Adaptive Chin Check Mod

Connecting all the wires

It was then time to connect all the wires. It looks really messy but it’s pretty straight forward and was done in a few hours.

Chin Operated Joystick

Next up was the chin operated joystick that (right analog stick). A big chunk of aluminum was used for making the box for the chin joystick. This part could probably be made using a 3D printer, but whenever it’s possible to use heavy machinery, heavy machinery will always be the primary choice 🙂

The base of the chin operated joystick was made using an iron plate that was cut, bent, drilled, cut into shape and tested with the microphone stand that would eventually hold the aluminum box with the Ultrastik 360. The initial plan was to use a goose neck for easy adjustment. Unfortunately, the joystick box was way too heavy so a few stainless steel rods were made in different lenghts for the final adjustments with Thomas. It later turned out that one of them fitted perfectly  🙂 The chin joystick ended up being really sturdy, indestructible, unbendable and quite heavy! This is what happens when a black smith helps making joystick stands…

Last up was making the top part of the chin operated joystick. This was also made from aluminum and made using the same metal turning lathe as used for making the metal rods. An anti-skid furniture pad is used to make the chin joystick stay in place during gameplay.

Final Adjustments

As the springs of the Ultrastik 360 joysticks are pretty hard (especially when using the chin), the stiffness was adjusted by downsizing the springs. Easy peasy!

Real-time Game Play

Here is a little video showing the Adaptive Chin Check joystick in action. I also tried using the chin joystick and I really really stunk at it! I’m pretty sure I would get my rear end whupped if Thomas and I should ever play against each other…

Final Thoughts

Usually I report my own experience with a device or unit that I’m testing. However, this time I had to rely on the comments I got from Thomas. First of all, he really enjoys playing with the Adaptive Chin Check joystick and the controls are a lot more precise compared to his old setup – and sturdy thanks to the solid metal and wooden parts 🙂 However, he has discovered a few quirks  with the XAC after a few weeks of testing. Specifically, there is an issue when customizing the buttons in the Xbox One software for different games. For example, when altering the big black A and B buttons on the XAC to e.g. LT and RT, the A and B buttons on the joystick (green and red arcade buttons) also changes to these buttons. It would have been nice to have full control of each individual button.

The analog input ports (X1, X2, LT, RT) of the XAC accept inputs which can be used for e.g. the throttle in racing games or the speed of movement. However, the analog inputs of the XAC needs about 200 kΩ to get full throw (0-100% activation). The problem is that the only analog arcade buttons commercially available use 10kΩ potentiometers (link) and therefore cannot be used. They simply cannot load the ports enough to achieve full range. I’ve asked Microsoft why they have made this choice (link) but they never really answered my question. It would have been nice if they have made the value adjustable to accommodate a wider range of analog inputs (i.e. adjustning the sensitivity of the ports). Until someone releases 200kΩ analog arcade push buttons at a reasonable price, all inputs are digital.

Beside from the above, the general functionaly of the XAC is outstanding. The customization of buttons is key when playing games as a tetraplegic to optimize the gaming experience. This is made really easy by Microsoft and works really well. The only thing that he really misses is the Push ON/Push OFF functionality of his old joystick. It’s not ‘impossible’ to use the toggle switches I have installed, but during gameplay, it would be a lot easier to simply hit a single button instead of having to look down and finding the specific toggle switch to flip. I’m currently working on a solution using an Arduino Pro Mini and an analog 4066 switch. According to Thomas, this would be the very last part to realize his dream of a perfect joystick…. Hopefully, I will be able to find a solution to reach that goal  🙂

Microsoft has made a true gaming gem with their Xbox Adaptive Controller. Compared to other gaming devices made for console gamers with physical disabilities, the XAC is reasonable priced and gives a heap of oppertunities when it comes to customization. It was extremely easy to add parts and focus could therefore be on how to create the best gaming experience as possible. Well done Microsoft – well done!!

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