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Toys

Build Your Own Monowheel 209

glengineer writes "Just when you thought it was safe to buy a Segway, Popular Sci has an article on the Monster Monowheel, an 1,100 pound single wheel 'scooter'. From the article: '...works on the hamster-in-a-wheel principle: Move a wheel's center of gravity forward and the wheel turns.' It has an 80cc four-stroke Honda scooter engine and 80 pounds of lead for ballast. Scary part: the driver's seat is in the very front, and the seat scrapes the ground when braking really hard." The builder's website is theriotwheel.com.
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Build Your Own Monowheel

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  • by adrianbaugh ( 696007 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:03PM (#9024765) Homepage Journal
    ... and since the tyre profile looks quite rectangular I guess it's "wheely" hard to steer ;-)
    • by wankledot ( 712148 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:09PM (#9024812)
      What would be cool would be two large wheels in the back, with the ability to power one more than the other. Then they could be rectangular for better traction, plus you could turn on a dime (literally) and spin in place. You could work out a differential system to turn them both in the same direction for top speed, or power one more than the other to turn. Or to do it simply (but inefficiently) upt brakes on them and slow the right one down to turn right, etc.

      You're right though, if it was one large wheel you would need some secondary method for steering, unlike the other one-wheel devices that rely on leaning right/left on a more motorcycle-like rounded tire.

      • by AmericanInKiev ( 453362 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:34PM (#9024952) Homepage
        As it is - it could be useful for strange locations.

        We talk about humvees being the all terrain vehicle, but in the end - the ability to "port" the vehicle (carry by hand) is what makes a vehicle trully All terrain.

        a mono wheel maximized diameter while minimizing size - it is therefore the optimal design for an all terrain vehicle.

        AIK
        • by wankledot ( 712148 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:02PM (#9025385)
          Except that low-speed stability would be very poor, especially on bumpy terrain. Maybe a very large two-wheel single-axle vehicle.
          • The Advantage is in forested terrain - which is also important for hiding from helicopters etc...

            Someone else mentioned helicopters as an ideal ATV.

            I would suggest the recent "unpleasantness" suggests that helicopters are their own worst enemy.

            This vehicle may be ideal for retrieving heleicopter pilots from enemy territory - they can get through the jungle - they can be ported over fallen trees - a good deal like motorcycles - only somewhat lighter perhaps.

            AIK

        • Man invented the ultimate ATV a long, long time ago. It's called the Helicopter.

        • At 1100 pounds? I'm not exactly fit, but I think my fingers would get tired...
        • For a humvee to be truly considered an ATV it would need to carry a supply of high explosive to remove gates, trees, rocks and a digger arm to widen the road where necessary.

        • I agree, however the design group would have a seriously difficult time trying to mount that 50-caliber from the base of the frame. Hmm....scratch...scratch
      • by Anonymous Coward
        What would be cool would be two large wheels in the back, with the ability to power one more than the other. Then they could be rectangular for better traction, plus you could turn on a dime (literally) and spin in place. You could work out a differential system to turn them both in the same direction for top speed, or power one more than the other to turn. Or to do it simply (but inefficiently) upt brakes on them and slow the right one down to turn right, etc.

        Do you mean, like a...Segway?

      • This is kind of off the subject, but it's a three-wheeler also.

        T-Rex [motobykz.co.uk].

        I've seen a few of them here in Montreal, especially during F1 season.

        Apparently it's a road rocket, but given the low seating position and view that the rider/driver (as compared to a bike) has you'd have to be extra super careful when piloting it. Very cool, though, it never fails to attract more attention than the usual Ferraris and Bugattis.
      • You could work out a differential system to turn them both in the same direction for top speed, or power one more than the other to turn

        The first thing that came to mind was the Toyota Prius transmission. It's continusely variable from forward through reverse. The actual gearbox is very tiny and needs no clutches or friction bands/plates of any kind. The mechanical part they just call a power split device in the new car. The variable ratio is all taken care of with a pair of motor/generators on a gear
    • What is the RIOT Wheel?
      It's an 1100lb motorized single-wheel vehicle, with the driver in front. Why, what does it look like?

      Is it NEW?
      Completely. There's nothing like it. It's the first radical departure in single-wheel designs in over a hundred years.

      Can I BUY one?

