Five Days to Go: A Look At the Morph under Construction

Today is October 23. We have five days to go before the Oct 28 unConference, and construction of the Morph is hot and heavy in San Diego.

Earlier, on September 17, I visited Graham Butler and the Morph Team to review the final design of the Morph, and to plan how the first production prototype of the Morph could be shown at the upcoming MassTLC Innovation unConference. ( Above, Graham holds the front end of the Morph. The upper part is aluminum, while the lower fork is made of steel.
Intrepid Cycles is located in San Diego. Graham also builds frames in his home country of Brazil.
A screen shot from Graham's computer. We tested different rider sizes. It looks like Bill and Rory both fit easily on the same bike. The footrests mainly take up the difference, along with the adjustable pedal post.
Seth Arseneau drove from Albuquerque to work with us. Seth is handling the rear, morphing part of the bike, even though here he's holding the front end which was made by Graham and company in San Diego. Seth is focused on some of the highly machined parts that make the Morph do its magic.
These are the "upper morphing arms." They allow for an adjustable lift system so a variety of rider weights can be accommodated with a single version of the Morph.

This is the assembled upper morphing arm. The silver parts have been machined out for weight reduction and cool looks. The tool did not cut all the way through so we maintain maximum strength in the arms. Note the metal table. This is Seth's very cool fast welding table that makes holding weldments easy.

The upper morphing arm, upside down. You can see the lead screw and the "carriage" which allows the mechanical advantage of the gas springs to be changed by turning the bolt on the end of the lead screw.
It may seem like a minor thing, but I need a crutch holder so I can stow my crutches when I ride. We used a couple of pens taped to together on the scale model to see how that might work.
As the Morph moves down, the crutches will tilt back.
When all the way down, the crutches will tilt back nicely. Maybe we should have a little flag on them for visibility.
Here Graham is checking out the Morph with a proposed storage system that hangs under the seat. (shown as a rubber band.)
Bill's idea is to have something that hangs below the seat and can hold lots of groceries, for example. Especially in high rider mode.
This is the Schlumpf Speed Drive. It gives a 2.5x increase in gearing when you hit the button in the crank center. This 2.5x is important, because we have a very small front wheel...only 18" in diameter.  This is 1.5x smaller than a 27" (700c) normal bike wheel. So, when you morph down, you'll engage the Speed Drive and you'll have plenty of gearing to get all the speed that the low, fast, highly maneuverable Low Rider mode offers.
Bill used his Travel Bike on the trip to San Diego. The front end of the Travel Bike has many similarities to the Morph. Same 18" wheel. Same 8-speed internal hub with brake (from Shimano). Also, a couple bungee cords are holding my wheelchair on the back, and that also acts as a luggage cart. Nice setup!

Morphing Handcycle Gets Closer to a Build Version - Narrower Frame

Side view - low rider mode.  (The "front" designation from Solidworks isn't true...I avoided capturing it in the following screen images.

Had an online session today with Alan Ball, Rory McCarthy, and Bill Warner. The Morph is Rory's invention, Alan is providing industrial design, and Bill is providing project management and design input.
Side view - high rider mode.
Top view - low rider mode.
Front View - Low rider mode. Not how very low this vehicle goes.
Front View - High rider mode - and in high mode (like all our designs) the bike goes to a seating height above the rear wheels, which are 27"
Iso View - High rider mode. Note the twin tubes for the upper and lower link arms. This lets the purple frame nestle between them in the low mode.
Low Rider Iso. Seat is still in the works.
The red area shows the single gas shock in this design. It is compressed here, at a length of 9.7 inches.
High Rider Mode - Gas spring is at 14.1 inches. We are planning on a single gas spring in this design. Morph II had two gas springs.
Still some interference between the shock and the main tube. Will fix this.
Alan is working on the tube paths. The version we currently have, with 12" radius curve, puts the tube too close to the seat supports, and too close to the seat back. We working on this issue a bit today.
The blue tube should really go through the center of the grey seat support.
The orange circle represents the seat support. The purple tube needs to come back further and then rise at a steeper angle.
Can a 10" radius do it. No.
Can a 6" radius get the tube in the right position? No. And 6" is the very smallest radius that could be considered in a 2" tube. (and that's not a great idea.)
Here we remove the radius, but we still have interference.
Now we move the tube back further and angle up.
This is basically an angle-cut weld. (Not shown exactly that way.) High rider mode.
Angle-tube in low rider mode.
Still some interference of the top seat support. 

Alan is going to work some more on the frame design and resolving the interferences. Then our plan is to make a new wood model which we'll use to nail down the final frame design. Its much easier to discuss ideas when you have an actual model in your hands.

