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Touch control for mobility scooter

  • Peter Seymour
  • Oxfordshire
  • OX24/1630/1PS
  • Complete
  • 0 comments
Our client, Christine, has a mobility scooter but has not been able to use it for many months because operating the control levers causes pain in her arthritic hands.

The Challenge

 

To enable Christine to operate her mobility scooter, we decided to provide a touch sensitive “cruise” button attached to the handlebar while also retaining the levers for fine maneuvering.

The new control has to be “fail safe” so that when Christine removes her thumb from the touch plate the scooter comes to a gentle halt.

The solution

Before visiting the client I made a demonstrator for what the touch control might look like so that she could try it out. My first thought was that it would provide both forward and reverse capability but, after some discussion, we decided that only forward was required so long as we could retain use of the existing control levers for manoeuvring and reversing. We wanted the modifications to be minimally invasive so they could be removed when the scooter is no longer needed.

The existing levers operate a potentiometer; where centre is stop, clockwise is forwards and anticlockwise is reverse. I didn’t want to get involved with the internal electronics of the scooter’s controller, so I employed a small relay to switch the connections between that potentiometer when it is powered off and my system when it is powered on. Another relay, operated by a capacitive touch switch, selects between “stop” and “go”. All the components were housed in a small ABS box attached to the steering column. The touch sensor with a couple of indicator LEDs was mounted in a smaller box on the handlebar within easy reach.

The scooter has 24V batteries so I fitted a voltage regulator to reduce the supply to the 5V required by the touch sensor and relays. A dashboard switch enables the whole new module which reverts to lever control when powered off.

The benefit

Christine can now use her mobility scooter to make the journey from her home to the local town centre and beyond without discomfort.

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