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Trackball Mounting System for Student

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Debbie is a graduate student who has Charcot Marie Tooth syndrome, which affects her ability walk long distances and manipulate heavy objects. She uses a power wheelchair to get around campus, and she uses electronic text books. When Debbie was referred to me, she had a MyDesc (height and angle adjustable laptray that attached to the wheelchair frame) a laptop computer and Kensington trackball for computer access, and 3 days before classes started.

Debbie wanted the trackball mounted next to her laptop so she could use it. She decided she could remove the ball when she wasn't using it.


Laptop mount with trackball
Laptop mount with trackball
Plexiglas trackball retainer
Plexiglas trackball retainer
Trackball with retainer installed
Trackball with retainer installed

I quickly fabricated a Plexiglas surface with steel clips for the laptop and industrial strength Velcro to bolt to existing MyDesc mount. While this made it impossible to use the laptop on anything other than that mount, it would work for a few weeks until we got a real laptop mount.

A couple weeks later, we got a Daessy locking rear folding mount with a laptop holder large enough for the trackball. This was all installed, and she related a story about how she left the ball in her trackball a few times, and found that it would bounce out and roll down the brick walkways around campus. At this point she decided that she would prefer not to take the ball out when she wasn't use the computer.

After some thought, I came up with an easily installed trackball retainer that could be easily removed when needed. It is made from 1/16 Plexiglas, and sized so that it slides on from the bottom. The hole for the trackball was cut with a 1" hole saw, and slightly chamfered with a deburring knife so the trackball moves freely. The holes for the buttons were cut with a scroll saw very liberally coated with 3 in 1 oil. The Plexiglas was then bent with a strip heater to fit. Once I worked out the fabrication process, it took about 1.5 hours to make the retainer.


Michael Papp, MS Rehabilitation Engineering

Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services