New Frame Design for the Morph: Back to a Single Tube. The Bike Look is Back, But We Kept all the Good Stuff.

Just received this concept model from Alan Ball. Rory, Bill and Alan will have an online design meeting tomorrow to discuss this new approach. We have moved back to a more "planar" and more bike-like frame with single tubes. One wheel is hidden to reveal the frame.

Here you can see the "fork" apprach to what we used to call "twin flanking members." These forks let the frame overlap, and allow the morphing to go lower, for good distance riding stability and cornering.

Low rider mode. Not sure about the curved sections. They could be hard to fabricate. But this is just a concept model.

Wheel and seat removed, and you can see how the fork allows the main tube to morph lower without interference.

Here's a look at the previous design, which spead the frame members out to the sides. Better for strength, but many more parts, more metal, and it loses the bike look. That's way we went to this design, that combines the single tube look with the forks that give us our flanking members.

Click here: to download the viewer for Mac or PC. You'll need it to see the files below: Note that this concept design doesn't show the handcranks or any of the front end.


Morphing Handcycle Design Meeting in Cambridge - Morph 2.5; A Cool Wooden Model; Bungee Lift System

Rory, Alan and Bill met to discuss next steps for Move With Freedom and the Morphing Handcycle and the Morphing Wheelchair. Alan brought along an important breakthrough: A low cost 1/8th scale model of the latest handcycle design. This working (it morphs!) model was made using a CNC router, cutting out thin plywood. Alan's friend did it for $100! Wow, that is amazing, and so useful. This model shows a new version of the design that includes automatic adjustment of the seat bottom and the seat back.

I'm holding up the single sheet of plywood that supplied all the parts for the model. It's really amazing that a fully working, accurate scale model can be made so quickly, easily, and cheaply.

This is what we're calling "Morph 2.5" Morph 2 weighed almost 60 pounds, while Morph 3 was about 40. But Morph 2 worked better, and had better steering. At the recent MassTLC Innovation 2000 unConference, Rory wanted to come with an improved vehicle. I a period of just a week, George Reynolds and Rory combined Morph 2 and Morph 3. They took the aluminum front end from Morph 3, and fixed the footrest design, and put that on Morph 2. Then George removed the vestigial angle adjust mechanism that didn't work out on Morph 2. That also removed one morphing joint. Voila. We cut some 13 pounds from the weight! (Background has been hastily Photoshopped to remove clutter.)

Here's Morph II as stood during our marathon measuring session last summer. Notice that the struts are gone, one morphing joint is gone, the steel footrests are gone, the steel front end is gone.

The main tube is crumpling. Oops. Too much force, all piling up in one spot. We'll have to fix that. Rory was noticing that the pedals seemed to be getting closer to him as he rode.

Closeup. The tube had too much force on its surface. Can't do that!

The steel "test rig" set up with a bungee lift system. No gas springs. Also note the seat has the self-adjusting mechanism. so when you morph, the seat automatically corrects for added tilt. It works so well you don't know its there.

Note the big black shock cord bundle. It's helping me morph up.

Now I'm morphed down. Note the path of the cord. It goes between the two steel members. The bungee lift system works better with a clear center span, and with flanking support members. This frame design can also accommodate a single gas spring.

Morphing Handcycle - Important Breakthroughs - See the uncut video

This post shows the uncut video from our design session at Baron Engineering on Monday, August 17, with John Baron and Alan Ball. Bill Warner mans the camera.
This video tips the scales at a Titanic length of 8 minutes, which in the "dog minutes" of the Internet translates to a major time committment (is that 56 "Internet" minutes?)
But there's a lot of interesting stuff here, including how you can make a morphing handcycle using bungee cords. (no kidding. Shock cord works great)

Just Like Your Teacher Told You, Geometry is Important -- A Detailed Look at the Geometry of the Next Morph

This Powerpoint presentation reviews today's online design session with Alan Ball, Rory McCarthy, and Bill Warner. The goal is to nail down the geometry of the morphing mechanism in stick figure, and then proceed with some basic frame design.
Now that we've got two morphing vehicles on the road, the benefits of the Morph II design are easy to see. It has excellent steering geometry in low rider and high rider modes. Mainly, we need to fix the issue that we can't adjust the seat angle, and the struts provided on Morph II turned out to be an unworkable solution due to the high forces that travel through those struts while you are sitting, and even higher forces while you are riding.
This presentation compares Morph II, the Bobby Hall, and a proposed new design, which essentially keeps the Morph II morphing frame, but allows it to morph through its full travel. Next will the the challenge of designing a seat that allows the proper adjustments.