Evolution of a Blog

This blog has evolved as I have as a maker. It starts at the beginning of my journey where I began to re-tread my tires in the useful lore of micro electronics and the open-source software that can drive them. While building solutions around micro-electronics are still an occasional topic my more recent focus has been on the 3D Printing side of making.

Friday, March 2, 2018

My Powered Chair and 3D Printing

I don't think that there is a mention in this blog that identifies me as being disabled.   I am fighting MS and have progressed to needing a wheelchair to move around easily as muscle control and fatigue combine to make mobility a challenge.  Luckily I could afford one of the best powered chairs out there, the Quickie Jive Up, to meet my needs.  There is no doubt about it when I say that this is the Mercedes of powered chairs.  I say Mercedes as the manufacturer is Sunrise Medical and they are in Germany.  I say Mercedes and not BMW (my previous cars) as Sunrise Medical is near their headquarters and not in Bavaria.  If I could drive a Mercedes I would but since I can't at least I am lucky enough to be able to afford the Jive Up.

The chair is based on the Quickie Jive M which has a mid-wheel drive and an adjustable seat all controlled by a joystick and or some buttons.  The mid-wheel allows the chair to turn in its own length and the suspension that the chair sits on makes for a decent ride.  The seat is adjustable from sitting to laying flat.  To this the JIve Up adds the ability to stand with some useful positions in between.

Yes, it is a monster!  It looks even bigger than it actually is due to it being in a position call "transition" which helps me get out of it and into my office chair (or other chairs and seats).  It can continue to raise the seat until I am standing.  It is those extra servos and controls that make it so bloody expensive.  It is capable of 6mph and can run on streets legally.  A battery and motor upgrade allows for 8mph but at the expense of torque so I went with this one.

It has greatly improved my life already in that I can be much more useful to myself and Sara compared to being in a traditional wheelchair or on crutches.  I can actually carry coffee in one had while I drive with the other.  Believe me when I say that small things matter.  One of the positions the chair offers is between sitting and standing and is one that I use most frequently in the kitchen.  With it I can much more easily get things done that would otherwise be a struggle.

This does not even begin to touch on the ability that the chair will give me to get out and about this spring...combined with a new car to carry it.

This will not come as a surprise to anyone with a 3D Printer, or anyone that has read this blog for that matter, but within minutes of having it I was already thinking of how to modify and enhance it.  The first thing that I designed were two brackets that can hold my grabber for when I inevitably drop something.  This is a frequent occurrence as I have lost some coordination in my hands.

Soon after that it became clear that the arm holding the controller could be improved.  The one that came with the chair was very adjustable but came at the expense of a little added width.  So I designed one that was the right length and orientation for me, that included places for the two buttons that I had purchased for the chair, and was no wider than the chair.

Having done the controller arm I then did a mount for the other arm that I intend to be interchangeable.   You can see in the photo with the controller.  Right now the one inserted into the mount is for my iPhone.  As you can see in the picture there is a charging cable that leads back to the chairs battery compartment where I have installed a 24v-5v voltage converter that provides the 5v power to four USB ports.

The last two additions had nothing to do with printed plastic but add convenience.  First, a saddle bag that fits perfectly under the right armrest.  Second, a general purpose shoulder bag that fits perfectly across the back of the chair (not shown). Third, and finally, a retractable seat belt replacing the non-retractable version that came with the chair (also not shown).

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