We are going to make a custom gaming controller for a child with Muscular Dystrophy. His name is Thomas and he loves minecraft. This is a project that I have been wanting to do for years. I’m just beginning now, and you can join in on the project and offer your thoughts in our forums. We’re starting with Thomas, but ultimately, we’d like to develop a collection of fairly simple to construct open source game controllers.
For people who have a physical disability, gaming can have a profound psychological impact. Sometimes it is the only place where they can go and be on a level playing ground with their peers. Often custom gaming controllers are quite expensive, especially when you start to leave the standard xbox/playstation form factor.
Now, with 3d printer in hand, I’m able to kick out prototypes much faster and easier than I had ever imagined. I can design something in a matter of minutes, then print it out to see how it feels. Once I get something nailed down, I can refine the design to be easier to assemble, and to fit stock parts you could harvest from an xbox controller (they have an official windows driver, which is nice).
Here’s a quick video of me playing with a prototype idea. You can see I start by laying out all the standard game inputs from the controller, then I toss a slab of imaginary plastic on there and start sculpting. You would want to put velcro on the bottom of this so it would stay in place on a lap board at the perfect comfortable angle.
This is, in no way, a finished prototype. It was just a quick sculpt to get my idea down. Though I only constructed one half of the controller, you can imagine how easily you could position two units like this so that your hands could rest on top of them.
Join in on the forums and help me come up with some more designs that might help!