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Hello all, first post here.

I am still somewhat beginner with Arduino, so I was hoping I could get some ideas or examples here that I can use for inspiration a school project.

In short the project is as following: We are creating a construct where people can manually generate power by riding a bycicle, and we compare it with other power sources (wind/solar) at the site. We do this to visualize the amount of effort needed to generate the energy that we use in our daily lives to do the simplest things, and show them that we need to take more care in the energy we use.

The visualization is where I come in. I was told that we can use an arduino for this purpose. However I am concerned that arduino is not able to present it as big as we would like. Mainly due arduino only being able to output only that much (5V?) power. The structure will be some meters tall and cover quite a large area to hook up the bycicles. It would be silly if the only visualization you see are some numbers on a screen that fits in your pocket.

Since I am more a software developer, I was thinking of outputting the data gathered by the arduino to a pc. Once you have the data on a pc, you can do basically do whatever you want with it. However preference still goes to a more 'hardware visualization'.

I've been looking into LED strips for each power source. I was hoping I could light up only parts of them depending on the power coming from the source. However LED strips only have an on/off option for all LEDs at the same time.

Ive been looking around on the internet for some 'big' arduino projects. And I only end up with projects that took years to develop, or projects that are not as big as im looking for.

So as a beginner, what kind of visualization tools/projects should I look into?
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Since I am more a software developer, I was thinking of outputting the data gathered by the arduino to a pc. Once you have the data on a pc, you can do basically do whatever you want with it. However preference still goes to a more 'hardware visualization'.
Have you thought about the TVOut library/hardware? You could output to a huge TV, and let it deal with the power needs.

Of course, a huge, power-hungry display seems contrary to the spirit of your project.

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you can use some servo's and make a "mechanical indicator" from 0..100% or so
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Yup, a big cardboard pointer stuck to a (decent size) servo, and you could make a big analogue style meter showing the wattage.
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Have ya thought about getting addressable RGB "pixels"? Since you can address each one individually, an idea is that you could have a strip connected to each bike that connects to the top of a tower. And as people cycle, you see a conga line of colors ("electrons") "travel" up the individual strips to the tower faster or slower depending on how fast they pedal. Then having one placed vertically in the tower that gets "more full" as "more electrons" are dumped into it from the individual bikes until it finally fills above the red LED signifying enough power has been generated for that one device.

If you have just a few LEDs lit on the strand at a time, it would be in the 5v, ~200ma range per strand.

Another idea is to have a grid of LEDs above everyone and the more people pedal, the more white LEDs flicker above them, randomly spaced apart; signifying the more stars we see as we depend on fossil fuels less.

All that being said, these are certainly a much more impressive idea during the nighttime. If you're stuck to day, I like the cardboard pointer idea smiley
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What is your budget?

If this is possible, a good idea would be to plug the Arduino to your pc and then for instance in processing create some cool graphics to show all you want.
You could then simply project this graphics on a wall or some kind of screen in front of the bycicle.
I think this wouldn't be very difficult and you could build some very cool graphics with lot's of information...

Another idea would be to use a TFT Screen. There are some small ones that aren't so difficult to use.
Take a look at this page, maybe it helps...
http://www.ladyada.net/products/tfttouchbreakout/

Would love to see your "final product" once everything is ready. It sounds like a cool project!
Good luck!!!
=)
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