Genasun MPPT boost controllers (in progress), CA3 (solar FW), GPS Analogger, Rohloff hub. Solar ebike build, Website, Instagram

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Re: Around the world on a solar ebike

Post by billvon » May 29 2019 6:22pm

solarEbike wrote:
May 29 2019 5:56pm
"Inventor: William Von Novak, San Diego, CA" ...you're not related, are you?
Sort of, since that's me.
So... a subset of ASCII? Did this ever make it into a commercial product?
It wasn't a subset of ASCII; it was more based on letter frequency. For example, E T A and O were all one finger press. I N S and R were one finger press plus one thumb press. H L and D were two finger presses. Etc. The objective was speed and being easy to remember.

Never quite made it into a product. I pushed for it on one of our early smartphones but it was too "weird" for product management.
--bill von

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Re: Around the world on a solar ebike

Post by solarEbike » May 29 2019 7:05pm

billvon wrote:
May 29 2019 6:22pm
It wasn't a subset of ASCII; it was more based on letter frequency. For example, E T A and O were all one finger press. I N S and R were one finger press plus one thumb press. H L and D were two finger presses. Etc. The objective was speed and being easy to remember.

Never quite made it into a product. I pushed for it on one of our early smartphones but it was too "weird" for product management.
Kind of like a Dvorak Keyboard, cool. And you could text without removing your phone from your pocket as long as you didn't mind the inevitable misunderstandings that would ensue about what it was that you were doing with that hand. :shock:
Last edited by solarEbike on Jun 02 2019 2:44pm, edited 1 time in total.
SWB recumbent, Grin all-axle hub, Phaserunner, 6x LiGo battery, 248 watt sun-tracking solar trailer and 82 watt solar roof with 3 Genasun MPPT boost controllers (in progress), CA3 (solar FW), GPS Analogger, Rohloff hub. Solar ebike build, Website, Instagram

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Re: Charge during the day while sleeping, ride at night

Post by kauaicycler » May 30 2019 8:32am

solarEbike wrote:
May 29 2019 5:02pm

There are lightweight folding solar panels like this. But for my needs, the overlap between "light enough to carry as a backup" and "powerful enough to justify carrying" simply doesn't exist if we're talking about charging ebikes as opposed to smartphones and camping lights.

He says "weighs like 2 pounds" meaning 2.6 lbs + 0.5 lbs for a boost charge controller (1.4kg total) for the 60 watt model. And by "quite a bit of juice" he means that a 60 watt-rated panel laying flat like this on a warm day will deliver 40-50 watts at noon or about 2-4 miles of riding for every hour of stationary charging. Before 10 AM and after 2 PM, you'll need to find a way to prop up your solar blanket to get any useful energy out of it.

Pay close attention to the energy density (Wh per unit weight) and be wary of marketing claims and published specs, especially at the lower price end. I've bought enough $2/watt solar panels to know better.

The PowerFilm products mentioned above sell for US$10+ per watt but they've been around for a long time and even sell to the military whose attitude about specs is altogether different from that of AliExpress.
The weight to watt ratio doesn't seem worth it at this time. Thanks for the link to power film solar, I'll be watching this for improvements.

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Re: Around the world on a solar ebike

Post by solarEbike » Jun 05 2019 10:22am

I got a 360 camera. These things are fun.

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Re: Around the world on a solar ebike

Post by wturber » Jun 05 2019 10:44am

Cute. Which camera do you have?
"Commuter - DC Booster"
Iron Horse 3.0 hardtail - 48V / 1000W / 470rpm generic Chinese DD Hub motor (ebay)
8 x 36v 4.3ah 10s 2P battery packs - 1500W 30A DC Boost Converter delivers 54v and about 1000 watts peak
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Re: Around the world on a solar ebike

Post by solarEbike » Jun 05 2019 11:25am

wturber wrote:
Jun 05 2019 10:44am
Cute. Which camera do you have?
It's the Insta360 Nano. At 70 grams and only $40, I was able to talk myself into adding it as a possible 4th camera :mrgreen: to carry with me. This particular model came out three years ago. The newer ones have far better resolution and image stabilization but at 10x the price. This one is designed to attach directly to an iPhone but works in stand-alone mode. I made my own mount out of some Delrin rod.
Insta360 Nano mount.jpg
Insta360 Nano mount.jpg (164.21 KiB) Viewed 1151 times
For anyone not familiar with 360° cameras: these are basically a consumer version of the kind of cameras Google Street View has been using for years. Most models have two lenses, each of which captures a little over 180° field of view and the two images are stitched together nearly seamlessly. Carefully positioned objects on the seam line, such as the mount here, can be made to disappear in the final image or video, hence the "invisible selfie stick".
SWB recumbent, Grin all-axle hub, Phaserunner, 6x LiGo battery, 248 watt sun-tracking solar trailer and 82 watt solar roof with 3 Genasun MPPT boost controllers (in progress), CA3 (solar FW), GPS Analogger, Rohloff hub. Solar ebike build, Website, Instagram

