For people with limited dexterity in their hands and fingers, using regular joysticks for computers, game consoles or electric wheelchairs is often too hard and can slow them down.
With the use of a 3D printer, we are able to create an inexpensive and highly customisable joystick controller. It can be customised to the user’s grip or control preference allowing for greater control than the average injection moulded knob.
Simply unscrew the plastic knob that is on the user’s joystick and replace with the custom made Joystick Attachment. The joystick can now be more easily controlled with the tip of a single finger slotting into a depression in the plastic, or with multiple fingers gripping the controller.
CAD Software (eg. Tinkercad or Fusion 360 – free via the web)
3D plastic printer – any FDM printer (FDM is the hot glue gun style machine)
Plastic filaments - as a guide you will need approx. 2.5 meters of 1.75 mm diameter filament (equivalent to 7g of filament)
Low to moderate skill level in using CAD software to make any modifications
Some knowledge of using/setting up CAD design for 3D printing
Step 1: Take Some Measurements
Assess the shape and mobility of the hand and fingers, taking measurements of diameter of the finger/fingers that are to be used.
Remove knob from joystick, and measure diameter and length of the stick the attachment is to be placed on.
Step 2: Adapt Our Design
Attached is a zip file that contains .stl files for the Joystick Attachment design which you are welcome to modify to your specifications.
The stl files are Solidworks files, and are printable and a good starting point for modification and customisation.
Also attached is a pdf version of the design that allows you to have a good view of the model without needing CAD program.
A Fusion 360 (freeware) version is available here: http://a360.co/1MuLW7s
(Press the Play button next to the parametric history and it will visually show you how the model was created.)
Step 3: Print the Attachment
Upload the CAD design to your 3D printer.
Z layer height: 0.4 - 0.2mm
Material: ABS, PLA, Nylon, PETG etc (ABS is a good choice)
The Joystick Attachment will take just under an hour to print at 0.2mm Z layer height, or around half an hour if it is printed at 0.3mm
Note: Your first printed part may still need some tweaking until it is optimised for its intended use and that's perfectly fine and in fact, it's encouraged!
Have fun, and keep making until you find something that works for you!