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Thread: SmartDrive Power Assist Device from MAX Mobility

  1. #231
    Senior Member Jeff B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by melal55 View Post
    I tried it out last week. It was propelling me up a very steep ramp to the second story of a parking structure. As I got to the top of the ramp and it leveled out I picked up speed. I gripped the hand rims to stop it and it wouldn't stop. I had the wheels locked out in my hands and it still wouldn't stop. I went head on into the brick wall in front of me. Thankfully the wheelchair extended out past my knees and legs and took the impact. The dealer was freaked out to say the least and said she had never had that happen before. I tried it a few more times up the same ramp and it stopped normally when I gripped the handrims hard enough.
    Quote Originally Posted by jgrant27 View Post
    This happened to me last night as I was trying to go up a not-very steep hill! My partner responded to my frantic screaming and managed to save me. Left a 6' skid mark on the sidewalk (poor tires).

    ((edited - just realized that I quoted the wrong statement, I'll include the right one below))

    I'm just demo-ing it, but I'm a bit nervous now.
    Quote Originally Posted by grommet View Post
    You guys are scaring the heck out of me. I only had trouble with the SmartDrive when I went down an incline, it sped me up and I had to grab on hard to stop. I think with enough time using the SD I would get the bugs worked out. Maybe it's wishful thinking on my part because I need the extra help of power-assist and the SmartDrive is the only one that really disappears under the chair and I can stow easy. I definitely need more time with one.
    An additional easy to hit big button that acts as a kill switch would be a way to make it safer. I am surprised that this was not required by RESNA or other legal reasons.

  2. #232
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff B View Post
    An additional easy to hit big button that acts as a kill switch would be a way to make it safer. I am surprised that this was not required by RESNA or other legal reasons.
    I agree, I want one but I will not buy until those scary things are addressed.
    Pharmacist, C4-5 injury but functional C6 (no triceps/flexors)

  3. #233
    Senior Member JeffH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff B View Post
    An additional easy to hit big button that acts as a kill switch would be a way to make it safer. I am surprised that this was not required by RESNA or other legal reasons.
    I've been using the Smartdrive for about three weeks.
    And I love it. It has really opened up things for me.
    I've used it some very challenging conditions and while it is not a 'point it and go' solution like a power chair or the ZX-1 may be, it is a huge help.
    And in less challenging conditions, like an urban environment, it really shines. Trips to the grocery store are a breeze.
    Even around the house, where - since I have wood floors, I don't really need it, - it works really well.
    Just to get used to it I left it on for several days while home. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I barely noticed - it doesn't add an appreciable amount of drag and it handles tight corners with ease.

    The portability is really nice. The time it takes to put it on or off during car transfers is negligible.

    Going up hills, is a little bit of a weak point, it senses the resistance as braking and often shuts off.
    That's why the override switch is needed.
    But, it's a little awkward pushing the switch on the battery pack between your legs, whilst trying to steer and compensate for an off camber, up hill road run.
    Which is why a remote switch is really needed and would improve the functionality dramatically.
    So it's good to hear that MaxMobility is working on it.

    I didn't want to wait - so I installed a remote switch on my own.
    It's really quite simple, a push button switch wired in parallel with the existing switch.
    I used a head phone jack so that the remote switch can be plugged in when needed.
    I've mounted it right next to one of my disk brake levers.
    That way I can keep a couple of fingers on the brake lever with my thumb on the switch. It gives me pretty much full control.

    Regarding the concerns raised above - the times that the Smartdrive keeps pushing are indeed disconcerting.
    Ramp transitions, either coming down or after leveling off at the top, are the most likely times for this to occur, although I've had it happen after quick sudden pushes as well.

    In my case I have disk brakes on my chair and hence very positive braking. Nonetheless, if fooled into thinking that you've given a hard push, the Smartdrive has enough torque to skid the rear wheels and keep pushing. That's when it gets scary.
    Part of it is a learning curve - it's happening less and less as I've gotten used to it.

    But the remote switch solves the issue.
    It acts as a kill switch when the unit is pushing.

    Hopefully the units will come with a factory installed remote switch in the future.

    YMMV
    Jeff

    BTW, Medicare covered the purchase.
    I have a history to arm and shoulder trouble so my doctor and PT and DME were a big help.
    Doh!

  4. #234
    Senior Member lynnifer's Avatar
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    Jeff B .. the rep in Toronto (Quart Healthcare) was at Ottawa a week or so ago to get ADP to cover these units. Might take 4-6 months though.

    Going to try through my private insurance first though.

    Are you paying out of pocket?
    Roses are red. Tacos are enjoyable. Don't blame immigrants, because you're unemployable.

    T-11 Flaccid Paraplegic due to TM July 1985 @ age 12

  5. #235
    That is brilliant JeffH. I've started playing with the shutter release idea, but even if I get somewhere with it, it won't compare with yours.
    I have had periodic paralysis all my life. I lost my ability to walk in 2011 beginning with a spinal block, which was used for a hip fracture caused by periodic paralysis.

