Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dissecting The Wheelchair

After bringing home my wheelchair unit, I took it apart to figure out what exactly I have. Since I didn't have the whole wheelchair, it took some digging at the Pride Mobility site to come to the conclusion that I probably have a Pride Jazzy 1121. I based this on the frame style and location of the serial number.

I pulled the unit apart until it was broken down into the basic parts : main frame, motor units detached, front and rear wheels, battery charger, motor controller, plastic fairings and interconnect cables. I didn't have any batteries.

After digging around in the internet, I came to the conclusion that the motor controller didn't have simple inputs, but was interfaced to the digital joystick controller (which I don't have) with some unknown control protocol. Pride is unfortunately very tight-fisted with their service info, so I couldn't find any manuals or interface information on the web. Thus the motor controller wasn't going to be easily useful, so it went up on eBay and actually paid for a third of the wheelchair cost.

I found the Sabertooth 2x25A controller looks perfect for this application ... lots of power, and a few different control modes to play with. This seems much better than trying to hack the Jazzy controller.

The motors were dissected to remove the power brake. All electric wheelchairs apparently must have these brakes, which are engaged unless the unit is powered. I hooked them up to a power supply and found they drew about 8 watts each, so with a few bolts removed (and a big internal spring popping out) they are gone.

In playing around with my motors, I unfortunately found one gearbox was stripped. It had a weak spot where the motor would start slipping. Damn - the motors were the main component I needed. I managed to find a reasonably priced replacement on eBay, however, so a week later I was back in business.

Finally, once everything was stripped down, a few touch-ups with flat black spray cleaned it up nicely. It's now ready to start going back together.

My first goal is a basic running chassis ... two batteries feeding the Sabertooth 2x25A motor controller, hooked up with dual variable resistors for left and right motor control.

Once that's running, I'd like to add Arduino motor control, plus some sensors such as motor shaft encoders, wifi link, a camera, etc etc etc... too many ideas here!

No comments:

Post a Comment