Building the first prototype of a solar power wheelchair.

Our vision is to create a solar electric wheel chair that can be charged on the power of the sun as well as be charged if necessary by the grid.

These are additional notes taken which may or may not be included in the proposal I wrote for solar e cycle .

The basic requirements of this wheel chair is to increase the mobility of the physically challenged.

1. It must be easy to get in and out of for the client.

2. It must be robust and easy to maintain.

3. It must be dual function so that when and if the electric power is finished we can resort to muscle power – which means it must be light and built of aluminium- if possible.

4. It must be roadworthy and safe to use.

Most wheel chairs do not go more than 5-10 kmph and are not suitable to make longer distances. In Africa many wheel chairs rely on muscle power using the arms and it is very difficult and tiring for the passenger to go more than 20 km.

With the SOLACHAIR we will offer an affordable way to increase the potential range up to 50 km- perhaps even more. By increasing the range and therefore the mobility of the passenger – we will increase his or her opportunity to become more independent. There are many physically disabled people living from hand to mouth because they lack the tools to earn a decent living.

Also there is little or no state help in most African countries and many have to resort to begging just to survive. If we can build a vehicle for less than 25 000 rand or 1500 USD we can change many lives.

I propose that once the prototype is made and tested that we build each one through sponsored giving.

The labour costs of those making them have to be included in the budget and we estimate this at around 7500 rand /800USD per chair.

Our motto is the DIS abled EN-abling the ABLED!

We want to give each person back their dignity so they can metaphysically…” stand on their own two feet again!” – No one in the world is making solar electric wheel chairs. Not that I am aware of.

Definitely this will be a first in South Africa and a first in Africa! We are making HISTORY here and this will be a challenge. But I feel it can be done. It can be done amigo.

This is the design dimensions I propose for the first one :

1. The chairs will have a dual purpose- for cargo and for people.

2. The chair can double as a people carrier by removing the seat clipped onto the back of the passenger chair. It would be a suitable for two people to ride in the back facing backwards ( in other words the passengers would not be facing in the same direction as the driver).

3. When the passengers get off and the driver needs to use it for cargo- its a simple matter of reaching backwards and reversing the seat cushion and clipping it back on to the back of his own chair.

4. The cycle can also double as a hand cycle in case of electrical malfunction and increase the range by another 10km or 20km on top of the 50 km. This will be necessary in case they get stuck somewhere.

5. The total length of the vehicle I have calculated at 2.2 meters. ( max) and 2meters ( min)

6. The width externally is 115 cm wide.

7. The inner tray which holds both passengers or cargo is 80 cm by 80 cm.

8. The highest point of the vehicle with the solar frame will be from 1.5 meters min to 1.6 meters maximum. ( Its curved slightly). The curve is possible to be increased – but its not advisable as the max for solar efficiency is around 25 degrees.

9. The electric motors we use are 350 watts. We propose to use 3 motors on 3 wheels of 26 inch rims.

10. To decrease the potential of getting punctures we could use solid tires but we will need some kind of suspension. In Dar es salaam they use 28 inch wheel rims for cargo trikes but we have to use 26inch ones. We have looked into scooter wheels or motorcycle wheel but the motors wont generate enough torque. We can strengthen the inner tubes by foam and inner tube lining- but punctures are unavoidable. In these cases a foam kit may be necessary to carry with until the passenger is able to get to a place to repair the tire.

11. The solar panel dimensions are as follows : 192 cm long by 92 cm wide. It is a flexi panel so it can bend – where I’ve put the min height is where the end of the panel will come.

12. The only website for ref I can send you to is Ive looked at the design but it is faulty in that it doesn’t cater for the way the client feels. The wheel chair looks like a wheel chair. That’s not what we want to do. We want to create a vehicle that is multifunctional and useful and looks cool. PLUS it doesn’t go more than around 5kmph. We want our guys to be able to go at 20-25kmph.

13. More measurements: 13 cm back wheel inner space-which holds the wheel) – 17cm outer ( that’s the outer part of the metal holder – total difference between inner and outer is 4 cm. – I’m not sure how that will work with aluminium.

14. The front fork is 16cm inner and 17.5 cm outer. These measurements constitute the width of the motors which are driving the wheels.

15. The rim holding the solar panel is 4 cm wide all around except where it slots in- that’s 2.5 cm wide.

In closing – the biggest challenge will be to get this vehicle to be safe and operational for the road. We will have to rig up a separate method of indicating – a switch on switch off or something like that.

I believe we can do it. I am thinking to put a pedal assist system on the hand chain to make it easier to use the cycle function. We may also have to consider a seatbelt for the bucket seat to keep the client in place. The fork itself has to be specially designed to be able to use both the cycle if necessary- the hand brake and the accelerator functions. Its a lot of different functions on the dashboard which is another challenge. And all these functions probably have to be on the HUD display which is bolted on the steering column.

The client has to be able to control the vehicle using their hands at all times. In Kenya we use a hand brake which slows the tire down- but this should only be used in an emergency.

We need to be able to use hand held brakes simultaneously with the accelerator and be able to steer the vehicle – at the same time.

The components to construct this vehicle will cost around 1200 USD. The panel is 300 USD alone- 3 motors at 150 each , 3 HUD displays, lithium batteries, wheels, rims, tubes, brakes, spokes, cables, motor controllers etc.

We also need to factor in the cost of the aluminium and the workshop hours.

The first one will of course be more expensive to build but once we have the prototype and prove the concept I have no doubt the orders will come in.

Retailing this vehicle as a specialised piece of medical equipment at around 50 000 rand/3000 USD is reasonable.

But thats not our motivation. If we can change one life with this vehicle and give mobility to someone who never had it before… and dignity… no price in the world is worth that.

What we do we do for the Glory of God first and foremost. is more than a platform for trade….it is about changing the world. What price can you put on the restoration of a mand dignity ?

That’s solachair. All our projects are open source not proprietary. Therefore if you wish to steal this idea…welcome!