College students have designed
what may be the smallest, lightest, and least-expensive wheelchair ever, with a PVC-pipe frame that can be adjusted as the child grows. Unlike many standard power chairs, which are wide and heavy, the BYU chair will not require remodeling a house or buying a new car. In fact, these wheelchairs can be folded and tossed, rather than mechanically lifted, into the trunk of a car. For their mechanical engineering capstone project,
four BYU students spent two semesters designing a building the wheelchair.
Instructions to build the chair
- Dimensions: 29.75" high, 13.5" wide, and 22.5" long. A standard power chair starts at 32x22x27.
- PVC Pipe: Longer pieces of pipe can be substituted to expand the chair for children up to 50 lbs.
- Speed: 4 mph. The team had the first prototype going much faster, but reined it in to match the
standard power-chair speed.
- Height: 20.5#. A standard power chair is 100-300+ pounds.
- Battery Life: 1.5 - 2 hours. A slightly heavier battery would last the whole school day.
- Cost: $490.40. The team beat the budget set by the project sponsor by a few bucks.
A standard power chair runs $2,000-$7,000.
(The Open Wheel Chair video claims the cost is under $400.00)
are available for FREE online at http://www.openwheelchair.org
. (Sweet Wheels, by Leah Davis, BYU Magazine
, Summer 2015, p. 16)