Bimgec (Zero Gravity Exercise Device) by Moses Rowen
2016 - 2017, Platinum A' Engineering and Technical Design Award Winner
Nature provided inspiration in the form of Chameleon tongues which can store energy in a collagen spiral structure for release when required. "So far we have not seen a parallel structure in biology or mechanics, it is a completely novel design" said Johan L. van Leeuwen, a biologist at Wageningen University to National Geographic in 2010. The tongue is mechanically analogized here by constant torque springs, typically used in window blinds, although these versions are far stiffer.
Bio-Inspired Micro Gravity Exercise Concept is a workout machine designed to offset the osteoporosis, muscular atrophy and psychological issues associated with long-term space travel. Bimgec emulates weight in zero gravity for weight training and aerobic workouts. It incorporates a unique eccentric bias system to increase the effective load during the eccentric phase of a rep. Bimgec was designed for an open call for technologies by NASA for use in their Orion capsule for future manned interplanetary missions, which it won.
Design Challenges
Eccentric bias mode was the biggest technical challenge of the project. The brief required that the machine be able to increase load during the eccentric phase of a rep (as the weight is lowered towards the ground) and that the unit have no external power requirements. In aerobic mode the MGU charges a battery pack, in eccentric gain mode this energy is used by the MGU to increase the force of the eccentric phase. Eccentric gain can be trimmed between 0% and 100% of the concentric load, providing over 360kg at maximum setting. Designing these features into a compact, lightweight system was a massive challenge.
Production Technology
Bimgec consists of 3 discreet modules. A spring battery provides the resistance load (the weight), a toroidal gearbox allows that load to be varied (like changing the weights on a workout machine) and the Motor-Generator Unit (MGU) charges the battery pack and allows the load profiles to vary during a rep (eccentric bias training). To minimise cost, standardised parts are utilised where possible. Aluminium is used for the majority of the machine and no exotic manufacturing is required.
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