      Are you NUTS? Yes? Then of course you can buy one. These are prototypes, and so stupidly dangerous, but if you'd have bought a Wright Flyer in 1904, then contact us NOW. And if you want us to build you something similar, or something en

  • See also... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:03PM (#9024768) Journal
    Someone linked to this when we had the article about the Bombardier Embrio [forbes.com], another cool concept employing segway-type gyroscopic action.
  • by YankeeInExile ( 577704 ) * on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:03PM (#9024770) Homepage Journal

    ... is that they have a version that is licensed as a motorvehicle in California.

    • by Maxwell'sSilverLART ( 596756 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:57PM (#9025621) Homepage

      is that they have a version that is licensed as a motorvehicle in California.

      You're impressed that California found a way to tax this thing? I'd be impressed if the builders found a way to avoid it.

  • Ummmm (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cybermace5 ( 446439 ) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:04PM (#9024778) Homepage Journal
    I'm not so sure that it's a good idea to ride a vehicle that, if it fails at high speed, will run the driver over. All it takes is for something to seize up a little bit.
    • Re:Ummmm (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think that if something siezes up in the right place, it makes not much difference if you have two wheels or one.
    • Re:Ummmm (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:12PM (#9024832) Homepage Journal
      I'm not so sure that it's a good idea to ride a vehicle that, if it fails at high speed, will run the driver over. All it takes is for something to seize up a little bit.

      Seriously, did you read the article? The driver is held in place by a counterbalance. Even with no power, the rules of physics do not change.

      LK
      • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Informative)

        by neurojab ( 15737 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:19PM (#9024877)
        >The driver is held in place by a counterbalance. Even with no power, the rules of physics do not change.

        Indeed. If the mechanism that allows the wheel to spin independently of the driver were to sieze up at 60MPH, what do you imagine would happen to that massive wheel's rotational inertia?

        It woudn't be pretty.
        • Re:Ummmm (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Yep. Wouldn't be too pretty if you ran into anything either.

          1,100lbs of steel and rubber behind you. At least with a motorcycle you might be ejected instead of turned to jelly right away.
        • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Funny)

          by cybermace5 ( 446439 ) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:58PM (#9025058) Homepage Journal
          I imagine a very comical-yet-terrifying leap into the air followed by a large amount of spinning and bouncing. Of course, the driver would be dead before the wheel came down for the first bounce.
        • Re:Ummmm (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Cecil ( 37810 ) on Saturday May 01, 2004 @02:02AM (#9026206) Homepage
          Yes, because I know of so many people who have been maimed because their bicycle or motorcycle wheels seized up for no apparent reason out of the blue. Wait, actually, I don't even know anyone who has ever had any mechanical parts seize up at random while a vehicle is in motion.

          Why do so many people insist on responding to every new idea with "Wow, this could hurt someone" hysteria? Are they like the anti-invention version of Slashdot's grammar police?
          • >Why do so many people insist on responding to every new idea with "Wow, this could hurt someone" hysteria?

            I wasn't suggesting that it would happen, I was just responding to the notion that the laws of physics would prevent the driver from being hurt if if did happen. They wouldn't.

            You're right... wheels do not tend to sieze up for no apparent reason, but gasoline engines easily can... if you get a leak in the oil pan.

            That said, I'm sure the possibility that the engine could crap out was taken into t
      • Obligatory (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Seriously, did you read the article?

        You must be new here...

      • Yeah, I read the article. And, what neurojab said.
      • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Funny)

        by KarmaBlackballed ( 222917 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @09:52PM (#9025326) Homepage Journal
        Unless the counterbalance can adjust position without power, an engine seize at high speed will result in the following series of events:

        1. Wheel locks up. (Conservation of momentum requires that the vehicle continue moving forward.)
        2. Because of the seize event, the frame now spins with the wheel.
        3. Look who is spinning with the frame, that flat guy. See him, no look now, see him? No look again, there he is, wait, he will spin back around, see him now?
        • Re:Ummmm (Score:3, Interesting)

          >Because of the seize event, the frame now
          spins with the wheel.

          um... yeah. except that the weel weighs almost nothing (it's a big tire with a gear bolted onto it. the heavy part is suspended in the middle, and consists of several counterweights, etc.

          thus, the inertia of the weel is almost nothing compared to the intertia of the non-rotating bits, and isn't going to flip you over, any more than your car filps over during a front stop.

          moron.
          • Re:Ummmm (Score:3, Insightful)

            by random735 ( 102808 )
            wrong. notice how your car tips forward during a hard stop? There may not be much rotational inertia, but there sure as hell is forward momentum and if the wheel suddenly becomes joined to the previously floating central axle, the whole thing will need to roll together. (or maybe skid, if you're lucky...all depends how much traction the wheel has).

