Dean Ovel: SOLIDWORKS and 24 Hours in a Human Hamster Wheel

Most people run in Lycra… Some run in fancy dress… Dean Ovel runs in a human hamster wheel, sealed inside a cage, in the middle of a busy high street in Southend.  This is the story of how SOLIDWORKS became part of the most peculiar running challenge you might ever have heard of.

Dean Ovel's Hamster Wheel

Running around in circles

Dean Ovel is a glutton for punishment. He regularly runs ultra-marathons in excess of 100 miles, and in 2014 he completed ten marathons in eight days. For his next challenge, the 39-year-old design engineer is attempting to raise a small fortune for Southend Hospital Charity’s Dimentia Appeal.   He will run for 24 grueling hours inside a giant hamster wheel.

Loopy? You could say that.

Watching Ovel take himself for a spin will be thousands of shoppers and Saturday night revellers. The event takes place on Southend High Street on Saturday 21st May. There will be live music and entertainment as well as spin bikes for those who want to ‘cycle-a-mile’ alongside Ovel.

So where does SOLIDWORKS come in?

Ovel designed and built the hamster wheel himself. (Full disclosure: he had a little help from his eight-year-old son and six-year-old daughter.) Now, a plain old hamster wheel may never make the pantheon of great engineering feats, but it’s worth remembering that Ovel’s is no ordinary hamster wheel. It has to survive some 25,000 revolutions and bear the weight of an increasingly leaden-legged runner galloping away inside for 24 hours. Above all, it has to be safe – both for Ovel and spectators. To square the circle (so to speak), Ovel turned to SOLIDWORKS.


Dean Ovel's SOLIDWORKS Preparation


Designing in SOLIDWORKS meant that Ovel could test all the load-bearing elements and moving parts before he got anywhere near the build stage. The final result is a 2.4-m wheel that’s stable, secure and spins almost effortlessly – something for which Ovel will no doubt be grateful as he enters the final hours of his challenge. While the miniature Lego prototypes brought some added fun to proceedings, it was the detailed 3D drawings that SOLIDWORKS generated that allowed Ovel to share his idea and obtain permission for his event.

So here’s wishing all the best to Dean Ovel. SOLIDWORKS will be with him for every step – in a roundabout sort of way. To read more about Dean’s story and how the challenge came about, check out the Cadtek post here.

Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. offers complete 3D software tools that let you create, simulate, publish, and manage your data. SolidWorks products are easy to learn and use, and work together to help you design products better, faster, and more cost-effectively. The SolidWorks focus on ease-of-use allows more engineers, designers and other technology professionals than ever before to take advantage of 3D in bringing their designs to life.