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Re: Around the world on a solar ebike

Post by wturber » Jun 05 2019 11:35am

Oh. At that price I think I need one...
"Commuter - DC Booster"
Iron Horse 3.0 hardtail - 48V / 1000W / 470rpm generic Chinese DD Hub motor (ebay)
8 x 36v 4.3ah 10s 2P battery packs - 1500W 30A DC Boost Converter delivers 54v and about 1000 watts peak
53T/42T Sakae Road cranks - 30mph+ on flats
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=90369

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Re: Around the world on a solar ebike

Post by solarEbike » Jun 05 2019 11:50am

wturber wrote:
Jun 05 2019 11:35am
Oh. At that price I think I need one...
I know, right? Looks like it's gone up to $50 since I ordered 2 weeks ago. The white one is selling for $78. I can do gold if it's half price.
Screen Shot 2019-06-05 at 9.43.52 AM.jpg
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CamelCamelCamel FTW.
SWB recumbent, Grin all-axle hub, Phaserunner, 6x LiGo battery, 248 watt sun-tracking solar trailer and 82 watt solar roof with 3 Genasun MPPT boost controllers (in progress), CA3 (solar FW), GPS Analogger, Rohloff hub. Solar ebike build, Website, Instagram

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Re: Around the world on a solar ebike

Post by wturber » Jun 05 2019 11:52am

solarEbike wrote:
Jun 05 2019 11:50am
wturber wrote:
Jun 05 2019 11:35am
Oh. At that price I think I need one...
I know, right? Looks like it's gone up to $50 since I ordered 2 weeks ago.
Oh. In that case, forget it. ;^)
"Commuter - DC Booster"
Iron Horse 3.0 hardtail - 48V / 1000W / 470rpm generic Chinese DD Hub motor (ebay)
8 x 36v 4.3ah 10s 2P battery packs - 1500W 30A DC Boost Converter delivers 54v and about 1000 watts peak
53T/42T Sakae Road cranks - 30mph+ on flats
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=90369

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Re: Around the world on a solar ebike

Post by amberwolf » Jun 05 2019 3:35pm

dunno if these are the right thing, but they start at under $30

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=360+Degree+C ... e-asc-rank

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Re: Around the world on a solar ebike

Post by solarEbike » Jun 05 2019 4:48pm

amberwolf wrote:
Jun 05 2019 3:35pm
dunno if these are the right thing, but they start at under $30

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=360+Degree+C ... e-asc-rank
Good point. To be honest, I didn't really look at the low end of the market. Looks like there are all kinds of options out there. I'm sure they're all fine as a casual toy.

The "little planet" videos are too gimmicky to keep doing over and over again. My goal with this has been to find a camera that would allow me to easily capture footage while riding and have a lot of flexibility to edit it later. I have a tiny, waterproof GoPro that does this well but I have to point it at the action before it happens. Not only is this difficult to anticipate but on a recumbent I can't really take my hands off the handlebars to operate the camera. Helmet-mounted options are ok but I can't include myself or the bike in the shot while riding.

The genius of these 360° cameras is that they take the "point" out of "point and shoot." Since they capture a full 360° spherical field of view, I can pan, tilt and zoom the camera in post-production. The same camera can show the road in front of me or behind me or do a whip-pan to follow a point of interest as I'm passing it or even show the entire bike in the frame from a selfie-stick mounted on the bike.

I picked up this model because it allowed me to try out the technology in general and this company's phone and PC editing software in particular before committing to a higher resolution model. Their One X model appears to be one of the best on the market right now. These kinds of cameras need to capture a ton of pixels since most of them will be cropped out in post. To get reasonably decent looking 1080p footage, the camera ideally needs to capture 6-8k and that costs more than $30-40.

Of course, all of this will be much more compelling if I can actually demonstrate what it can do. Stay tuned to this channel...
SWB recumbent, Grin all-axle hub, Phaserunner, 6x LiGo battery, 248 watt sun-tracking solar trailer and 82 watt solar roof with 3 Genasun MPPT boost controllers (in progress), CA3 (solar FW), GPS Analogger, Rohloff hub. Solar ebike build, Website, Instagram

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