            All your forward momentum will be converted into a rotation as soon as the seize event occurs. (again unless the wheel can slide because it's on a frictionle
        • Re:Ummmm (Score:4, Interesting)

          by cybercuzco ( 100904 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @11:36PM (#9025758) Homepage Journal
          Just design it so the wheel cant lock up. Have it powered by a ratchet system (think bycycle) so that when power is not applied the wheel still spins. Thus if the engine locks up all that happens is that you roll to a stop. You could theoretically push it when the engine is off with this system. A better way to lock the wheel up is by braking (going into a skid) so antilock brakes are a must.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:04PM (#9024780)

    Can I get an Envirofriendly Gas Hybrid Model in Candy Apple Red?

    and does it have an iPod hookup?
  • Nifty! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FrYGuY101 ( 770432 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:05PM (#9024785) Journal
    When I read the summary, I thought "Oh, like the one on Monster Garage". For those of you who didn't see the one they featured (briefly), there was a monowheel with a Caddilac engine, and the rider rode on the inside... at high speeds it was unstable until the designer added Stabilizing fins...

    But, for those of you who don't RTFA: You ride in FRONT of the wheel. It's *really* fuggin' cool looking.
    • Yeah... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Cyno01 ( 573917 ) <Cyno01@hotmail.com> on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:28PM (#9024922) Homepage
      Thats what i thought at first too, kinda dissapointed. Although the one on monster garage reminded me waaay to much of the "It" on south park... Linky [pipex.com]
    • Re:Nifty! (Score:3, Interesting)

      My thoughts to, though that kind of thing is not new. They have been around for decades. I remember the bochure for my university for the engineering department had a guy working on one on the cover 5 years ago. They were also done on junkyard wars. Hell, even Gadget on chip and dale rescue rangers made one, with suction cups on the outside no less.

      Really curious how this guy turns with that tire. Someplace there is a copper mine with a dump truck that lost a wheel, and it looks like the joker got away wi
      • Yes, they have been around for a while but the unique point on this is that the driver is outside the tire.

    • Its not that new - Scrapheap Challenge (the Uk show 'junkyard wars' came from) made 2 to race against each other. In that episode, the driver say inside the wheel - so the thing was more like a single-wheel motorcycle than the one shown in the article.

      This is the bloke who was the judge/expert:
      http://www.americanroadshop.com/Th e _Monocycle/the_ monocycle.html

      He also holds the world speed record for monocycle driving... and sells them, for you rich geeks who want to ride up to work in something different.
  • Scary part: (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:05PM (#9024791)
    Scary part: the driver's seat is in the very front, and the seat scrapes the ground when braking really hard.

    In other words, Ford owners will feel right at home.
  • Crazy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:06PM (#9024793)
    Check out www.zekewheel.com too, if you want a non-motorized wheel to ride inside of downhill.
  • by pvt_medic ( 715692 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:06PM (#9024797)
    Just check this site out where a bunch of harley riding bikers have created their own monowheel thingy.

    Automobile Mag [automobilemag.com]
  • by BitWarrior ( 692600 ) * on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:06PM (#9024800)
    Particularly the labeling of the rider as - "Dummy". I may have to agree with that assessment ;-)
  • nice (Score:3, Funny)

    by stfubye ( 775997 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:08PM (#9024807) Homepage
    The local segway owners will be soo jelous.
  • Steamroller (Score:5, Funny)

    by RotJ ( 771744 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:08PM (#9024811) Journal
    The most obvious use for this vehicle is to run over those snotty people using Segways. Of course, I guess you'd have to back up over them.
    • Steamrolling is what will happen to the driver if the engine seizes while running at top speed. 1100 pounds hasta hurt when you are supporting it via a face kickstand.
    • The most obvious use for this vehicle is to run over those snotty people using Segways

      I was riding the bus the other day and we were stopped at a red light. Being close to the front, I was gazing mindlessly out the front window when I saw a head go whizzing by.

