Cost-effective Assistive Technology Mounting Solutions

Often, mounting is a critical part of ensuring a user is able to use a particular assistive technology safely, effectively, and reliably, or it may be an assistive technology in itself by positioning or holding something a user would otherwise be unable to.

Mounting solutions can be used to position a variety of devices such as:

  • tablets, laptops, mobiles phones, cameras
  • communication devices, eye-gaze devices
  • access switches, alternative pointing devices (e.g. LipSync)

While a range of commercial options exist, many are extremely expensive.

A cost-effective, maker-friendly AT Mounting Solution should:

  • be easily adjustable by the user or a care-giver
  • connect to a variety of bases (e.g. desk, table, manual wheelchair, power wheelchair)
  • be based on components that are readily available, commercial off-the-shelf parts, or maker-manufacturable (e.g. 3D printing)
  • not require specialized tools for assembly or adjustment
  • interface with standard mounting adapters (like 1/4"-20 UNC tripod mounts / switch adapters)
  • not obstruct the user’s vision
  • not impede the user’s ability to transfer
  • be easily moved out of the way in an emergency

Jake, do you Canadians use metric or imperial units?

A prototype kit for mounting the LipSync and other lightweight AT:


Super cost-effective mounting using PVC piping:
https://forum.makersmakingchange.com/t/pvc-pipe-mounting/195

Hey Ken,

Officially, Canada uses Metric. However, the US is our biggest trading partner so in practice we get (or are forced?) to use both.

So what’s the metric standard that you want to suggest? I think MMC should act locally but think globally :wink:

To the best of my knowledge, there is no metric standard for camera mounts. The international standard ISO 1222 specifies 1/4"-20 UNC or 3/8-16 UNC for tripod threads, which translates to a wide range of cost-effective adapters that are available all over the world.

If you would feel like there is another standard mounting adapter/interface that should be included, feel free to suggest it.

True, though it’s sad that Imperial units are still driving global standards. On the other hand an M6x1.0 screw comes pretty close in profile to a 1/4"-20 screw. It may bind at some point but I suspect that it will still hold. I wonder how easy it is for people in Europe and Asia to obtain Imperial sized hardware. Also, I have a number of GoPro mounts and every other piece of hardware in the mounts is metric…

Yep. If only the US (and Liberia, and Myanmar) would join the rest of the metric world…

In the meantime, the open-source nature of this work should provide an easy way to accommodate changes, and it may be possible to design mounts and switch adapters that accommodate M6 as well. (e.g. M6 tee insert nuts in the camera switch adapters rather than 1/4"-20 UNC tee insert nuts. It would be interesting to see if a single design would cover both…)

However, I would not recommend combining M6 and 1/4"-20 UNC fasteners. The threads will not engage properly, severely reducing the strength of the joint and risking damage to one or both of the threads.

GoPro mounts are another commonly used adapter, though one challenge is that there are a number of design and utility patents that cover various aspects of those designs.

@MMC_Jake

Is this project available to design and create? Our team is very interested. From what we understand it is to create a system that is adaptable for different environments and objects to hold. But we saw that you posted a design for the Lipsync. Is this similar to what is wanted but for different products?

@UBCEnable

Yes, this project is an ongoing challenge and need. The two linked threads above are two approaches that we’ve been working on, but they are not yet comprehensive and robust solutions. There is an opportunity to refine and build upon either of those, or work on a novel approach.

The ‘Mini Mounting Kit’ is meant to provide a low cost option for mounting the LipSync, but also be a general purpose system for mounting switches, phones, and other relatively lightweight assistive technology. The longer term intention is to have a larger kit of components that you can put together in different ways depending on the situation (kind of like Lego).

From my perspective, there are a couple of components that would be really useful to develop:

  1. A latching pivot/swivel mechanism. Positions the AT securely / repeatably for the user, but is able to swing out of the way when the AT isn’t in use or the user needs to transfer, etc. (Similar to this commercially available component: https://rehadapt.com/components/joints/swivel-joints/)

  2. An improved adjustable locking pivot joint. Need a design that enables a caregiver to easily adjust the position of a joint and lock it securely in place without requiring excessive hand strength. The current pivot joint in the Mini Mounting Kit resists axial and rotation movement of the links well, but does not resist motion between the two pivot portions without really torquing the knobs.

Here -> openstructures.net you may find Very interesting ideas!

Thanks for sharing this link - that is very much along the lines of what we are trying to achieve.

There is a video of a DIY mobile phone holder tripod at https://interestingengineering.com/video/making-a-3-in-1-mobile-phone-tripod-from-pvc-fittings?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=video&utm_content=22052020. The techniques used in the video could be adapted to help make a switch holder.

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Nice find, @db18. I was able to locate a set of instructions (Instructables) and the original video (YouTube).

The creator re-purposes a lot of materials in pretty clever ways (though I wouldn’t recommend using a soldering iron to melt through piping like that - at least not one you value :wink: )

I especially liked using the carbon fiber patterned vinyl to clean up the overall look.