Sunday, 29 December 2013

A bespoke bedside table, and Kindle stand 4

Father-in-law needed a bedside table with levels at just the right heights if he was to manage his touch lamp, his kindle stand and his reading glasses.  It would be a bonus if he could also both see and operate his TV remote control while lying on his back in bed.

On this occasion I did have to buy some timber, but not enough to make it an expensive project.  Here is the table (higher than you might expect because it has to be level with the bedside rail FIL uses to move himself about).  It was something of a rush job so the finish is just a wipe-on liquid wax.

The strange looking triangular piece in the front corner is where the remote control is now fixed by zip ties at a 45 degree angle to the horizontal (and pointing diagonally at the tv in the corner of the room.  It turns out that FIL can both see and operate the buttons (we had wondered whether semi-horizontal pressing would be possible for him, but it is).  The lamp sits on the lower section at the back.  The lower shelf carries books as ballast.

Meanwhile the design of the Kindle stand has progressed.  My first effort arose from FIL's finding it awkward (later impossible) to hold the Kindle on his chest while reading in bed: 

Then it became difficult for him to operate the small power button at the base of the Kindle - particularly necessary when you have dozed off in the night and wake to discover that the Kindle has automatically gone to sleep, too.  So version 2 incorporated a big spring-loaded button which presses on the tiny switch and which made it possible for a while for the Kindle to be switched back on:

However, these first 2 stands were relatively heavy, being made from offcuts of MDF, and FIL increasingly found it difficult to manipulate them.  Additionally, the operation of the big button became problematic.  I made a big breakthrough when I discovered a web forum which explained how to use the Kindle's programming language to disable the auto-switch-off routine.  No more finding it unusable after a brief doze. So Kindle 3 addressed the weight issue, being made of thin plywood with weight-saving cutouts wherever possible:

This worked well for a while, until FIL found it increasingly difficult to operate the small page-turning buttons at the side of the Kindle.  So now we have version 4 - lightweight again but this time providing large pivoting buttons to turn the pages back and forward.  This is the one I'm putting my name on!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

More woodwork for my father-in-law

I continue to try to come up with bits and pieces to mitigate my father-in-law's limited manual control.  In an earlier post I described his difficulty in switching on his Kindle, and the holder I made with a large button which connects via a pin to activate the switch.  Now the problem is that this holder is too heavy and difficult to grip.

Fortunately, a lot of internet searching turned up a way in which the Kindle can be programmed to prevent it from switching itself off.  Useful for cooks using it for recipes, apparently; certainly useful for FIL during the night when he wakes up and wants to read further without requiring anyone else to turn it back on.  It means that the Kindle needs charging every few days rather than every week, but that's not a problem.

So Kindle holder number 3 is a lightweight affair, made from thin plywood rather than mdf, and with cutouts wherever possible to keep the weight down:

This is now in use, but tends to move too much when the page-turning buttons are pressed.  So we are adding to the mix a lightweight plywood tray with some anti-slip material attached which FIL can position on his chest in bed under the Kindle holder.  Laborious but, we hope, effective.

If you have limited grip and digital control, managing toilet paper can be tricky.  Don't worry - not too much detail needed on this one.  Just a simple wooden shelf which holds the moist wipes boxes in place by friction, so that the lids can be pressed open and the tissues pulled out, without the whole caboosh ending up on the floor:

Last for now, a couple of further arm-crutch holders for different places in his flat.  We call them elephants' feet, and they are simply made out of 110mm drainage pipe, which is surely a stock item for most people?

The next project is a made-to-measure bedside table.  It has to be just the right height for FIL to reach from bed to manage a few items, including (we hope) the remote controls for his TV and Freeview box.  That's underway at present.