Building a custom Xbox Adaptive Controller peripheral, part two


Last week, I officially introduced you to my project to build a custom input device for my daughter Ellie that she could use with the Xbox Adaptive Controller. I've had some time to think and fiddle since that post went up, and I'm ready to catch you up on the latest developments.

First up, I want to share a look at the screen Ellie will be viewing her gaming sessions on. It was no great feat to put together, but I'm happy with the outcome. After a busy day of sitting up at school, Ellie spends most of her afternoons chilling in her swanky new bed. Logically, that meant projecting a screen onto her ceiling. To get there, I zip-tied an old Haswell NUC and a cheap LED projector I had laying around into a small plastic basket with an extension cord running out of it. Behold.


It's a NUC in a box.

That certainly puts a whole new perspective on The Magic School Bus. Part of me regrets not buying a Gigabyte Brix PC with an integrated projector when they could be had for a couple hundred bucks a few years back. That would be pretty slick to use, but this solution isn't bad. The plastic shell keeps everything tidy and protected from overzealous vacuum robots, and it's stable enough to place nearly anywhere.

Back to the actual building of the controller. I've decided to continue pursuing the spin-actuated mechanical keyboard switch plan. An errant paint roller in the back of my car turned out to fit perfectly inside the rollers I picked. That made a huge difference in ease of construction and proved easy to integrate into my design. However, I may still need to source a switch that actuates at a shallower depth, so I can leave a larger gap and potentially reduce spinning resistance even further. A hair trigger is desirable in this case.


I'm still geeking out over how well the paint roller fits together with the foam-covered massage rollers.

A bag of hose clamps and $10 worth of paint rollers later, and I arrived at what you see above. I'm very pleased with how securely the hose clamps hold onto the rollers. They all but eliminate motion on all three axes thanks to the tee connector. That means the integrity of the finished controller will come down to the PVC connections themselves. I'm still trying to decide if I want to glue them or pin them in place. I know I don't want to use actual PVC cement to permanently fuse them, though. I'm just not that confident I'll be able to avoid breaking the contraption down for fine-tuning after assembly. Now, let's take a look at the rollers in motion.


Not mentioned in the video: I'm thinking about using 45° elbows to optimize the roller angle for Ellie.

I'm confident enough with the outcome demonstrated in the video to move ahead with trying to complete the first full prototype this weekend. I just need to double-check some measurements to make sure Ellie can reach everything before putting the frame together and routing all the cables through it. I suppose I also need to put some more thought into making sure nothing will tangle up in Ellie's hair, even though this will obviously be a supervised toy.

In the next update, we'll be looking at the entire device all put together and how it works out on the software side of things (I hope). Please don't be shy about sharing your thoughts and advice on what you've seen so far. I'm just making this up as I go along, and I'm open to testing out other ideas.

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