[Hackaday Official]Thomas's game

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[Hackaday Official]Thomas's game

Postby caleb » February 11th, 2013, 9:52 am

Meet Thomas.
thomas.jpg

-picture coming soon (after we get the legal release to use his image on the web)--

Thomas is a 5th grader who loves video games. You might have noticed that wheelchair underneath him. That is because Thomas has Muscular Dystrophy. This will make using a standard controller difficult as he gets older. We are going to design and build a custom controller for Thomas.


Here's something slightly related, Thomas loves minecraft.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYghjvBCHDE
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Re: [Hackaday Official]Thomas's game

Postby Osgeld » February 11th, 2013, 6:51 pm

if you need a hand holla
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Re: [Hackaday Official]Thomas's game

Postby caleb » February 12th, 2013, 8:30 am

I met with Thomas last night. I gave him a cool 3d printed minecraft figurine to help break the ice. I had been warned that he was a little shy, but hey, I'm a gamer. We had no problem connecting and discussing minecraft and sonic, his two favorites.

He currently has a ps3 controller (sixaxis) that he prefers over the xbox controller because the triggers are easier for him to pull. The sixaxis also has the two analog sticks closer together. It wasn't working with his computer, so I got that hooked up and Thomas was as happy as can be. Frankly, I could walk away right now and that kid would be happy. He can now run minecraft with mods!

I still plan on making him something custom though.

There are several existing systems out there that I can draw from.
Watch this video from AbleGamers.com you can see several modded controllers that could possibly work.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BM8iNa87 ... r_embedded

Muscular Dystrophy causes people to lose strength in their muscles. Thomas has a hard time pulling the triggers and will possibly one day have a hard time holding the controller in its current form factor.

I plan on attempting two routes with this.
1. a big platform covered in velcro with positionable buttons. You can see an example in the video of a similar device. Being able to 3d print different button configurations/angles should take this a step further.

2. a custom form fitting controller that Thomas can put his hand on(imagine a ball mouse on steroids). This would be prohibitive to most people in terms of construction, but with a 3d printer, I can literally just print a few and not have to deal with huge runs of injection molding or anything.




Osgeld,
let me know how you can help! Of course I would love input from anyone, but you know you hold a special place in my heart (the only person to be un-banned!)
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Re: [Hackaday Official]Thomas's game

Postby caleb » February 12th, 2013, 11:40 am

i figured I'd start with the basic building blocks of a standard Xbox controller.
basic controller setup.jpg


Once I had those blocks, I could begin roughing out an idea.
Here we have an ergonomic palm rest type thing. Ideally, you'd have velcro on the bottom of this, so you can affix it to the lap board in the exact position that is most comfortable.

jstick-R-1.jpg

Another variation would be to move the A,B,X,Y buttons further out so that he can use his fingers for those buttons instead of his thumb.
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Re: [Hackaday Official]Thomas's game

Postby caleb » February 12th, 2013, 12:33 pm

Here's a quick video of how I tossed this together really quick. You can see I'm eyeballing everything, it isn't exact. I want to see how it would work before I bother making exact systems.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzvTJbPx ... e=youtu.be
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Re: [Hackaday Official]Thomas's game

Postby caleb » February 12th, 2013, 2:20 pm

Another design that should be easier to work with.

upright.jpg
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Re: [Hackaday Official]Thomas's game

Postby caleb » February 12th, 2013, 3:44 pm

similar design, more adjustable.
fully adjustable upright1.jpg


fully adjustable upright2.jpg


you would place a bolt through the base attachment, with a wingnut allowing for tilt adjustment. The height would be adjusted by sliding on vertical rails, again, tightened by a wing nut.
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Re: [Hackaday Official]Thomas's game

Postby Dr. Sam » February 12th, 2013, 5:38 pm

Very cool. One suggestion for quick prototyping: next time you meet up with him, bring some loose buttons, thumbsticks, and some clay. You can come up with a shape faster than working in CAD, and then move on to 3D printing for the fine tuning.
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Re: [Hackaday Official]Thomas's game

Postby caleb » February 12th, 2013, 5:47 pm

I thought about that. It would be fairly perfect for a one-off custom sized one. Unfortunately I don't think he has the hand strength to smash the clay I have (femo). I could sculpt a quick prototype and just see if he likes the feel though!

Ideally, this controller will be usable by many people. I'd like for people to be able to go to their local hackerspace and have someone print/assemble one fairly easily.
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Re: [Hackaday Official]Thomas's game

Postby mackadoo » February 12th, 2013, 7:22 pm

So, while I know it's not in the same league as MD, my wife and I both have severe carpal tunnel and so I've put a fair bit of money into some consumer goods that help quite a bit. I have no idea if any of the following will be helpful, but it's the little I have to contribute to this lovely cause.

We have a Cyborg RAT7 mouse that the wife enjoys enough we quickly bought a second one for her to keep at work. It's very configurable as far as hand size goes as well as how you hold the mouse. As an added bonus, because it comes with different palm rests, I wasn't too worried about hacking one of the smaller ones up (neither of us uses that position) and used some putty epoxy to make it even taller than the biggest one in the set.

Another problem is that we use a lot of graphic design stuff and ctrl+ shortcuts can get painful when you're using them all day. The Razer Nostromo (formerly made in partnership with Belkin) is fantastic as far as mapping keypresses to a dedicated peripheral. The design is also really comfortable, so I would recommend looking at the shape of it for inspiration. Although it has a d-pad, an analog controller in that position would be really nice.

Finally, I picked up a mechanical keyboard at Christmas and that makes a world of difference. There are a bunch on the market now, but it comes down to which switches you prefer, since just about everyone uses Cherry MX. I think either of the linear switches (the red or the black, although the red is lighter to depress) would be very beneficial for your project. You can order the switches individually from any number of places and then 3d print some nice buttons.

While you might not use any of these ideas in your design, there is one excellent take-away from all this. These peripherals are all readily available to pick up and play with in your local computer specialty shop at no cost. This is the easiest way for Tomas to try out a few different shapes and buttons without investing too much time or money.

As a side note, I think it's interesting that, while gaming companies don't market to ergonomic offices, most of the people I see picking up these peripherals are those in a situation similar to mine. I think more people don't buy something like the RAT 7 because it looks like it belongs with a spoiled 14 year-old's alienware hyperbole machine and that doesn't match the office decor.

TL;DR: Red Cherry MX switches might be a good option, the shape of a simplified Razer Nostromo is very nice, and the configuration options in the Cyborg RAT7 are superb. Go to specialty computer shop to try them out!
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