6. Materials

For a Game Jam / Hardware Hackathon, having proper materials to develop with is a necessity. It’s difficult to get a lot of expensive equipment, so choosing the proper tools with the consideration of the skillsets of the participants in mind becomes much more important. The minimum requirement should be having Arduinos and Sensor Kits. Given that the time span is limited, having such platforms that are easy to prototype with is a huge benefit. Maker Tools, being materials more focused on physical construction than technical development, are helpful when you have more non-tech backgrounds amongst the participants. They can be used for paper prototyping and are easier to realize a prototype with. That being said, they don’t have the capability to create as high-fidelity prototypes as the more tech-heavy solutions. If possible, access to a hardware shop with more heavy-duty tools, such as a laser-cutter, will help the development process too.

6.1 Hardware 

Hardware can allow you to do many things that are otherwise impossible. Some notable examples of hardware functions are detecting movement of a wheelchair, monitoring the environment for proximity, lights, or sounds. It can allow you to take these rather basic sensory inputs and transform them into something more complex. Integrating these pieces of hardware thus increases the possibility space of your participants’ work thoroughly. 

6.1.1 Micro Controller Board

The basic element of hardware development is a programmable controller board. It serves as the interface for the code to command the sensors. The most popular and common choice is Arduino, an open-source hardware and software company that designs and manufactures single-board microcontrollers and microcontroller kits for building digital devices. Arduinos can use pre-existing development software called the Arduino IDE (Integrated development environment) to control input and output signals of sensors and in this way establish simple control functionality. For example, it would be relatively simple to utilize an Arduino and the Arduino IDE to detect if a sensor is being exposed to light, and subsequently emit a loud buzzing noise. 




Market Products:

1. Arduino Uno R3 Development Board

The official board from the Arduino company. Better compatibility with the IDE. Also more expensive.

2. ELEGOO UNO R3 Board

From Elegoo. Uses the same IDE as Arduino. Cheaper.

3. Arduino Starter Kit

A bundle for starters that contains a controller board and several useful sensors. A little bit too expensive compared to Elegoo starter kit.

4. ELEGOO UNO Project Super Starter Kit

A cheaper option of a starter kit that contains one Elegoo board and several sensors as well. Recommended!

5. Photon Particle

Wi-Fi board. Wireless, but requires knowledge of networking. May be more desirable due to wires getting in the way of more physical prototypes.

6. Raspberry Pi

Another option. Different from the Arduino framework; has its own operating system.


6.1.2 Sensors Input

Sensors offer various ways to get information from the real world, like movement, light, and water levels, so you can turn that data into feedback or interaction. There are many different sensors to use. The most commonly used types of sensors are force sensors, infrared sensors, light sensors, joysticks, accelerometers and gyroscopes. A typical mobile device also has many built-in sensors like an accelerometer and a gyroscope that could be used in a ChairJam. In ChairJam Pittsburgh 2019, the light receiver sensors and infrared sensors in particular were used very well for receiving signals and detecting distance. Output

With input signals from sensors, controller boards can produce output to enhance the experience. There are many ways to create feedback such as LED lights, motors, and speakers.




Market Products:

1. Elegoo Sensor Kit

This kit contains 37 different sensors. Basically covers all common sensors.

2. Accelerometer Gyroscope Module

This sensor has both accelerometer and gyroscope data. Can be used to track movement information like position and rotation.

3. Portable Bluetooth Speakers

Bluetooth portable speakers that can be used for playing sound.


6.1.3 Others

Small supplies and pieces of equipment are necessary but easy to overlook for physical computing: breadboards, wires, electric resistors, batteries, and usb cables. These are all important, and needed in quantity, based on the size of your Jam. To better ensure the Jam is successful, don’t neglect these smaller items, buy more than you think you need if possible, and place the orders well in advance.


If the budget permits, some other devices are also good fits. Gaze trackers and Kinects are all accessible devices which are possible to use for wheelchair based experience. Microsoft and many other companies also have accessible controllers. Microsoft’s new Adaptive Controller, pictured below, allows for remapping inputs to any device that is necessary so long as it can plug into the controller via the 3.5mm jacks or a USB port. In this way it allows anyone to customize the controller to their own specific requirements.




Market Products:  

1. Xbox One Kinect Sensor

This sensor tracks full-body movement and positioning.

2. Tobii Eye Tracker

This tracks the direction of the user’s eyes. 

3. Xbox Adaptive Controller

A general purpose input device that can be extensively modified with a number of switches.

6.2 Maker Tools

6.2.1 Framework Structure

Framework structures are pieces of equipment used to hold things together and provide physical structure to an adaptive project. We learned at our local Assistive Technology Maker’s Fair that there are many framework structures in the maker field. Plastic materials are the most used, and even then there are many different choices. Some of the materials are meant to be used as a protection against damage, like corner guards. Some can be used as connectors, like loc-lines or pvc pipes. Some glass-like materials can be used for transparent structures. Most of these such materials could be found in Home Depot or similar stores.




