learning the ropes

things I made at ITP and after: sketches, prototypes, and other documentation

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Force Sensing Resistor Experiments

We want to be able to sense how far people are pushing the poles in our installation. I thought we could do this by measuring how much force the PVC poles are exerting on the ring they’re sitting in.

Since force sensing resistors from Interlink Electronics are expensive ($5-6/each) and also because I couldn’t see how the fragile FSRs would fit into the holes we planned to use, I wanted to find a better solution.

I discovered it was possible to create FSRs out of wire and plastic wrap. Others have used conductive foam and wire mesh. Reading about linear position sensors also gave some insights.

Force Sensing Resistor Prototypes 003

I took 22 gauge wire from the physcomp lab, stripped it, and bent it back and forth to mimic the “fingers” on the FSRs I purchased from Interlink. After making two wire finger pieces, I wrapped one in seven layers of plastic wrap. I place the second set of wire fingers on the outside of the package and wrapped it into the existing package. My first few tests seemed very promising. When no pressure was applied to the package, the resistance was infinite. When I squashed the package, the resistance dropped down to about 10K.

Force Sensing Resistor Prototypes 011

The next trick was to try to duplicate this behavior on the end of a PVC pipe. We first tried applying the plastic wrap/wire packages around the end of the PVC pipe. The results were less encouraging than my initial experiments.

Force Sensing Resistor Prototypes 012

The homemade sensors were unreliable: either the sensor package was too tightly squashed between the PVC and the surrounding hole (and gave no resistance) or it was too loose and no amoung of bending the pole caused a reading.

posted by Michael at 9:22 am  

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress