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Soldering requires steady hands, so when [Jonathan Gleich] sadly developed a condition called an essential tremor affecting his hands, soldering became much more difficult. But one day, while [Jonathan] was chatting with a friend, they were visited by the Good Ideas Fairy and in true hacker fashion, he ended up repurposing a handheld camera stabilizing gimbal to hold a soldering iron instead of a camera or smartphone.
Now instead of the gimbal cancelling out hand movements to keep a camera steady, it instead helps keep a soldering iron steady. The first was to set up a way to quickly and easily connect and disconnect the soldering iron from the gimbal.
Thanks to a dovetail-like connector, the iron can be safely stored in its regular holster and only attached when needed. The other modification is more subtle. The stabilizer motors expect to be managing something like a smartphone, but a soldering iron is both lighter and differently balanced. That meant that the system worked, but not as well as it needed to.
After using some small lead weights to tweak the mass and center of gravity of the soldering iron — making it feel and move a bit more like an iPhone, as far as the gimbal was concerned — were improved. This is a wonderful repurposing of a consumer device into an assistive aid, so watch it in action in the short video embedded below.
In the beginning it may not be too difficult to manage, but as the disease progresses the tremors get worse and worse, until day-to-day movements are extremely difficult. Even picking up a fork or pouring a glass of water becomes nearly impossible.
Some helpful tools have been deed to limit the impacts of the tremors, but this new device seeks to dampen the tremors directly. A research team from Fresno State has been developing the Tremelo, which is a hand stabilizer that straps onto the arm of a person suffering from tremors.
The device has already shown success in 36 trial patients and does an incredible job at limiting the amount of tremors the user experiences, and also has a bonus of being non-invasive for the wearer. The team has successfully trialed the program, but is currently seeking funding on Indiegogo. The project seems worthwhile and is a novel approach to a common problem. There are a lot of side effects of living with medical conditions, and not all of them are obvious. This can obviously lead to frustration with anything that involves fine motor skills, but also includes eating, which can be even more troublesome than other day-to-day tasks.
There are some products available that help with the tremors, but at such a high price [Rupin] decided to build a tremor-compensating utensil with off the shelf components instead.
The core of this assistive spoon has a bill of material that most of us will have lying around already, in order to keep costs down. It did take some 3D printing and a lot tremor games hack math to get the utensil to behave properly, but the code is available on the project site for anyone who wants to take a look. This project tackles a problem that we see all the time: a cost-effective, open-source solution to a medical issue where the only alternatives are much more expensive.
Usually this comes up around prostheticsbut can also help out by making biological compounds like insulin directly for less than a medical company can provide it. Case in point: my son asked for help with the cord on his gaming heet the other night. The cable had broken and we could see frayed conductors exposed.
When I got it apart, I found that I could barely see the ultra-fine wires to resolder them after cutting out the bad section.
I managed to do it, but just barely. This experience got me thinking about how to deal with the inevitable. How do you stay active as a hacker once your body starts to fight you more than it helps you? I enlisted a couple of my more seasoned Hackaday colleagues, [Bil] and [Rud], for their tips and tricks to deal with these issues.
The creator [Anupam Pathak] is close to people who suffer from tremors, and seeing the problem up close and personal, he set out to create a solution. He started the company called Liftwareand has so far released the Tremor games hack spoon. It features an embedded microchip, sensors and a few small motors. We can only imagine the paradigm shift this will be for people suffering from tremors. By using our website and services, you expressly agree to the placement of our performance, functionality and advertising cookies.
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