Market Products:

1. Corner guard

A plastic guard to protect something from damage.

2. Black corner guard

A plastid guard to protect a corner from damage.


Can be used to hold or position things in a customizable structure.

4. Acrylic

Some acrylic plastic to be used for general construction.

5. Sintra board

Some general-use foam board.

6. Cpvc pipe 3/4 in. x 5 ft 

PVC pipe used to hold things together or provide various building options. Note that this will require a PVC Cutter to utilize.

7. Cpvc pipe 1/2  in. x 10 ft. 

PVC pipe used to hold things together or provide various building options. Note that this will require a PVC Cutter to utilize.

8. Cpvc winged elbow 3/4 in. 

A PVC corner. For any turns or bends in the pipe structure.

9. Cpvc winged elbow 1/2 in.  

A PVC corner. For any turns or bends in the pipe structure.


6.2.2 Adhesive Materials

To have a more complicated structure, sometimes it is necessary to stick some parts together. That requires adhesive materials. These materials can be glue or tape or even just things like dual locks. There are many options on the market, but at the bare minimum stock the most common ones like glue, tape, and foam tape.




Market Products:

1. Instamorph

Plastic material that can be very easily molded by applying hot water.

2. Dual lock

A strong dual-sided adhesive material.

3. Double-sided foam permanent tape

Foam tape.

4. Loc-lift rug gripper tape 

Tape used to add some grip to a surface and prevent sliding. 

5. Self adhering silicone tape

Commonly known as electrical tape.

6. Velcro Industrial Strips pack w/ hook and loop

Some normal strips that could be used to strap things together.


6.2.3 Utility Tools

There are many special utilities needed in this context, since many of the above items are just raw materials and need to be customized to work within any specific design. For example, some of the materials are difficult to manipulate, like pvc pipe, and might require special tools to do so. There are many different cutters on the market to deal with different materials. Depending on what materials the Jam has, choosing the corresponding tools will be helpful.




Market Products:

1. Ratcheting PVC cutter

Used to cut PVC pipe.

2. Acrylic cutter

Used to cut acrylic plastic.

3. Corroclow

Another tool to cut PVC in a few different ways.

4. Loc-line pliers  

Pliers to enable better manipulation of Loc-lines.

6.2.4 Others

Some daily life materials are also important in maker spaces, such as paper, pens, scissors, tape measures, and so on. They are also the easiest to ignore during preparation. Once again, try not to neglect these smaller purchases.


6.3 Shop Tools



1. Laser Cutter

Can be used to cut out patterns and such.

2. 3D Printer

Printer to produce small items (pictured above).

3. Soldering Station

A station with soldering tools. Recommended to include a defumigator.

4. Painting Station

Some general painting supplies, optionally with a defumigator as well.


6.4 Extra Wheelchairs

Having extra wheelchairs at the venue serves several purposes. First of all, it allows people to prototype experiences with multiple wheelchairs more easily. It also lets participants prototype without using their own chair, if they don’t want to. 


Finally, it can let able-bodied participants try out a chair with relative ease. Having this experience is quite valuable for people. It gives them at least a beginning frame of reference for possible experiences in a chair, helps them ask the right questions, and generally get in a wheelchair-play mindset. It can be worth it to encourage your able-bodied participants to try out a chair towards the beginning of the event for these reasons. Consider setting an example by using the chairs yourselves at the Jam or having a time explicitly set aside for able-bodied participants to try them out.


6.5 Deciding on Hardware

There are many options when considering jam materials. Keep in mind these materials are always flexible and should adjust according to the specific skill set composition of your participants, your budget, and event goals. Occasionally participants will want to bring in their own tools or materials. At least at ChairJam Pittsburgh 2019, we accepted and encouraged this. If they would like to use a specific asset they have experience we, we found no reason to reject them. Take some time before the jam to play with and get a basic understanding of the materials you plan to provide. If there are no experts consultants available, the organizers can offer basic knowledge. Even if there is an expert at the event, it would still be helpful to feel familiar with all of the creative tools at hand. You must also consider the variety of materials you’d like to provide. The larger the variety you stock, the harder it will become to gain familiarity with every piece. We stocked a significant variety at ChairJam Pittsburgh 2019, but had a few organizers and volunteers with extensive experience in this field. If none of your participants or your team have much experience, it may be wise to just purchase basic building tools, sensor kits, and starter arduino kits. 


To get a better sense of the materials, the recommended path would be to get them before the event and try using them. This goes doubly for the materials that require technical experience like Arduinos, sensors, or some other platforms like Kinect, Tobii, or even VR devices. Organizers should have a basic understanding of the purpose of each Maker tool. As for shop tools, if it is difficult to access them before the event, some basic research of what it can achieve and getting the gist of any risks involved in using them would be great knowledge to share with the participants.