Fokus on mobility : a hackathon on disability and digital fabrication.

From February 19th to February 21st 2020, My Human Kit brought a dozen people together to manufacture solutions to simplify the daily life of people with reduced mobility. Mechanics, welders, electronics engineers, people with disabilities and volunteers joined forces to learn how to motorize wheelchairs. It was an opportunity for some to pass on their knowledge and for others, to develop new skills. During these three days, employees and volunteers built motorized prototypes to simplify the movements of people with disabilities. Why ? There already are solutions such as electric wheelchairs or 3rd wheels that are added to the front of the wheelchair. Admittedly, but these devices are expensive and not always covered by insurances. Based on the plans drawn up beforehand and thanks to the advice of professionals, each individual was able to participate directly or indirectly. The solutions built from scratch meet the specific needs expressed by the ” project leader ” (the person with a disability), and it is thanks to this person that the project has meaning.

See video below

A wheel with a handlebar that can be attached to the front of the chair (3rd wheel), but which can also be placed at the back to save space (5th wheel), a stable electric scooter for people with walking difficulties or a Harley wheelchair !

Guaranteed recycling and valorization of manual work.

The electric parts come from the reuse of rental bikes provided free of charge by the association La Petite Rennes (a participative bike repair workshop). Other parts are recovered at the waste recycling center, such as children’s bike wheels. The apprentice mechanic makers met at the metal workshop of the Ferme de la Harpe (Farm of the Harp) in Rennes (who kindly made it available) as well as its professional employees in order to manufacture these homemade ” Do It Yourself ” solutions. Overalls, gloves, protection goggles, welding stations, mechanics, machining, fitting, an atmosphere worthy of a metal workshop that allowed some to get their hands dirty and others to enjoy themselves. One thing is certain, in this new digital world, manual work is thriving and good for the mind because it allows you to really feel what you touch and truly see what you are making. This is indeed a waste valorization and digital mechanics/manufacturing training project, with disability as a focal point.

Alternative solutions

The cost ? Count 200 euros if you want to leave with the device, this is the maximum cost in which the purchase of the metal parts, the welding rods and the electronic board is included. Additional precision : My Human Kit does not manufacture the devices on request. The association offers people to put together their own workshops in their region and is looking for partners to finance the training time. Even if we understand that most people do not have the skills required to make such devices, we know that this type of workshop, in addition to helping a person with reduced mobility, helps change the way we view disability.

These solutions are neither compliant, nor certified, but they have the merit of meeting a need. Although they are alternative and inexpensive, they nonetheless represent the risk of having an accident. Each project leader is responsible for the use of their prototype.

My network ? You’re right !

If you are interested or if you know someone who needs this type of assistive device, open your address book and look for people who know about mechanics, welding and electronics. There may also be a fablab near you, this type of place teems with people with such skills. You may not know it yet, but if you don’t have the technical skills, you may have the human qualities that will allow you to gather the people you need to complete the project : the will to act is enough 🙂

Open source : The sharing of solutions

Of course, we remain available to support you in your approach, if you are in the Rennes area, it will be easier to do it together, and if you are in a distant region, rest assured, anything is possible ! Below, you will find the fabrication tutorials and configuration settings, you can contact us concerning the electrical parts (engine, electronic board, battery).

Lastly, the video at the very beginning of this article, also homemade, will allow you to put pictures over words.

It’s great when it rolls !