Rehabilitation hip brace that I bought on eBay for $40

I mentioned in my last post that one  of the major challenges has been connecting the device to the body. It needs to be comfortable yet rigid. Thinking that using molded plastic to better make that connection would be a good approach, I scored this great hip brace off of eBay for $40. It has a molded plastic piece that goes around the waist and cinches with a Velcro strap. That top piece then has molded plastic hip cups or guards which, so far in testing with it, seem to keep the brace quite rigid on the body. It’s much better than just using the strapping as I was doing in the first prototype.

Here’s another pic of the back of the brace:

Back of Rehab Hip Brace

Now the question is how to mount the motor to the brace. I took the brace hinge apart to see what I might be able to reuse of that but I haven’t come up with anything concrete yet although I have a couple of ideas. I’ll post back here with my progress.

Just wanted to add a few more shots of the nylon webbing I’m using to strap the frame to the body.

Nylon webbing cut, gommeted, and plastic buckles and sliders added

I bought the nylon webbing from Amazon and the sliders and buckles from strapworks.com

Here is a shot of the straps affixed to the exoskeleton frame:

Regarding grommeting the nylon strapping, I learned that it’s not possible to cut through the nylon strapping with the usual cylindrical cutting tube that comes with a grommet kit. So instead I found it best to heat the metal cylinder up with a butane or propane torch and then press it into the nylon strapping where you want the whole. It burns right through making a nice clean hole. But watch out for the fumes! :-/

These just came in the mail:

They are “sliders” that nylon webbing (like the type used for backpack straps) is weaved through and used to adjust the length. I’ll be using them to construct the straps that will hold the exoskeleton frame itself to the leg and torso. Still waiting on 1.5″ wide nylon webbing and the buckles but they should be coming in soon.

And here’s a trigger switch that I harvested from a Dewalt drill I had disassembled to use the motor for a different project:

Dewalt drill triggger

I think I’ll be incorporating it into the walker handle and brake setup as a safety switch that the user will need to be pressing to enable any motor activity. I’ll run a 5 volt line and ground to the base of it and then a line back to a digital pin on the Arduino to read when the voltage passes through which occurs when the trigger is pressed.

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