Site Hackaday often features interesting projects which are relevant to what we do here but on the 20th of June Caleb Kraft posted a long post about custom game controllers for those with physical disabilities. Kraft came into contact with a boy called Thomas who has muscular dystrophy and being interested in hardware did some investigation into Thomas’s gaming system. He found several commercial systems but was shocked at the disparity in price between what he knew the parts cost and the item cost. He uses the example of a low pressure switch that costs $69 which is available for under $1.
Kraft was incensed by this and was motivated both to help Thomas and to see if he could design something that could be reproduced by others in similar situations. What he came up with was a brilliantly simple idea that may be the way of the future. He was able to access a 3d printer and was printed out blanks for the different types of switches that he wanted. Into these he put cheap low pressure momentary switches and velcroed them onto a background blank.
The advantages of this approach are that it is completely modular and reshapeable. If you need an extra button or want to change button layout it is the work of seconds or minutes to add or change it. In addition aside from the original 3d printer cost it is relatively cheap. The modular keyboard replacement he built for Thomas end up costing less than $20.
Kraft realised that the skill level is a little beyond a lot of people so has also started thecontrollerproject.com covering simple step by step tutorials in how to make simple controllers. He plans to cover mouse click buttons, touch buttons and simple sip/puffs in the near future.
The original post and video here at Hackaday are well worth a read and very informative.