Steve Hackett

Jun 222016

Project #16/23/C: Wheelchair bumper

Client with inoperable broken hip often needed to have legs raised.  The wheelchair utilised special leg raisers which were vulnerable to breakage as were the occupant’s legs when manoevring.  Solution was to clamp a mount onto the wheelchair with a sliding U-tube adjustable for the various positions.  This provided a robust, hi-viz ‘bumper bar’ as the first point of contact.

 Utube mount

u-tube mount

 Utube fwd

u-tube forward position

 Utube travel

travelling position

Utube back

u-tube rear position

Herefordshire panel

Sep 302015

An elderly client was unable to get up unaided from the dining table.  Carers had to slide the chair away from the table (with client aboard) and then rotate chair & client sideways to enable him to stand.

A stair-lift chair was obtained and the offset boss cut and re-welded into a central position.  A robust metal chair had its back removed and a strong wooden base fitted.  The stair-lift chair was then attached utilising the original mounting plate; a long bolt secured the two parts to prevent separation when lifting the chair.

The 90 degree swivel feature of the original stair-lift chair was retained enabling the carer to simply press the lever to release the lock and assist the client to ‘walk’ his feet so rotating to/from the table.  The left chair arm was raised during rotation to prevent a pinch point between it and the table.

chair at table

chair at table

chair rotated out

chair rotated out

client sitting

client sitting

client at table

client at table

Hereford panel Sept 2015

 Sep 30, 2015  Posted by at 16:16 Chairs and Chair Accessories No Responses »
Aug 172015

Identified need
The client has no fine motor control of his hands but can use arms and/or head.  He is confined to bed and feels insecure at night as he is not able to alert a carer in another room or part of the house.

This unit is based on the Wilko Standard Portable Door Chime which comprises a bell-push and chime unit which connect wirelessly.  The finger push button is replaced by a wobble switch (Fig 1) to enable easy activation.  A simple adjustable clamp holds the wobble switch at a convenient location, eg on the bed headboard.  The chime unit (Fig 2) can be in any other room in the house, or garden depending on the number and density of walls and other obstructions.

wobble switch actuator

Fig 1: wobble switch actuator

chime unit

Fig 2: chime unit










Hereford panel 15/37/C

 Aug 17, 2015  Posted by at 17:36 Telephones, Alarms, Intercomms No Responses »
Aug 172015

Identified need:
Client suffered a stroke and has lost most use of right arm.  He is a professional photographer and has tried various methods to operate the camera and shutter release simultaneously but none are satisfactory; feels he needs a bespoke solution.  Camera is a Canon EOS 6D DSLR .  The viewfinder rather than screen is used for composition.

focus button

Fig 1: focus button

The original shutter button has a two-stage action: pressing half-way engages the focus mechanism, pressing further releases the shutter. This two-stage action was retained by using separate switches: the focus switch being finger operated (Fig 1) with the shutter release achieved with a ‘puff’ switch (Fig 2). As in the existing arrangement, the shutter could not be released without first activating the focus.

shutter release puff switch

Fig 2: shutter release puff switch

hand grip

Fig 3: hand grip










An old Vivitar grip proved ideal as a base for producing a device.  The lead from a remote switch was utilised to provide the plug for the camera and a miniature switch positioned in the cable release slot on the grip.  A ‘puff’ switch was attached to the base of the grip with the tube secured with a twist-tie.

To enable the grip to be mounted to either camera or lens, the existing cold shoe on the top of the grip was adapted to a ¼” UNC thread (Fig 3) enabling fitment to camera base or directly onto longer lenses for better balance.

After using the device the client felt the puff switch was vulnerable to impact as he lacked control when putting down the camera.  A guard was fabricated using two small chair caster cups back-to-back with suitably positioned slots and hole for the cabling.  This ensured the puff tube exited at right angles and formed a stable base to stand the unit upright.


