Saturday, 24 August 2013

Someone else's stock, and a mouse with two tails

As my father-in-law continues to struggle with his loss of manual dexterity, I keep trying to come up with solutions to some of the things he finds difficult.  He now has an electrically operated reclining/lifting chair, which is great, but he pointed out that the control panel (fitted with a generously proportioned clip designed to fasten to I don't know what) moved about on his side table every time he tried to adjust the chair.  I had a particular problem in trying to do something about this - no stock, as I had travelled light to visit and hadn't known about this in advance.

However, my brother-in-law, who lives nearby, generously gave me the run of his workshop and with a couple of pieces of wood, four 22mm pipe clips and a keyhole saw I fashioned a practical but non-too-elegant addition to FIL's tray stand which keeps the control panel rigid.

Another issue that we've been aware of for some time is the problem of managing a computer mouse when your fingers won't do as they're told.  By the time the mouse has been moved to get the cursor into position, the effort involved in pressing the mouse buttons often shifts the whole thing, and therefore the cursor, away from its target.  Very frustrating!

So I wondered whether it would be possible to separate the button functions from the movement function.  I shied away from wireless/optical mice, and dug an old wired one from the depths of a drawer.  Dismantling it revealed far more circuity than I was expecting, but I managed to drill the case and insert a second four-core cable, soldering the wires to the microswitches operated by the left and right buttons (FIL never got the hang of the wheel, so I gratefully left that alone).  Then I made a simple timber console to fit in front of the computer display, and wired two normally open switches in parallel to offer an alternative to the mouse buttons.  The mouse can be operated as intended, but the black switches offer less restricted access to clicking left and right.  It works for me, and it's going to Devon next week for FIL to try it.  One small confession - the switches weren't stock items.  I did think of buying a dozen but somehow restricted myself to just the two!