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 www.yuuguu.com 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)

Comparison Drawings: Morph4 vs Morph 2 Do the Numbers Match Up? Yes.

Before we go into detailed design for the actual Morph 4 prototype, I asked Alan to check the key dimensions of Morph 4 against those for Morph 2. Everything looks good in the drawing above.

Trail in Low Rider: 2.5" (okay, a bit more trail than Morph 2's 1.3")
Trail in High Rider: -1.3" (same as Morph 2)

Wheelbase High Rider: 42.46 inches (1/2" more than Morph 2)
Wheelbase Low Rider: 59.37 inches (3/4" more than Morph 2)

Height to seat joint, low rider: 9.83 inches vs 12.03 Morph 2
Height to seat joint, high rider: 23.67 inches (.4 inches higher than Morph 2)
Seat height delta: 13.84 inches (2.63 more than Morph 2...very important for low CG in low rider)
Eye height delta: 16.21 inches (extra is due to change in seat back tilt?)

These are the measurements for Morph 2. Note that Morph 2 doesn't have the automatic seat adjustment system, and that it doesn't come down as far.

All of these dimensions and angles look good. Nice drawings, Alan. Very clear and simple.

PDF: Morph 4 Dimensions Compared to Morph 2

[From Alan Ball: January 12, 2010]

A while ago you requested some orthographic views with key dimensions called out for the M4. Check out the drawing I have attached here. Is this what you had in mind?

For comparison , I have included a drawing of the M2 geometry, which I documented in CAD and was measured and confirmed against M2. As you can see, the basic dimensions are almost the same, with differences occurring due to M4 greater range of morphing motion.

Do You Love Seeing the Details?: Two Years of Morphing Handcycle Photos and Videos Examine Every Moment, Every Measurement

CONFUSION ALERT! What looks like image galleries below are really SCREEN GRABS of the Picasa Web Albums galleries! So no, you can't click on the little images to see it bigger. Instead, you need to click on the ORANGE links to see Picasa Web Album it is associated with (and alas doesn't go to if you click on the photo itself!

Note: When you play a video, you can choose "View HQ Video" on the upper right of the screen. This will make all subsequent videos at the higher (much better!) resolution. The original videos were shot at 800x600 with a Panasonic TZ1 camera, and later videos are shot at 1200x800 with a Panasonic TZ5 camera. Find this video to learn why popcorn is so important to the Morphing Handcycle project.

Online Meeting: Graham Butler Rejoins Morphing Handcycle Team - We Move Towards Manufacturing

Graham Butler with the very earliest roadable version of Morph 2 - April, 2007. The seat is a piece of plywood, and and the seat back is just the frame. We are on the streets of Dorchester, MA, behind the Nexus Machine and Gallery machine shop where Graham constructed Morph 2. Note the big adjustment struts near his hand. These were intended to adjust the angle of the seat after morphing. They have been replaced by automatic linkages within the morphing design.

We took a very important step today towards getting the Morph into production. We discussed our future in an online meeting conducted with Rory McCarthy (Bath, Maine) the inventor of the Morph , Bill Warner, co-founder of Move With Freedom, and project manager (Cambridge, MA), Alan Ball, industrial designer (Somerville, MA) and Graham Butler, mechanical engineer and founder of www.intrepidequipment.com and the engineering lead on Morph 2. (By the way, we used www.yuuguu.com for the online screen sharing, and it worked very nicely, and allows up to 5 users for free.)

For about a year now, we have been working to refine the design we now call Morph 4, and solve key issues such as morphing geometry, steering geometry, and seat adjustment and seat tilt correction during morphing. With the latest design for Morph 4 delivered by Alan Ball on Christmas Day, complete with 1/4 scale wooden model see: http://morphhc.posterous.com/a-christmas-morph-alan-ball-delivers-a-scale, we now have a design that is ready to move forward to production.

Graham Butler was our original mechanical engineer on the project, and designed the Morph 2 and Morph 3 prototypes. (We then took the lightweight front end of Morph 3 and mated it with the smooth-morphing rear end of Morph 2, and created Morph 2.5, which is what Rory is riding now.)

Now Graham will be taking the mechanical engineering lead again to bring Morph 4 forward into a production vehicle. Graham’s company is currently building handcycles, so this production knowledge will applied to the design of Morph 4. Welcome Graham!

Key Items to Work Out For the Production Morph 4.
1. The Footrest - We need to design a great footrest that handles the wide range of issues that the Morph presents. First, now that the seat automatically adjusts as you morph up and down, your seat bottom will be tilting at different angles relative to the footrests. This means that that your feet will move up and down in the footrest. We’ll need some kind of movable element to give you support at the bottom of your foot. And the under-the-leg supports will also have to allow sliding of the leg up and down.
2. Adjustable Lift System - A gas shock (shown in green) provides the lift that makes the rider “weightless.” There is no motor for morphing. You just grab the wheels, and because the gas shock is compensating for your weight, you can pull yourself up with no effort.

But the lift system has to balanced to each rider. One way to do this is to order each gas shock at a custom force. But this means that the others cannot try the Morph, or if they do, they won’t have that wonderful weightless feeling. Too heavy, and they will morph down quickly and have a hard time getting up. Too light and they won’t be able to morph down and will pop up.

So, we desire an adjustable lift system. Ideally, one could adjust the lift in seconds, either to suit their riding tastes, or for a new rider. We don't believe you can adjust the gas spring itself. However, you could remove and reinstall the gas spring in a slightly different location so it has a different mechanical advantage. And, this could be combined with some mechanical springs that could be tensioned more or less to adjust the lift.

We believe that the spread of the morphing concept depends on people trying the machine, and that can only happen if the lift system is easily adjustable.
3 - Mid Morphing Lock - Currently, the Morph locks in the low position, and in the high position. (These latches, by the way, have been problematic as far as reliability.) For Morph 4, we believe that some mid-morph locking positions are important. For example, you’d like to lock the the morph at a convenient height for wheelchair transfer. You’d also like to lock it at a good “upright handcycle” height for riding around town, rather than at the fastest road speeds which would occur in the low rider mode.

Designing the mid-morph lock is tricky, because the morph moves over such a wide range. Here I show a mid-morph lock concept (in yellow), that will lock in a few positions, and then stows below the black morphing arm. The rider rotates it up to use it.