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Engr305 Appropriate Technology page in progress
This page is a project in progress by students in Engr305 Appropriate Technology. Please do not make edits unless you are a member of the team working on this page, but feel free to make comments on the discussion page. Check back for the finished version on May 23, 2019.


What: We hope to optimize and then have the MEOW be integrated into community events. CCAT’s history has undergone various renditions of pedal powered innovations. The most recent being the MEOW, refer to links for a more thorough history.

Why: The MEOW is a historical staple for CCAT and the community due to its ability to integrate photo-voltaic knowledge, pedal power insights, and community enrichment. Unfortunately, the MEOW is currently underutilized and we hope to plug the MEOW’s capabilities into events on campus in order to demonstrate off the grid energy opportunities.

When: By the end of spring semester 2019

Who: Karina Coronado, Bryce Baker, Colton Evans, Cassidy Fosdick

Problem statement[edit]

The objective of this project is to expand or improve the CCAT MEOW unit in order to increase awareness and accessibility to the entire campus. We will attempt to improve its versatility, aesthetics, or the systems efficiency for the time allotted to complete this project.

The following main categories have been identified as areas that need improvement :

Lack of User Interface

1. Developing a way for students to utilize the power made. Extension cord from inside to outside with a power strip would suffice

2.Making a sign that explains how the power was being produced

3.Having a meter that reflected how much power was remaining and being currently used by the user

4.Having a way that the user interface would disconnect if power dropped below a certain level, so that core functions of the meow would not be disrupted. As an example, hydroponic system being dependent on the MEOW.

5.Bikes:Developing a way to have a bike covered and accessible so that someone could provide additional power There are two additional bikes that can be utilized in the meow(currently only two are working)


1.It is unclear exactly how the display unit functions

2.It is currently showing that the battery has not been fully charged in over a year

3.Data on screen does not seem to reflect what outside conditions are

4.Manual needs to be located and posted on this document in a link

5.Once we can figure out how much power is being produced we can look at optimization

6. Solar inverter needs to be examined.


1.Looking at common appliances being used at CCAT and linking them to the meow

2.Figuring out how much “extra” power is available when Meow is powering all primary power functions for CCAT (hydroponics, lights, water heater, ect.) Basically how much will be available for public charging?

3.Also how will the charger turn off so that primary functions are not disrupted

4.Looking at alternative uses for the Meow with other organizations and around the community


1.Figuring out if tags are currently up to date

2.Tire rotation/inspection


4.Testing Lights

5.Learning how to equalize batteries

6.Developing panel cleaning schedule

7.Cleaning off rust

LITerature Review[edit]

The basics of a PV system[edit]

A photovoltaic system is relatively simple. All it requires is a little know how and ability to build the system. The necessities of PV systems are the following: solar panels, a battery(or batteries), and solar energy. Although, to make the system more efficient additional technology should be added such as a charge controller, an inverter, and a surge protector. The MEOW has 4 solar panels aligned in series to increase voltage. The solar panels energy that gets produced is then connected to batteries in series where the energy can either be stored or connected to the inverter. The inverters purpose is to alter the current from DC to AC which makes the energy usable in most households. A charge controller is used for the MEOW’s system to prevent overloading the batteries with charge or allowing the batteries to be drained too quickly. [1]

The Benefits of Solar[edit]


As we all know the earth is in a state of crisis. Climate change is setting the entire world on a catastrophic path. One of the solutions to this global issue is solar energy. Solar energy provides many benefits not only for the environment but also medically. For example, in Ohio a 1-kW panel provides 105$ in health benefits just because it displaces enough greenhouse gas emissions it saves people money from having to go to the doctor. In states where coal is the main energy source which causes a large assortment of illnesses; this technology could potentially be life saving. The Air Pollution Emission Experiments and Policy (APEEP) values that GHG’s cause about 6 million dollars worth of mortality. [2]

Are Solar Panels Economical for you[edit]

Not only does solar power make sense for a person medically and environmentally but also is great for the wallet. The sun’s energy luckily for everyone is free. However, the equipment needed to harvest and use that energy is not. Usually when thinking about buying a solar system some terms that come to mind are- expensive, unaffordable. There are some calculations you should consider before purchasing the system such as the life cycle costs, life cycle savings, payback time, and return on investing. In order to decide if a PV system is right for your household you should perform the calculations and make the decision best for you. [3]

The average cost of electricity in Arcata is 19.53cents per kilowatt hour [4]. Solar power without federal subsidies costs between 13cents to 17 cents per kwh. Although, with federal subsidies it can cost between 8cents to 11cents per kwh [5]. The contrast is pretty sharp between the prices and should be taken into consideration when debating if solar panels are cost effective.

