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Having nothing better to do, I one day hooked up my PC to my hamster's wheel to see just how far the little devil was roaming every night. To my surprise, he was averaging about 13 km/night. This led to the idea for the hamster-wheel computer (name suggestions anyone?). It could even be done with a regular
bicycle computer odometer. Stick the magnet on the wheel, mount the sensor appropriately, and run the hamster-shielded cable to a place where the computer can be convieniently located and operated. Trip mileage, total mileage, peak speed etc. could all be conveniently observed every morning (by the owner, not the hamster). A more sophisticated Skinner-style machine could provide the hamster with a little positive reward (food pellets) every few km. I think I'd leave off the electric shock punishment bit though.
Cockroach Controlled Mobile Robot
Kinda similar, except using a cockroach, rather than a hamster [Dub, Dec 03 2007]
Hamster generator and bicycle computer
[MisterQED, Dec 04 2007]
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||This could lead to worldwide sporting events, which would lead to large scale gambling, and could lead to large syndicates dealing in illegal hamster steroid trade...
||[+] in hopes that all of that comes true.
||If your hamster is averaging 13km each night, he must be tiring of the routine. I think you should provide him with a self-powered LCD video screen--the size and quality you'd expect to find on a digital camera--with self-looping views of interesting running terrain beyond the cage bars. Or, failing that, CD audio recordings of books like "The Da Vinci Code" might help keep your pet fit, alert and intrigued. You want your hamster to be well-rounded in social circles, don't you?
||Footage of other hamsters might well encourage them to run faster. Once I made the mistake of putting two hamsters together and they fought like - well - hamsters! They appear to be territorial.
||Baked see link, it is a great read and even tells you how much power is generated to power external devices (not much).