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Re: Powerchair - was federated free software movement

From: Arthur Torrey
Subject: Re: Powerchair - was federated free software movement
Date: Wed, 1 Dec 2021 18:59:29 -0500 (EST)

My chair has been severely hacked on, and bears no close relationship to the 
original product - I've replaced the entire electrical system other than the 
motors, and made many other modifications to it.  

The current control system on it is a Penny & Giles (P&G) "Pilot +" which is 
technically obsolete and no longer manufactured, so parts are only available 
used.  It has the advantage of being the easiest system to get into with the 
proprietary, MSW only programming software, as all it needs is a special cable 
that has been reverse engineered and is relatively easy to make.

I don't have much in the way of current photos, and don't see how they would 
help much since it basically would just be 'black box' electronic modules.

I did post a basic description of how almost all powerchairs work, and mine is 
very typical of a basic chair with no special seating functions.  (I do have a 
project chair w/ fancier seating, but it is not much different.

I am a very active participant on the <> website, which is 
probably the top site in the world for people that hack on and do their own 
repairs of power chairs.  One of the members there has created as close to an 
Open Source Hardware control system as we have.  It is based on multiple 
Arduino Tinies and is a very complete system, but it STILL requires a 
proprietary Roboteq robotics controller, and a lot of very hairy scripting in 
Roboteq's proprietary BASIC language.  The Roboteq controllers were chosen 
because they were the only ones he could find with the extra functionality for 
the Fail-safe / Safe-fail monitoring needed on a power chair (or any other 
'life safety critical' device)  It is also a factor that high power motor 
controllers are NOT simple, as a lot of the 'minor' things that get mostly 
ignored in basic electronics become major factors.  Even so I'd love to attempt 
doing one of those setups, except for the estimated $1-2K cost...


Arthur Torrey - <>

> Message: 1
> Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2021 13:26:54 +0300
> From: Jean Louis <>
> To: Paul Sutton <>
> Cc:
> Subject: Re: federated free software movement
> Message-ID: <YaX8bn/UfTg5gMbE@protected.localdomain>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
> I have asked for the wheelchair pictures, functions, and did not get
> it.
> I would like pictures, videos or link to the product, to understand
> what are those functions.
> >From there on, it could be possible to work on free hardware.
> Jean
> Take action in Free Software Foundation campaigns:
> In support of Richard M. Stallman

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