Hacked Gadgets Forum

November 26, 2011

Ducted Fan Bike

at 5:07 pm. Filed under Complex Hacks, DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks


Ducted fan vehicles haven’t exactly caught on yet but they look like tons of fun. Remember the Ducted Fan Scooter we featured earlier this year? Rich Olson from Nothing Labs has built this Ducted Fan Bike, it uses 3 ducted fans that are mounted to the rear of a bike, some controls on the handlebars are used to interface with an arduino. The arduino then controls the fan speed controllers. He got a speed of around 8.5 MPH, I think now that the proof of concept is done a unit with significantly more power should be the next step!

“The 3 EDF’s I got are rated for about 2 lbs thrust each when run at 12v (so maybe 6lbs thrust total). The specs say 20-40 amps. Normally the motor controllers are connected to a receiver – but I wanted something a little less cumbersome. So – I rigged up an Arduino to generate a PWM signal – and tossed together a little control panel.”



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11 Responses to “Ducted Fan Bike”

  1. Seamus Dubh Says:

    Why doe this build even need an arduino, its completely unnecessary.
    The speed control can be done, completely, by the potentiometer on the handle bars.

    Of course unless the fans absolutely “need” a digital control signal to “power” the motors.

  2. Farle Says:

    Seamus, sometimes you just got to throw reason to the wind.

    Get it? Ducted Fans? Wind? Ahaha….thank you.

  3. Rich Olson Says:

    Hi – project’s author here – thanks for featuring me!!!

    To answer the question of why you need an Arduino…

    the motors are brushless – and need to be run off a brushless motor controller. The particular brushless controllers I used were intended to be used with a 50hz PWM signal provided by an RC radio. This is the signal the Arduino generates as determined by the position of the potentiometer on the handlebars.

    Also – even if they weren’t brushless motors – you could never run all those amps directly through a little potentiometer. You could connect the potentiometer to a transistor – but doing so without some kind of PWM would be very inefficient (lots of the power would get turned into heat).

    In short – if you’re going to do variable speed control on a motor with any efficiency – you’re probably going to need PWM of some kind generated – either by a microcontroller (like an Arduino) – or maybe a circuit involving a 555 timer.

  4. Haku Says:

    The Gadget Show here in the UK did a ducted fan powered bike earlier this year, their 2nd EDF (electric ducted fan) bike build with 6 fans which set a new guinness world record of 72 mph.

  5. Alan Parekh Says:

    Thanks for adding this info Rich.

  6. Alan Parekh Says:


    I would love to see that, do you have a link?

  7. Haku Says:

    They did the world record on their 200th episode, they also set speed world records of a dragster powered by chainsaw engines and a jet powered luge.
    The footage is viewable on Channel5’s website but only from a UK IP address so non-UKers will need to use something like a UK VPN, or search for torrent: gadget show s16e09


  8. Alan Parekh Says:

    Thanks for the link Haku,

    Unfortunately they have blocked the video from being shown here in Canada. 🙁

  9. Alan Parekh Says:

    Looks like there is a bit if it here.

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