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This 3D Printed Accessibility Mod Looks Deceptively Simple

I make custom modifications for gamers with physical disabilities. Operating under the name TheControllerProject.com I tackle issues that individuals have, creating custom solutions, usually 3D printed and I do it all for free to the person in need.

My latest one looks soooo simple, and it kind of is, but man it was hard to come up with!

The problem:

A gamer who only uses their head, or a rod mounted on their head, to game asked me if there was a way to toggle the “A” button on their controller. They needed to be able to have it just stay on, or off depending on which game they were playing.

The idea:

Listen, I could have cracked open this controller and simply wired in a switch. That’s a legitimate solution that would only take two wires, 4 solder points, and about an hour of work. However, that would mean that this individual would need to ship me a controller each time they needed it modified. What if they got a new console? What if their controller broke? What if others happen to have the same need?

With all that in mind, I set a goal of coming up with a 3d printed solution that can be installed by someone with zero electronics skills. The motion is so simple, but it really hurt my brain coming up with a solution to this, especially one that they could operate with limited dexterity!

The solution:

The individual was currently holding the button down with rubber bands. It was frustrating because they wouldn’t stay in place and needed constant adjustment. Getting them lined up with the button was a pain too. I started thinking about a way to use rubber bands for the downward force, but making the whole mechanism more mechanical and binary.

by putting the place that the rubber band mounts on a lever extended from the pivot point, it will pull hard downward on whichever side of the pivot you place the switch. Kind of hard to explain but basically the rubber band will hold it either open or closed.

After figuring out how to make the rubber band do the work, I started thinking about this hinge. I could have printed multiple pieces and used a screw as the axle. I may still do that if the more elegant solution doesn’t hold up over time. But, I thought I’d try doing a print-in-place hinge. This means that when you pull it off your printer, it is already fully functional. All you have to do is secure it to your controller and add a rubber band.

Look at the cutaway view of the hinge above. You can see that there are no angles greater than 45 degrees going vertically. This means that even a not-finely-tuned printer should be able to print this without supports. The result is that the hinge works, right off the bed with no assembly required.

The downsides:

Well, it’s big and clunky, and it can only really do the bottom most two buttons. If you placed it to do the top two, the rubber bands don’t really have a place to sit. That’s a problem for another time though.

Senior Editor for Make: I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity of the masses! My favorite thing in the world is sharing the hard work of a maker.

I'd always love to hear about what you're making, so send me an email any time at caleb@make.co

View more articles by Caleb Kraft