By Roger Arrick
As Seen on the SlashDot July 2002
We've been Slashdot'd and mentioned on AOL and want to thank all of those who have emailed with kind words. And, to those who always find a way to bash something they didn't create, you have been ignored.
Since I spend at least 3 hours a day on the computer working and playing, I figured that it should be comfortable. Here's a short description of my journey to create the ultimate sitting experience.
The Chair and the Base
My quest began by looking for a better office chair or even a recliner but nothing looked like it would completely solve the problem. Normal office chairs just don't allow you to recline without bending your body in half and many recliners have only one position and are too soft for my taste. Then I realized that the most comfortable chair I sit in each day is my car. If you think about it, it's specifically designed to minimize fatigue and allow people to sit comfortably for hours The main reason it's so comfortable is that it's powered which allows me to change the position frequently and effortlessly.
So, I set out to find a car seat and after a few phone calls a local junk yard invited me to come browse their luxury import inventory. I was very disappointed to find that the seats in most cars were destroyed by people who had removed dashboards, steering wheels, and radios, and by rain from doors left open. Too bad because a good powered seat for a luxury car can cost $2000 new.
After much looking I found a keeper. With muddy feet and scraped shin bone, I removed a beautiful tan leather powered passenger-side seat from a burgundy late-model BMW sedan. Crushed on the outside and obviously totaled, the car looks like it protected the occupants and provided me with an excellent centerpiece for my project. Unfortunately the equally beautiful drivers-side seat had become the resting place for a VW transmission and a small swarm of lady bugs who for some reason found gears and oil more appealing than a tree trunk - so much for evolution.
Removing the seat was fairly easy and I was careful to clip the wires on the car-side of the connector for the seat's power. Another feature of this seat was that the power controls were on the seat itself and not on the door like the Mercedes. That eliminated the need to create a wiring harness to an outboard switch assembly. There were 5 wires total but 2 of them were a larger gauge which was a clue that they were the power. The others are probably seat and belt switches but I ignored them. I used a common 12VDC, 3 amp regulated power supply which can be found at Radio Shack or other electronic supply shops.
My seat cost $100 but your mileage may vary.
Next, I need a platform to mount the seat on that was sturdy. The base is made with a piece of 1/2" plywood cut to 2' x 4'. 2x4's were used on the bottom for support.
The base was then covered in black vinyl using a staple gun. Mosquitoes were terrible in my garage on a hot Texas summer evening but progress prevailed and the welts diminished over time.
Framing and Mechanics
The framing components were purchased from 80/20 which is a company that makes modular aluminum products used for building machines. I used their 1010 series which is 1" square. The sides of the base use 1020 which is 1" by 2". Connections are made using standard 1/4-20x1.5" carriage bolts and 1/4-20x1/2 button head cap screws. Most holes are 1/4" and the aluminum is easy to drill with a hand drill or drill press. The knobs are from McMaster-Carr and are about 2" in diameter with a 1/4-20 lock-nut embedded in them.
Gussets were made using .080 aluminum sheet. I first designed the pattern using AutoCad-LT then printed them out 1:1 onto Avery label paper. Attached the label to the sheetmetal, cut with a bandsaw, drilled, and deburred.
Four 16" full-extension drawer slides from Home Depot were used to allow the keyboard and monitor to slide out of the way. Attached them using 8-32x1" screws tapped into the aluminum frame.
The Final Chair
Amid much fanfare from on-looking neighbors, the chair was completed and moved into my home office/lab/playroom. A ViewSonic 18" VA800 LCD monitor was procured from a local Best-Buy on discount because it was their display model.
The main problem now is that my office is designed around a traditional sit-at-desk setup and the new computer chair changes how I interact with bookshelves, printers, radios, etc. For now, it's just stuck where my chair use to be. Time to design new shelves.
The adjustable seat makes a huge difference in my ability to completely become one with the computer. Considering adding accessories to enhance my digital experience such as a tube to supply a continuous stream of Mountain Dew and maybe a urinal. Next, I'll be working on submerging my entire body in a vat of hot salsa along with an automatic chip dispenser.
Send comments to Roger Arrick
"I bet even now you are sitting astride the behemoth. Go on, admit it, half man, half machine. A supine Borg gliding silently through the ether, master of all he surveys, yet his joyless mechanical heart not registering the slightest emotion. Not even the sporadic infusions of Mountain Dew could stimulate more than a flicker of his former humanness. Gone was the boyish inventor, spiritualist and sage. In his place, a soulless clump of throbbing gristle on board the conveyance once derived from a Teutonic masterwork, the BMW. The elegant source had become a dull, utilitarian, albeit necessary life support system of sorts. If alive is the right word to describe what Roger had become... "
PS: In Los Alamos, we single women are not impressed with the huge ratio of men to women. We know the odds are good, but the goods are odd. You wouldn't happen to be single would you?