      At the time, I'm thinking, "there's no way a ped could have crossed the street that fast", and, sure enough, I look right and it's some fat (likely a UNIX admin), long-haired guy riding a Ginger.

      Thank God the dork police stopped him and gave him
  • Is it just me? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JazzXP ( 770338 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:09PM (#9024821) Homepage
    Personally I think the whole concept of that is really quite cool, that said, I don't think it's place is on the road with other motorists, maybe only on a race track.
    • Re:Is it just me? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by seanadams.com ( 463190 ) * on Friday April 30, 2004 @09:49PM (#9025297) Homepage
      For some people maybe... as far as I'm concerned everyone should be allowed to drive whatever they want as long as:

      a) they can go fast enough, stop fast enough, and maneuver well enough to avoid inconveniencing or endangering other drivers.

      b) in the event of an impact they will not unduly endanger the lives of others. i.e. a car can be strong enough to protect you without being so heavy that it's guaranteed to destroy anything it hits.

      So by my rules there would be no gas guzzling, top heavy, overweight, unmaneuverable SUVs on the road. But monocycles would be just fine by me if you want to ride one.

      Personally I drive a little 2 door that stops faster than 99% of the cars on the road, can swerve around a hazard with ease, and weighs less than 3K lbs so it won't kill you if I run into your bumper. And it's got four airbags and a strong frame in case you run into me. If you want to ride a monocycle go ahead - you're endangering me less than the asshole in his Expedition, and you're doubltess aware of the... er "safety limitations" of your own vehicle and won't be dicking around those guys in their living rooms on wheels.
      • Also as long as the state doesn't have to pay for hospital stays, rehabilitation, or long term care for those who injure themselves. Even Jessie Ventura discovered that the seatbelt law in his state was good because it saved the state a lot of money, just like motorcycle helmet laws. The law's not just protecting others, but protecting the taxpayers from having to deal with people's stupidity.

        I guess the alternative would be that if a person wasn't protecting themselves and hurt themselves, then the stat
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:13PM (#9024839)
    If this goes south on him/her, it has got to make one of the best "Whackety-splat-whackety-splat" sounds the world has ever heard. 1,100 pounds and stabilized on the horizontal axis by only 65 pounds of gyros? If you have ever seen a gyro fail at high speed, well, uh, can you say mincemeat?
  • Doesn't this remind anyone of Axel from Twisted Metal? You have a huge wheel and a shirtless guy riding it. Mmmm, I can imagine the fiery explosions that will ensue.
  • Amazing (Score:5, Funny)

    by dirtsurfer ( 595452 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:17PM (#9024862) Journal
    Clown technology has really come a long way
  • This is new? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Deadstick ( 535032 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:18PM (#9024873)
    There's a vehicle out there that really IS a monowheel -- it has no axle at all. It's a one-wheeled motorcycle with the driver inside the wheel...I've seen it demonstrated at motorcycle shows. The frame, holding the seat and engine, runs on a circular steel monorail with a tire around the outside of it, about 6 feet in diameter.

    It's also a very retro-looking thing, built sometime around the early Thirties.

    rj
    • Re:This is new? (Score:2, Informative)

      Uh, I don't think you understand the concept of 'monowheel' ... It means 'one wheel', so it doesn't matter if there's an axle or not.

      It's from the Greek, 'mono' meaning 'one wheel', and 'wheel' meaning 'duh' ;-).

      • Re:This is new? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Deadstick ( 535032 )
        Umm, yes...and the picture shows what looks like TWO wheels on an axle. You can call it a biwheel or a roller, your choice: either way, gravity constrains it against motion about the longitudinal axis. The monowheel motorcycle contacts the ground at ONE point.

        rj
        • In the picture it just looks to me like a big chassis enclosing something, and I really can't tell if there's one wheel or two. But if you RTFA, the diagram is pretty clear, and at the end of the specs it says:

          J. 20-inch-wide rimless tire.
  • I want one. Looks kinda cool. My question is, what would it take to get that kind of thing street legal ? It's kindof dangerous for the rider if he/she were to contact any... standing objects. Of course, it's probably just as dangerous as a crotch rocket motorcycle
    • crotch rockets are only dangerous if the person riding them doesnt know what they are doing, or is riding outside of their ability.
      • The fatality rate for motorcycle riders is many times higher than that of car drivers per mile travelled.
        • perhaps thats because an inexperienced driver in a car is far far far more protected than one on a motorcycle.

