A 'smart' controller for a powered chair or bed

Automates the powered recliner or bed.
Ideal for the mobility-challenged.

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A powered chair is an essential requirement for individuals with mobility-challenged disabilities.

A common problem faced by users is the steps involved in exiting a raised chair.
Once the chair is elevated, it becomes challenging to sit back down, and lowering it requires reaching down, pressing and holding the "down" button until the chair reaches its normal position. This process is further complicated by the need to lean over as the chair lowers.

This is a device that can be integrated with the existing buttons of the chair to automate that lowering process. It maintains the functionality of the recliner while enhancing it with new latch-like buttons, eliminating the need to hold a button continuously. By incorporating a low-cost microcontroller (estimated at $15), the chair can be transformed into a "smart" chair.

This enables the user to lower the chair effortlessly, streamlining the process of transitioning from an elevated position to a seated one

Before we delve into the details of the Smart Recliner add-on, I want to address the construction and appearance of the device. As someone who has been battling MS for over 35 years, I understand that my fine motor skills might not be at their best due to being one-handed. This has led to some challenges in creating a perfect-looking device. I sincerely apologize for any imperfections in the construction. I hope you can forgive this aspect and focus on the potential impact and benefits of the Smart Recliner add-on. After all, it's the functionality and convenience that truly matter.

 Who knows, maybe a couple of rainbow or unicorn stickers on it might make it pretty?? 

The Smart Recliner add-on is specifically designed to enhance the lives of individuals with limited mobility, like me, who find it challenging to operate powered recliners with conventional controls. By introducing innovative automation, this device ensures that reclining becomes effortless and accessible for everyone.

6/15 UPDATE: The project is now in the 'prototype' stage. The first, 'sloppy' concept stage mentioned above, has given way to a much more 'professional' look. 

At least I hope so.

My background consists of being an FM radio broadcast engineer for nearly 15 years, eventually jumping ship and landing as a professional software (c#) engineer for the past 20+ years.

                                                 CONTRIBUTORS WELCOMED

 I have no schematic or code reviewers, but I really could use another set of eyes on this. Also, although the device has Wi-Fi connectivity, I could really use help accessing PICO's file system remotely (Telnet, SSH). HELP!

The device:

Introducing the Smart Recliner add-on - Elevating Comfort and Convenience to New Heights!


The Smart Recliner add-on is a revolutionary device designed to enhance the experience of using powered recliners, particularly for individuals with limited mobility. It introduces a level of automation to the chair, bed, or other purposes, revolutionizing the way you interact with your recliner. This device is independent, yet seamlessly integrates with your existing recliner controller, making the transition smooth and user-friendly.

Key Features:

  1. Dual Controllers: The Smart Recliner can use two controllers: the Main Controller and the Logic Controller. The Main Controller is your existing recliner controller, fully operational and transparent under the Smart Recliner's control. The Logic Controller, which can be a 2 or 4-button model, serves as the automation hub, enabling a whole new level of convenience.
  2. Home Position Recognition: The Smart Recliner "knows" the chair's position (assuming it started in the upright "normal" position) by counting the duration the motor is engaged. "Up" button reduces the time, while "Down" button adds to it. Additionally, optional limit switches (e.g., "riseHome" and "reclHome") help identify the "normal" position, resetting the time to zero when activated.
  3. Automated "Up and Out" Process: Pressing the "Up" button on the Logic Controller initiates the "up and out" process. If the chair is in the "normal" position or has a duration time of 0, the chair's motor engages to lift the chair for an adjustable period. It then pauses at the top for 10 seconds, allowing time to exit comfortably. Afterward, it automatically activates the motor in the "down" direction for an adjustable time, seamlessly returning the chair to the "normal" position.
  4. Smooth "Down" Functionality: When the chair is in the "normal" position or has a duration time greater than 0, pressing the "Down" button on the Logic Controller initiates the automated "down" process, lowering the chair in 10-second increments for optimal control.
  5. Optional Limit Switches: The Smart Recliner can...
Read more »


Logic UP flowchart

Bitmap Image File - 2.47 MB - 06/29/2023 at 20:48



This is the latest version of the schematic in png format. Version 2.4 As of 6/16/2023

