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Combat Wheelchair

Status: Awesome

You might ask yourself, "Why would anyone mount dual Nerf machine guns on a wheelchair, and hack it to fire them from the drive controls?"

I might ask you why you hate fun.

The guns can be fired by any drive control connected to the chair.  Joystick, head array, chin/mouth stick, sip and puff, single switch, etc.  Pick your poison.

I used an Invacare wheelchair with Mark VI electronics, but this can be done with any power wheelchair that can use an "ECU 1/2" or "ECU 3/4" box.  (These connect to the chair's electronics and have two 9-pin D-sub ports for output.  They are commonly used for controlling speech generating devices or computers.)

The recipe:
  • Switch adapt two Nerf Vulcan machine guns using battery interrupters and two zip ties. (Edit: It seems the Nerf Vulcan has become rare/expensive, so see the bottom of the page for alternatives.)
  • Acquire two Manfrotto Magic Arms or kits (which are the same thing as "Universal Mounts," but cheaper because they aren't marketed as assistive technology...), and two extra clamps (four clamps total).
  • Attach a clamp to each end of each Magic Arm.
  • For each gun, clamp one end of the arm onto the tripod's mount, and the other onto the frame of the wheelchair.  Adjust to position and aim however you like.
  • Mount an "ECU 1/2" or "ECU 3/4" box on the wheelchair and connect it to the chair's electronics.  (This is the sort of thing that a supplier or clinic would do for you, as it requires a brand-specific wheelchair programming device.)
  • Plug a 9-pin D-sub to 3.5mm splitter cable (like this or one of the "802-" cables show here) into one of the ports of the ECU box.
  • Choose two of the 3.5mm plugs (left and right, or whichever directions work best for the user while driving the chair), and plug them into the battery interrupters of the Nerf guns.  (Alternatively, use a Y-adapter and connect one plug to both guns.)
That's it!  Now, tap your mode switch (or whatever you have to do with your brand of wheelchair) to switch into ECU mode, and move your joystick (or whatever drive control you use).  You are now driving an AH-64 Apache attack wheelchair.  Paint some shark teeth on that beast and show 'em who's boss!

A note on Nerf guns: Apparently, the Nerf Vulcan has been come rare and/or expensive these days, but there are other guns that will do the job.  As you can see in this fantastic video, others have set up similar rigs with the N-Strike Stampede ECS and the Vortex Nitron.  While I have not experimented with either of these myself, I expect that the Stampede can be adapted very similarly to the Vulcan.  The Vortex Nitron might (or might not) be slightly more complicated to adapt, as it looks like it may have a secondary switch to turn on the motor, but you may be able to just turn it on and leave it.  After a quick test, the Rapidstrike CS-18 and the Rayven CS-18 don't seem to be viable options, as they have a secondary trigger that must be held to power the motor, which complicates things.  If I experiment with the Vortex Nitron, I'll post my findings here.

If you want to try this out, I will gladly provide more details.

Copyright © 2012 Gavin Philips. All rights reserved.