Treadle computer

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gathering materials
Born On:
10:04, 13 August 2013 (CDT)
Last Updated:
19:51, 09 April 2015 (CDT)


A treadle (foot pedal from an old sewing machine) powered computer. Got the idea from The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. The idea of a user powered computer seems like a great way to stay on task when one sits down to use it. You'll sit down and type up that e-mail instead of watching youtube videos for a half hour.


  • treadle ✓
  • low power computer ✓
  • low power display ✓
  • small battery or capacitor bank
  • circuit to detect the absence of voltage in and send a signal to the computer to hibernate to disk.
  • serial connection to computer

Attempt #1

Belt driven

  • Flywheel turns a belt that then turns and alternator.
  • Alternator is a good choice as it's already setup with a voltage regulator, etc for charging a 12V lead acid/AGM battery.

Power regulation

Power monitoring



  • Raspberry Pi 2 model B
    • 5V 350mA
    • there are faster boards out there but this one was easily obtained and can be replaced if necessary


Final design