Digital Camera Assist

Designers: Greg Larkin, Alissa Van Arnam, Greg Darland
Supervising Professors: Kevin Caves, Richard Goldberg

The client is a fourteen-year-old boy with cerebral palsy.  He enjoys photography, but cannot consistently use a camera because it is difficult for him to hold it, and the buttons are too small for him to access reliably.  The Digital Camera Assist is a custom machined enclosure for a compact digital camera, including a comfortable handle and large buttons that actuate standard camera functions.  With it, the client can enjoy one of his favorite hobbies.

The client’s mother commented, “This is the most amazing device.  The design and materials used is just outstanding.  [He] loves this camera more than any other toy or tool he owns.  He always wants to take pictures wherever he goes…  Having these adaptations has allowed [him] to pursue a hobby that he didn’t have total access to before.  It has facilitated his creativity, his literacy, and his computer skills.  After he uses the camera to take the pictures, he wants to download them to his computer, and he has been writing sentences and building stories using these pictures.  This is huge for [him].”

The Digital Camera Assist (Figure 1) comprises a custom housing, fabricated using black Delrin® plastic.  It is designed to accommodate client’s camera, the Casio Exim Z750.  The housing has two parts, the base and top. The base secures the camera from three sides: bottom, left, and right.  An extension off the left side allows for attachment of the handle.  The base also houses the mechanisms of two buttons, the left and right review buttons, on the back side of the camera. A right hand grip attaches to the right side of the base.

The top secures the camera inside the base piece. It attaches to the base by a hinge on the right side and a draw latch on the left side. The draw latch operates similar to the draw latch on the front of a toolbox. The top also houses the mechanisms for three buttons: power, shutter, and zoom.

The handle is fabricated using a black 7/8″ diameter Delrin acetal plastic rod.  This rod extends below the base piece on the left side of the camera. A bike grip attached to this rod provides a comfortable grip. The right hand grip was custom made to fit our client’s hand from a piece of black Delrin® acetal plastic.  It attaches by four screws to the right side of the base piece below the hinge.

The buttons are made from screws, nuts, screw caps and springs.  They attach to the housing through predrilled holes and are secured by the nuts. The springs retain the buttons in the “off” position when not being pressed. A zoom control button was created using an additional piece of black Delrin two small screws and two small springs.  It magnifies the existing zoom control on the camera, making it easy for the client to zoom in and out with a horizontal shift of the button.  A small eye hook on the left side of the base provides an attachment point for a camera strap.

Figure 2 shows the client using the device.  Cost of parts was about $350.

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