Portable Network Graphics (PNG) - 193.50 kB - 06/16/2023 at 22:10



This is the latest version of the schematic. Version 2.4 As of 6/16/2023 This file requiers KiCad be installed

kicad_pro - 8.92 kB - 06/16/2023 at 22:05


This is a more descriptive explanation of the device's operation

quicktime - 42.14 MB - 06/16/2023 at 15:00


A video of the controller in operation

quicktime - 24.60 MB - 06/16/2023 at 02:33


View all 7 files

View all 17 components

  • Going on a diet

    Stephen Craver09/03/2023 at 16:37 0 comments

    I’ve decided to take some "fluff” out of the software. I.E. some features that add little benefit but consume considerable amounts of resources (such as memory, ram, and perhaps most important, processing time). Not that they'll never come back from the dead, but for now a quite, small wake (wake, as in funeral, memorial, etc.). Nope. Not gonna touch political issues ;)

  • Wi-Fi? Exactly! Why?

    Stephen Craver07/31/2023 at 15:14 0 comments

    Wi-Fi functionality has been put on hold for now, but not completely abandoned. There are several factors that were involved in making this decision:

    •  Lack of Wi-Fi support for Pico' s file system.
    • The fact that the Pico and its built-in Wi-Fi antenna are now housed within an aluminum case, which severely limits its range

    I'll revisit this sometime in the future, but that functionality can wait for now.

  • Thank-you Hackaday Team, and Esteemed Judges

    Stephen Craver07/20/2023 at 17:57 0 comments

    I am filled with immense joy and gratitude. I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to Hackaday and the esteemed panel of judges for selecting my project as one of the ten finalists in the Hackaday Prize 2023 contest.

    When I embarked on this project, my primary goal was to create something that could not only assist me but also potentially benefit others. To see my endeavor being recognized and chosen as a finalist among numerous exceptional projects is an incredible honor. It truly solidifies my intent and motivates me to continue pushing the boundaries of innovation.

    Being part of the Hackaday Prize 2023 finalists is a humbling experience, and I can't help but feel a sense of pride in what I have accomplished so far. This opportunity validates the hard work, dedication, and countless hours poured into the project.

    I am sincerely grateful for the platform Hackaday provides to innovators like me, offering a chance to showcase our creations to a global audience. It's a privilege to be among such talented individuals who are driving technological advancements and making a positive impact on the world.

    I am excited to present my project to the community and the judging panel, sharing my passion and vision with others who share the same enthusiasm for innovation.

    Once again, thank you for this remarkable opportunity. I am truly honored to be a finalist in the Hackaday Prize 2023 contest.

    With warmest regards, Stephen B Craver

  • A look back at the ugly, original, Proof-Of-Concept device

    Stephen Craver07/20/2023 at 17:37 0 comments

    I wanted to share a little journey with you – one that takes us from a cringe-worthy "Proof-Of-Concept" stage to a more promising prototype. Brace yourself because the initial phase was a sight to behold, and I was utterly embarrassed by its appearance!

    As you may recall, when I embarked on this project, I started with a "Proof-Of-Concept" stage. The goal was to lay the groundwork and validate my ideas before diving into the actual prototype. But little did I know that the "Proof-Of-Concept" would turn out to be a visual disaster.

    I remember building it – it was a mishmash of crude components and amateurish design. To put it bluntly, it looked downright horrible! The combination of mismatched materials and a lack of refinement made it seem like a monstrosity. I couldn't help but cringe at the thought of anyone else laying eyes on it.

    Despite its appearance, the "Proof-Of-Concept" served its purpose. I identified numerous flaws, areas for improvement, and gathered valuable feedback. It was a humbling experience, to say the least, but it motivated me even more to push forward.

    I'm excited to share that we've made significant progress since then. The transformation is remarkable, and I'm thrilled to show you how far it has come.

    So here's pictures of the original "Proof-Of-Concept" device, but I must give you fair warning – it might be hard to unsee. However, take solace in the fact that I've moved on from this stage, and the prototype now is worlds apart.

