Friday, August 27, 2010

Building a recumbent velomobile - Arcturus Human and Solar Powered Motorhome

"Hey fellow bike builders out there. Been lurking on your forum for awhile. Got the Kyoto Cruiser Trike plans and want to build a fairing around it to ride and camp as I travel. Weren't you working on some kind of camping bike awhile ago? I remember reading something about that. How far did you get and could you post something about that project, too? Many thanks, Steve, Ohio."

Thanks for your question, Steve. We haven't built a fairing yet, but did start working on the Arcturus Human and Solar Powered Motorhome over a year ago. It's based on the Kyoto Cruiser Recumbent Trike, but will have a full fairing and sleeping and eating area. A lightweight velomobile camper with all the amenities you'll need for traveling and camping, including solar powered features. 

We ran into a problem with lack of space in our garage, so the project has been put on hold until we find a larger place to work on it. Most of the basic frame is already done. But, it takes up alot of space in our garage. We hope to move to a rural location soon to start working on this project again.

We have a web site devoted to the Arcturus Human and Solar Powered Motorhome project, so feel free to read through what we accomplished so far. Here's some information from the introduction, but there's also more on the Arcturus site. Thanks for your support and keep us posted on your project in the forum.

What Is Arcturus?

Since the day I began dreaming up bicycle creations, I have always wanted to create a large human powered camper with an electric assist running on batteries that are self charged using solar power. This vehicle would have to be large enough to sleep at least two people and have enough room inside to stand up and move around. Of course, the entire unit would have to be made extremely light for its size and incorporate space age design and materials in order to remain partly human powered.

With the new power assisted bicycle law introduced several years ago in Ontario, Canada, I could now add a 500 watt motor to the camper as well, so this would make hill climbing a lot easier, and allow for a larger battery bank that would run the motor for at least 50 kilometers, and then power all of the onboard electronics and appliances when parked. The vehicle also had to have no more than three wheels, or it would not legally be classified as a bicycle in my province, so the trike design was the only option and would allow for a more streamlined body.

The inside of the camper area will be 4 feet wide, 10 feet long, and 6 feet tall. The cockpit area of the camper will have about the same size as the Kyoto Cruiser, with plenty of room for two riders to sit comfortably without rubbing arms or shoulders.

Arcturus Human and Solar Powered
Motorhome is based on Kyoto Cruiser

Recumbent Trike
Of course, there will be a main seating area that also pulls out for an additional two-person bed, a large table, storage area, small sink, stove, heater, and built-in LCD screen, all running off of the battery bank. The battery will self-charge using a large solar array mounted on the roof of the camper and via plug-in during cloudy days or between long hilly journeys.

This may sound like a lot of equipment, but I plan on a total weight of no more than 400 pounds. Four hundred pounds is 200 pounds of cycle per person, and if you include the power of the electric assist motor, pedaling the vehicle will be as easy as riding any bicycle.

Regenerative braking will also be incorporated into the custom computer controlled charging system, motor controller and "smart" assist system, which will instinctively know how much power to split between human and motor for seamless hill climbing and acceleration.