Can anyone think of a brilliant engineering research project?

I soon have to pick what my fourth year engineering project is going to be. There’s a list of projects that the university sets but students can submit their own ideas if they’d prefer. I’d like to run my own project, but I can’t think of a suitable topic. The final output is a 12,000 word thesis based on theory and experimental results. I have a budget of money, workshop hours and computing time in which to complete this, and most projects are expected to involve some sort of physical construction element i.e. creating the component you designed, or building an appropriate test rig to obtain data you need.

So can anyone think of a great project, preferably unicycling related?

How about a geared unicycle project or something to do with suspensions? Those are pretty much the most discussed things to improve unicycling these days.

How about a geared unicycle project or something to do with suspensions? Those are pretty much the most discussed things to improve unicycling these days
Well with the geared unicycle, isn’t that what a schlumpf unicycle was made for?? :smiley: A good idea for a project would be to see what brake callipers and suspension would do to a unicycle. In other words, would this benefit those who do MUni or trials. Another idea might be to create a freewheel unicycle, as in a unicycle when you pedal forward it moves but when you star to pedal backwards the unicycle goes into a BC like form.

Hoped this helped and hope your project gets you top score. :wink: :wink:

As I am only on my second day of learning to ride a unicycle, I would suggest a training/learning aid. Something along the the lines of a training hub that only rotates in the forward direction. When you can ride 150m or so you rotate “the switch” to the freewheel setting.

Good Luck

Well, there was a thread a few weeks back asking what peoples dream wish list was. The two things I asked for were;

  • A folding/collapsible 36" wheel that will allow you to fit it in to a standard back pack. If course it's got to be light and strong. Having given it some thought, though, I don't think the wheel is going to be the hard part... the tyre probably will be though!
  • Variable length cranks that can be adjusted on the fly.

Good luck with the projects, and can you let me know when UDC have them in stock :slight_smile:

To elaborate on the adjustable cranks idea, I think it would be cool to not have it like Kooka cranks where you have to switch the pedals, but to have an inner mechanism where you tap a button with your ankle (like changing gears on a Shlumf) and it will extend by say 5mm. You can keep pressing it to make it go longer, but you’d have to figure something out to make them get shorter. These would probably only get used by distance riders though, cause doing any serious drops and hopping etc. would probably break them.

How about adjustable frames so people who can’t reach the pedals could lower the frame to reach them.

How about adjustable seatposts so people who can’t reach their pedals can lower… oh wait…

Well, I kind of imagined them with a small motor attached to a gear mechanism that could wind the cranks in and out. The control for it stumped me for a while, then I started to think about pressure transducers in the pedals so that it would actually know how hard you were pushing and adjust the length accordingly. Maybe with speed sensors too.


How about looking at the stresses created at the hub and cranks on a unicycle when it is jumped compared with a bike. The stresses are higher even though the cranks and jumps are both smaller. It would involve some intersting gig design and construction and testing. :slight_smile: It may also have an interseting final design that may include an optimised hub and crank system that is strong and lighter than the current over kill designs.


for my high school projct i am makin:

a unicycle frame tat can extend from a 24" size to 36" size.

a handle (a lot like the T7), but adjustable in and out so you can put it where you want it, using a seatpost clamp.

The tire would be something very unique as you could probably make it extend like how a rubber band extends. As for the handle, do you mean like a telescopic/reach adjustable one like the cars have??

Thanks everyone for your ideas, Roger’s post is pretty much the idea I came up with, to stick strain gagues on unicycle cranks and find the stresses imposed on them during heavy riding, and possibly use this to design a better crank system. This project has a good balance of desinging an experimentation rig/obtaining data/analysisng and desinging a product from this data. There might be a problem with the budget (it’s only £250), projects with commerical appeal to people within the university can get alot more (my brother’s rig cost in the region of £100k) but that sure aint going to happen in this case.

Anymore input is very appreciated, I’ll let you know what I eventually decide.

the rubber doesnt expand, just the frame gets bigger.

the handle is buch like a steapost and tube, theres a bigger tube with a clamp, and the handle fits into the smaller tube and gets clamped down at the right length.

