power-assist unit — electrical parts

When I took the class “Wheelchair Design and Construction” (ENGR 620) at San Francisco State University with Ralf Hotchkiss and Bob Incerti, each student rode a wheelchair to dinner. For those of us who did not have one, we borrowed one from class. There was only a slight decline/incline — probably not noticeable by most — between the Science building and the Student Center building. Those of us not used to using a wheelchair found the return (incline) a bit challenging — especially after eating!

So one of the things I thought about that semester was a power-assist device (and NOT the kind that walks behind and pushes your wheelchair nor someone else with a power chair that you can hang onto!) I searched on the Web and asked around. These devices do indeed exist but were kind of expensive.

I wanted something that could mount onto ANY wheelchair but was willing to start with anything that will work on the RoughRiderTM that we were making in class. I’ll follow this post with several ideas I’ve tried and ones that I’m still developing. (There are electrical and mechanical parts to my experiments. The portions related to the electrical challenges will be posted here. The mechanical challenges will be posted in the Mechanics page.) If you’ve tried to make a power unit or power-assist unit for your own wheelchair, please share your experiences!

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