Braille printers are extremely expensive and bulky, and consequently most people cannot afford to buy one. However, many blind people already own a brailler for typing braille, so it would be very convenient if they could use the device they already own as a printer as well.
What it does
AutoBrailler is a device that attaches to a Perkins brailler and connects to a computer. The user can then run the associated program, which takes in a text file and triggers the appropriate buttons on the brailler to type the contents of the file.
How we built it
Our device consists of a frame that is placed over the brailler and clamps in place. A series of servo motors can be controlled by an arduino to press the keys on the brailler. A motor will be used to automatically return the carriage at the end of a line. A python script is used to preprocess the text file being printed, removing any invalid characters and inserting line breaks as necessary. The script then writes the characters to be printed one at a time to the Serial port, where it is then read and translated into servo and motor action by Arduino code. The device can be easily removed from the original Perkins brailler so that the user can use the brailler without the add-on.
Our team 3D printed all of the elements and put them together, then wired the servos to a breadboard with an arduino. Finally, we wrote a python script and some arduino code that communicate to each other via the Serial port in order to process text files and send them to our mechanical system.
For detailed documentation on all parts of the physical system, go to the following link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iSQhbpf-2fm0ym0dafK-TcqL5-4HSQ8v6ignUeuX5iA/edit?usp=sharing
For a look at the code and/or designs, go to the following link: https://github.com/mayigrin/AutoBrailler/tree/master
What's next for AutoBrailler
In the future, AutoBrailler could be modified to use Grade 2 braille! In addition, brackets could be added to the side so that it's easier to know how to place the device on top of the brailler.