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A Journey Towards Inclusive Pool Playing: David Nelson’s Mechanical Pool Cue

David Nelson, a Solve-TAD volunteer, has been hard at work developing a mechanical pool cue that would enable Anthony, a quadriplegic, to play pool independently. In this blog post, we explore the evolution of the project and the innovative solutions that were devised to make pool playing accessible and enjoyable for Anthony.

The Evolution of the Project:

The project began in 2017, spearheaded by volunteer Adam Trudgeon, who built an impressive machine that laid the foundation for future iterations. In 2018, the project was handed over to MIT students under the mentorship of Bill Dorie. In 2020, Bill, along with volunteer PDK, completed a fully functional machine with integrated controls and electrical work.

However, the initial machines had some limitations, as they were attached to the wheelchair and were challenging to set up and maneuver around the pool table.

David Nelson’s Approach:

David came up with a concept that addressed most of the initial machine’s limitations. His idea was to create a small, compact, stand-alone device that was battery-powered and remote-controlled, essentially a small robotic pool cue.

David started building prototypes and eventually presented his ideas to Bill, who was immediately on board. David then joined Solve-TAD, and they both visited Anthony to pitch the new concept, which was well-received.

Innovative Solutions:

To allow 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 an excellent example of how innovation and collaboration can lead to inclusive solutions. With perseverance and creative problem-solving, David and the Solve-TAD team have made it possible for Anthony to play pool independently, overcoming the challenges posed by the initial designs. This project showcases the power of community-driven innovation to create accessible and enjoyable experiences for everyone.

Watch: David Nelson Presentation on his Pool Cue design!

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Solve-TAD has over 250 volunteers across NSW and VIC, changing the lives of individuals living with disability every day. Learn more about becoming a Volunteer with Solve-TAD here. 

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