The initial brief was very brief: Paul’s Place, a day in the Bristol area required a giant Scrabble board that all of it’s members could use. It had to be vertical an the tiles magnetic.
They could not find one in the UK, but had seen one in America at nearly $2,000 and another at $14,000, but even these did not meet the requirements.
During the course of discussion various options were discussed, could it be moveable, could it be taken to another location etc.
A few sample tiles were made to find the preferred size and shape, which determined the size of the playing board, a staggering 1.5m square. taking this size of panel, the movable option was considered, but with a support frame and trolley, it would not fit through doorways. A folding or sectional board was considered but ruled out through operational considerations.
The board was constructed from a sandwich of 20mm thick plywood, 1mm thick Zintec sheet and a custom vinyl printed surface (thanks to a local printer Rage Displays ltd ). This was our initial problem, finding suppliers for the plywood and Zintec. These were found but the sheets were 1.5mx3m so we were buying twice as much material as required – “could this be used for another game”. Spacing corners were 3D printed in PLA and pinned through holes drilled in the Zintec sheet into the plywood.
The board was stood off from the wall to miss dado trunking on battens firmly screwed and bolted to the wall, depending on what the various parts of the wall were constructed of. Steep clips were made to clamp the board to the battens.
The tiles were designed using the OnShape 3D CAD system. Each tile was 85mm square and 4mm thick, printed in white. They had a 2mm rim and 2mm high characters printed in black. These gave a high visibility and tactile solution. Several samples were produced including some with braille characters as well, but the members did not feel that this was necessary and could read the characters by tracing the characters with their fingers. A handle was included to make the tiles easier to handle. During the prototype stage, a bespoke grabber was designed to clip onto the tile, but it was found that the final size and shape of the tile handle could be gripped by a standard grabber.
The tiles were printed in PLA on a Prusa Mk3 3D printer. The tiles were printed four at a time which took 6 hours. As the 3D printer can only print in one colour, the printer code had a filament change request embedded in it to that the white filament colour could be unloaded and the black filament loaded. The STL files for all the components are available if needed. A flexible magnetic sheet was stuck to the back of each tile.
A set of steel tile racks were created to hold the magnetic tiles in place that would fit across the arms of a wheelchair.
Now it is possible for any of the centres members to play Scrabble without the need of someone placing the tiles for them on a conventional board, giving them more independence.
This had led on to the request for other games!