Birdie Buddy – Wheelchair Mounted Camera and Binoculars

Designers: Kaicheng Liang, Shaun Lim, Xuan Ding, Claire Vinson

Supervising Professor: Larry Bohs

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1yHa-Vn3ts

INTRODUCTION

Our client, an avid photographer and birdwatcher with quadriplegia, desired a way to hold his camera and binoculars steady. The Birdie Buddy clamps securely to a bar on the wheelchair base frame, unfolds from a compact form on the side of the wheelchair and holds a camera or binoculars at eye level. The device can be conveniently activated, stored, or removed from the wheelchair.  The device provides firm support of the weight of the camera or binoculars, convenient switching between the two pieces of equipment, and an adjustable viewing angle.

SUMMARY OF IMPACT

The Birdie Buddy gives our client greater independence.  Before his accident, he was an avid birdwatcher and photographer.  He commented, “It allows me to independently load my binoculars or camera on a tripod of

sorts, which mounts to my chair. The device is flexible enough in that it allows me many different angles for viewing … this device is a wonderful item that now greatly enhances & enjoyment of birdwatching! … I love it!”

TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION

The Birdie Buddy (Figure 1) is composed of four parts: a hinged clamp, which is affixed to the left side of the client’s wheelchair; a moving arm; a camera mount and a binoculars mount. The clamp makes use of a curved surface as well as an L-plate to ensure a stable connection between the wheelchair base and the rest of the device. The clamp secures to the wheelchair frame with a single four-arm knob screw.

The moving arm lifts upward and rotates, providing resting and viewing positions.  The mechanism involves a grooved cylinder, within which a solid rod with a set screw moves.  The groove guides the movement of the solid rod, such that the user lifts and rotates from the resting to the viewing position.  The bottom of the arm contains a protruding set screw which keys into a corresponding slot in the base, fixing its orientation.  A horizontal member at the top of the moving arm contains a vertical hole that accepts either the camera or binoculars mount.

Both the camera and binoculars mounts use a modified microphone stand hinge mounted to a solid aluminum pin.  To use a device, the user slides the pin into the corresponding hole in the horizontal member, and rotates the hinge to obtain the desired viewing angle.  Friction within the hinge holds the camera or binoculars steady. The cost of parts was approximately $230.

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