I like to spend a lot of time outside and particularly enjoy to take long rides in my wheelchair during the summer.  The summer sun, particularly on a wheelchair covered in black vinyl material,  can get very hot and cause severe sun burns.  People would often joke that I needed a convertible roof for my wheelchair so I could be shaded from the sun and protected from the rain.  There are things like umbrellas and sun shades that medical companies make for wheelchairs, but like many medical goods, they look like something for some elderly senior in a nursing home.   I wanted my wheelchair to look like a hot-rod rather than a mixed-mash of medical gear. Where I live, we also get some fairly strong winds, and nothing was made that would hold up for any length of time.

I got the idea of modifying my back-pack bag on the wheelchair to hold a roof canopy that could be quickly attached to my wheelchair, and when not in use, returned to the bag.   Before you begin this project, you must keep in mind that all wheelchairs are not built the same, and every individual in a wheelchair is a different height, and so you may have to modify my design to suit your own needs.

Parts required:
Material (Approximately 4 yards)
2 Dowel sticks or metal spreader bars
6 Eye Loops
4 Metal trigger clips
2 metal rods
drill gun
needle and thread

Step 1: Step 1: Measure twice... three times

The first step in this project is going to require some very precise measurements.  These plans require bolting two brackets that will hold four bars to suspend the roof over the individual in a wheelchair.  Most wheelchairs are designed to be very adjustable, and so the back-rest component of my particular wheelchair had several pre-drilled holes which were intended for supporting the backrest and or additional medical gear.  If at all possible, you want to use any existing pre-drilled holes for attaching this bracket rather than drilling new holes which may void the warranty of your wheelchair.  The location of where this bracket is placed will determine the length of the bars you will need and the over-all dimensions of the canopy you will have to make for the roof of your wheelchair.  If the particular wheelchair you are modifying does not have pre-drilled holes, you will have to find a location to drill two holes into the supporting bar of the backrest.  It is very important to select this location carefully as you do not want to compromise the strength of the support for the chair's backrest.  Also, the metal used on wheelchairs is very strong, and you will need a good drill gun with a sharp drill bit.

In the illustration, the Bar Bracket is labeled and is shown as attached to the wheelchair.  This bracket may be attached higher or lower depending upon what works for a particular wheelchair model.   Depending upon the height of the individual in the wheelchair and the angle you wish the canopy to rest, the lengths of the canopy bars labeled BAR  F and BAR G may change.  You will want to measure the Height of BAR  F  first using a yardstick measuring from the position the Bar Bracket will be attached to at least three inches above the head of the individual who sits in the wheelchair.  Keep in mind, you'll want this bar to be at a slight backward angle so that the roof fully covers the individual's head.    It is better to add extra height to your measurement then be too short.  Keep in mind, the canopy will be made of material and will sag some in the middle.  Next,  measure how long BAR G must be.  You can vary the angle of this bar which will lengthen or shorted its length.  The shorter the bar at any given angle, the more forward sloping the canopy will be.  The longer the bar, the more upward sloping the canopy will be.  The angle must be taken into account in your measurements.  The greater the angle, the longer the bar must be, and the greater the canopy length.  You can either measure the angle of this bar with a protractor, or can do it the easy way and take a piece of paper to mark down the angles of the two bars and the length they must be.  Work out on paper with pencil first the bar angles and lengths.  Next, measure how long the canopy must be given the angle and length of those bars.

Once you know the length and the angle of the two poles, you can solve for the length  of the canopy using some trigonometry (The first time ever found a use for trigonometry!).  Unfortunately, I was never very good at trig, and so I laid out the angles using three yardstick rulers to get the appropriate dimensions and traced the angles onto a piece of paper.  If you want to do the math, you can look at http://www.teacherschoice.com.au/maths_library/trigonometry/solve_trig_sss.htm for how to calculate the dimensions.

<p>Have you thought about converting a tractor canopy and maybe attaching clear vinyl rolls on the sides to make an all weather canopy?</p>
<p>Great project. Great details in Instructable.</p>
<p>Great idea. If you make those flamed exhaust pipes you need material with flames too. REALLY jazz up that chair. Your explanation and drawings are terrific. Thanks.</p>
<p>Flaming exhaust pipes! I'll have to give that a try! :)</p>
This is a great idea! I have been looking for a canopy for my chair and it is hard to find something nice, not to mention reasonably priced. You know how it is add the word wheelchair to a product and at least one zero to the price.
Yes indeed! If you need any help, just drop me an email ;)<br>-Eric
Love the rooftop idea man, also like the way you made it work ;-) <br>If you want to make it motorised, why not go to a local cardump and ask them if they have some old retractable covers with a motor from a porsche or other open roof type o'car. <br>Might be a lot of work getting it into the right size for your chair, but hey, why not?
That is an awesome idea! Thanks!
No problemo!
If you could make it retractable that would be awesome!!!&nbsp; Good job!!!<br />
I had some ideas for making a power retractable roof... but as I would have needed some help in assembling it... I thought that might of been beyond my abilities.&nbsp; In theory, if you made the mounting bracket motorized, you might be able to flip a switch and have it rotate to go behind the person.&nbsp; It would take some work to get it to keep from blocking any back-pack though... so I put that off for a Version 2 :)<br />
We camp alot and I always get hot in my chair, thanks for giving me a way to fix that!&nbsp; I may be a granny but don't want my chair to look like one!&nbsp; LOL
Your only as old as you feel... and whose to say ya can't be a rockin' granny! :)&nbsp; I hope this helps! Thanks!<br />
I'm not going to lie... That thing is pretty sweet looking... I hope you entered it into that humana contest thing.<br />
I sure did!&nbsp; I hope I get your vote for the Humana contest!&nbsp; Thanks!<br />
Good job, your chair is officially 'pimped'!<br />
Thanks!&nbsp; Hahaha You ain't seen nothing yet.&nbsp; Still working on flaming exhaust pipes hahahha<br />
When your finished doing this instructable... be sure to visit my store at <a href="http://www.cafepress.com/darkrubymoon" rel="nofollow">http://www.cafepress.com/darkrubymoon</a> &nbsp; for my art on T-shirts, prints, and much much more!
&nbsp;Very slick! It's kinda like old fashioned Wild West-ish canopy meets hot rod! :D<br />
Awesome... thank you!&nbsp; <br />
You really should enter this into the Humana Health Design Contest here on Instructables! Look under contests on the home page.
Yes lol... I think I did enter it.&nbsp; Is reason am posting this now... had planned to post it for some time, but didn't have complete set of instructions ready.<br />
That is awesome, well done!<br />
Thank You!<br />
It would be great if you had some photos of the individual bars, the bracket before and after painting, and of the canopy fabrication process.&nbsp; Those three steps with no pictures (where pictures would be helpful!) really do stand out.<br /> <br /> This is a great project, and well written.&nbsp; Thanks!<br />
Thank you so much.&nbsp; I'm working on adding some more photos... I just posted those I had already taken.<br />
Thanks for the reply!&nbsp; I very much liked the drawings you did.&nbsp; Very clear.&nbsp; And it's always a pleasure when someone discovered that math is actually useful for something ;-&gt;<br />
Added to the <a href="http://www.instructables.com/group/Assistive_Tech/" rel="nofollow">Assistive Technology</a> group.<br />

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