04/25/2017 at 16:55 •
The hacker/maker community has just suffered another great loss. I was informed this morning that Patrick Joyce has also passed away. Although I know Patrick from his work on the Eyedrivomatic, he was involved in several projects, several of them listed here on Hackaday.io, that so clearly demonstrated his compassion, creativity, intelligence and inability to give-up. I am very grateful to Patrick and to Steve for allowing me to work on this project with them and intend to continue with their work. There are many people out there suffering with MND or other conditions that have left them unable to move. And thanks to Patrick's vision, those people have gained a small part of their independence back. This sounds cliche, but it is true none the less... Patrick and Steve did their part to make the world a better place.
04/24/2017 at 16:47 •
I am sorry to report that after more than a decade of fighting Motor Neurone Disease (MND), on April 14th, Steve Evans has passed away. MND is a brutal terminal disease that slowly destroys the ability of its victims to function and removes almost all self-reliance while leaving the mind fully in tact. Despite his own troubles, Steve selflessly found a way through Eyedrivomatic to help many others with similar struggles. Up to the end, Steve was busy communicating with users and researchers and coordinating manufacturing and delivery. I cannot understate how much Steve was a key part of the Eyedrivomatic team, and the loss of Steve is a major blow to the project.
There will be a short delay in the production of any new units while we figure out how to pick-up where Steve left off. However despite our loss, the Eyedrivomatic team intends to continue development and has much planned for this year.
If you are interested in helping with this project, please send me a note. We have much still to do and without Steve, we could use some help! If you could benefit from Eyedrivomatic, I would also like to hear from you. If you can't participate and have no personal use for Eyedrivomatic, but would like to share your appreciation of Steve's work, I would like to hear from you too (and would be happy to forward your notes to Steve's family).
04/22/2016 at 09:21 •
Good news and bad news, bad first. The 'powerbee executive' power pack component, that provides power to the servos, is no longer available. Most other usb powerbanks have internal circuitry that turns them off when power demand drops. Unfortunately they don't switch back on when power demand resumes. Eyedrivomatic, inconveniently, only requires power sporadically. We are currently looking for a solution, and will post updates here soon.
Good news now. The all singing, all dancing, stand alone pc application that we're writing, is nearly finished! (many thanks to our genius coder – Cody Barnes).
More news soon....
03/03/2016 at 11:56 •
I've been very lazy since the end of last years Hackaday Prize competition. However, over the last month i've pulled myself together, and got back on the horse, so to speak. By the end of the competition we'd put everything up on github, thingiverse and instructables. All the files necessary to build your own eyedrivomatic system. But it wasn't as good as we wanted. The hardware was ok, but the software had two issues. It was tricky to set up, and only worked in conjunction with a commercial software package called Grid2.
The tricky setup issue was due to the com port number that a pc assigns to an arduino (like the one in the brain box ). The processing app for eyedrivomatic needs to know that number. Each user had to discover his own com port number, and manually alter the code for the app. Simple for a geek. Hard indeed for a normal person – daunting even.
That problem has now disappeared, thanks to our brand new Eyedrivomatic Port Finder app. Written by W. A. Smith, and modified by Steve Thomas, port finder finds out your com port number, and stores it in a config file on your pc – ready for the main eyedrivomatic app to use.
Its brilliantly simple. You run port finder once only, and then the main eyedrivomatic app runs perfectly. Simple.
The new port finder app is up our Github repository, along with the modified main eyedrivomatic app.
Its just the Grid2 issue to deal with now. Give me a few more weeks, and eyedrivomatic will work on any pc, with or without Grid2, simply!
10/24/2015 at 14:15 •
Since the project's inception, the waiting list of quadriplegics wanting their own system has been growing steadily. So it was with great pleasure that i posted the first three beta systems out on Monday. One of them is headed for Jim Durfer, a US desert storm veteran with ALS. His system is yet to arrive. Jono Stenburg, a twenty four year old film maker with cerebral palsy, and Steve Thomas, an ex computer programmer, also with ALS, live here in the UK. This is a video of their first go......
10/21/2015 at 10:57 •
Frantic? That word doesn't begin to describe what it's been like round here lately. Despite the huge workload of preparing for the finals, in an act of insanity, three weeks ago, I decided to completely redesign the brain box. One of the parts in the old brain box had become hard to get hold of. This prompted the redesign, but I ended up redesigning all of it. Dupont cables are out, along with the LED's. The system now uses a 4 channel relay shield on top of the arduino uno, with a servo/sensor shield on top of that. This simplifies the build process enormously. Everything plugs in, or gets screwed in to a terminal block.
I also took the opportunity to add another safety feature. Previously, when the eyedrivomatic app was started, the servos would occasionally give a random jerk. Which was potentially dangerous. So in the new brain box I used one of the relays to deny power to the servos, until both the app, and the firmware were running smoothly.
The electronic hand has also had two revisions in the last few weeks. It is now at Mk6! I've also got some exciting news about our three beta testers. But i'll put that in the next update!
10/05/2015 at 14:22 •
Most of our previous videos have been filmed outside. Partly for the light, and partly, with some of the early prototypes, because they were not quite accurate enough for narrow interior spaces. No longer. With the new Mk5 electronic hand, and updated software, Eyedrivomatic is now precise, accurate and reliable. To demonstrate this, here is Steve at home, driving about inside.
09/19/2015 at 09:57 •
Myself and Steve both have ALS. When you've had it for a while, like we have, your health becomes very fragile. Steve had pneumonia recently, which prevented him from working on Eyedrivomatic for a month. Last week was my turn. I can no longer swallow, and for the last two years I have been fed through a tube in my stomach. Last week I stopped being able to tolerate the food at all. After three days without food I was rushed into hospital. The doctors fiddled with my medication, and the situation improved a little. I am out of hospital now, and feeding again - enough to keep me alive, though with a distressing amount of nausea attached. This makes perfecting Eyedrivomatic all the more urgent. While it works well now, there are too many loose ends for others to take over easily were I to die unexpectedly. The system works well, but it needs more fine tuning on the electronic hand, and time spent making the software more plug and play.
The Mk5 electronic hand is now in it's fifth sub prototype. The left right servo was moving excessively compared to the forwards backwards one, so I redesigned it. I moved the pivot point for the main cradle one centimetre lower, which hopefully will restore the balance between the x and y movement. I'm posting it to Steve for testing today. Meanwhile i'm redesigning it a further time as it's too hard to build at the moment. An easy build process is very important to us, as the end user is unlikely to be an engineer.
We've had a lot of interest from disabled people wanting their own Eyedrivomatic systems. As soon as the Mk5b has proved itself, we'll start producing units for beta testing.
09/17/2015 at 17:50 •
Just a quick video update to show Steve in his natural environment.
08/27/2015 at 08:09 •
I printed my design for the Mk5 electronic hand, unfortunately the design wasn't quite as perfect as i'd hoped. There have been two sub prototypes since then to improve clearances and performance. The third one (the one with red servo arms), is good enough to use for preliminary testing, so i'll be posting it to Steve today.
The Mk5 is much harder to assemble than the Mk4, so i'm already working on an easier to build version.
I'm really keen to expand our testing team – to start getting eyedrivomatic out to the people that need it, so i've started the process of recruiting beta testers. As soon as the new electronic hand proves itself in the field, i'll produce four more systems and get them out to the new crew....