Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

A new way to power... my sewing machine

This objective has been the most difficult for me so far. I admit, I thought it would be hard to work up the courage to carry out my plan for ACT2, but this one has been harder. My skills center on organizing people, helping groups to achieve actual results, and making communication between people smoother -- not on inventing things. I can be resourceful, and when I have a small need I can figure out a way to meet it with supplies I have on hand, but electricity sources just feel like they are beyond me.

I am so amazed when I read about inventions like the sOccket or the wind belt, or clever ideas like Sayel Cortes' "save some heat for later" idea. They just seem so simple after someone points them out, but I know the leap to get from not having an idea, to having an idea, is a great and wonderful thing.

I did not have that leap for this project. I tried sketching out some Rube Goldberg-esque inventions, but they didn't lead anywhere interesting. So I thought maybe I'd get a little hand generator and power my cell phone for a day, but that's not really inventing anything, so I didn't think it was in the spirit of the game. Then I tried staring into space for a while, and I suddenly realized my sewing machine was on the corner of my desk, in my line of sight. So here's my crazy, probably unworkable idea that combines several of the things I was musing about:

The cord from my sewing machine goes to the foot pedal, of course, but also to a Mysterious Black Box in the Wall. Another Cord goes from this box up the wall to the Roof, where it plugs into Mysterious Black Box #2. This box is attached to a Panel and the panel is covered in Wind Belts! When the Wind blows, it powers the Wind Belts, which power the Mysterious Black Box #2. One or the other of the Mysterious Black Boxes -- it's a little unclear which -- stores up the power so that when I want to make quilts or pajamas, my sewing machine is ready to go!

If someone out there wants to capitalize on this idea, I will gladly split any proceeds with you, 50-50. Hah.

Views: 1594

Comment by Jane McGonigal on March 24, 2010 at 3:08am
Awesome -- I hope someone takes you up on your idea to test this idea. ^_^
This mission is hard for me, too. I am taking a slightly different approach... we are going to make ice cream this weekend using the balls you can kick around to make ice cream. All hand-powered and foot-powered! It's not inventing a new way to power something I already have, but I'm going to propose that perhaps you could have an entire ice cream parlor with a sports field attached and everyone kicks their own. ^_^
Comment by ninmah on March 24, 2010 at 3:15am
I love it! Exercise and ice cream, perfect for a warm weekend. I'd go for sure. I haven't tried those balls, but I've heard of them -- I'll be curious to hear how it goes.
Comment by Margarita Quihuis on March 24, 2010 at 3:22am
Reading your post actually brought back memories of visiting my grandmother's house and watching my Aunt Raquel outside sewing on the treadle sewing machine.

Comment by ninmah on March 24, 2010 at 3:36am
Those have always amazed me, Margarita. It takes all I have just to manage my hands and the cloth, let alone working a treadle with my foot!
Comment by Ebert Rassenmussen on March 24, 2010 at 3:43am
You could definitely make this work. If you can get the wind belts, you could plug those into a charge controller, which would plug into a deep cycle battery, which could plug into an inverter. The inverter has a regular outlet on it so your sewing machine could plug right into it. These components will be just over $200
Here are the components:
charge controller:


Deep cycle battery:
Comment by ninmah on March 24, 2010 at 3:49am
Ohhh, cool, thank you Geoff! I had no idea it really could be as simple as it looked. That would totally rock. I really, really appreciate the links and the shopping list. Now, to get those wind belts...
Comment by Nicholas Nagao on March 24, 2010 at 3:57am
ninmah, cool idea, and fun problem to tackle.

Margarita - I thought of the old sewing machines when I started reading this as well.

Ninmah - Sometimes it's useful to look in the past to find out how things were done before electricity to get ideas (like Jane is doing with the hand cranks and such). I would think an melding of old to new would be great in this case. What if you took an old pedal powered sewing machine and used the mechanical energy created from the pedaling to generate electricity so that you could get the control benefits of an electric sewing machine. This would solve the coordination problem for some people as well, as you could pedal, then stop if you didn't have the hang of pedaling at the same time as sewing.
Comment by Starling on March 24, 2010 at 4:00am
Nice work Ninmah!
Comment by Nicholas Nagao on March 24, 2010 at 4:00am
Sorry, I realized I didn't explain that very well.

You would use the pedal mechanism that used to be used to drive the mechanics of the old sewing machine, but rather than having the pedal be directly connected to the gears and such that move the needle, you would hook up the gear the pedal is turning to a mechanical generator (simple magnet and coil of wire, like an alternator in a car). You would then hook up the generator to a battery to store and/or regulate the charge. Then you would hook up a modern electric sewing machine to the battery. Viola, you have a pedal powered electric sewing machine.
Comment by ninmah on March 24, 2010 at 4:07am
Alice, thank you!

Nicholas, I actually did think of the old pedal mechanism briefly in my staring-into-space phase. What I thought was that I could put it under my desk where I sit working on my computer, and pedal away while I work during the day. Then, in addition to the benefits of exercise, when I'm ready to sew in the evenings or on the weekends, it would be good to go. I didn't get as far as trying to clarify the idea as much as you have -- thank you for the very clear explanation. Now I have two things to try... EVOKE is so inspiring! If I manage to get the parts and hook it up, I'll post pictures and/or videos, which will no doubt be entertaining :-)


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