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Input Devices Games Technology

A Simple DIY Game Controller For People With Physical Challenges 36

capedgirardeau writes "Caleb Kraft of the well-known Hack-A-Day site noticed that game controllers and alternate keyboards for people with physical challenges were very expensive. Simple switches for buttons that could be made for a few dollars were running $60 or $70 apiece. Working with a young man he knew who loves gaming and has muscular dystrophy, Caleb created a do-it-yourself controller for people with physical challenges using a 3-D printer, a super-cheap micro-controller board and some simple keyboard emulation software. He is freely releasing all the 3-D printer files and tutorials to make his and other controllers on a new site, The Controller Project. He also encourages people to check out The AbleGamers Foundation"
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A Simple DIY Game Controller For People With Physical Challenges

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  • by SoupGuru ( 723634 ) on Friday June 21, 2013 @01:07PM (#44071475)

    I hear good things from Ocean Marketing about the Avenger controller for disabled players. They will also wwebsite as on the internet, which will be tough to compete with. []

  • This is where... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Friday June 21, 2013 @01:07PM (#44071477)
    Things like this is where 3D printing will be truly revolutionary. Many niche products are expensive because making them the traditional way requires a large amount of money to be put into making the initial molds and such, and although the price per unit when you're dealing with hundreds or thousands of units would be very cheap, they're cost-prohibitive in smaller runs.

    Customization will be the killer feature of the future.
    • Royalties for connecting your controller to a particular gaming platform can also be "cost-prohibitive in smaller runs."
      • by grumbel ( 592662 )

        Only the Xbox360 requires royalties, a PS3 will take any generic USB controller.

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          a PS3 will take any generic USB controller.

          How does the PS3 know in what order the buttons appear so that games know which button number to map to X, which to Square, etc.? For example, a Logitech controller has the buttons in a different order [] compared to a SteelSeries controller.

          • by grumbel ( 592662 )

            It doesn't. The button and axis order can be pretty messed up and from what I can tell there is no way to configure it at a system level. It does however work quite good in fighting games and such that come with the ability to remap the buttons.

  • Of course, all this depends on a platform capable of using third-party controllers. Xbox 360 used cryptography to lock out unlicensed controllers, and to my knowledge, Microsoft never licensed a third-party wireless controller for the Xbox 360. I've read rumors on the Internets that Xbox One will continue this policy and may end up not having third-party controllers at all.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      and to my knowledge, Microsoft never licensed a third-party wireless controller for the Xbox 360.

      Then your knowledge is quite limited. 3rd party 360 controllers have been around for years. They even list 3rd party controllers on the Xbox site. []

      But, hey, it was easier to bash Microsoft than actually verify your claims, right?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Your link verifies his claim. MS licensed many wired controllers, but no wireless ones

    • If a next gen console does not allow standard BT/NFC device connections it should not get our money. Heck I can control my PS3 with my BlackBerry.
  • by Mal-2 ( 675116 ) on Friday June 21, 2013 @01:53PM (#44072007) Homepage Journal

    I knew a girl born with an arm that ended just below the elbow, yet she was one of the deadliest Counterstrike players I ever saw. When I first saw her setup, she was using a large trackball in place of a mouse, as that was easy enough to operate without using her one hand -- except for the buttons. For that she had a SECOND trackball unit that had failed -- it didn't track any more so she had taken the ball out of it entirely and just used the buttons by putting it on the floor and pressing them with her toes.

    Eventually I was able to rehabilitate the "dead" trackball unit (it was just really, really dirty more than anything) and made a switchboard more suitable for use by feet, with the usual left and right buttons, and a pair in the middle that acted like the scroll wheel. No longer did she have to take off her shoes to use them, nor sit in any particular posture. Though being able to feel the buttons was helpful for scrolling, socks or thin moccasins were now acceptable where they pretty much weren't before. Her dad didn't want me to tear up the new trackball so I hooked the switchboard up to the old one and she just kept them both attached like before, though it was no longer necessary to keep it under the desk.

    A few months later, her brother spilled a drink on the modified trackball and managed to gum it up pretty good, so I had to move the switchboard port over to the new trackball. It was proven to her dad's satisfaction by that point though, so he was fine with that. To this day I suspect the little brother was just tired of always losing. I played hockey with him and he didn't handle losing very gracefully. (To be honest, neither did anyone else in that family.)

    Anyhow, my first step in fitting someone up for custom hardware would be to see what off-the-shelf commodity hardware comes close to what they need, and tweak it as necessary from there. Also consider using limbs or input methods not normally used to operate a computer, such as pedals or a breath controller.

    • Microsoft used to do an oversized trackball aimed originally at kids that became popular with persons of, umm, non-standard limb functionality. Maybe it was one of those?


      • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

        No, this was a standard trackball you'd find in an office supply store, just the largest one you'd typically find. The ball was about the same size as a typical billiard ball. It may have even been the same, Ive seen people use billiard balls (usually the 8) in opto-mechanical trackballs. It was a lot like this Kensington [], but beige and it had only two buttons and a scroll wheel rather than the scroll ring. It didn't matter (she only used the ball part) until I had to hack it to think the middle pedals were

  • For the combination of alturism, creativity, neat use of cool tech and of course helping fellow gamers. :)
  • Caleb created a do-it-yourself controller for people with physical challenges using a 3-D printer

    How durable are the 3D printed parts?

    Is this commercial or hobbyist grade custom 3D printing?

    What are the recommended standards for similar assistive technologies?

    Size of the buttons. The maximum pressure or minimum resistance required and so on.

    If you are going to take on a project like this, why aren't you talking to the medical and social service agencies who work with the disabled? That could lead to a generalized solution and not a one-off for a single patient at single stage of his disease.

    • because then it will to paralysis by analysis (no pun intended). Besides, the guy is a hacker and not a PR firm and is more interested in helping out this person than researching all the possible disabilities and nuances therein that could occur to any person imaginable at any stage of their disease. His solution seems general enough to me thought, like the bits and pieces could be assembled differently depending on the case scenario, it didn't seem so to you?

    • by tacet ( 1142479 )

      hacking single purpose thing for single person in need, produces way more value than attempting to work out more general (and expensive) hardware, that never gets built.

  • Isn't that the problem in the first place, that they cannot do anything for themselves?

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If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein