A Christmas Morph! Alan Ball Delivers a Scale Model of Morph 4 on Christmas Day. It's beautiful, sexy, and sleek.

On Chrismas Day, Alan Ball brought over a wonderful present - a working, 1/4 scale model of the Morph 4 prototype. Jake, our dog, is check Alan out. The wonder of this design is in how simple it looks, but how much it does. I believe we are now ready to design in metal, and build five or six prototypes so people can really experience what its like to ride a morph. What it's like to "get back the Z", meaning that you can go up and down, and not just ride around at 18-21" off the ground in a wheelchair. The Morph goes from bar-stool height in the high mode to a low and fast 13" off the ground for speed in low rider. Both modes are a thrill, but you just can't explain to people what it's like to be riding at bar stool height. You see everything in a new way compared to a wheelchair. So we need to make some prototypes and let people try it for themselves. More details about Move With Freedom, our non-profit, is at www.movewithfreedom.org.

Our previous iteration of the Morphing Handcycle wood model was much more complex in look and form, although all the joints are actually in the same place. The goal of bringing the Morph back to its "planar" and more "bike like" form has been achieve in the new red and black model. Nicely done, Alan.

Watch as Alan move the morph and his daughter does a little narration.

Our previous design sought to move the rider load closer to the rear wheels, so the frame members moved to the outside. Nice idea, but the bike ended up with a wheelchair look, and it felt more complex. It also lost that "I've gotta have that" look and feel. So we want back to the drawing boards. (Well, Alan did.)

Ah, what a difference a day makes. Okay, many days. But now we have that beautiful look again, and the Morph has all the features and range that we're seeking.

Cool wheels, huh? That's plexiglass with a notch machined on the outer edge to hold O-rings. Hey, I get credit for that one.

Again, for contrast.

The magic of the blue joints. These are the magic links that make the seat bottom and the seat back adjust their angle as you morph up and down.

Note how far above the red main tube the back of the seat bottom is.

Now look at the red main tube. It rises almost to the bottom of the seat. But it doesn't tilt directly with the red main tube, which is how things used to work.

In this very brief, video, you can see how the joints work. The seat bottom is mainly tied to the red tube on the front of the seat, and to the lower (black) link arm for the rear of the seat.

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.

Morph HC Online Sketch Session with Rory McCarthy and Alan Ball - We Start Curvy and Go Straight.

We started the session by looking at the issue of curved vs. straight tubes. Alan turned on the layer that shows where the main joints are.

Just in case you want some dimensions and angles.

Curvy Morph in upright mode. Bill expresses concerns about curved tubes. One concern is how it looks...not as angular as our earlier designs, and also the difficulty in fabrication. Discussion moves to what would a design with straight tubes look like. Alan made some screen captures and we did some overlay drawings.

Here we straighten some of the tubes.

Now the upper tube has once joint, rather than two.

Lower member also now has one joint.

Now we look at straightening the main tube. But it bangs into the seat, which can change angles.

Now the main straight tube is below the seat joints.

Adding the gusset tube to the head tube.

Another design for the main tube. One little weld, and then it hits the head tube in the middle.

How it looks in low rider mode.

Now exploring how to make the members look good in low rider. Want them to be parallel.

The upper, blue member now has an angle that causes the tube to be parallel to the green one on the bottom.

Same design in high rider mode.

We discussed that there are 6 places where we have a fork. (oh my!). Need to figure out something that is lightweight, low cost, and looks good, and then gets repeated six times.

The center upper drawing shows a very short fork at #6.

We agreed that Alan should take another pass at the frame design, and we'll get back on the phone to refine further. Note that the initial curvy frame that he designed was about 3 hours of work! We are getting very fast at being able to make new morph designs in very minimal time.

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: http://www.edrawingsviewer.com/ 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.


More on the Low-Cost Wooden Model That Moves: Designing a Morphing Handcycle By Seeing It In Action

Alan Ball sent along an e-Drawings file of the 3D Solidworks model that he used to cut out the wooden pieces to make the 1/8 scale model of the most recent design of the Morphing Handcycle.  An overview of the project is at www.movewithfreedom.org. This technique of using CNC-routed wood parts is very significant, because it lets us understand a design in "real life" at very low cost.

Note that our next design is going to take some of the concepts in this model, but will go back to a more planar frame, which will have more of a "bike" look. We may use this style of design on a future morphing wheelchair.

Click here: http://www.edrawingsviewer.com/ to download the viewer for Mac or PC. You'll need it to see the files below

Below is another output of the Powerpoint file that shows animations using the wooden model. The previous version used a PDF output, but I worry that the PDF takes a long time to load. Below are JPEGs from that same file. Just click through the images to see the frame animate.

A Wood Model Reveals: How to Understand the Self-Adjusting Seat on the Morphing Handcycle (choose full screen, and set view mode to "slide")

(Set viewer to "SLIDE" mode shown on lower left so animations will work)

This Powerpoint presentation and animation uses Alan Ball's clever and low-cost 1/8 scale wooden model to let us see how the seat bottom and seat back magically change angles to correct for tilt when the bike morphs up and down. Very cool, and it really works! (Note: this is a re-post using a PDF format from the the original Powerpoint)

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)

A Morphing Seat For The Morphing Handcycle - How to Correct Seat Position When You've Tilted the Frame by 20 Degrees

Alan sent these screen images along with a cool shadow border, so our post gets a slightly different look.

Shown above in green is the proposed morphing seat. Actually, there is the boxy (just for layout...not the real design) seat sub-frame. The end of the morph arm, along with the little tab that moves (how?) adjusts the seat angle to be correct in both low rider and high rider positions.

Oblique view.

Side view in high rider. The 74 inch rider isn't there.

Mid morph. The seat morphing mechanism is beginning to tilt the seat backwards.

Now the seat is tilting back more to correct for the morphing down, and to move the rider to the correct low-rider tilted-back position.

All the way down, in low-rider mode.

Issues to think about: 
1. How do we support the seat back? Needs to be very rigid as you power the pedals. Looks like it would be hard to put a strut between the morphng frame and the seat back, because dimensions are changing
2. Need a foot rest that lets the rider rest their feet in both low-rider and high rider positions.

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

The best way to visualize the design is to use this 3D viewer and change the configuration pull down to move the bike through its morphing range.

A Self-Adjusting Seat: Alan Ball Presents Two Designs for the Next Morphing Handcycle

Rory, Alan and I had an online design review session today. The latest design from Alan Ball looks at two ways to make the seat self adjusting when you morph. This version puts a hinge below the seat, at the same joint as the front morphing joint. There is a knuckle attached to the seat back that forces the seat forward as you morph down.

Bobby Hall seat positions shown in blue. Note that the Morph in low rider is a longer vehicle than the Bobby Hall. And that the rider sits further forward. Our seat height is about the same.

Now in high rider mode. Notice that the knuckle behind the seat is shorter. This tilted the seat back in high rider.

This is a different approach. A subframe is hinged just below the front of the seat. A tab pushes up the rear of the seat as you morph down. The seat tilts up at 11.5 degrees, which is what you want.

Version 2 showing the seat inn high rider mode. The mechanism has lowered the rear of the seat, and reduced the tilt. The grey lines show what the tilt would be without the mechanism. That tilt would be uncomfortable at best.

We are 2.87 degrees tilted forward. This seems to work well in high rider mode.

Without a seat tilt correction, the tilt is almost 11 degrees forward, which is not acceptable.

Click on the two versions of the model below to see it in 3D. You'll need the free e-Drawings Viewer (for Mac or PC)