DIY

AT in the Cloud


Maintaining communication page sets on an AAC device can be overwhelming.  In this video I discuss one of the tricks I use to edit J’s page sets on my laptop while making sure that J’s Tobii C12 is kept up to date with the latest edits.

For those interested in how to make use of DropBox as a way of editing AAC page sets on Tobii devices, here is the how to video:

Categories: Beginner, Caregiver Tech, DIY, High Tech | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bench Walking AT Home


One of the things J is working on in Physical Therapy is assisted walking.  Here is a look at some AT J’s PT built to help facilitate bench walking around the house.

Categories: Beginner, Casual Hacker, Cerebral Palsy, DIY, Low Tech, Therapist Adaptation | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Introducing the AT Battle Tank


The second stone in the AT Arms Race from the AT Skunk Works labs.  Last week I showed you a switch adapted squirt gun, now let me introduce how that became the AT Battle Tank.

Categories: Casual Hacker, DIY, Just For Fun, Low Tech | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let the AT Arms Race Begin


While it has been a quiet month on my YouTube channel and blog, I have been busy in the AT Skunk Works labs on a top secret project.  Now that it is finished let me throw the first stone in the AT Arms Race.  🙂

Categories: Casual Hacker, Cerebral Palsy, DIY, Medium Tech | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer AT On A Shoestring


A beautiful summer day at the AT household inspired me to share a little summer Assistive Tech on a shoestring budget.

Categories: Beginner, Cerebral Palsy, DIY, Low Tech, No Tech | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

AT for the Caregiver


Assistive technology (AT) isn’t always for the individual who happens to have a disability.  AT can also be something utilized by caregivers to make life easier as well.  This weeks DIY AT entry is one of those helpful life hacks for the caregiver.

Part of J’s life includes a G-tube.  Due to various issues, J receives a continuous drip feed through that G-tube using an enteral pump.  That means a carefully measured amount of food is pumped directly into J’s stomach at a predetermined rate over a prolonged period of time.  That also means that the carefully measured amount of food must be made every day.  This is where today’s low-tech AT project comes in.
Continue reading

Categories: Caregiver Tech, DIY, Low Tech, Newbie | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inspiration–Automatic Dog Ball Launcher


As you may have read in a recent post, I am exploring ideas to help J participate more fully in Challenger Baseball games by modifying a switch adapted pitching machine to help J throw the ball while fielding.  That project of mine received some attention from another parent who was looking for a way to help their child play fetch with their service dog.  Their child happens to have Cerebral Palsy, happens to use a wheelchair, and happens to need a little help throwing the ball.  A very similar situation to my desire to help J participate in the fielding half of the inning during baseball games. Continue reading

Categories: Casual Hacker, Cerebral Palsy, DIY, Inspiration, Medium Tech | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

AT the Ballpark


As I wrote earlier, J started playing Challenger League Baseball this year.  AT Mom and I may have been more excited than J with the approaching first game.  The last practice before the game J received a uniform – a Blue Jays jersey and ball cap. 

The day of the game arrived!  We got dressed, packed up, and headed out for the ballpark.  We arrived for warm up with the team.  AT Mom and I had the biggest smiles on our faces watching all of the kids arrive in their uniforms complete with huge smiles on their faces, ready to “play ball!”  It was a very sunny day, perfect for a baseball game.  AT Mom whipped out the sunscreen and started protecting J’s exposed skin.  (I was too excited for the game to start, after all J and I were about to play baseball!)

After AT Mom finished applying sunscreen I moved to complete the uniform by adding J’s ball cap.  I took a step back to admire “J the baseball player.”  J’s head turned to look at a friend and J’s ball cap fell forward.  I stepped up and fixed the ball cap and took another step back.  Again, J’s head turned towards the crack of a bat from one of J’s friends taking batting practice.  Again, the ball cap fell forward.

