Last year, Cody Rice, a guy who lived in Joshua House, pushed for us to build a "couch cart." He wanted to take one of our couches (J-House has too many), screw some wheels to the bottom, and tie it to a car to pull around. Unfortunately, he graduated before we were able to build such a couch cart. The idea was also too dangerous to reasonably achieve: We had no plan for stopping.
Since then, the idea of building a couch cart has been floating around, usually as a joke. On Christmas, Nathan received some gift card money, and decided to use it to build an electric couch cart for J-House.
First, a bit of background on Joshua House, since it helps explain why we would ever waste our money and time on motorizing a couch. J-House is a place where 14 Christian guys live. We pay rent to the church Campus House, which owns the property, and we serve the church by being a place where believers and non-believers alike can experience Christian fellowship. We refer to ourselves as the "front porch of Campus House." Part of what it means to live in Christian fellowship is having fun together, and that is why we built the couch cart. It is an investment in the future of the house, mainly as a means of community building.
After Christmas, Nathan began to research which parts would be needed to build a working cart. He asked a couple friends - mostly Justin DeRosa and Ethan Cox - for advice on the design and parts. Justin suggested chain drive with an electric motor, which is what we went with. Nathan ordered most of the parts so that they would arrive on campus a week before classes started.
During the research process, we discovered an interesting condition in Indiana state law. If your vehicle:
- Weighs less than 100lbs
- Has no more than 3 wheels
- Has a top speed of less than 20mph
- Has handlebars
- Has a place to stand while riding
It is an "electric foot scooter" and is street legal. Unfortunately, our couch cart weighs over 100lbs and has 4 wheels, but we could make the argument for the other bullet points.
The J-House Couch Cart itself is a go-kart with a couch on top. We ordered an off-the-shelf go-kart axle kit, a 1000 watt motor, wheels, and a 20Ah battery.
Once enough parts got in, Nate and Nathan drove to Menard's and bought a garden cart for the base, hence "couch cart" - not "couch kart". They brought it back and immediately began drilling holes and mounting the axle.