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The problem

A family member suffering from Motor Neurone Disease (MND or ALS) and needing transport between two floors in a small house. The impairment is equivalent to tetraplegia (complete loss of muscular function, inability to sit upright and need for specialised hoisting) and results in the requirement to transport the individual either directly in the wheelchair or in a hoist sling.

The commercial solution on the UK market is a through-floor lift carrying the wheelchair, which causes unacceptable loss of space (a room on each floor) and interventions to the property structure. In other countries a 'ceiling lift' is sold, but cost is expected to be very high (several tens of thousand Euro).

The solution

A DIY lift construction inspired by the chairlifts of skiing resorts and made mostly out of wood.

Step 1: The concept

The stairs to be negotiated have one 90-degree bend at the top landing and a sufficiently spacious lower landing. The ceiling height exceeds 2.3m (7ft 6in). This lends itself to constructing a rectilinear suspension track to transport the individual in the hoisting sling between two wheelchairs, one positioned at the lower landing and the other wheeled onto a simple platform at the top.

The support structure consists of five gantries attached to the floors and the stairwell (Figure 1). A winch provides both hoisting from and to the chairs and translation along the track (Figure 2 left-hand side). The critical components permitting to realise this solution with just off-the-shelf parts and wood are the trucks and wheels of a skateboard. A carriage, very much like an upside-down skateboard, runs on an L-shaped track suspended from the gantries (Figure 2 right-hand side).

The design philosophy hinged on three principles:

  1. Components choice and dimensioning were based on the mechanical properties demonstrated in other applications, eg skateboard trucks are designed to withstand shock forces far exceeding our requirements.
  2. A simple design with a minimum of components kept the system transparent and the manufacturing effort low. The design method was heuristic with many details being worked out during manufacturing.
  3. The validation approach was empirical, meaning that parts and assemblies were tested during construction with twice the expected service load (equivalent to 125 kg).

Note that a fourth critical principle is being applied: Since the device has been in service it is closely monitored and regularly inspected.

Thus the lift could be built on a 450GBP materials budget and in short time using only DIY hand tools (hand saw, jig saw, hacksaw, drill, drill press, files, wood chisel, hammer, screw driver, level and measuring tape).