  6. #236

    Remote switch and braking concerns

    I love the solution by Jeff H. Great to see the creativity. While we don't officially have a remote jack on our order form, we have done them for people in the past. You just need to ask when you order it. Like Jeff H said, it allows you to mount a button of your choosing, where you want it on your chair. Near the brake lever or clipped on the top of the side guard facing up are good locations. Selection of a button and installation will be your responsibility or your dealers.

    Ease of braking with the SmartDrive varies depending on the resistance it encounters when driving forward. This is to allow it to get uphills without cutting off too often. If you know this behavior in advance, it makes it easier to predict when braking might be hard for you. If you know it might be hard, be prepared to quickly hit the button to disengage the drive motor before you get into trouble. There are a couple situations where you can run into trouble. Jeff H described them well. Coming off a steep uphill is the most common. When you get it going on a steep hill, the resistance on the motor is high, so the braking resistance is set high. The best technique is to brake it off just as you get to the top of the hill. Your weight is still helping you brake the chair when you are on the hill. If you continue past the top of the hill be prepared for it to be harder to brake and possibly hitting the button if in a space constrained area.

    When going downhill it's best to turn it off to prevent accidental push activation. The SmartDrive will engage whenever your chair accelerates, whether you intended it or not. If you forget or choose not to power it down, then focus on not allowing the chair to accelerate. You do this by monitoring your braking. First, stop at the top of the downhill, because that is usually when you tend to accelerate. Next pay attention to your speed all the way down. Try and keep it constant as reasonably possible.

    We are constantly improving the SmartDrive and I plan to improve the web site soon to share some if the tricks to get everything out of your SmartDrive.

  7. #237
    In their most-recent posts, JeffH and Mark...uhmmm..."Max_Mobility" have provided some very useful info about how the SmartDrive works and how to deal with real world situations that can occur.

    A few years ago, Toyota would have been well advised to use Mark's approach when they began hearing reports of unintentional acceleration in the Toyota Camry. Nobody is served well when a issue exists and the response is Deny, Deny, Deny.

    Unlike Toyota Camry's, custom mobility products are produced in relatively low volumes and are rarely used in the exact same way because every person is different. No product will be perfect, and no manufacturer can foresee every potential issue that can arise after a product goes into production. The law of unintended consequences inevitably goes into effect and changes will have to be made once issues become known. That was my reason for starting a separate thread on the subject of using the next generation on demand power-add ons on TiLite chairs.

    It is refreshing to see Max Mobility and a number of other manufacturers in this forum demonstrate a willingness to solicit our input and be transparent enough so that we are kept in the loop as they deal with issues. There are a greater number of manufacturers who would deny any issue exists for as long as possible. Eventually, they will quietly make the necessary changes when they can no longer deny there is an issue. The lack of transparency associated with this approach creates missed opportunities to make their product even better.

    Mark,

    Thanks for posting that information.


  8. #238
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    I am obviously not an engineer but since electronic gyroscopes are becoming ubiquitous in our daily electronics (iPhone etc), maybe the use of one in the SmartDrive could detect when the device is starting to level at the end of a steep hill and then send a signal to stop when a lesser braking force is applied? There may already be a gyroscope in the device and the software algorithms just need to be modified for such behaviour? If such a gyroscope was to be used, it could also prevent acceleration going downhill, even drag a bit to help brake?

    Sorry if nothing of that makes sense, I would just want to hear comments by MaxMobility on that possibility.

    Thanks!
    Pharmacist, C4-5 injury but functional C6 (no triceps/flexors)

  9. #239
    Quote Originally Posted by JGNI View Post
    I am obviously not an engineer but since electronic gyroscopes are becoming ubiquitous in our daily electronics (iPhone etc), maybe the use of one in the SmartDrive could detect when the device is starting to level at the end of a steep hill and then send a signal to stop when a lesser braking force is applied? There may already be a gyroscope in the device and the software algorithms just need to be modified for such behaviour? If such a gyroscope was to be used, it could also prevent acceleration going downhill, even drag a bit to help brake?

    Sorry if nothing of that makes sense, I would just want to hear comments by MaxMobility on that possibility.

    Thanks!
    That's a cool idea. Just FYI, those sensors are accelerometers, not gyroscopes.

  10. #240
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    Quote Originally Posted by -scott- View Post
    That's a cool idea. Just FYI, those sensors are accelerometers, not gyroscopes.
    Well, in fact both types of sensors are used (even combined on same chip I think) in iPhones etc. I thought that it was the gyros that could give the info on the rotational position of the SmartDrive when transitioning from hill to flat at a constant speed but I could be wrong. For all I know, both are probably able in different ways to give the signal to the SmartDrive but I will leave that to the engineers.
    Pharmacist, C4-5 injury but functional C6 (no triceps/flexors)

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