    CAUTION: View at your own risk! (Yes, it's that bad).

  • Logic UP button flowchart

    Stephen Craver06/29/2023 at 20:58 0 comments

  • Moving and re-labeling the lower-limit switch

    Stephen Craver06/19/2023 at 23:49 0 comments

    I’ve decided that, rather than have a “lower” limit switch, it would be much more advantageous to have a second “home” switch. Who gives a crap how far it's reclined, anyway?

    So, there would be a “rise” home switch, and a “recline” home switch. If they BOTH are closed, you know the chair is in the “home” position; Not raised and not reclined. This would also make software engineering for it much easier.

    As is, sure it knows it is at the home position, but it doesn't know
    HOW it got there. The “Recline Home” limit switch would eliminate the question.

    Why is this important, and why does it matter?

    I’ll explain the next log entry.

  • The video

    Stephen Craver06/16/2023 at 15:16 0 comments

    This is a more descriptive explanation of the device's operation

  • The end is near

    Stephen Craver06/15/2023 at 13:37 0 comments

    Wow. That sounds morbid, doesn't it? How about "The project is nearly finished'?

    I worked out the remaining software glitches, so now the device's operation is nearly flawless!

    I am not necessarily tooting my own horn since I really use it (the chair, not the horn).

    The long-awaited video will be coming as soon as I convince my wife to show-off her modeling abilities. Trust me, you do not want ME to demonstrate it!!

  • A note about PICO's pull-up resistors

    Stephen Craver06/02/2023 at 21:13 0 comments

    The Pin.PULL_UP settings are now Pin.PULL_DOWN, and not really needed.


    Because by default, the controller (button) contacts are normally-closed to ground, thus eliminating the need of a PULL_DOWN resistor. The normally-open side is +5VDC.

    Yeah but...

     There is always a caveat: The above reigns true IF a controller is plugged in. If not, the inputs will "float" in an incalculable state. That would be bad, am I right? (The answer is yes)

    The bottom line: 

    PICO's internal Pin.PULL_DOWN setting will work just fine for unconnected controllers.

  • Escaping the nasties, bugs, issues, etc. is impossible

    Stephen Craver06/01/2023 at 13:52 0 comments

    I came across some hindrances when moving from the "Proof of Concept" to "Prototype" stage.

    Or better said, from the “plastic case” to an “aluminum case” stage.

    Aluminum is a conductor, plastic is not.

    Consequently, well, you get it.

    Enough said.

    Oh, and by the way, the 5-pin DIN connector, when used for a factory powered chair/recliner/bed (and unlike its shared MIDI use), the case is very-much used. If you read any of my previous logs, in hindsight this is precisely why I fried my original Raspberry PI.

    Why didn't I learn?

View all 19 project logs

  • 1
    Installation, Step 1:

    It's super easy to do the basic installation, no tools needed. Just remember that all jacks are 5-pin DIN connections.

    Important:  If you shop around for 5-pin DIN cables, extensions, etc., note that although MIDI 5-pin cables will  FIT, most will NOT work. This is a limitation of MIDI's design, not this device (or your chair).

    First step, unplug your chair's button array from your chair's main controller (this connection will probably be just another 5-pin FEMALE cable that actually goes to the main controller). This will be a round 5-pin DIN connector.

  • 2
    Step 2:

    Plug your chair's MALE 5-pin DIN connector that you just unplugged into this device's "Main Controller" jack

  • 3
    Step 3:

    Plug this device’s pig-tailed MALE 5-pin DIN plug into where you unplugged your chair's button array from in step 1.

View all 11 instructions

Enjoy this project?



Stephen Craver wrote 06/02/2023 at 21:19 point

UPDATE: I unintentionally lied. I have business that will keep me from posting videos for a couple of weeks. Apologies!!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Stephen Craver wrote 05/15/2023 at 22:59 point

Hi. Sure. I'm putting together a video of the device in action. I'll incluse stills of the chair. 

Expect it by 06/19/2023

  Are you sure? yes | no

hayden wrote 05/14/2023 at 02:56 point

Can you please post photos of the chair.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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