For then next couple of minutes there was this sort of dance going on, J’s ball cap falling forward and AT Dad stepping in to readjust the ball cap.  The problem was that whenever J’s head moved the ball cap would rub against J’s headrest.  After a few minutes I realized why some of J’s teammates simply did not wear their ball caps, and we went capless ourselves.

The first couple of games involved the same dance each time.  I would try to help J wear the ball cap, constantly fixing it, then give up and go without.  J was happy to not wear the cap and focus on playing baseball.  I think it helped that J could feel more wind through J’s hair as we ran the bases without the ball cap.

Then one game I got to talking with one of the other parents about possible adaptations for the ball cap.  I thought about building a sort of halo that could suspend the ball cap above J’s head.  AT Mom thought that would just be visually distracting.  (She was right.)  Then I hit on an idea that I thought would work great.

AT Dads Place - Ball Cap 001

Side view of my ball cap to show before adaptation.

AT Dads Place - Ball Cap 002

Back view of my ball cap to show before adaptation.

The problem was that J’s headrest would rub against the back of J’s ball cap and spin the cap of J’s head. What if J’s ball cap did not have a back to rub against the headrest?

AT Dads Place - Ball Cap 003

Side view of J’s ball cap after my adaptation.

AT Dads Place - Ball Cap 004

Back view of J’s ball cap after my adaptation.

I cut out the back three panels of J’s ball cap and used barrettes to attach the front of the cap to J’s hair. This allowed J’s head to turn against the headrest without rubbing the ball cap. The first time I tried the new ball cap it stayed in place for nearly the entire game. That includes running the bases.

Challenger Baseball 002

J wearing the adapted ball cap.

The next couple of games did not fair as well. The cap stayed on better than before, but J’s fine hair made it difficult to get the barrettes to hold well. Thinking about the design a bit more, next season I will cut out the back three panels but this time I will leave the Velcro strap across the bottom used to adjust the size of the ball cap.  When next season comes around I’ll have to remember to write an update to how well the new design works.

Categories: DIY, Low Tech, Newbie | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

AT Meets America’s Pastime


A couple of years ago AT Mom and I were invited to bring J to watch a friend play Challenger League Baseball.  J was absolutely hooked.  From the moment we arrived and even before we were fully settled into the bleachers, J was glued to the fence watching all of these kids playing baseball.  J had already been exposed to MLB on television (that’s another story for another time), but this was the first time J got to see other kids, including kids with similar challenges, playing the game.  I think the kids who happened to be wheelchair users captured J’s imagination the most.  One of our favorite pictures of J is one that AT Mom captured of J standing in a gait trainer that is pressed up against the fence.  J’s head is beautifully upright watching the play on the other side of the fence.

Unfortunately, J was too young to play at that time.  A couple of years later though, J got to play baseball for the Blue Jays.  The first couple of games made it apparent that J’s favorite part of the game was batting.  J’s favorite position was Designated Hitter – I guess it was a good thing we were on an American League team.  Winking smile

Fielding was a difficult part of the game for J.  Being a chair user added some challenges to fielding the ball, but those could be overcome with a fielding aide (AT Dad had to dust of my old baseball skills).  However, more than that was the impact of J’s Cerebral Palsy on wearing a glove.  The nature of J’s tone made wearing a typical baseball glove inappropriate.  I took my lead from some of the other parents and help J put a baseball glove on one of the armrests of J’s wheelchair.  I knew there had to be a better way so during one of the games I started talking with some of those other parents about ways to adapt a baseball glove for our kids.

The solution that I came up with was based on an adaptation done by J’s OT I wrote about earlier (AT <3s Velcro).  The simple idea was to attach some hook Velcro to the inside of the heel of the glove.  J could then wear the left Velcro sensitive splint when fielding.  The hook Velcro sticks to the splint and J does not need to hold the glove on.

AT Dads Place - Baseball Glove 002

J’s adapted glove.  You can see a bit of the white hook Velcro pad.

