This semester, I’m enrolled in AME 441 – Senior Projects Laboratory. The aim of the course is to introduce students to some of the basic ideas of experimental work and the responsibilities of an industrial research project.

For the project, my partner and I are working with the US Olympic Cycling Team to develop a wireless pedaling force measurement system. The US Olympic Committee actually requested a few different projects from the class (kayaking paddle force and tripod for continuous tracking and panning, along with our project), but our interest in cycling led us to pick pedaling force. Our design will implement a strain gauge/Wheatstone bridge setup to measure pedal bending, and we will record and report this data using a data logger.

We’ve run into some issues along the way, including a stolen testing bike and bad circuitry, but at this point things are looking up as we enter the last few weeks of the semester. We successfully performed the static calibration of our strain gauges and have completed the basic setup. We also received our wireless equipment – an Arduino Uno chip, two Lilypad power supplies, and an Open Log data logger. In the next few weeks, we need to finish programming the Uno and test the setup while actually riding the bike. As of now, we will need to ride around with a computer in a backpack with the Uno hooked up to it because we are running out of time to implement Bluetooth or other wireless technologies. It’s a lot to accomplish, but if we can get it working, there’s potential for it to actually be used by the US Olympic Cycling Team!

More to come on the project as the semester wraps up!