How Much Solar Energy is available[edit]

How to Position the Solar Panels[edit]

It's very important in a PV system that the solar panels are positioned in the most optimal place to receive the most solar irradiation. At Arcatas positon on the planet the best positon for the MEOW's solar panels are to be tilted towards the equator at an angle equal to the latitude and this will produce the maximum solar energy output. [6]

Difficulties Pertaining to Bicycles[edit]

“Representations of utilitarian cycling are now all but absent from mass media in the United States, and it is particularly rare for television and film audiences to see and adult character using a bicycle as a normal, everyday mode of transportation. In the few cases where adult bicyclists are featured in U.S. entertainment media, they are generally portrayed as being for outside the mainstream; most are depicted as childish men, eccentrics, sexually odd characters, geeks and/or financial failures. Negative perceptions of cycling are one of the many reasons why bicycles are widely considered a forgotten mode of transportation in the United States but they serve an ideological function often ignored or overlooked” [7]

“There is a vital difference between pedaling a stationary device and pedaling a bicycle at the same power output. On a bicycle, much of the pedaling energy goes into overcoming wind resistance; this wind resistance, however, provides an important benefit: cooling. Because of the wind, even in hot, humid climates, so long as the bicyclist drinks enough liquids, dehydration and heat stroke are unlikely to occur. On the other hand, when pedaling a stationary device on a hot or humid day at more than about half the maximum possible power output, there is a considerable danger of the pedaler's collapsing because of an excessive rise in body temperature.” [8]

Riding a bike is not just about producing/ exerting energy[edit]

“A large set of experimental data led exercise and cognitive neuroscientists to consider that acute aerobic exercise acts like an psychostimulant drug via brain noradrenergic and dopaminergic pathways.” [9]

“Furthermore, exercising with someone resulted in more calmness but also more tiredness than when exercising alone. Results suggest that exercise with someone may be calming but more tiring due to a potential increased competition or workload.” [10]

Optimizing the MEOW[edit]

The MEOW’s application is limited by the size of the storage capacity and its intended use for a an event. A limitation of the MEOW is that humans on the bicycles become tired after a period of time cycling. The average person can produce 75 watts over a sustained amount of time, 150 watts for a few hours, or 225 watts for about 30 minutes. The multiple stationary bicycles stored in the MEOW allows individuals to cancel their aspirations at the gym and turn to burning calories to generate electricity for latter use. [11]

Another way to optimize the MEOW is to add a flywheel to the stationary bicycles to rotate independently when the user is cycling at a slower speed or stops due to exhaustion to continue the generation of electricity. Charging the battery in this manner will depend on the motor speed, the users ability to exercise, and the battery size. [12]

Exposing the awesome power of the MEOW![edit]

The MEOW can be towed to events, universities, grade schools, or music festivals for example. This allows the public to see, interact, or hear from educators about the multiple applications of the MEOW. It can power lights, speakers, and cell phones and demonstrating this can inspire people to look at technology that they can incorporate into their lives and hopefully build and prompt the local area to look at new ways to power their TVs, refrigerator, washers, and lights. [13]

Go hard or go home, bring the MEOW to the internet![edit]

The best way to give the MEOW exposure to a large audience is to make use of social media outlets. Creating accounts in Facebook or twitter for example can possibly open the flood gates of showing the world the capabilities behind the MEOW. Creating videos of this system in action performing at music events will draw more interest to social media. Making use of known marketing schemes that have little to no cost for individuals interested. This adds another component to optimize the use of the MEOW for demonstrations at other communities. [14]


  1. Balfour, John, Michael Shaw, and Nicole Nash. Photovoltaic System Design. Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning, 2013, pp. 1-45. .
  2. Evans, Kyle, Ines Azevedo, and M. Morgan. "Regional variations in the health, environmental, and climate benefits of wind and solar generation." Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences 110, no. 29, 2013, pp. 11768-73.
  3. Kalogirou, Soteris. Solar Energy Engineering: Processes and Systems. 2nd ed., Elsevier Science and Technology, 2013, pp. 701-32.
  4. "Solar Power in Arcata, CA."
  5. Meehan, Chris. "How are Solar Panels Changing America?."
  6. "Solar Power in Arcata, CA."
  7. FURNESS, Z. (2010). Two-Wheeled Terrors and Forty-Year-Old Virgins: Mass Media and the Representation of Bicycling. In One Less Car: Bicycling and the Politics of Automobility (pp. 108-139). Temple University Press. Retrieved from
  8. Wilson, D. G. (2011). Technical Paper # 51, Understanding Pedal Power. Retrieved February 17, 2019, from
  9. Exercise and Cognitive Function, edited by Terry McMorris, et al., John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2009. ProQuest Ebook Central, Created from humboldt on 2019-02-18 21:20:14.
  10. Plante, T. G., Coscarelli, L., & Ford, M. (n.d.). Does Exercising with Another Enhance the Stress-Reducing Benefits of Exercise? Retrieved from
  11. "Pedal Powered Farms and Factories: The Forgotten Future of the Stationary Bicycle." LOW-TECH MAGAZINE. May 25, 2011. Accessed February 21, 2019.
  12. "Bike Powered Electricity Generators Are Not Sustainable." LOW-TECH MAGAZINE. March 11, 2011. Accessed February 21, 2019.
  13. Thacher, Eric F.. 2011. A Solar Car Primer. Hauppauge: Nova Science Publishers, Incorporated. Accessed February 20, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central.
  14. Belew, Shannon. 2014. The Art of Social Selling : Finding and Engaging Customers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Other Social Networks. Saranac Lake: AMACOM. Accessed February 20, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central.