Power Fist (Soft Sensor Project)

Having recently read about the fabulous TEI Superhero Design Challenge
(http://www.tei-conf.org/11/participation_/design-challenge/), I’ve been
wanting to create 
my own piece of superhumanizing attire.

Enter PowerFist, a flashy glove that imbues its wearer with ridiculously
awesome strength! As the wearer closes their fingers into a fist, the glove
will ‘charge’, and the 
emblem (a ‘P’, of course) will glow ever brighter,
showing its current power level.

Materials:

Black knit glove
Velostat
Neoprene (two sheets)
Conductive Thread
Conductive Fabric (iron-on)
Unholstery Foam
Red fabric
 (for the ‘P’)

3-AAA Battery Pack
Insulated wire
Circular LED array (scavenged from a flashlight)

Iteration 1:

The main component of this project was an LED array that would
change its 
brightness depending on the pressure registered by a
custom-made soft 
sensor. I used the tutorial for a Neoprene
Pressure Sensor (from How To Get What You Want,
http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=65) to create the first iteration
of this component.

Method:


Step 1:
Cut two rectangular pieces of neoprene, and cut a tab out on each piece.

Step 2:
Using an iron, a small square of conductive fabric was attached to each tab

Step 3:
For each neoprene piece, conductive thread was sown on, with 4 lengths
parallel to eachother (and angled diagonally), and then attached to the
conductive thread on the tab.  The thread pattern was identical for each piece,
so that, when the two pieces of neoprene were placed against eachother,
the threads would form a network of X’s (this was to ensure that a circuit
was formed

Step 4:
A piece of velostat was sown over the conductive thread on one of the
neoprene 
pieces

Step 

5.
The two neoprene pieces were sown together to form
the soft pressure sensor. The soft sensor was then attached in series to the
battery pack and the LED array. This iteration proved unsuccessful — the
LED array did not light up, and was most likely 
due to the fact that the
resistance of the conductive thread, together with the velostat, 
reduced
the current to an amount that wasn’t sufficient to drive all 15+ LED’s on
the array (even with maximal pressure applied).

Iteration 2:

For the second iteration of the soft sensor, I decided to forego conductive
thread 
in favor of conductive fabric, to reduce resistance. This new soft sensor
was structurally similar to the one from Iteration 1, except that a piece of
conductive fabric was used in place of the network of conductive thread.

This worked perfectly! The LED array now gradually glowed or dimmed in
response to applied pressure.

Placement of Components:

The soft sensor was attached to the palm of the glove, in the area directly
beneath the fingers. The LED array was fitted with a layer of upholstery foam
(used as a diffuser), and affixed to the dorsal side of the glove. The battery
pack was velcro’d onto 
the wrist section of the glove. All these components
were then connected together electrically with wire.

>>> See the video! <<<

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