Friday, June 9, 2023

The mystery of the Onewheel lawn chair


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Featured Photo by Alyssa Williams

Story by Alyssa Williams

Due to the long walks across campus and limited parking, many students have found alternative ways to make the long trek shorter. For example, students are seen riding bicycles, scooters and skateboards across campus. None of them, however, get the same looks that Rowan Campbell does. 

Rowan Campbell adjusting his Onewheel lawn chair invention. (Photo by Alyssa Williams).

Campbell is an aerospace major at Middle Tennessee State University that is most known for his method of transportation around campus. Many people see him zipping around on his Onewheel, which resembles a skateboard but only has one wheel.

Strapped to the top of the device is a bright pink and blue beach chair, held down with nothing but bungee cables and pool noodles. Aditionally, the chair has plenty of embellishments, such as LED lights, a Bluetooth speaker to blast the Mario Kart theme song and a Mario Kart Wii steering wheel.

“I get a lot of positive feedback and a lot of positive emotions surrounding the chair, but the main feeling I get from people around campus is that they’re extremely surprised,” Campbell said. “They’re like, ‘A guy going mach Jesus on a chair? How is that possible?’”

However, Campbell is not the first “chair guy,” as he put it. He gathered inspiration from his friend, Garret Frakes, that truly helped pull all of it together. With his help, Campbell learned how to piece the chair together and ride it.

Rowan Campbell demonstrating how he gets around campus. (Video by Alyssa Williams).

To truly understand how to ride the board with the chair attachment, someone has to learn how to ride the Onewheel itself first.

“The board has two main functions,” Campbell said. “Number one is obviously to go and go fast, and two is balance. The board itself is a self-integrated system, and it has a self-balancing feature. It’s obviously on Onewheel, so it’s on a gyroscope. The more you lean, the faster it will go and where you lean determines where the board will go.”

When he leans forward, the board goes faster. The board will go to the side if he leans to the side. Shifting his weight backwards will make him slow down. The pressure plates on each side of the wheel have to be activated at the same time to turn it on. This is where some of the engineering comes into play.

In order to construct a build like this, a person will need a Onewheel, a beach chair, pool noodles and two sets of bungee cords to make and keep the “pressure plates” in place.

“Instead of your center of gravity being in your legs and in your torso region where you can lean easily and can stop on a dime, you’re sitting down,” Campbell said. “When you’re in the chair, your center of gravity is in your bottom area. Technically, I have to steer with my butt.” 

It is a lot more difficult because Campbell has to lean with his entire body to go where he wants to, as well as keep his legs and arms out to avoid crashing. He essentially had to reteach himself how to ride the board, and he spent multiple days practicing how to use the board with the chair.

The reactions of others makes it worth it for him.

“When they see me, people either laugh, they smile, they have their mouths drop to the floor, they scream, or they ask to ride it,” Campbell said. “I’m like ‘No, you cannot ride it because it will kill you.’”

This is not the last of what MTSU’s campus will see of Campbell’s inventions, though. Next semester, he will reveal his next project that him and Frakes have been working on.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Destiny Mizell, email For more news, visit, or follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines or on Twitter at @Sidelines_News.

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