The Audrey Braille Display – LIVE!

It’s taken far longer than I wanted, but I am finally looking at a finished prototype for the Audrey Braille Display. Made of 3mm Acrylic laser-cut pieces (via the Victoria Makerspace laser cutter), it uses two stepper motors, connects to an Arduino (and LadyAda Motor Driver board), and displays 5 characters:

UM Audrey Model Braille Display

The goal now is to get this working smoothly, and thereby figure out what needs reworking. Hopefully, I can get to work on version 002 and have it ready later this month; in any case, as promised, here is the current design for this version, in Sketchup format:

Download Sketchup Model of Utopia Mechanicus Braille Display (Audrey Model) Version 001

Release under the Perl-Style Open Artistic License, the file contains the assembled model, with all parts as groups (and some collections of parts grouped as well, such as the motor mounts). This should make it easy to pull pieces out to see what they do, without damaging surfaces.

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10 thoughts on “The Audrey Braille Display – LIVE!

  1. As the creator of the Natesan Braille Display, I am fascinated by Audrey
    I like the following points made by David :
    1.That he is allergic to high cost and compexity and considers them bad words.
    2. That he would like people to make Audrey-like units themselves.
    3. That the needs of a little girl in rural India is the typical image that drives him. and
    4. That ready-made solutions appear in his mind out of the blue is attributable to the Divine and not himself. This is exactly what keeps happening to me

  2. Great work! I remember how expensive the Braille displays used by the visually challenged were when I was doing desktop support in the 90s. I always wondered why those devices always seemed to 1) not benefit at all from cheaper tech 2) have poor support 3) were so darned proprietary – no interoperability between vendors. One has to assume that since government assistance was available they were going to gouge as much as possible – sad. Two big thumbs up!

    • Thank you for the thumbs! I agree, it seems odd that the prices and technology has stymied these devices. However, you have a point – where there are government subsidies, there’s little incentive to lower prices. As for businesses, if I was a CEO, I imagine it would be hard to tell my shareholders I’m lowering prices just to be nice – I think they can even be sued for doing that!

  3. As a contributor to the Natesan Display in its formative stages it’s now very interesting to see an Open Source project launched to extend the basic principle of a low-cost ‘braille encoder’ mechanism and display.

    I’m now wondering how we might keep track of questions asked, and the answers, for specific design details – on this website.

    Thank you for getting the ball rolling!

    • Thank you for your kind words – as for communication, I’m patterning much of my work here on the RepRap series of 3D printers (the projects are similar in quite a few ways) – they have a wiki there as well as a forum so I will be looking into setting those up eventually (depending on interest).

  4. Congratulations on your innovative design! I run an alternate project with similar principles (see the site for details). Myself, Keith Shaw and N. Krishnaswamy have been tossing ideas to and fro on both projects for some time, and its gratifying to see others come at the problem from the same social angles, as it were.

    Best of luck for development in the new year,


  5. Hi David,

    I am an 8th Grade student and am creating the first ever student designed Braille Computer. I have already set up and programmed the input part, only to stuck at the final part, the output. Was there any progress made after 2011-2012 on this project? I want my project to be affordable for all as the outrageous prices today do not seem fit or fair for the visually impaired.


    • There is some progress, but unfortunately time and money require me focusing elsewhere. All the best on your task however, as there is a need for a more affordable device!

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