David Nelson, a volunteer at Freedom Solutions Australia, has been diligently developing a mechanical pool cue that enables Anthony, a quadriplegic, to play pool independently. In this blog post, we delve into the evolution of this remarkable project and the innovative solutions that have made pool playing accessible and enjoyable for Anthony.
The project’s inception dates back to 2017, initiated by volunteer Adam Trudgeon, who constructed an impressive machine that laid the groundwork for future versions. In 2018, the project was passed on to MIT students under the guidance of Bill Dorie. By 2020, Bill, along with volunteer PDK, finalised a fully functional machine with integrated controls and electrical components.
However, the initial machines had certain limitations, as they were attached to the wheelchair and proved challenging to set up and manoeuvre around the pool table.
David Nelson’s approach was to overcome most of the initial machine’s limitations. His vision was to create a small, compact, stand-alone device that was battery-powered and remote-controlled, essentially a small robotic pool cue.
David began building prototypes and eventually shared his ideas with Bill, who was immediately supportive. David then joined Freedom Solutions Australia, and they both visited Anthony to present the new concept, which was warmly welcomed.
To enable the machine to rotate a full 360 degrees, David designed a 3D-printed housing with a Lego drive train. The tension for the firing mechanism was set manually by adjusting a screw, and the spring release was achieved using a central locking actuator from a car. This allowed for a more flexible and functional device.
David Nelson’s mechanical pool cue is a prime example of how innovation and collaboration at Freedom Solutions Australia can lead to inclusive solutions. With determination and creative problem-solving, David and the team have empowered Anthony to play pool independently, surmounting the challenges posed by the initial designs. This project epitomises the power of community-driven innovation to create accessible and enjoyable experiences for all.
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