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 Lift System: Decision to Use Dual Gas Shocks & Adjustable Shock Cord

Rory, Graham, Alan and Bill met on Tueday, Feb 2 by screen share. This post will review the decisions made.

Decision 1: Pursue dual gas springs, mounted inside of the two upper morphing arms

There were three choices for the gas shock (we also call it a gas spring.) Choice 1 was a single shock that didn't protrude, but that requires a custom shock. Choice 2 is dual shocks (the choice we picked) and choice 3 was a single off-the shelf shock that would be longer and would have an extension that would hold it down

This sequence will let you create your own animation of the morph up/down sequence showing the action of the gas shock.

This animation shows Choice 3 - a single, longer shock, mounted further along the morphing arm. The good news here is that the total force from the shock can be lower, because the mechanical advantage for lifting is higher. But we didn't like the look of the shock protruding out of the mechanism. Also, Morph 2 uses two shocks, and it has that "magic." We don't know what a single shock would be like.

Custom Shock Side View.

Custom shock top view.

Here we have the custom shock solution. One big, powerful shock mounted at a partial distance along the morphing link arm. But here's the shocker: due to the longer range of Morph 4 compared to Morph 2, this shock needs about 1000 lbs of force for a 250 lb rider. Wow! We don't want a single shock with this much force, and we don't want a custom solution.

Rear view of the dual shock approach. We're going to see if the two shocks can be mounted inboard of the struts, rather than with the small extension. With 500 lbs on each shock, that' creates a lot of moment a the mounting points.

Side 3D view of the dual shocks.

Adjustable Lift System

Adjustable Lift System - This side view shows the idea of some of the lifting force being supplied by an elastomer (shock cord). The cord is shown in red. In the low mode, the cord is stretched, and it is providing significant lifting force. By changing the where the cord is attached to the forward frame, we can instantly adjust the up force. This adjustment will be done when in high mode, where the cord is slack.

An idea for the upper morphing arm. Teardrop shaped tubing with a machined end that is welded on. Not sure this is an ideal design.

Bearings are captured in the clamp?

What Makes a Morph Go Up and Down Like Magic? Animations and Lots of Details Here

This is a big post that will review a wide range of design choices on Morph 4.

First up is the design for the "lift system" - the gas spring and any other elements that make the Morph...well... morph. Here we see a design that uses a single long-stroke gas spring that fits in between the dual arms of the upper and lower link arms. This spring would be rated at about 500 lbs of force. It is an off-the shelf shock from McMaster Carr:

Details on the single shock. Click here to see the gas spring online.

Morph 2 (and its modified version, Morph 2.5) uses two gas springs. We're debating right now which is better. With two gas springs, we can have more force, and the place the springs closer to the hinge point. This means a smaller shock, and maybe a neater look.

Side view animation. Gee, the single gas spring seems like it's hanging out in low rider mode. Is that cool? Or wrong? Note the "extension" that holds it to the upper morphing arm. This member is only in tension. It is like the vertical cables on a suspension bridge.

Rear view animation. Note that the big shock "pokes up" in Morph 4, but in Morph 2/2.5, the gas springs protrude downward and are handled by an extension from the axle tube.

Note the two thin extensions welded to the axle tube. These welds actually failed on Morph 2 because there is about 250 lbs of force acting at a distance on these extensions. But they do serve to allow a longer gas spring to fit into the system. I believe  we could use a similar approach on Morph 4.

We decided to look into this some more, and scheduled another online meeting for Tuesday, Feb 2, 2010. Or calls uses for screen visuals, and we are in Bath, Maine, Cambridge, MA, Somerville, MA, and Santee, CA.

Adjustable Lift System

Let's say you weigh 170 lbs, and the gas shock is sized just for you. You want to show a guy who's 200 lbs exactly how cool the Morph is. Well, it won't work that well, because the 200 lb person is 30 pounds over the design weight. This means that he will sink down fast to low rider mode, and will need to work a bit to get up. He won't have that wonderful "float" that makes the Morph so amazing.

