Alibre Designer's Lightweight Scooter Boosts Son's Mobility
There's plenty of motorized scooters to assist people who have mobility problems, but very few suit the needs of a 12-year-old boy. In this case, you may have better luck building your own, as Alan Anganes did for his son, Raymond.
"One of my sons has a neuro-muscular condition that makes it rather difficult for him to get around. If you look at him he does not appear that there is much wrong with him. He can get up and walk around. He can jump. But if he does it for very long he'll be wiped out the entire next day. He's able-bodied, but he doesn't have much endurance."
Raymond did have a non-motorized wheelchair, although propelling himself a good distance would wear him out too. "The design of wheelchairs operates on the assumption that the user has injured legs, but the upper body is fine," says Anganes. "That's not really our situation. And wheelchairs operate best on paved surfaces or hard floors. When you're 12 you want to go on the grass. We are outdoorsy types and like to do a lot of fishing and walks through the woods. We wanted him to have a motorized scooter than was rugged enough to take him to these sorts of places."
Motorized carts on the market also tend to favor smoother terrain -- malls and supermarkets -- rather than baseball diamonds and hiking trails. "That's coupled with the fact that most 12-year-olds don't want to drive around in what they perceive as an old lady's scooter. We wanted to put something together for him."
Anganes, a Massachusetts electrical engineer, had only limited experience in mechanical projects. He started by learning the basics of Alibre Design software and began building solid models of a three-wheeled bike assembly that would accommodate an electric motor.
"It was designed with a couple goals in mind. One of them was the off-road capability, and the other was to make it easily portable. We wanted it as lightweight as possible, so it's largely fabricated from aluminum stock. We also built it in such a way that it assembles essentially without fasteners. In a few seconds, you can disassemble it into smaller pieces. My wife could pick it up and put it in the trunk of her car. Most scooter models on the market tend to be large and heavy."