At Maker Faire, we saw loads of really cool projects. The BeanCat was a clever one, a skid steer chair controlled by a Wii Nunchuck held by the user in a bean bag chair.
The Beancat is an all-wheel drive, battery powered bean bag chair, controlled by a Wii nunchuk. Getting a drink from the fridge has never been so much fun. The low profile drive, frame and controlling hardware are completely concealed so at first glance it’s just a simple bean bag.
Imagine a bean bag chair that you could drive around, in or outdoors. A commuting vehicle, entertainment device and relaxation enabler all in one.
Why, you ask? Because we wanted to.
The real challenge here was fitting everything into such an envelope that would not be obvious when looking at the bean bag. We didn’t want a bean bag that was simply sitting on top of a big, ugly frame. There should be some degree of mystery as to what exactly is going on here- as a matter of fact, how is that person driving around on a bean bag chair?
Their documentation includes some nice screenshots of the design files for the build. This chair was going nonstop for a good while with a long line of patient aspiring beanbag riders. I was surprised in seeing such a small battery performing so effectively.
The bean bag support frame was built entirely out of scrap wood, hardware and $2 worth of foam from the “House of Foam” in Palo Alto, CA. As you can see, it changed a bit from the rough sketch above. This was the least planned part of the project, as it was simple enough to just do as a last step. The back of the frame is tensioned with a steel cable that runs from one corner up to the top center of the backrest and down the opposite corner. In this way, we were able to keep the backrest super strong, flexible and lightweight.
The bean bag was then stretched over this, refilled with beans, and we were driving!