Here's along shot, Try a Touch Switch from Leviton., or if you've seen those touch on/off/dim table lamps, the little plastic electronic box inside gets damaged easily (you could probably find one in a thrift store) but the on/off function usualy keeps working, you can put on of those in the radio and it will come one with a touch in the right place. =AEoy
You might try a "Decora" toggle switch. These are the ones that mount in normal wall boxes, but have large flat rectangular toggles, instead of the small one that is common. Any hardware store should have them. There is usually a sample on display, or it's usually easy to open the box they come in to check one out. You'd have to built it into an electrical box, with proper strain reliefs on the cord.
Another idea is to use a normal wall light switch, again built into an electrical box on a cord, but with a longer lever glued onto the normal toggle.
There ought to be somebody willing to sell you one for the purpose, but Googling with words like "accessibility products" isn't very helpful. You might contact a doctor or hospital to see if they can point you to a local store or recommend a catalog. There also ought to be a good newsgroup for elderly or disabled people. alt.disability.issues might be reasonable if you ignore the political stuff.
I thought that you will probably get lots of useful switch suggestions but that you might like to think of some alternatives:
1) In the UK we have REMAP
a charity based on local groups of volunteer qualified engineers who will help with things like this. Also, they don't normally charge for what they produce..
2) A plug-in remote control switch may be an answer
item L95AR) - there will be a US equivalent, maybe X11. Not only is the switch on the remote control relatively easy to use, the remote can be used as the basis for switches for people with a wide variety of physical problems. As it is low voltage it can be easily modified to suit the needs of the individual. It also means that the radio can be switched on and off remotely, eg from bed if she is not feeling well.
3) Another idea is to replace the switch with a "mercury" tilt switch (such as Maplin item FS99H) - obviously suitably cased and with cable strain relief, etc. This can be actioned in a whole load of ways and combined with other things - with a bit of imagination. eg the radio comes on when you recline your chair to the half-way point, but is off when upright or fully reclined...
There are a whole host of alternative approaches, using reed/Hall effect switches, proximity sensors, passive and active infra red, etc. Hence my starting point of suggesting contacting something like REMAP or equivalent. Your mum may not need anything this imaginitive yet and hopefully it will be many years before she does, but they are there when needed.
The "Decora" switch looks interesting but a bit large. She currently has one of those dreadful, little line switches. It is terribly hard to work - at least for me. It sits on the arm of her chair. I am not sure how well that type would work. However, if I could find a plastic box for it, it might work out. I'll look around in a hardware store.
You could mount it in a plastic "Project box" used for electronic prototypes. A lot of places sell them, including Radio Shack. There are several types of plastics used, so you would want something solid and with a plastic lid. You could also use a cast aluminum box and put rubber feet or a sandbag on the bottom to help keep it in place on the arm of the chair.
I am located in the US. I hope you will excuse the cynicism. Older people in the US are managed, used, or exploited for the money they have or that flows to them from government programs. I suspicion things might be different in the UK.
Doesn't exist in the US or at least no where near where my mother lives.
That looks REALLY good. It looks perfect.
It looks a lot like a really great 6-button TV remote I got for my mother. I was going to paste a link to it, but the remote has been "re-designed" into something much inferior, so I won't bother.
Anyway, it looks fantastic, but the plugs in the UK must be very different than those here.
Well, in July she will be 90. When she was very young, the family transportation was a horse and buggy. She never got along with technology. I might like it; you might like it, but I don't think she warm to the idea.
The plug-in remote is excellent. Maybe somewhere in the US is an equivalent.