We would like to have a fast, easy way to adjust the lift system. One idea is to have the gas spring handle part of the weight, and have an adjustable elastomer system handle the rest. Those are the red cords in the picture above.

X-ray view.

You can see the elastomer cord bisecting the "diamond" of the frame, and then going inside the main tube, then emerging to a hook. What hook you set it on determines how much supplemental force you get for the lift system. Want to change it? just move the hook when you are in high rider mode and the cord is slack.

This is one proposed supplemental lift system. Just hook it to get the lift you want. We're still working on other ideas. The silver item below the cord is the coupler that lets the front and back of the bike come apart for getting the Morph in a car.

We're debating aesthetics vs ease of construction. Here is an upper link arm with straight tubes. Much easier to make, but will it have that "cool" look that gets people excited? Other arm has the cuts/and welds shown.

Aye, she's a beauty, but oh, the work to make this part. Cuts, welds, and precision machining for the bearing races that mate at either end.

This design avoids having to seat bearings at each end. Uses ball joints. Hmmm.

Here's another way to complete the tube. A machine insert that is welded on. We're also thinking about teardrop tubes which would look much better than rectangular.

In the previous post, we had an issue with seat clearance to the main tube. The new design moves the cross-member further forward, so the horizontal supports can straddle the main tube.

A look at an assembled version using ball joints. I like the ball joints for the little seat adjusters. Not sure they're great for the main morphing joints.

Here is the e-Drawings file for the SolidWorks model:  You'll need the free e-Drawings Viewer (for Mac or PC)

Morphing Handcycle: Morph 4 e-Drawings Model - View the Reference Model in 3D

Side view of reference model for Morph 4.

Rory, Graham, Alan, and Bill are planning an online design session for Wednesday, Jan 13. These e-Drawings models along with the earlier drawings showing dimensions will be useful for the discussion.

Our man's name is "Slim Flatstock"

He disappears in front view.

Isometric view.

Here is the e-Drawings file for the SolidWorks model:  You'll need the free e-Drawings Viewer (for Mac or PC)

CAD files of M4n - wood model

[From Alan Ball - January 12, 2010]

Attached to this email message is a pack 'n go of the solidworks model. Please note that I built this in SW 2009, so you may not be able to open it. With this in Mind I am sending you some edrawings, and also a step file and an IGES file( in the zip file). I hope this is sufficient for you to see what we have been up to.

The Morphing Handcycle Gets a Simplified Tubular Frame - Getting Much Easier to Build

Alan Ball, Rory McCarthy, and Bill Warner got on the phone today to go over the latest design. Here it is, with a simplified tubular frame. Easy to build

Low rider mode. Not that seat back and many other parts are not shown in this simplified model.

High Rider side view

High Rider iso

Low rider side view. We added some color to make it clearer. Main tube looks like it wants a bend.

Low rider top view

Low rider front view

Low rider iso.

High rider iso with coloring.

High rider side view with coloring

High rider to view

High rider front view

Lets curve the main tube. Try 6" radius.

Curved tube at 6" radius.

Higher radius -- 10 "?

Higher radis - 12". This looks nice.

Iso with curved tube 12" radius.





We agreed that the function looks good, and now we just need to talk about some more asthetics.

How Smart Can a Mechanical System Be? Pretty Smart. Variable Rider Weight and Automatic Seat Adjust.

John Baron sent along this e-Drawings file of the test rig showing an adjustable mechanism to compensate for a variety of rider weights. On Morph II, we calibrated the shocks to work for Rory's weight. This worked very well, but doesn't work well for showing other riders. And its not practical for production.

So, one of the goals of the new morph is that it handle a range of rider weights with a simple adjustment. That's what John is testing here.

While Morph II had the frame as a single member, and had two gas shocks, the new design puts two frame members on the outside and a single shock in the middle.

Here's a bunch more photos.

By the way, the gold-colored mechanism is the automatic seat adjuster. As you morph up, it tilts the seat back by droppiing the rear of the seat. This corrects for the forward tilt that morphing up causes.

Here is the e-Drawings file for the SolidWorks model:  You'll need the free e-Drawings Viewer (for Mac or PC)