How to Make Flex Sensors on the Cheap for Your Wearables #WearableWednesday #wearabletech
People love making Arduino powered gloves that can trigger actions, especially at hackathons. However, the one part that is often forgotten is the flex sensor which alters in resistance based on how far it is bent. I happened upon a video from Mert Kiliç that shows a great method for DIYing your own sensors with simple materials like aluminum foil, paper, cardboard or plastic, a pencil and solder. It’s all about creating a flexible piece using the carbon from the pencil as the conductive agent.
This got me thinking about a version that would be even more comfortable for gloves than the standard flex sensor. What if you could make a fabric sensor? I decided to scope out my fave site for home-made sensors—Plusea. Sure enough, they have created an Instructable on how to make a fabric bend sensor. This sensor utilizes neoprene, conductive thread and velostat for a chic, yet bendy trigger. Notice the snaps that allow the sensor to be incorporated into a garment.
Here’s how it works:
This bend sensor actually reacts (decreases in resistance) to pressure, not specifically to bend. But because it is sandwiched between two layers of neoprene (rather sturdy fabric), pressure is exerted while bending, thus allowing one to measure bend (angle) via pressure.
So, these are two great methods for creating sensors that have a softer touch. Need to create flexible circuits? We not only have flex sensors in our shop, but we also have Flex Perma-Proto PCBs. They look so much more comfortable for those bulky connections when you are bringing together multiple sensors in a wearable. Do you have a trick for making wearables? Let us know because we are all about the open source love.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.