I happened to choose some industrial hook Velcro.  I was hoping that the “industrial” nature would include a strong adhesive that would help keep the Velcro attached to the glove.  Also, the hook side of the Velcro is made up of what appears to be a lot of tiny pyramids – so it is not as abrasive against bare skin.

AT Dads Place - Baseball Glove 003

Opening up the glove for a better view of the white hook Velcro pad.

I cut a patch wide enough to cover most of the inside of the heel of the glove.  This would increase the surface area of the Velcro touching the Velcro sensitive splint.  As an added benefit it has meant I have to be less precise when helping J put on the glove during those days that J’s tone is less cooperative.

AT Dads Place - Baseball Glove 001

A better picture of the hook Velcro pad attached to the inside of the heel of the glove.

The glove I had purchased for J at the beginning of the season was a tee ball glove that had a wrist strap that was fastened by Velcro itself.  That meant I could open up the wrist strap completely when helping J put on the glove, exposing my Velcro adaptation for easy use.

Challenger Baseball Jamboree 025

Helping J put on the glove before taking the field.

Now during inning changes instead of putting J’s fielding glove on an armrest of J’s wheelchair I help J put it on.  I start by helping J put on the left Velcro sensitive hand splint.  Then I open the wrist strap of the baseball glove and help J place J’s palm centered on the hook Velcro pad inside the baseball glove.  I then help J tuck J’s thumb inside the glove.  Finally, I close the wrist strap of the baseball glove and help J tuck fingers inside the baseball glove.  J seems to like keeping that pointer finger outside the glove like the pros do.  Smile

Challenger Baseball Jamboree 026

J wearing the glove and ready to take the field.  Note the pointer finger outside the glove just like the pros!

We then wheel out to the field and take our position (usually around second base).  During the inning it is not uncommon for J’s fingers to come out of the glove.  That would have resulted in the glove falling off in the past; however, thanks to the Velcro adaptation the glove stays on J’s hand.

Challenger Baseball 024

J ready to field any grounders towards second base.

Now when we are in the field, J and I charge every ball put into play towards second base.  We cover second base and back up first base on just about every other play.  With all that running we no longer spend any time going back to pick up a dropped glove.  Fielding has become a bit more exciting for J with all the running and activity; however, J still prefers to bat.  I guess I know where J falls on the age old Designated Hitter debate.  It looks like the AT household will be an American League household.

Challenger Baseball 005

J taking a break between batters.

 

Categories: DIY, Low Tech, Newbie | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Boldly Go Where No AT Has Gone Before!


Awhile back J took an interest in science and, specifically, “star gazing”.  AT Mom responded with an amazing art project that resulted in glow in the dark stars (arranged in real constellations) and 3-D glow in the dark planets hanging above J’s bed.  (It really is a cool project.)  AT Dad, on the other hand, responded by rewiring the launch controller for a model rocket to be switch activated.

WP_000082

NOTE:  Since the launch controller includes safety mechanisms to prevent unintended launches and rewiring the controller needs to be done in a way to not bypass these safety mechanisms, I will not be describing how to rewire the controller.  Consider this post as inspiration for what can be switch adapted.  If you have the technical knowledge of circuitry the rewiring is not difficult; however, it is easy to get wrong resulting in unintended launches.  (Which you will find out happened to me this initial attempt.)

This is an AT project that was stretched over a number of weeks.  Most of that time was just waiting for the time to build the model rocket together and then waiting for a good launch opportunity.  (Our first two planned launches were cancelled due to rain.)

The project started with a trip to the local hobby store.  J and I went up and down the aisles looking for a science related project for home.  I would take something off the shelf (take a quick look to make sure I had an idea of how J would participate) and then ask J if it was something J wanted to try.  We tried various science kits (solar car, potato clock, etc.), electric trains (which I was hoping for since I had some cool ideas for connecting a train set to J’s eye gaze system), and a few others.  Finally, I offered a model rocket and J’s face lit up.  We had our science project!