Having had a friend and family go through something similar and pass away within 6 months of eventual diagnosis.<br>I applaud your quickly coming up with an effective solution to continue helping to be able to navigate normal house on situation. <br><br>Unlimited time and big budget can come up with 'officially' approved methods or more structurally or wear resistant parts.<br>However the mental anguish of being so dependant on others and cost to family can be high to the person most effected. So glad to see your model could raise a smile during the ride and photos to demonstrate.
You are a artist!!!
This is an amazing piece of engineering.
<p>Wonder if going across stud-to-stud where possible would make the design safer. I know the chair lifts are usually mounted to metal rails (to studs) and ends bolted to the floor. Those systems are also really, really expensive. Just a thought at first site. Great for someone with need and no $$</p>
<p>&gt; ...It had a pair of wheels of special triangle-starred shape with three rollers at the tops of its tri-stars. Theese wheels allowed chair to roll along the stairs just like along the smooth rampant!</p><p>Something like this:</p><p><a href="https://www.dropbox.com/s/bjaqp4u5vw29mss/%D0%A1%D0%BA%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%BD%D1%88%D0%BE%D1%82%202014-12-07%2018.45.28.png?dl=0" rel="nofollow">https://www.dropbox.com/s/bjaqp4u5vw29mss/%D0%A1%D...</a></p>
<p>Well... Looking at the link' picture you can see that upward movement would not be smooth, but... But it was. )) I just don't remember the exact shape of those wheels ... or exact ratio between rollers' diameter and steps' height...</p>
<p>The square wheel seems even better than triangle! )) Perhaps the round one would be the perfect choice... o_0</p>
<p>Bingo! ))</p><p>http://youtu.be/0PpNLD3TrdE</p>
<p>An improved variant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&amp;v=ULWRV_N9ugY</p>
<p>Thank you for the suggestion. I had to discount such a solution on account of the curve at the top of our stairs. Also pulling up the stairs a 60kg individual seemed a bit daunting even after trying and seeing ambulance services doing an equally shaky job of it. Consequently, I tried something different. Also, the track could be in principle operated by only one person, especially after the suggested improvements have been integrated.</p>
<p>Sure I had not advice a human-powered wheelchair INSTEAD of your design, it is ridiculous. )) I just informed you about solution had impressed me once very much. You may check YouTube for ELECTRIC stair climbers. Not exactly for stairs mentioned. </p>
<p>Genius ... pure genius.</p>
<p>to make it stronger you could add some flat steel bar to the bottom and top, for the bottom something like 30 x 1.5 - 2mm and for the top 15 x 1.5 - 2mm or how ever wide the wood is you will just need to screw it in to the wood then put in some bolts to make it even stronger.</p><p>for something to stop it moving just come up with something she just needs to drop.</p><p>like using a tilt switch she can hold between her teeth open mouth it drop and kills all motion you should be able to run a looped wire along the cable.</p>
<p>L@ felicito por pensar en el bien com&uacute;n y compartir con todos su proyecto :)</p><p>atte.</p><p>Marco Villalta (El Salvador, Centro Am&eacute;rica)</p>
<p>Wow this is really Great!!</p><p>I wanted to do something like this for long.<br>Can you upload a video ?</p><p>I wish to share it with my family to make it understand that i can build something like this.</p><p>Thanks</p>
<p>Pure genius! Thanks for sharing this well-conceived and carried out project. Something like that, or an elevator, or a one-floor building would have helped immensely when I went to DMV to obtain a Handicap car placard in 1979 when our foster daughter's wheelchair was delivered. I got to the DMV office and found that I had to go down a very long, narrow flight of stairs! I asked how to get our little girl, wheelchair and all, down and then back up those stairs - no one had a clue! I finally ended up leaving the empty chair at the top of the stairs, removing Alex, and lugged her downstairs with me. They wanted me to come back later and get the blue and white card and I said, &quot;No way!&quot; and laid Alex on a blanket on the floor and sat down beside her. They saw I meant business and got it taken care of so they could get rid of me! No one offered to help me carry her back upstairs, either. That has all changed now, thanks to IDEA and other public laws. You've designed a marvelous home solution - my hat's off to you! We have an accessible home but I'm ear-marking this project for anyone who may need to have it. Great job!</p>
<p>With the help of my son I have just installed a used Acorn stairlift in my Parents house it was a right pain to get the track exactly where you want it, this however is a brilliant idea which leaves the stairs clear for other people to use, I have been looking at this kind of automotive winch and wondering if something like this was possible for quite some time but It never entered my mind to have the hoist running overhead, you should be congratulated for your genius in designing this lift it is surely going to change peoples lives especially those that cannot afford to buy the rip off price Kit that is already on the market. well done. </p>
<p>I'm impressed with the idea, how long before commercial bodies steal it. The wife is loosing use of her hips at an astounding rate and we have examined chairlifts but narrow stairs and twists make that tricky. This idea will have very low impact on space. I am intensely impressed. Well done!</p>
<p>Hi, I'm glad you like it and that it may inspire you to solve your problem. I initially thought about handling the curve in our stairs with a single-sided track and carriage, perhaps made out of wheels for hanging garage doors. However, concerns about the complexities relating to bending the track, the double load of a single track, managing lateral swing and feeding the cable over the curve, quickly made me review my ambitions. This particular design could not handle any curves because of the small clearance between skate wheels and the outer board of the track, which could not be increased without reducing the wheel contact area.</p><p>Hopefully, you can solve this or maybe someone else can add more helpful comments with new ideas.</p><p>All the best to your wife and keep your chip up!</p>