          That might also point out that a moron driving a car (or an SUV for that matter) is probably a large contributor to motorcycle fatalities.

          An experienced motorcycle rider (5 or more years) compared to an experienced car driver (5 or more years) is much much more safe, however it is the lack of attention paid to driving by the car driver (cell phone, smoking, eating, drinking etc) that leads
  • by MikeDawg ( 721537 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:27PM (#9024916) Homepage Journal
    (From the FAQ)
    Why the Top Hat?
    Dignity, always dignity.
    The runner-up to this would most likely be:
    Technical - The Driver
    What Does it Do?
    Controls the wheel using its bodyweight, the joystick, throttle and brake. Looks out for suicidal pedestrians and bicyclists. Aims toward them.
  • I didn't RTFA, but didn't Mr. Garrison invent one of these once on South Park? If the controls are the same as his, count me out. I'll stick to my old fashioned motorcycle.
  • by rkmath ( 26375 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @08:33PM (#9024950)
    This is an improved version of what we saw in South Park. There is no steering lever to be inserted into the rider's mouth. The other lever is still being used I think, as in Mr. Garrison's design.
  • ...for someone to post an alteration of The Simpsons' "Monorail" song, but I'm not clever enough to come up with it myself.
  • I was there last year and if you think this is something ..... well, you just gotta go see for yourself.! [burningman.com]

    ps. lotsa cool technostuff too, and some MS guys talking about doing wireless vid-phones through the city, next year, well, we'll see. the whole thing is supposed to be anti corprate, so...mabey some OSS?

  • by kurt555gs ( 309278 ) <kurt555gs.ovi@com> on Friday April 30, 2004 @09:21PM (#9025170) Homepage
    In Illinois the Tollway Authority charges 'per axle'

    I wonder if this would be free?

    Cheers
  • Umm... (Score:3, Funny)

    by dupper ( 470576 ) * <adamlouis@gmail.com> on Friday April 30, 2004 @09:24PM (#9025187) Journal
    Just when you thought it was safe to buy a Segway

    I never thought that. Well, I started to, once, and immediately preemptievly kicked my own ass.

  • by Deraj DeZine ( 726641 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @09:32PM (#9025221)
    All the safety of a poorly-made, precarious go-cart, but with the weight and fuel economy of a small car.
  • Right now I'm using a 4 hamster setup in my server, this should provide more power, yes?

    Now to find myself a giant miniature space hamster...

  • by Sexual Ass Gerbil ( 728400 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:02PM (#9025394) Homepage Journal
    I had a chance to test drive a monowheel last summer. The first time I had trouble learning how to steer all over again, Because of the high center of balance (hint: it's just below the line of radial symmetry), you must be very careful while turning to avoid tipping the vehicle over! This is especially tricky because slowing down for a turn results in gerbilling (see below for a definition) where the driver is swung up from the base of the vehicle, further raising the center of gravity at a time when you need it as low as possible. Fortunately, the second time I mastered the trick of bringing the vehicle to a near stop in order to make sharp corner turns. I've (fortunately!) had several opportunities to drive one since then and my skills have improved.

    For those interested, monowheel vehicles have a vocabularity of their own. For example, gerbilling is when a rider rotates around inside a monowheel due to a sudden force (such as when the wheel stops), much like what happens when a rodent stops running in an exercise wheel. Another loss of rotational control is due to the snowball effect. Snowballing is when a monowheel develops a coating of snow while rolling in much the same way you might build up layers on a snowball by rolling it. Be very careful when driving these things during winter! Monowheels are very efficient vehicles and even when driven on nearly flat ground-- even a small gradient can lead to rolling out of control.

