Part 2: Building Hardware
Today I finished the hardware part. Hooray! It ended up being a bit more complicated than expected (shocker) but it wasn’t anything an hour wandering in an art supply store couldn’t fix.
What I now have are two cotton gloves with conductive wire sewn into the finger tips, then threaded through the glove to the base, where they’re tied off. Conductive paint covers both ends to keep things neat and conductive. This worked a lot better than my initial ideas using tape, foam, and/or rubber.
The wires are taped down so I don’t accidentally pull them while using the gloves.
The wiring is pretty basic, as all the system really is is 6 buttons. Below is a diagram anyway, made using Fritzing, which incidentally is wonderful.
In reality, the red wire would go to the thumbs and the colored wire would go to the fingers. The buttons are used here as placeholders.
For those of you unfamiliar with using microcontrollers for input, the reason the pins I’m using also go to ground is to avoid “floating” pins. When a pin is not connected to anything (like when it’s connected to an open switch), it is considered floating and will randomly fluctuate between on and off. Having it connected to ground through a resistor prevents this.
I wrote a basic program that would just tell me if fingers made contact and everything seems to be working fine. Hopefully this trend continues.
My thoughts thus far are that the gloves are nice for now, but I definitely would want something better for the future, especially since they don’t breathe and summer is coming. They also have little grip to begin with and the paint only makes that worse.
Future plans are:
- Replace the gloves with either better gloves or some kind of finger strap
- Replace the tips with conductive rubber with better grip
- Add a Bluetooth module so I won’t be tethered to the computer (which may be pretty easy thanks to Adafruit’s Bluefruit products
- Add a flat joystick to one hand and button to the other to act as a mouse
- Allow the Arduino to type anywhere and not just in the Arduino program (this is more of a programming task)
- Perhaps a small vibrating motor that will buzz when a letter has been finished. Otherwise I could lose track and start typing gibberish (e.g. instead of 1-2, 6-3, 2-2 I could have 2-6, 3-2, 2-something, which are a completely different set of letters)
Things are going well and I hope to have Part 3 done soon.