Atelier I: Discovery 001

Touch Interface Prototype

Katrina Larson (3159289)

Julianne Quiday (3155370)

Pandy Ma (3157657)


Sept, 28th, 2017


SynthCube Prototype



For this project we wanted to experiment with sound. We found ourselves watching videos of people making different songs with something called a MIDI, and so we tried incorporating that into our prototype. That’s how we invented the SynthCube. We combined sound with touch by making a fox plush cube that acted like a synthesizer. We created buttons out of conductible fabric and styrofoam sheets, attached them to the sides of the plush, and figured out the wiring and coding to go with it so that every time you press a side it would make a sound.




*In the circuit diagram above, the button represents all of the fabric buttons in the plush toy. Due to excessive wiring, the circuit shown is only one of several of the same circuits.*




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The following images show the process of making our fox plush. We began by modifying an existing pattern to suit our chosen animal, and began cutting out the pieces from orange and white fleece material.





Part 1: Creating the Fox

We modified a pre-existing cube plush pattern to look like a fox. Our first work day was spent cutting out the pattern and sewing it together into an open net. Details such as the ears, tail, and paws were then stuff for aesthetic purposes only. It added to the overall cute plush toy appeal that we were aiming for. We used a sewing machine to do the larger stretches such as the sides and attaching the two pieces of the tails. We hand sewed the facial details and the feet as these were more details and required a steady hand and plenty of attention.


Part 2: Initial Wiring

The first concept was to use a capacitive sensor that would be connected to each of the fabric buttons. We wanted to use the capacitive sensor to make the buttons sensitive to lighter taps. Unfortunately, the sensor made it too sensitive, and began to trigger itself. After this realization we removed the capacitive sensor and began rewiring without it.


Part 3: Button Creation

Our buttons are comprised of two squares of conductive fabric and a piece of foam sandwiched between them. The foam has rows of holes in it that allow the two pieces of fabric to make contact and complete the circuit (triggering sound).


Part 4: Secondary Wiring

For testing purposes only, we replaced the speaker with an LED as they are less finicky and give instantaneous results. We created a circuit on breadboard that used our fabric button as an input and an LED as an output. Following this we wanted to sew the fabric buttons to the stretch conductive, but unfortunately we did not have enough fabric to proceed. Another issue was that we only had 3 speakers connected which caused the sound to not work correctly.


Part 5: Tertiary Wiring

Our final set up included 5 fabric buttons and 5 speakers. We ironed conductive cloth onto the inside of the plush fabric and then sewed the foam middle section and the other side of the conductive fabric to the plush. Critically, we made the middle section larger so that when we sewed the fabric the two conductive fabrics will not be pulled together. Each button was then attached to its own speaker through the breadboard which allows for all sounds to be used at once.


Part 6: FInishing it Up!

With the wiring worked out, we added a cardboard cube to the inside to fill out the shape and house the arduino in the inside. We sewed up the sides and then added velcro to close the top section, which allows access to the arduino.


There were many challenges we ended up facing during the process. When dealing with the code, it was frustrating to not be able to figure out what was going wrong. One button was coded well so assumably the codes for the other buttons should have been identical since they were all the same wiring, however, getting the arduino to recognize that was a hassle.

We also found a lot of problems with the physical plush toy: the wires kept unplugging and the the ones attached to the sides kept unsticking from the electrical tape. The battery was also acting up a lot seeing as it would turn off at random times even when there would be sources getting power from it to keep it on. The holes that we made o the styrofoam dividers were also too small which was a surprise, since we thought thta making them too big would make the buttons too sensitive. So, we had to poke bigger holes.



Since a lot of our inspiration came from the MIDI keyboard and various synthesizers, much of the resources we used were YouTube videos. After all, it’s hard to do a sound project if you don’t familiarize yourself with physical sound sources first.


Starboy by the weeknd feat daft punk | cover.” YouTube, uploaded by ysmn, 23 September 2016, .


“Arduino Speaker Tutorial.” YouTube, uploaded by LearnEDU, 4 July 2015, .


“Crazy Synthesizer Demo.” YouTube, uploaded by Doctor Mix, 19 November 2015, .


“8 Bit Relax | Chiptune, Chip Music, Instrumental.” YouTube, uploaded by Music Break, 2 May 2015, .


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