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E-Textiles and Wearables II


This second class on the topic of wearables and e-textiles will provide a more advanced coverage on soft sensors and actuators and programming interactions

Class Outline

Slides available on speakerdeck.

  1. Introduction to microcontrollers and single-board computers
  2. Sensor circuits for microcontrollers (voltage dividers and pull up/down resistors)
  3. Actuator circuits for microcontrollers
  4. Hard-soft connections to a microcontroller
  5. Code reading Arduino examples (how to figure out what to copy and paste)


Create an interactive object; if you are already experienced with coding, focus on fully integrating a microcontoller into a textile circuit. If you are new to coding, choose an example and get it working using your own sensors and actuators.

Digital Sensor Circuits

A digital sensor is an electronic or electrochemical sensor, where data conversion and data transmission are done digitally.

When a digital sensor is connected to a microcontroller, need to use a pull down or pull-up resistor. A nice tutorial about pull-up, pull-down resistor can be found here.

Reading Resistive Sensors

The first thing I want to test is how my crochet pressure sensor acts in a voltage divider. Many sensors in the real world are simple resistive devices. A photocell is a variable resistor, which produces a resistance proportional to the amount of light it senses. Other devices like flex sensors, force-sensitive resistors, and thermistors, are also variable resistors.

It turns out voltage is really easy for microcontrollers (those with analog-to-digital converters - ADC’s - at least) to measure. Resistance? Not so much. But, by adding another resistor to the resistive sensors, we can create a voltage divider. Once the output of the voltage divider is known, we can go back and calculate the resistance of the sensor.

For example, the photocell’s resistance varies between 1kΩ in the light and about 10kΩ in the dark. If we combine that with a static resistance somewhere in the middle - say 5.6kΩ, we can get a wide range out of the voltage divider they create.

Accelerometer Sensor

For this assignment, I want connect an accelerometer to a Lilypad and track the movement in a Processing environment. This thing will be very useful for my final project.

In a first step, I prototyped the circuit in a breadboard and an Arduino. The accelerometer I used is an IMU 6050, with 6 DOF.


When I connected to the monitor serial the values of the different angles can be changing with the movement.

Once it was tested, I sewn the circuit in a felter lasercutted monster with a Lilypad instead of an Arduino

Here is te arduino code :