Fig 4: switch guard

Hereford panel 15/40/B


 Aug 17, 2015  Posted by at 17:22 Leisure Activities No Responses »
Feb 132015


Problem: Client only has the use of the right arm which is limited due to, amongst other things, having a fixed elbow. Consequently, he has a specialist spoon with two 30 degree bends and a grip handle. The pieces slot together and can be rotated to the desired position. The problem is that he has poor motor control and so exerts excessive force on the joints. Over time the joints become slack and the spoon position wanders. He pushes paper into the joints to tighten them but this merely forces them apart and splits them eventually.
Solution: The client obtained new adaptors and each was fitted with a ½ inch ID brass olive fixed with superglue; this was then covered with a heat-shrink sleeve.Retaining the ability to modify the angle of the various pieces (rather than simply permanently fixing them together) ensures any future change in the client’s condition can be accommodated.
 Feb 13, 2015  Posted by at 12:20 Eating and Drinking Comments Off on Hfd 15/05/B Kings modular cutlery
Dec 292014

Client’s requirement

This referral came from an adult neurological physiotherapist for a 67 year-old paraplegic.

“Her main hobby is sewing but [following her accident] she is unable to use the foot pedal to control her sewing machine. Some people do use the foot pedal with their knee but she has no control of her legs from the waist down. We also considered using the foot pedal with her elbow but she needs two hands free to guide the material so this isn’t possible either”.


The standard ‘sip and puff’ method was chosen as the most appropriate control as it had the least impact on the user’s freedom of movement.  A device was made into which the sewing machine foot pedal is placed. A lever ‘squeezes’ the foot pedal when the user puffs (blows) into a tube and releases it when the user sips (sucks) on the tube. Only light pressure/suction is needed and the pedal remains in its last position when the user rests. An additional ‘stop’ button is provided which overrides all other controls.

The drive system consists of a 12 volt motor and epicyclic gearbox operating a lever through twin rubber belts. To allow for differing sizes of pedal, a spring-balanced torque reaction device senses when the pedal is fully compressed or fully relaxed and switches off the motor. There is a further friction clutch between the belts and lever to limit the actuating force in case of system failure.

general view     drive system     torque sensor
Fig 1 general view                                   Fig 2 drive system                               Fig 3 torque sensor


see the video (5 mins – opens in new window)

Benefits to the client

  • Fully hands-free operation as requested by client’s physiotherapist.
  • Restores client’s prime hobby activity.
  • The client had led an active life up until becoming paralysed through an accident and was now able to restore her self esteem and mental well-being through regaining a sense of achievement and purpose.

Additional factors

The device:

  • adapts to any size of foot pedal enabling easy machine upgrade or replacement;
  • does not require any intervention or connection to the sewing machine;
  • uses standard sip/puff tubes;
  • needs no tools or specialist knowledge for set-up or use;
  • allows for normal foot operation.

Herefordshire ref: 14/29/C

 Dec 29, 2014  Posted by at 17:29 Leisure Activities Comments Off on Device to operate the foot pedal control of an electric sewing machine
Dec 282014

Client’s requirement

This referral came from a pulmonary rehab OT for a 72 year-old Crone’s sufferer who had complications from medication which resulted in surgery and the occasional need for ambulatory oxygen.

The engineer highlighted the limited mobility over rough ground of the small-wheel drag-bag compared to larger-wheel (150mm diameter) shopping trolleys and showed examples of previous solutions.  The client did not wish to invest in a larger capacity shopping trolley or have the cylinder on view.  As there was no requirement beyond using it within a supermarket or similar smooth-floored space and she was always accompanied by another person who carried the shopping, it was agreed to go ahead and do the modification as requested.

The solution

Ordinarily the drag-bag collapses for storage.  This comprises a telescoping bottom frame to reduce width, a collapsing bag and telescoping handle to reduce height.  It was necessary to pin the bottom frame with self-tapping screws through both tubes.  A wooden box was fabricated from 6mm ply with a hole in the top surface suitable to accommodate the 100 mm diameter cylinder.  The box was fixed to a plastic bicycle mudguard, which formed the supporting ‘backbone’ for the cylinder, the top end of which was secured to the bag handle frame.  The cylinder was secured at the top by a strap made from a dog collar.  The box is secured when the bag is zipped up.  The bag is sufficiently tall to almost fully enclose the cylinder for discreet use.  Space for shopping is virtually nil beyond, say, a purse and a few small items.

Herefordshire ref: 14/40/C

bag closed

bag closed

cylinder in situ

cylinder in situ

 Dec 28, 2014  Posted by at 17:09 Leisure Activities No Responses »