    Monowheels will never be practical vehicles. However, as recreation vehicles, they are quite fun. They're a ride, literally. There's nothing quite like steering around in one of them and feeling the unique forces that can only be felt inside of a big moving wheel. I can tell you personally that gerbilling and snowballing are both enjoyable activities assuming you take the right precautions.
    • by ColaMan ( 37550 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:17PM (#9025475) Homepage Journal
      I can tell you personally that gerbilling and snowballing are both enjoyable activities assuming you take the right precautions.

      Lucky someone didn't take that statement out of context, you could be portrayed as someone decidedly unwholesome.

    • It seems that the kind of monowheel you're describing is the kind where the rider is within the wheel. However, the kind that this person is building, the RIOTwheel, is of totally different design.

      The mechanics are housed totally within the wheel, and the seat for the rider is in front of the wheel, with a clever crane/counterbalance system to keep the rider suspended in mid-air.

      Considering this, do things like gerballing still apply? When the brakes are applied real hard, the bottom of the rider's seat

    • I can tell you personally that gerbilling and snowballing are both enjoyable activities assuming you take the right precautions.

      Should I? No, maybe I won't...
  • Oh, crap. (Score:5, Funny)

    by ro_coyote ( 719566 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:14PM (#9025455)
    Scary part: the driver's seat is in the very front, and the seat scrapes the ground when braking really hard.

    Well, it seems two definitions of the term "tire tracks" will finally meet...
  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:26PM (#9025523) Journal
    This thing is the Lawn Dart of tomorrow.
  • by Bagheera ( 71311 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @11:09PM (#9025665) Homepage Journal
    I can't remember the specific issue, but there was an article in Car and Driver some time in the last year or two where a guy built a monowheel (actually a series of them) where the driver and motor set -inside- the diameter of the wheel. I seem to remember all of them had the motor ahead of the driver, and the whole thing running on some kind of big bearing structure. He sold them in kit form for about $8000 as I remember.

    The killer was the Monster version that had one of those tiny Buick V8's driving it. From what I remember of the article, he bailed it at something like 50 once...

    There have been a LOT of these things built over the years. Check out:

    http://www.dself.dsl.pipex.com/MUSEUM/TRANSPORT/ mo torwhl/motorwhl.htm

    Now, as for this specific machine . . . I'm not sure I want my ass hanging out in FRONT of the rest of my vehicle like that. A motorcycle is bad enough with only a little overhang between you and the rest of the world. This thing just seems suicidal...

  • Since there aren't a load of videos or pics for this sick creation, I point you here:

    http://www.dself.dsl.pipex.com/MUSEUM/TRANSPORT/ mo torwhl/motorwhl.htm#sw
  • by DunbarTheInept ( 764 ) on Saturday May 01, 2004 @12:44AM (#9025988) Homepage
    One episode of Junkyard Wars (Scrapheap Challenge its original UK title) was to make the teams BUILD a monowheel and race it.

    Their designs were based on the rider being inside the wheel. Picture a round cage with a seat. The seat is off-center so that it is near the bottom of the inside of the wheel. Thus the rider's weight is not in the center of mass (this is deliberate). When you accellerate the wheel, the torque swings the inner cage forward, making the rider's swing to the front, and when you apply the brake, the rider is swung backward. This is nicely stable because this is slightly countered by the tendency of the rider to get "left behind" when the vehicle accellerates, or get "thrown" to the front when it decellerates.

    One effect of this is that the maximum amount of accelleration or decelleration force is mostly a function of the rider's mass. If the vehicle is accellerating, then the rider is perpetually "falling" from the front down to the bottom, and this "falling" force translates into the Newtonian
    equal and opposite reaction" against the engine spinning the wheel. (Without this, the wheel might stay put on the pavement while the inner cage spins around.) So, the fatter the rider, the more push the vehicle can have (but, of course, the more push it *needs*, so I don't know if this is really helpful or not).

    Anyway, it was a cool episode right up to the moment they started actually trying to race the vehicles. Then it was comically SLOW. I think the teams actually made good vehicles, but they didn't have the driver skill to use them, and so they were too frightened to make them go. I suspect it was something akin to trying to use a unicycle.

    The vehicle is steered by the leaning of the driver, and it balances a bit like a unicycle.

  • Where are the front and rear flexigrip handles?
  • Hjulet [chalmers.se] is a regular attraction at Cortégen, a student parade/carnival type thing in gothenburg, sweden.

    There's some (small but cool) video of it in action on the page.

    /August.

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