Subject: snowboard poles
From: Adam Megacz <email@example.com>
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Hey, does anybody know where I would find the stuff I need to build
this? If you know a MechE who's willing to answer questions about
this stuff I'll take him/her out to lunch to pick their brains.
The idea is that behind your rear foot you have what looks like a
steel yo-yo with big steel claws (the axis of the yo-yo is parallel to
the ground and perpendicular to your board, about 2" above it). It's
mounted on your back binding plate and lifts up and down. When it's
down the claws stick through slots in the back of your board (maybe
1cm across and 5cm long) into the snow. I'm thinking four sets of
claws and four slots, but that would need experimentation.
The yo-yo is spring loaded, and a steel cable runs from it under both
your feet (but above your board) to a pully in front of your front
foot mounted on your front binding, and then up along your front leg
to a grip that you hold in your front hand (actually you'd want to
pull with your back hand for more leverage, so the cable actually
crosses your body).
When you pull on the grip, the first 2-3 inches of pull bring the
yo-yo down so the claws are in the snow (the lever that moves it up
and down is spring-loaded to the "up" position), and the rest of the
slack drives you forward. If you think about the forces, it should
feel like a cross between waterskiing and starting an old gas
generator. One or two yanks should send you a good 20 yards on flat
Of course the yo-yo is ratcheted, so when you release the tension on
the cable between pulls, it doesn't spin back. When you let go of the
cable the spring-load on the yo-yo pulls the cable all the way, so
that the grip winds up just in front of your front foot. The yo-yo
also lifts up out of the snow so the teeth don't drag when you're
riding. You only reach down to grab it when you're on a flat spot.
Combined with flow bindings (which are the bomb), this means you could
strap in while on the lift, step off, and go straight down the
mountain, even if there's a flat area between the lift and the run you
want. Actually, with some practice, you could probably stay strapped
in all day and use this thing to maneuver through the lift line. If
you wanted to get really fancy you could even work in a brake -- only
useful below 5mph of course; it's not going to do anything at all when
you're going downhill. But you'd need a brake if you wanted to use it
in the lift lines.
So they're not really "poles", but that's the best two-word
description I could come up with. Feel free to forward this as long
as you keep my name on it. I'm dying to have this thing.
"It's lucky," he added, after a pause, "that there are such a lot of
islands in the world. I almost envy you, Mr. Watson."
-- Mustapha Mond