<p>This is a fantastic project, well documented, and wonderfully explained. Even more awesome to me are the various respectful and ingenious dialogues between the author and other clever minds in the comments on how to further improve the safety and operation of the design which ultimately improve the quality of life of the individual for which it was made. This is a prime example, to me, of how the internet and communities on it can change the world for the better a little bit at a time.</p>
<p>What a nice comment :)</p>
<p>Once upon a time I saw a special wheelchair on TV. It had a pair of wheels of special triangle-starred shape with three rollers at the tops of its tri-stars. Theese wheels allowed chair to roll along the stairs just like along the smooth rampant! It looked pretty impressive. I hope this piece of info may help you to improve your wonderful construction someway...</p>
Wow. <br>A completely hellified solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem. <br>You da man.
<p>This is simply genius. I wish I'd had a similar idea (although probably wouldn't have had to expertise or bottle to try it) when our friends moved house recently. They've had the lift installed (was second hand) and takes up a _lot_ of room. </p><p>Brilliant.</p>
Awesome project and for someone truly in need. Keep it up!
Absolute genius. There are still brilliant inventors in the world :)
<p>This is fantastic. Keep on keeping on.</p>
<p>Great job, and lots of interesting comments! I live in a two-story house, and it would distress me a lot if I had to move away because medical reasons meant I couldn't navigate the stairs. Your relative is very blessed, having a caring, creative, and diligent person such as yourself around!!!</p>
<p>Be certain to have an automatic battery back up system in the event of power failure. It would be dreadful to be stranded in mid stream or on either end of the lift if you drastically needed to get to the other for practical reasons. Bear in mind equipment of this nature is put through rigorous testing because it is for medical use (a large part of the reason it is so terribly expensive).</p>
<p>What a great idea! </p>
<p>Your relative is fortunate indeed to have such an inventive and caring soul in the home. Bravo!</p>
<p>Very cool. Worthwhile project.</p>
<p>Hella crazy work! love it!!</p><p>I have a good friend who is in a wheel chair now, after a bad accident, and it's always a hard time for him to come visit as he feels bad that we pull him up to our flat, this kind of idea seems so revolutionary! no need for a chair on the wall nor a mechanic chair that climbs stairs (and costs like a small car).</p><p>Congrats on the design, it's amazing to see and follow your train of thoughts on this &quot;HandiRollerCoster&quot; :D</p>
<p>Hi Horef. I am glad this inspires you to find a solution for your friend and improve his quality of life. I would not see any problems in hooking up a wheelchair to the lift, maybe with three or four carbine hooks and making sure that the chair tilts back a bit on lifting so the passenger does not fall out. I did not have to do that here, because we use an outdoor chair downstairs and an indoor chair upstairs. Let me know if you need any more details to create your solution.</p>
<p>Hello,</p><p>That's very pleasant to see people who used there cleverness to help other people, nice project, take care of you !</p><p>I like the big smile of the young lady :)</p><p>Eric from France</p>
<p>This is a very clever solution to costly problem, so I salute your ingenuity. As others have noted, safety is the primary concern, so were I in your position, at this point I would be reviewing each component and connection and studying what the possible failures could be and what would result from such a failure, then devising safer alternatives or some kind of mitigation. For example, I think the likelihood of a cable break is lower compared to the possibility of the failure of the cable's connections to the trolley, or the connection of the motor to the frame, either of which could result in a free-fall just as if the cable itself had broken. To address the obvious need for a trolley brake, I would be thinking about adding a sort of &quot;dead-man switch&quot;: a cord connected to the trolley that the rider has to keep under tension (i.e. pull firmly) for the trolley to move freely. If the cord is released, the trolley would stop. This cord would be connected to a spring-loaded &quot;pawl&quot; that engages some kind of stops placed at regular intervals on the track (or two pawls, really, one on each side track)--when the cord is pulled, the pawl clears the stops and allows the trolley to move past them; if the cord is released, the (strong) spring brings the pawl to rest in the path of the stops and the trolley will stop moving, limiting the &quot;free-fall&quot; distance. I would also make the stop blocks as wedges, so the pawl can self-clear over them while the trolley is travelling upward, to prevent an accidental jam of the trolley while the motor is pulling upward, which could tension the cable in the extreme and cause a failure of some part of the cable system. I would also consider adding a microswitch to sense the position of the pawl, so I could interrupt the motor if the cord is not fully pulled (i.e. the pawl is not pulled clear), facilitating a panic stop mechanism for either direction of travel.</p><p>In your design, there is a gap between the underside of the track and the trolley &quot;arms&quot; on which the small track side bearings are mounted. If it were mine to build, I'd beef up these arms (a lot) and add the pawls there, and placing the stop blocks on the underside of the track. I've made a (poor, sorry) drawing that I've attached to attempt to illustrate this.</p><p>Additionally, many lift systems use an idler wheel or similar structure that's positioned by the proper tension of the cable. If the cable snaps or otherwise comes free, the idler wheel moves out of it's &quot;safe&quot; position, causing some other action, such as the engagement of a brake. Perhaps the pawl on one side of the track could be controlled by the dead-man cord, but on the other side it's controlled by such an idler wheel. Thus a release of the cable would engage the pawl on that side and automatically stop the trolley from rolling free downward. An additional idler wheel at the motor with a switch could be used to stop the motor, so if the cable goes slack, the motor doesn't continue to run and tear something up or otherwise do something unsavory with the now-free cable. I'd also spend some time thinking about how to stop the motor if I sense excess tension on the cable (i.e. some kind of jam), again, to keep it from tearing things up.