Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How to Make a Switch Access Help Light

We recently needed a light to velcro-mount on a lap tray with a switch for a student to indicate when he needed help. This light by CatEye is just one of many that can be adapted for switch access. We were fortunate in that when we let our local bicycle shop know why we needed it, he sold it to us for $5.00. Thanks Pendleton Bike and Board!
They have a cool website - check it out...

Now I have had my day of using a soldering tool, wire and little copper pieces to make a battery interrupter, but I would rather recommend the store-bought kind. They aren't that expensive (compared to buying a pre-adapted device) and they are sturdier and save a lot of time. If you were blessed with a God-given gift of quick efficient soldering, then I am truly envious! For the rest of us there is the done-for-you-version.

A good source for battery interrupters of various sizes ($9.95 US) can be found at Enabling Devices. The notching file to make a hole for the wire to slip through on the battery cover can be found at ablenet ($9.00). Ablenet has the interrupters too, but they are $12.00.

What I did:
I notched the lid of the light so the wire could slip through and placed the metal interrupter disk between the positive end of a battery and the wall with the metal contact. In order to get the light to stay on with a switch connected, I had to place a little metal nut over the rubber on/off switch and use some black electrical tape to hold it down. This way, when I press the connected switch, the light is already on and the switch joins the connection so the light comes on. We are using a leaf switch or ribbon switch that bends easily for this student to access the light.

Mounting: The light comes with a nice slide in bracket so you have something to start with to adapt to a wheelchair bar or velcro on a laptray etc. This is where you have to be creative based on the special adaptation you have to make.

I think this part of assistive technology is one of my favorite parts because I love gadgets and love to tinker. If you have any ideas or successful adaptations you have made let me know or post about them. I would love to share!

All the Best to You!

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