A few DIY Projects of mine
Some of these hacks may be completely obvious and others maybe not so much, but I thought I’d throw them out there for people to consider. The first and I think most impressive of my projects is a really cheap boom mic. I have been trying to set up my computer for a while now in such a way that I can roll up to it and work on it without being tied to it. My three tethers are my keyboard, my trackball and my headset with microphone. Now two of them are easy enough to solve with wireless keyboard and trackball (or mouse if you prefer). The one that I struggled with was dealing with my microphone that I use for Dragon Dictate NaturallySpeaking.
I tried a microphone on the desk but I couldn’t get the microphone close enough to my mouth so the voice recognition was useful. Which is why I was still using a headset. I looked around the Internet for a boom mic and couldn’t find anything for less than 500 bucks. Which just seemed outrageous to me. So I tried to find a workaround and found something that works for me. I found one of those magnifying lamps like this: http://www.overstock.com/Crafts-Sewing/Slimline-Magnifying-Lamp/3546202/product.html I’m sure that you can use a plain old desk lamp. The important part is the armature with the bend in it. I found a cheap one for about 15 bucks. Bought a regular desk microphone and brought them home. I had the magnifying glass and a lamp removed from the armature, wires and all. Leaving me with a cheap boom. I took the base off the desk microphone so I had a long thin microphone. I mounted the microphone on the end where the magnifying glass used to be. In my case there was enough tension in the bracket that had held the magnifying glass that I was able to just push the microphone into place and I had a boom mic for the cost of about 30 bucks. I haven’t had to, but it might be useful for others to add a little weight to the microphone end of the boom. I’d probably just tape some fishing weights or something similar to the armature to make it a little bit easier to articulate.
I use a mouthstick with my computer to supplement the voice recognition. This is probably too simple but, I thought I’d mention it. A mouthstick can be a pretty pricey item and I just can’t make myself spend that kind of money for a fancy metal or plastic mouthstick. So I go to Home Depot or some similar store and buy a couple of wooden dowels. I cut them to a useful length. Tape the end that will be in my mouth (I use electrical tape, but I’m sure other tapes will do). Then I tape one of those rubber finger cotts that people use when they need to thumb through lots of paper. The rubber end gives some friction and makes typing easier.
My last little gadget is what I call a “quiver” for my straw’s. I buy these extra long straws from a medical supply company that are about a foot long. They’re useful for drinking when you can’t lift a cup. The problem is I didn’t want these straws flopping around loose in my backpack picking up lint or whatever else found its way into my backpack. So I went to a home supply place and bought a length of PVC pipe that the straws would fit in. I bought two end caps to screw on both ends and now I have myself a container for two or three of my straws.
That’s about it for my first contribution to Hack Ability. I hope you find some of them useful.