#define INTERRUPT_PIN 2  // use pin 2 on Arduino Uno & most boards
#define LED_PIN 13 // (Arduino is 13, Teensy is 11, Teensy++ is 6)
bool blinkState = false;
// MPU control/status vars
bool dmpReady = false;  // set true if DMP init was successful
uint8_t mpuIntStatus;   // holds actual interrupt status byte from MPU
uint8_t devStatus;      // return status after each device operation (0 = success, !0 = error)
uint16_t packetSize;    // expected DMP packet size (default is 42 bytes)
uint16_t fifoCount;     // count of all bytes currently in FIFO
uint8_t fifoBuffer[64]; // FIFO storage buffer
// orientation/motion vars
Quaternion q;           // [w, x, y, z]         quaternion container
VectorInt16 aa;         // [x, y, z]            accel sensor measurements
VectorInt16 aaReal;     // [x, y, z]            gravity-free accel sensor measurements
VectorInt16 aaWorld;    // [x, y, z]            world-frame accel sensor measurements
VectorFloat gravity;    // [x, y, z]            gravity vector
float euler[3];         // [psi, theta, phi]    Euler angle container
float ypr[3];           // [yaw, pitch, roll]   yaw/pitch/roll container and gravity vector
// packet structure for InvenSense teapot demo
uint8_t teapotPacket[14] = { '$', 0x02, 0,0, 0,0, 0,0, 0,0, 0x00, 0x00, 'r', 'n' };
// ================================================================
// ===               INTERRUPT DETECTION ROUTINE                ===
// ================================================================
volatile bool mpuInterrupt = false;     // indicates whether MPU interrupt pin has gone high
void dmpDataReady() {
    mpuInterrupt = true;
// ================================================================
// ===                      INITIAL SETUP                       ===
// ================================================================
void setup() {
    // join I2C bus (I2Cdev library doesn't do this automatically)
        Wire.setClock(400000); // 400kHz I2C clock. Comment this line if having compilation difficulties
        Fastwire::setup(400, true);
    // initialize serial communication
    // (115200 chosen because it is required for Teapot Demo output, but it's
    // really up to you depending on your project)
    while (!Serial); // wait for Leonardo enumeration, others continue immediately
    // NOTE: 8MHz or slower host processors, like the Teensy @ 3.3V or Arduino
    // Pro Mini running at 3.3V, cannot handle this baud rate reliably due to
    // the baud timing being too misaligned with processor ticks. You must use
    // 38400 or slower in these cases, or use some kind of external separate
    // crystal solution for the UART timer.
    // initialize device
    Serial.println(F("Initializing I2C devices..."));
    // verify connection
    Serial.println(F("Testing device connections..."));
    Serial.println(mpu.testConnection() ? F("MPU6050 connection successful") : F("MPU6050 connection failed"));
    // wait for ready
    Serial.println(F("nSend any character to begin DMP programming and demo: "));
    while (Serial.available() &&; // empty buffer
    while (!Serial.available());                 // wait for data
    while (Serial.available() &&; // empty buffer again
    // load and configure the DMP
    Serial.println(F("Initializing DMP..."));
    devStatus = mpu.dmpInitialize();
    // supply your own gyro offsets here, scaled for min sensitivity
    mpu.setZAccelOffset(1788); // 1688 factory default for my test chip
    // make sure it worked (returns 0 if so)
    if (devStatus == 0) {
        // turn on the DMP, now that it's ready
        Serial.println(F("Enabling DMP..."));
        // enable Arduino interrupt detection
        Serial.println(F("Enabling interrupt detection (Arduino external interrupt 0)..."));
        attachInterrupt(digitalPinToInterrupt(INTERRUPT_PIN), dmpDataReady, RISING);
        mpuIntStatus = mpu.getIntStatus();
        // set our DMP Ready flag so the main loop() function knows it's okay to use it
        Serial.println(F("DMP ready! Waiting for first interrupt..."));
        dmpReady = true;
        // get expected DMP packet size for later comparison
        packetSize = mpu.dmpGetFIFOPacketSize();
    } else {
        // ERROR!
        // 1 = initial memory load failed
        // 2 = DMP configuration updates failed
        // (if it's going to break, usually the code will be 1)
        Serial.print(F("DMP Initialization failed (code "));
    // configure LED for output
    pinMode(LED_PIN, OUTPUT);
// ================================================================
// ===                    MAIN PROGRAM LOOP                     ===
// ================================================================
void loop() {
    // if programming failed, don't try to do anything
    if (!dmpReady) return;
    // wait for MPU interrupt or extra packet(s) available
    while (!mpuInterrupt && fifoCount <packetSize) {
        // other program behavior stuff here
        // .
        // .
        // .
        // if you are really paranoid you can frequently test in between other
        // stuff to see if mpuInterrupt is true, and if so, "break;" from the
        // while() loop to immediately process the MPU data
        // .
        // .
        // .
    // reset interrupt flag and get INT_STATUS byte
    mpuInterrupt = false;
    mpuIntStatus = mpu.getIntStatus();
    // get current FIFO count
    fifoCount = mpu.getFIFOCount();
    // check for overflow (this should never happen unless our code is too inefficient)
    if ((mpuIntStatus & 0x10) || fifoCount == 1024) {
        // reset so we can continue cleanly
        Serial.println(F("FIFO overflow!"));
    // otherwise, check for DMP data ready interrupt (this should happen frequently)
    } else if (mpuIntStatus & 0x02) {
        // wait for correct available data length, should be a VERY short wait
        while (fifoCount <packetSize) fifoCount = mpu.getFIFOCount();
        // read a packet from FIFO
        mpu.getFIFOBytes(fifoBuffer, packetSize);
        // track FIFO count here in case there is> 1 packet available
        // (this lets us immediately read more without waiting for an interrupt)
        fifoCount -= packetSize;
            // display quaternion values in easy matrix form: w x y z
            mpu.dmpGetQuaternion(&q, fifoBuffer);
            // display Euler angles in degrees
            mpu.dmpGetQuaternion(&q, fifoBuffer);
            mpu.dmpGetEuler(euler, &q);
            Serial.print(euler[0] * 180/M_PI);
            Serial.print(euler[1] * 180/M_PI);
            Serial.println(euler[2] * 180/M_PI);
            // display Euler angles in degrees
            mpu.dmpGetQuaternion(&q, fifoBuffer);
            mpu.dmpGetGravity(&gravity, &q);
            mpu.dmpGetYawPitchRoll(ypr, &q, &gravity);
            Serial.print(ypr[0] * 180/M_PI);
            Serial.print(ypr[1] * 180/M_PI);
            Serial.println(ypr[2] * 180/M_PI);
            // display real acceleration, adjusted to remove gravity
            mpu.dmpGetQuaternion(&q, fifoBuffer);
            mpu.dmpGetAccel(&aa, fifoBuffer);
            mpu.dmpGetGravity(&gravity, &q);
            mpu.dmpGetLinearAccel(&aaReal, &aa, &gravity);
            // display initial world-frame acceleration, adjusted to remove gravity
            // and rotated based on known orientation from quaternion
            mpu.dmpGetQuaternion(&q, fifoBuffer);
            mpu.dmpGetAccel(&aa, fifoBuffer);
            mpu.dmpGetGravity(&gravity, &q);
            mpu.dmpGetLinearAccel(&aaReal, &aa, &gravity);
            mpu.dmpGetLinearAccelInWorld(&aaWorld, &aaReal, &q);
        #ifdef OUTPUT_TEAPOT
            // display quaternion values in InvenSense Teapot demo format:
            teapotPacket[2] = fifoBuffer[0];
            teapotPacket[3] = fifoBuffer[1];
            teapotPacket[4] = fifoBuffer[4];
            teapotPacket[5] = fifoBuffer[5];
            teapotPacket[6] = fifoBuffer[8];
            teapotPacket[7] = fifoBuffer[9];
            teapotPacket[8] = fifoBuffer[12];
            teapotPacket[9] = fifoBuffer[13];
            Serial.write(teapotPacket, 14);
            teapotPacket[11]++; // packetCount, loops at 0xFF on purpose
        // blink LED to indicate activity
        blinkState = !blinkState;
        digitalWrite(LED_PIN, blinkState);

A video of the circuit working can be watched here: