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March 24th, 2017

An Open Source Unicycle Motor

Open source driving a single wheel. Now, that’s a balancing act. Look at this open source unicycle motor.

The Screening Room

Unicycle Motor

My open source buddy Kevin Cole, who lives in Washington DC and shows up to just about every tech event in the DC-area, loves riding a unicycle. So when I spotted this new YouTube video about an open source unicycle motor, a broad smile crossed my face.

My smile only grew larger when I saw this video showing the YouTube producer’s child courageously taking his first ride on an electric unicycle.

This family looks like they might live in Portugal, so I left a supportive comment (in Portuguese) on the first video. You could do so, too. (Use Google Translate.)

Now, what would you be building with an open source unicycle motor? One exciting invention that comes to mind is to take an electric unicycle and add an extra wheel to it — so that it would have two wheels. Then add a handlebar and brakes. No, wait a moment….

And something to ponder. The company that sells this electric unicycle could choose to use a motor with open firmware or one with closed firmware. To many consumers, that difference might not be so significant. To this consumer, though, that’s a vital difference. To me, I fully own the product I bought when the firmware is open. I explain to others that they ought to choose that level of full ownership whenever they get a chance. And if they join a local makerspace, they will likely meet others with similar values. If you don’t yet have a makerspace in your community, inquire around to see if anyone is in the process of forming one. Then find ways to offer them support. That’s how we do things in the FOSS community.

For the past 10 years, Phil has been working at a public library in the Washington D.C.-area, helping youth and adults use the 28 public Linux stations the library offers seven days a week. He also writes for MAKE magazine, and TechSoup Libraries. Suggest videos by contacting Phil on Twitter or at

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