Roy Q.T. wrote: Here's along shot, Try a Touch Switch from Leviton., or if you've seen those touch on/off/dim table lamps, the little plastic electronic box inside gets damaged easily (you could probably find one in a thrift store) but the on/off function usualy keeps working, you can put on of those in the radio and it will come one with a touch in the right place. =AEoy ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I'll check it out. I googled it, and it looks like it would need a big switch box. I'll go to a hardware stock and check one. Thanks. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The remote control outlet is a very good idea too, they have been around & used in lighting for a while..... I have one or two of those touch on/off/dim boxes around here somewhere that I removed because they failed to dim so I'll get back to you on those, but, The nice thing about the touch switches is all you need is one small finger sized point of contact.....if you are as creative as you sound you could probably canabilize one & incorporate it into the radio with a blank screwhead bolted in as a contact. I haven't tested how it would affect the transistors if at all., I'm surprised no one has crushed my idea so far }:-) but i'll give it a try with one of those removed units I have. =AEoy
Posted elsewhere then found this thread later. Here is a touch pad switch similar to the Leviton, but without the dimmer function (which may be a problem with a radio). The photograph in the web page is wrong I believe, but I have one and it takes a very light touch to turn something on or off.
You can get plastic wall boxes at the same place the switches are sold. However, the strain reliefs on these boxes are designed for cable that is also stapled to a stud; they're not, IMHO, suitable for a portable device.
Here is how I would build such a switch: Get the Decora switch, a cover plate for it, a cast aluminum outdoor electrical box, a 14-3 round extension cord 6 feet long or better, a few yellow wire nuts, and two gland nut strain reliefs. These last are threaded on one end and have a dome nut on the other end, with a rubber cone with a hole through the middle inside the dome nut. You put a round cord through the hole and tighten the dome nut, and the rubber squeezes down on the cord. Total bill should be $25 or so.
Cover the back hole in the box with one of the plugs that comes with the box. Screw a strain relief into the hole on each end of the box. Cut the extension cord in half, then cut a further 6" piece off of one end. Pass the cut ends through the strain reliefs and into the box, letting about a foot of each end stick out of the front of the box. Strip about
4"-6" of the outer jacket of the cord, then strip about 1/2" of the insulation on each wire. Twist the end of each wire so the strands form a nice bundle. Put one black wire under one screw on the switch and the other black wire under the other, and tighten the screws. Join the two white wires together with a yellow wire nut. Strip the outer jacket off of the 6" piece of cord and get the green wire; discard the 6" black and white wires. Strip 1/2" of the insulation on each end of the 6" green wire. Join the green wires from the cord ends and one end of the the 6" green wire with a yellow wire nut. Put the other end of the 6" green wire around the green ground screw that threads into a hole the back of the box and tighten the screw. Pull the cord gently back through the strain reliefs until the switch sits down in the box, but don't pull the cord so tight that the wires inside the box are taut. The outer jacket of the cord should be intact all the way through the strain relief. Tighten down the dome nuts on the strain reliefs. Screw the switch into the box with the supplied screws. These screws are typically about 3/4"-
1" long and you may have to shorten them a hacksaw or pair of strong wire cutters so they don't hit the strain relief or cord, or you can buy 1/2" screws at the hardware store. Put the cover plate on and try it out - plug the extension cord into the wall and the device to be controlled into the extension cord. This should switch anything that you can plug into a standard wall socket... her radio, a light, a TV set, whatever.
Normally, you choose a cover plate that matches the switch color. However, in this application, it might be good to choose a contrasting color - black or brown switch and white cover plate, or vice versa. This will make it easier for someone whose eyesight is not the best to find the operating part of the switch. If you can't find a dark cover plate, buy a white switch and white plate and spray-paint the cover plate a dark color.
Another problem might be the size of this assembly. This will end up as a box about 2.5"x2.5"x4". I get the impression that the current line cord switch is maybe draped over the arm of a chair where it's handy, and this box might be too big for that. You might be able to mount it to the side of the arm rest with double-stick tape, or put it on a lamp table next to the chair with some rubber feet or felt stuck on the bottom.
If you feel the wiring is a little beyond you, either ask an electrician or possibly a hardware store that repairs lamps. Either one should be able to make up this assembly in a few minutes.