Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Captain America Ball Chair Project

With winter fast approaching I am faced once again with long days of cold weather, more white stuff on the ground than I care to look at and the need for a big project to get my mind off of all of it.  Oh, and don't even get me started about the Christmas season showing up on top of it all.  But never fear I have a plan.  I started looking around my home and thinking once again about a project that I played around with over 12 years ago.  Time sure flies that's for sure so I have decided to start seriously looking at designing a ball chair.  Not the plastic inflateable things they are calling now a days but the chair that was designed by Eero Aarnio in the 1963.  I tracked the original chair on the Internet and it is still being manufactured today at the unbelievable price of nearly $8500.00.   I want a ball chair but at that price I could buy a pretty nice motorcycle instead and be just as happy...... maybe more.
  This was one reason why I thought I should get back to work on my own design for this chair at a price a lot more down to earth.  Another big problem that I see with having a ball chair of this type is the fact that it is large.  Way to large to fit through a standard 30 inch doorway.  So you would need either a double door to get it into your house so it could fit in your living room or you simply give up on the idea all together.  
  But I have a plan to get rid of these pesky problems. Plus save money, eliminate hassle in the process, and have something pretty unique in the process.  So after 12 years of "thinking" about it I find it high time to actually "Do" something about it.  That's usually the case with most of my projects anyway so it falls right into place for my interests, budget, and workshop tinkering.
This is the original ball chair that was designed in the 1960's and is still seen from time to time in movies and TV.  I saw it again in the movie "Sleepless in Seattle".   I have always loved the design but again space and money to acquire one has limited me to getting one.  So that is the plan of action for my winter project is to design and build what I call "The Captain America Ball Chair". 
The name for the chair will make more sense once you see the rest of the images in this post.  Here is an image of what the chair would look like in a living room.   By the way I created this image by not using Blender 3D but rather my design software I am currently using named Fusion 360.  Quite impressive don't you think?
Now you can see why I call this chair the "Captain America Ball Chair".  This came to be because of course the paint scheme that I will be using.  Also this idea came to being because of how the ball chair is designed and will be built...... in sections.
Each colored section of the ball is actually a separate part.  This will make it easier for the ball to be painted and assembled.  As well as eliminate the need for extra large doorways so that the 42 inch diameter ball can be assembled in the room where it will end up.  Then if it has to be moved it can be disassembled once again and moved just as easily. 
Each ring section of the ball chair will have flanges on it's outer edges.  These are bolted to mating rings until the entire ball is assembled.
  Pyramid foam will be added to the inner walls of the chair for sound deadening.  I didn't want to hear a hollow sound when I get into or out of the chair plus I have other things planned for the chair that it will add to the design.
Once the ball has been assembled it is mounted on to a stand so that it can sit on the floor properly. The gray strips on the curved top surface of the stand are made of felt so the ball and the stand do not rub against each other when they are mounted together. To half inch bolts hold the ball into place in a slot so that the ball can be tipped in the assembly. This stand will also have an inner assembly with a bearing ring mounted to it so that once the ball is attached to this assembly it can rotate to allow the chair to swivel.  I've already found this bearing ring that comes in varying sizes.  The one I will most likely use is nine inches in  diameter and can handle up to a 500 pound load.  This far exceeds what I will need but I feel it is a good item to use that can easily handle whoever sits in the chair and it only cost around $10 on top of it all.  So it works for me.
At this point six triangular panels will be mounted in the interior of the ball.  The panels will be made fiber glass using a mold so they will all be exactly the same size. Then they will be covered with cloth or vinyl when they are finished.  Leather would be nice but again I want to keep my eye on my budget as usual. In the image above you can see two red speakers that I plan on installing to get a nice effect in the chair when I want to listen to music.  Also in the upper panel you can see a couple of rows of LED lights that will brighten up things a bit when I want to do some reading. 

Here is the first computer image that I put together to show how the LED lights will be installed in to the upper panel.  Each triangular panel will have a mounting hole at each corner and be held in place using Allen head button head bolts.  This will give the panel a nice finished look once it is installed and will be an easy installation in the process.
Here's a good look at the LED light assembly itself before it is installed into the upper panel.  I should be able make the housing for this assembly in fiberglass and then have a simple plexiglass cover for the LED light strips that are mounted inside of the case.
Once all of the inner panels have been installed the actual seat will be fitted into the chair.  This is simply a form fitting bean bag type of cushion that sits in the chair.  What I have modeled here is just one of a couple ideas that I have for it's design so it's still a work in progress at this point as far as the seat is concerned.
On the underside of the stand for the chair you can see what I have planned to give it a lot of support. There is a notch on the lower edge of the stand where the power cord can be run out to an outlet when the chair is in use. Should make it an easy thing to set up once it has been assembled and is ready to use.
A couple more things that I thought would be great to have in the chair is firstly a mounting bracket of some type to hold my iPad.  This way if I curl up in the chair and want to watch a movie I won't have to hold the iPad for two hours and I can plug it into the speaker system built into the chair.  Also I am looking at possibly adding Bluetooth so that I can use it to answer my phone as well.  Would be a nice addition to the project. 
  At this point you can see I have gotten quite a ways with the design and am still in the planning stages but like all my projects this is the process that works for me.  The more that I can get worked out on the computer ahead of time the less problems that I end up with during the build so it is worth the effort.  Also it's an easy way to show you and anyone else that I want talk with what I have in mind for this project.
  The chair as you see it here is 42 inches in diameter and stands around four feet tall.  A big chair to be sure so I thought it best to find a place or should I say a couple of possible places for it before I even start construction.  Should keep me busy in the coming winter months for sure.  I'll post more as I get the designed finalized and show you the progress with the build when I get into it deeper.  Until then enjoy the images and I hope you've got something just as interesting planned to work on until the good weather shows up once again. 

For more information about the original ball chair here's a link to get you there.

Aarnio ball-chair


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