A One Wheeler- the Uni-Pogo

Since this project was developed, built, tested and moved on-from all before I wrote anything about it I’ll tell its story:

I’ve been interested in the idea of super-compact, minimal urban transportation occasionally over the last few months. The idea of a mass transit “connector”, that’ll get you from your house to the train, then to work on the other side. A powered scooter of some sort that is compact enough to go anywhere you can. Instead of locking it outside the store, you just take it in in your shopping cart. Or put it under your desk at work. Because I think that an easy, quick way to get around like that would make transit work for a lot of people- faster than walking, easier and less sweaty than biking.

Of course- it’s got to be small. And that’s the trick. It’s really design something that’s small and light enough to carry around but stable and comfortable cruising at 12 or 15 mph and dealing with the usual bumps you encounter in the paved world. I started by imagining fold-able scooters, working out how a belt driven rear wheel, brakes, steering and battery could all fit and fold into a small briefcase like package. I realized just how complex all these things would be to actually build. And I got a little distracted- if you can make a small two wheeler, how about a one wheeler? And how about instead of the traditional unicycle form factor, make it scooter, or segway, or most aptly pogo stick style, with handlebars. I had great hopes for it- it was like a segway (which is pretty neat, I’ve ridden one) except better in every way. Lighter, smaller, narrower, more portable, less complex, more fun… I thought you could fix the main problem with the segway, its bulk and width by just ditching a wheel. I figured balancing on the thing shouldn’t be too hard, and remembered I had seen various home-built balancing scooters online, so I was confident I could get the balancing softare to work.

The upshot? Well, I did get it to work, not all that well, but yes, ride-able. The problem- I was tired of hacking on the software while not really knowing what I was doing and I thought I had gotten enough of a feel for the platform that I could tell it just wasn’t going to be that much fun even with a great balancing computer. There were places to take it, with different style foot pegs, or maybe a unicycle seat- ditch the handlebars in favor of what has worked conventionally. But I realized that the one wheel scooter wasn’t what I actually wanted to be riding around town.

I learned a lot about computer signal and control systems getting it to the state I got it- it was fun and interesting and now I’ve got a wheel, motor and frame that I can use to make prototypes for a couple other ideas I’ve got- ideas involving more wheels, naturally.

The scooter was set up with:

I’ve taken the scooter apart again to use the batteries on the latest project. We’ll see how things go. I intend to post a bit about the more technical side of making this thing work- we’ll see about that too.

Posted on April 20, 2010 at 12:19 pm by Henry · Permalink
In: Uni-Pogo, Urban Scooter

4 Responses

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  1. Written by bulaboy
    on April 22, 2010 at 10:37 am
    Reply · Permalink

    I love the video. Unlike the certainty I feel re riding the bike, I may pass on the pogo.

  2. Written by Monovelo
    on May 9, 2010 at 2:06 am
    Reply · Permalink

    It is a great idea, with a bigger diameter of the wheel it should work well.
    Please tell why you did not like to drive it in the city?

  3. Written by Pavel
    on January 1, 2012 at 10:15 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Hi Henry,
    I have watched your videos with the Uni-Pogo. It looks very good !! I ´m building now this one. I would like use things from my electric scooter. I have only smaller wheel like you and now I found from your information that wheel must be bigger. How big wheel do you recommend me, please?
    And I have one more guestion about Gyro. Do you thing that Gyro is necessary? I appologise for my English. Thank you very much. Pavel

    • Written by Henry
      on January 25, 2012 at 9:54 pm
      Reply · Permalink

      I think the small wheel is really ok- the much more important thing to get right is the software algorithm.

      The gyro is critical… Read more about it on the MIT or Trevor Blackwell sites!

      Good luck!

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