Wheelchair-Mounted Leaf Blower

Designers: Benjamin Ahlers, Thomas Feehan, Joshua Napora
Supervising Professor: Larry Bohs

Our client is an active woman who was born with spina bifida. She enjoys working in her yard, but has difficulty removing fallen leaves because she uses a manual wheelchair. The Wheelchair-Mounted Leaf Blower mounts to the wheelchair using an L-bracket that slides into a mating receptacle mounted on the wheelchair. The design incorporates an articulating arm for lateral movement and a tripod head for swivel motion and angle adjustment. Using this device, the client can independently blow leaves in the yard while operating her wheelchair.

The client previously struggled with operating a corded leaf blower simultaneously with her wheelchair or had to pay someone to blow the leaves from her yard and driveway.  She commented “It helps me feel more independent.  Since I’ve been in the chair, I haven’t been able to do all of the things that I used to do, but this gives me some of that back, even if it is just blowing the leaves.”

The Wheelchair-Mounted Leaf Blower (Figure 1) includes four parts: an L-bracket slot, a mount, a tray, and a commercial cordless leaf blower.  The L-bracket slot is a 2 x 12 3/8 x 3/8” piece of aluminum with a 1” wide, 1/8” deep slot milled through the entire length to allow for attachment to either side of the slot.  Four hose clamps are screwed into the ends of the L-bracket slot.  These clamps wrap around the horizontal bars beneath the seat of the wheelchair and are secured in place with screws.

The mount consists of three components: an L-bracket for attachment, an articulating arm, and a tripod head for free range of motion.  The L-bracket is bolted to the wall plate of a Sanus Full-Motion Wall Mount Model #VM3b, which provides for lateral movement.  A Dynex 60” Universal Tripod Model #DX-TRP60 was modified by unscrewing the legs and cutting off the shaft to a length of 2 3/4”.  A larger hole was drilled into the end of the articulating arm to custom-fit a solid 5/8” diameter aluminum rod, which connects the arm to the tripod shaft.  The rod was placed within the inner diameter of the arm and tripod shaft and secured in place using a bolt through the arm and two screws through the tripod shaft.

The tray is made from a 8.5” x 15” x 1/2” sheet of high-density polyethylene (HDPE)with a cutout in the center that is custom-fit to the Black & Decker Cordless Hard Surface Sweeper Model #NS118.  The cutout includes an ovular hole 6” long and 4 3/4″ wide to fit the base, as well as a 4” long and 2 1/2″ wide slot to fit the nozzle of the leaf blower.  A 1” x 2 5/8” x 1 3/4” block of HDPE attached to the back of the tray provides additional support of the leaf blower battery.  A 6 x 4 5/8” U-bolt attached to the bottom of the tray limits the angle of the tripod head, thereby preventing the leaf blower tip from striking the ground.  Four 1” slots milled in the front and back of the tray allow two straps and buckles to secure the leaf blower in place.  Finally, a beveled connector from the tripod is screwed into the bottom of the tray to connect the tray to the tripod head mount.

The Black & Decker Cordless Hard Surface Sweeper weighs 5.5 lbs and operates on an 18 volt battery, giving approximately 15 minutes of battery life.  A second battery provided to the client doubles the operating time. Figure 2 shows the client using the device.  Cost of parts for the device was $310.

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