Positioning switches is critical for folks with severe and profound physical challenges. Getting the AT Switch “just right” reduces fatigue, increases accuracy, and makes communication and environmental control much more successful.
[For those of you on the Maker side who don’t understand AT Switches, check out Max Lasko rockin’ on two switches to control the My Pal Scout we made for him.]
This project uses 3D Printed adapters to add a standard 1/4″-20 (pronounced “Quarter-Twenty”) camera mount to common AT Switches. This is a great project for STEM programs that have an idle 3D Printer and need service hours and is a huge improvement for AT Switch users.
What you’ll need to complete this project
Note: If you’re not a Maker yourself, print this guide and bring it to your local High School STEM program, Robotics Club or Makerspace. They will have the skills to complete it. If possible, email it before you visit them so they know what you’re looking for. Ideally, also bring them the T-Nuts, Bolt, and Washer from the next section.
You will need the following:
- A working 3D Printer capable of printing small parts in PLA or ABS
- One T-Nut per adapter. These need 1/4″-20 threads and should be 9/16″ long with three barbs [Note: I have updated the Thingiverse files to support 3,4,and 6 barbs and 5/16″, 7/17″ and 9/16″ T-Nuts – however, I’ve only tested on the 9/16″ 3-barb version. You can find these online at Amazon, or at your local hardware store. At our ACE, they are labeled as the “1/4-20 Long” T-Nuts.]
- A long (1″+) bolt with 1/4″-20 thread and a wide (1″+) washer to pull the T-Nuts through the plastic
- A screwdriver, drill or wrench (depending on the type of bolt chosen) to tighten the bolt
Why Camera Mounts for AT?
Camera mounts are everywhere – and they have been for decades. In fact, the 1/4″-20 camera mount so standard they even made an ISO Standard making it the official “way to mount cameras.” This makes them a great option for mounting AT Switches, which are about the same size as a point-and-shoot camera.
Camera Mounts for Every Need
There’s a camera mount for every angle. Sure, everyone knows the tripod, but there are clamps, articulating arms, quick release points, and “flexible wrap” mounts that will hold a camera in literally any position. Exactly what we need for AT Switches! Here’s a sampling of some of the 3500+ camera mounts with 4+ stars on Amazon right now:
Commodity Pricing means More Mounts
That huge selection also leads to competition, which drives down prices!
Sure, there are high-end camera mounts and full systems for professional photographers. And in the AT arena, there are lots of times a custom mount for a wheelchair or bed is needed.
However, insurance and CMS (Medicaid/Medicare) generally only pay for a single mount, and that leaves lots of situations where inexpensive mounting options are needed. For example in addition to a power-chair, you may need mounting points on a stroller, play area, exercise gym, or desk. For these, use camera mounts.
DIY 3D Printed Adapters
This all sounds great, but most AT Switches don’t have camera mounts built-in. In fact the mounting options that you can buy are generally specific to a vendor. So, since there’s lots of idle 3D Printers out there in STEM clubs, we thought we’d create 3D models that you can bring to your local Makers to print for you. Here’s how to do it!
Download STLs from Thingiverse
Head over to our collection of AT Switch Adapters on Thingiverse. There, you’ll find a set of adapters for common AT Switches.
Specifically right now you’ll find:
- Adapter for Adaptivations Honey Bee Proximity Switch
- Adapter for Original (Oval) Jelly Bean Switch by Ablenet
- Adapter for 3 Inch Switches (Jelly Bean Twist, etc.)
- Adapter for 5 Inch Switches (Big Mack, Big Red, etc.)
- Adapter for Ablenet Micro Light
- Adapter for Ablenet Candy Corn
- Logitech Adaptive Gaming Kit
Download the “Thing Files” (specifically the .STL files) OR just bring the URL (or this guide) to your local STEM club and they’ll download them for you.
Printing the Adapters
Once you download the .STL files, printing these should be pretty straightforward. Most will print in any material, and on any 3D printer. One exception would be the 5 Inch switches (Big Mack, Big Red) because they have a wide radius and may not fit on small printers. You may try printing them vertically to see if they fit.
Just a few tips on printing these:
- All of them will require supports to be generated. Because of the inset T-Nut and the general shape, there’s no way to print these without supports.
- When printing in ABS, we’ve seen some of the models (mainly the Micro Light) sag due to excess heat. One suggestion has been to print two copies at once to increase cooling time. Let us know your experience (or just print them in PLA).
- Printing at .20mm is completely adequate for this use (due to the T-Nut). Printing at lower resolutions will work but may require you to drill out any through holes (not a big deal).
- Supports will remove cleanly from the T-Nut inset: feel free to have that pointed down.
These print jobs should take all take under two hours, and most will be “easy prints.”
Inserting the T-Nut and Mounting the Switch
Once the print is done, you’ll need to insert a T-Nut and pull it through the part using a screw and washer. This video will walk you through the steps (it’s simple!):
Then, just screw the adapter to the switch. Here are the screw sizes you’ll need for each switch:
- Ablenet Micro Light: Thread 4-40 (US Fractional) – 3/4″ long
- Ablenet Jelly Bean: Thread 3-32 (US Fractional) – 3/4″ long
- Ablenet Big Mack: Thread 10-32 (US Fractional) – 3/4″ long
- Ablenet Candy Corn: Use Included (tiny) screws with pilot holes
- Other switches such as the Jelly Bean Twist and other 3″ switches have holes rather than threads – simple choose a screw or bolt-nut combo that fits.
Licensing and Adaptation
All of these models are released under a Creative Commons – Attribution – Share Alike license. This means you are more encouraged to:
- Print these for your own use
- Print these for sale, on the internet or otherwise
- Modify these adapters to fit your needs
- Share your modifications
The only requirements for use are that you:
- Provide attribution that these come from ATMakers.org (leaving the logo on the part is adequate – if you remove it, you must provide other attribution)
- Tell people if you modified it
- Provide the same license for any adaptations you create
Share what you Make with this!
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