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Ponytail Helper

Enabling Engineering

The Need

The first prototype for this project was designed in Fall 2017. This design involved a portable, low-power, handheld adapted vacuum cleaner that gathered the hair. We used a mechanical release system that secured the hair tie around the hair once gathered. We used a concentric tube design for deploying the hair tie. The current design has some limitations that we will try to tackle in this semester:

1.    Using the current design, Lindsay will need help from a secondary person to help her gather her hair at the back. We want to automate/semi-automate this process for her by using a tube slider so that she can do this by herself (without any external help). The slider can be attached to the back of her chair and the body of the vacuum cleaner can be on the side that will allow her  to turn it on/off.

2.   We want to have an attachment that allows her to deploy the hair tie without reaching out to the back of her chair.

3.    We want to have a simple mechanism that allows Lindsay to easily wrap the hair tie around the nozzle of the front attachment.  An ideal solution would be to replace hair ties automatically or able to store multiple hair ties at once while only releasing one at a time.

The Solution

Working from the first prototype, modifications were made to the adapted vacuum cleaner for easier use. A sliding rail system was put together using two pipes, pipe clamps, and custom 3-D printed sliders and ends. With this new design, the vacuum pipe will be moved up and down with two timing belts that can be pulled from the front. The release mechanism has also been modified so that the hair tie is automatically released. When the vacuum pipe reaches a certain point, strings attached to the bottom cap of the rail system pull on the switch, causing the hair tie to be released. With these modifications, another person will not be needed to move the vacuum pipe upwards to collect the hair and release the hair tie.