Ohh that’s seems pretty cool, as for the seatpost that is also cool. :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

My handles are made out of a piece of a bicycle frame and a steering pen (not sure if that is the word in English) the steering pen is 22.2mm exactly and fits into most bicycle frame tubes, so basically what you’d need to make similar handles is an old bike (frame) and a steering pen, then you can put on handlebars or whatever you would like. You avoid using clamps and it’s easy to make. Depending on the seatpost your unicycle uses you might have to make a shim to make it fit.

As Roger stated measuring the stresses on cranks would be interesting, especially if compared with bikes on the same route. DM started looking at this issue a few years back, but the rider had an umbilical cord attached to an old 8086 PC. Resolving this issue within budget would be an interesting challenge, bluetooth might be a possibility if you can access a laptop for data logging?

As well as measuring stress you could consider using a 3 axis gyro for measuring acceleration? A Nintendo Wii controller is quite cheap and a quick search on google suggests they can be linked to PC’s running different bluetooth stacks :slight_smile:

Don’t forget it is a final year project with a limited number of hours, keep it simple - you can always extend a project into additional areas (like hub) if time allows, from what I can remember most people ran out of time, rather than extending the scope nearer the end.


I had heard that DM did some sort of similar work, if I get this off the ground I’ll try and contact him. The major problem I forsee is that I need probably 2 strain rosettes, suitable amplifiers and a wireless transmission system, with power supply, built on to the crank itself, then I need the rider to carry something to pick up that transmission and log it, but throwing a laptop in a rucksack is no problem. Also I’m possibly going to need to manfacture special cranks to be able to get meaningful stress data from the strain gagues, unless i just load some off the shelf cranks and calibrate them against known forces. I’ve actually used a rig that does this in the department on an exercise bike, it used an induction device to transmit the data to a ring mounted behind the chain ring. It worked fine but I’ll need to build something that can actually be ridden around and won’t get smashed/full of water out on the trails. The average project takes 300-400 hours total, I’m not sure if i can accomplish much in this time.

It’s not clear how much of your project is about testing and how much is about design/build. Here’s a couple of other ideas:

  1. Cranks and axle/hubs will always be a good place for research as long as we keep breaking them. We’re still using mostly stuff designed for the bicycle market. We’re not quite the same, so the proper design for us may be different. Of course it makes sense to stick with bicycle technology to keep the prices affordable.

  2. The next area where we keep breaking our unicycles is in the seat/post area. We’re asking way too much of today’s seats and posts based on their original use. Bikes (today) and (most) unicycles are not designed to have someone yanking up and down on the seat. Seats break, posts break, etc. My thought is that if you had a proper post/handle system, you wouldn’t need to put any strain on the seat because the handle would be underneath it. Then the seat could be, in theory, almost as light as a racing bike seat. Heavier because it’s bigger, but no need for all that structural content. So #2 is about the idea of designing a seat post, or seat-post-topper, that does the work of the handle, bumper and rear bumper, and a lightweight seat to attach to that.

  3. A frame and handlebar system for road riding. The new Nimbus 36" is a step in the direction of what I’m thinking. If a handle is going to be there, why not build the frame with the handle in mind? A few people have done this already, so search around to see example. Basically, V-shaped frames. Then if the handlebars can be adjustable in the up/down and fore/aft positions, they can go up and down with the seat, and adjust to fit the personal tastes of the rider.

Enjoy! Let us know what you decide to go with, and then we’d love to hear how it turns out in the end!

Thanks for your input John, the balance of research/design and build is very negotiable, my brother’s project was entirely research (looking at temperatures in a combustion chamber), a very few projects have a finished product as a goal (for example, an automated diving bell which sinks to depth, collects samples and then returns to the surface), and most fall somewhere in between, often making rigs for further development (i.e. working out how to measure flow in jet engine seals).

The seatpost idea is very interesting, it seems the current stuff really isn’t up to the rigours of harsh use. the strain gauging etc. of seat and post would be a lot easier than the cranks, there would be no need for any sort of wireless system.