ITP @ Maker Faire – Ohm Wrestling

I was a part of ITP’s team to develop a large-scale project for Maker Faire 2013 in New York. A description from project manager Hannah Mishin: “Ohm Wrestling is a human powered, collaborative mechanical arm wrestling competition.

Two mechanical arms are setup in arm wrestling position for teams Blue and Orange. Each team has an array of energy harvesting devices behind them feeding into the corresponding arm (their motions being Shake, Push, Pedal, Pull, and Crank). The various devices show different methods of harvesting kinetic energy from human motion, energy that the participants use to power their team’s arm. The harder the teams work, the more power they produce – giving more force to their arm to win the competition. In addition, each device is equipped with a light to show each user their own contribution to their team’s winning the competition.

Variables that contribute to a team winning the competition include the amount of watts produced as well as the endurance of the team (how long they can last at peak energy production levels). A large meter reflects the teams’ status/energy produced for the competitors and the audience.”

A photo of the entire exhibit at Maker Faire. Photo by Natasha Dzurny.

A The entire exhibit assembled at Maker Faire. Photo by Natasha Dzurny.


This was an extremely intensive project that took a lot of time and energy from a large team of people. My role in the project was to create two machines with fairly high energy-generating capabilities. I decided to make a pair of large, 4′ x 4′ elevated platforms with two aluminum poles in a T-shaped configuration coming out of the middle. Users could grab the horizontal pipe as handles and push the handles in a circular motion around the platform. Underneath the floor was a very large wooden gear connected by scooter chain to a 40W motor with a small gearhead. The resulting large gear ratio allowed users to generate a fairly large amount of electricity compared to the other devices on display.

This was my first large-scale fabrication project, and most of it was non-digital to boot! It certainly was a challenge to work with gearing, mounting the pole mechanism securely, and creating a durable object that could stand up to the abuse of a great many children. Unfortunately, my computer and camera with most of my documentation of this build were stolen from me before I could back it up, but some pictures of the platforms being constructed/in use are below:

And, finally, here’s a shot of the awards that our exhibit won:


Exhibit photo taken by Natasha Dzurny.

Platform photos taken by Natasha Dzurny, Talya Stein, and Caroline Sinders.

Awards photo taken by Caroline Sinders.

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