Building a custom Xbox Adaptive Controller peripheral, part three


In part two of this blog series, I introduced my idea of using paint rollers as the mechanism for allowing easy rotation of the foam massage rollers that trigger keyboard switches connected to the Xbox Adaptive Controller. If that perfectly logical sentence isn't crystal clear to you, you may want to start from the beginning before reading further. As things worked out, I didn't have near the free time over the last weekend that I'd hoped for, and I only made a fraction of the progress I'd intended. However, a couple helpful suggestions from the comments on last week's post lead to the acquisition of some new hardware that's worth talking about, let's start there.

TR gerbil llisandro read my mind and suggested Kailh Speed switches as an option for a switch that would actuate with a very small amount of travel. That's something I've discovered is especially important for the method by which they'll be triggered in my project. I ordered Bronze and Copper switches from Novel Keys, and they arrived in just two days. I think I'm going to be very happy with them, and they fit inside my threaded PVC adapters even more snugly than my original switches. Another helpful post came from TR gerbil massbart, who suggested I take a look at Sanwa arcade buttons. I ordered a six-pack from Amazon and I'm excited by their potential. Check it out.


Form following function.

As you can see by the end of that video (or just the thumbnail if you didn't watch it), I do have the rough shape of the "controller" coming together. I wanted to start by getting the outside dimensions established before splicing in the other connectors to hold the switches and legs of the device. With the assistance of a century-old rubber mallet that I got from my grandfather, the frame is holding together ever better than I expected without gluing or pinning. I think the hose clamps on the paint rollers are actually compressing the ends of the tee connectors enough to get a better grip in the pipe inside. It may end up that force is all that's needed to stop undesired torsion in the frame.

I do need to make the frame at least a few inches longer, though. The top of Ellie's head hits the tube running across the top as things are now, but it's close. I'll probably also narrow it by a few inches after some additional testing. Beyond that, I obviously need to cover up any pokey bits with something soft (possibly pool noodles) and fish the wires through the tubing and out one of the fittings. Now, speaking of testing...


The sweet taste of validation.

I can't express how stoked I was to see Ellie start spinning that roller, even if it didn't have a switch on it quite yet. Clearly, the paint roller was much more successful than my first attempt with trying to have her spin the roller directly on the PVC tube. She was so proficient at it, so quickly, that it has me wondering if I should buy two more of the little rollers and just use them for the foot switches as well. The big pink roller is starting to look pretty clunky and difficult to spin by comparison.

If I used small rollers for the feet, I could set one for forward movement and the other for jumping, that's pretty tempting. Without the big pink roller, I wouldn't even need to add legs to the frame because the green rollers have plenty of clearance just from the height of the fitting they are strapped to. It would also be nice to keep the profile of this contraption very low for easy storage. I think I'm talking myself into this idea. Surely, I can find another use for the big roller...

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