</p><p>I would also take note that skateboard trucks are built for compression, not tension, and there is a very real possibility that the axle assembly could pull free from the base if the threads of the bolt or base strip. At a minimum, I would ensure that all bolts and other fasteners are grade 8 or other similar high-grade product, that there's enough thread contact, and that the mating materials are of a grade and type that's up to the loads they will get. I would also look at adding some kind of additional block over the top of the trolley, very firmly attached, that should an axle fail, would restrict the fall of the trolley to the clearance distance between that block and the track (I see someone else made this suggestion too). I would also reposition the motor so that the cable tension pulls the motor against the frame rather than away from it.</p><p>Disclaimer: I am not a mechanical engineer or a lift expert, and have no experience designing or building conveyances of this type. This is entirely my opinion and conjecture for discussion and mutual interest only, and should not be taken as instructions or guidance. These are just my ideas on what I would do, and I have no way to evaluate their merit or safety as they apply to your specific circumstances. This is noodling for fun, and while you've built an interesting and useful project, you've also built something that could cause serious injury or death if it fails, and you really should engage the help of a qualified engineer to review your design and any modifications you make to it. All that said, if you get this right, you may have just launched an amazing new career, and it would make me cackle with glee to see &quot;Pappardelle Lifts&quot; being sold all over the world five years from now.</p>
<p>Wow! Where to begin? Well, first of all thank you for the salute, critique and great suggestions. Then please note that I did and I am still doing the utmost possible to ensure the safety of my disabled relative. There are two operators at all times and I thoroughly inspect the structure frequently for signs of fatigue or developing failures. All materials are high grade. The steel is all high tensile strength. The trucks are retained with self-locking nuts that I also regularly inspect. And the structure underwent proper testing during development and prior to deployment.</p><p>The professional design, manufacture, installation and maintenance of medical or regulated equipment is a very costly affair. Besides engineering expertise, a commercial product of such kind would require risk management and regulatory oversight, all of which contributes to making it expensive. The DIY job shared in this Instructable did not aspire to these qualities, but rather to provide a cheap and rapid solution to a specific problem and it is fantastic that many great improvements are now being suggested to make this simple device a better one.</p><p>Finally, I really like the proposal that you sketched. Although in my case the 'rider' is unable to hold anything on account of her condition, the brake could very well be triggered by the loss of cable tension.</p><p>Keep up the good noodling!</p>
<p>This project is really inspiring, thanks for sharing this with the community. It's also been really interesting to see everyone post suggestions and concerns. </p>
<p>This system looks great. Had you considered using garage door opener tracks and motor? It may be easier for someone with lower wood working skills. </p>
<p>Thanks! My wood working skills are nothing to boast about, but perhaps that's what you meant ... This was really done with very simple tools and no workshop, so it should not be too challenging for anyone. I did research garage tracks and wheels. I chose this solution because it did not require me to work with metal, for which I am not set up and is also substantially more costly over here.</p>
<p>That's absolutely Brilliant! My family cares for our mother who is restricted to a power wheel chair but are lucky that we do not have to negotiate stairs. </p><p>Your idea is fantastic! It is sad that your need is brought on by the extreme cost of mobility devices. In Canada, companies who supply mobility equipment and devices charge exorbitant rates due to the system they are allowed to operate! it is truly criminal how these companies conduct business and prey on the individuals who truly are in need and vulnerable. There is a special place in hell for those companies.</p><p>So I applaud your ingenuity!!!!!! </p>
<p>That's absolutely Brilliant! My family cares for our mother who is restricted to a power wheel chair but are lucky that we do not have to negotiate stairs. </p><p>Your idea is fantastic! It is sad that your need is brought on by the extreme cost of mobility devices. In Canada, companies who supply mobility equipment and devices charge exorbitant rates due to the system they are allowed to operate! it is truly criminal how these companies conduct business and prey on the individuals who truly are in need and vulnerable. There is a special place in hell for those companies.</p><p>So I applaud your ingenuity!!!!!! </p>
<p>you can implement a hook system wiht the chair and go up both, so there is more autonomy. I think!</p><p>congratulations!! great idea! great instructable!</p>
greatest!!!
<p>Would you please insert a video. I find very intriguing and would love to see one in working in video.</p>
Super awesome job, that is ingenuity at its best. Very clever. Working in EMS in the northeast part of the USA a system like this would be awesome for the older houses with little room. Around here something like that would be very cost prohibited on the commercial market due to FDA regulations and other crap. A system like this could help so many people. <br>Again awesome job, you can tell it was built with love.
Awesome design!<br>Safety is my concern <br>Two things to think about. Find someone who is very familiar with mountain climbing and rope rigging to check you work and redundant connections for the sling. The other thing would be to install a ratchet on the track to stop the trolley if the winch assembly or fails.
<p>Thank you! I though about that, but I could not figure out how to create redundancy without building some fancy brake that would have brought everything out of budget. A double winch would be cumbersome and potentially counter-productive to operate. If you have a product in mind for the ratchet, please let me know. As it stands for safety, I monitor closely the operation of the parts, inspect them on a regular basis and always operate the lift assisted by another person.</p>

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