Originally Published in Popular Mechanics
Sustain a Protest
Whatever you think of the politics of the Occupy movement that’s now spread around the country and the world, there is some interesting tech going on at the protests. One of the protestors’ biggest challenges has been finding ways to relay their messages without reliable access to electricity. So, at Manhattan’s Occupy Wall Street, bike mechanic Keegan Stephan is helping provide power to cellphones and laptops with a modified Schwinn bicycle. The bike is connected to a flywheel—a rotating device that stores the energy derived from pedaling—which is then connected to a dynamo, providing it a steady source of motion. The dynamo sits above the bike’s front wheel and generates electricity as the tire spins. That electricity is then transferred through a motor and into a battery, which takes about 6 hours to become fully charged (about 100 hours of use). Pedal power has also been used at Occupy camps in Boston, San Francisco, and Edinburgh, Scotland.