Before purchasing the kit I talked with the guy at the hobby store.  He gave me some great ideas about launch locations and informed me about local model rocket clubs / associations.  I asked about switch adapting the launch controller.  I got the response I expected, a confused look followed by something like “that sounds cool.”  Since the launcher worked by pressing a button I was highly confident I could put a switch connector in parallel to the button, so we bought the kit and headed home.

A few weeks passed, ever so often I would take out the model rocket kit and imagine J pressing a switch to launch the rocket.  I got some time to focus on the launch controller and began to take it apart.  I actually had to get out the Dremel and cut away some of the plastic to get at the circuitry.  It took a little finesse but I got the launcher working the way I thought it should (I was not going to connect it to an engine until launch day).

Later that week J and I found some time to actually construct the Taser model rocket.  J helped me follow the directions and showed me with eye pointing where the different parts went together.  When the rocket and launch pad were fully constructed (and all glue was dried), J and I set it up on the floor and simulated a few launches (AT Dad lifting the rocket up the launch post).

A few more weeks passed, every so often J and I would excitedly simulate a couple of launches in the house.  We planned on a Friday afternoon launch, but were foiled by a summer rain.  Not big rain, but enough to make me pull the launch for that day.  I told J we were official rocket scientists now because we had a launch scrubbed by weather.  Smile

We rescheduled the launch for the following Friday afternoon.  But a week later we were foiled by another light rain.  So another couple of weeks needed to pass before our next launch window.

Then came a beautiful Thursday afternoon (I wasn’t going to tempt another Friday afternoon Smile).  J, J’s Papa, and I headed out to a local sports field complex for the launch.  I set up the launch pad, inserted the engine into the rocket, slid it onto the launch pad, connected the launch controller to the rocket, connected J’s switch to the launch controller, inserted and depressed the safety key (arming the launch controller), told J to press the switch when ready, J pressed the switch, and ….

Nothing.

I removed the safety key and disconnected J’s switch from the launch controller.  Checking everything I found one of the alligator clips had disconnected from the rocket engine.  I reconnected the alligator clip, reconnected J’s switch, inserted and depressed the safety key (arming the launch controller), told J to press the switch when ready, J pressed the switch, and ….

Nothing.

I removed the safety key and disconnected J’s switch from the launch controller. Checking everything I found that the primer was broken so it could not start the engine.  I inserted a new primer into the engine, reconnected the alligator clip, reconnected J’s switch, inserted and depressed the safety key (arming the launch controller), FFFFFFFFFFFFFISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHH!

The rocket launched when I pressed the safety key.  This should have only armed the launch controller.  We watched the rocket fly a couple hundred feet up before deploying its parachute and floating back to the ground.  I turned and asked J if that was neat and did J see the rocket.  Then I turned my attention to the launch controller.  I deduced that in my rewiring of the controller I unintentionally created a short that fully closed the circuit when depressing the safety key.

We had one more primer and two more engines, so we could do one more launch.  I retrieved the rocket, repacked the parachute, inserted the engine into the rocket, slid it onto the launch pad, connected the launch controller to the rocket, connected J’s switch to the launch controller, inserted the safety key (but did not depress it yet), told J to press the switch when ready, J pressed the switch (and I depressed the safety key at the same time), and ….

FFFFFFFFFFFFFISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHH!

A second successful launch!  I asked J how J liked the rocket.  J smiled.  I learned a couple of things that I will change for next time (and there will be a next time).  First, I need to get another launch controller and do a better job of rewiring it.  If I cannot do a better job of rewiring an existing controller, I will have to construct my own from scratch.  Second, prior to launch I will tilt J’s chair back to full tilt – making it easier for J to watch the rocket fly above us.  Third, for the class of engine I used I now know I can get away with a launch area of two soccer fields wide (given a relatively calm wind).

When I do have a follow up launch, I will make sure to share the details of that experience and provide select details from my (hopefully) successful adaptation of a rocket launch controller.

Categories: 1337, DIY, Medium Tech | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.