[Dave] needed some extra light above his desk/workbench area and decided to wire up some RGB LED light strips to brighten the place up a bit. He wasn’t content with using a standard switch to toggle them on and off, and after some brainstorming, he decided to build a capacitive touch circuit using a pair of copper tubes mounted in a project box. Just as he was putting the finishing touches on his switch, he saw a project online where a Synaptics touchpad was used in conjunction with an Arduino for lighting control. The copper tube switch was pitched, and he got busy working with his Arduino.
When connected to an Arduino, the touchpads can be used in two modes – relative and absolute. Relative mode is familiar to most people because it is used to guide the mouse cursor around on a laptop’s screen. Absolute mode however, relays coordinate information back to the Arduino, allowing the user to map specific areas of the pad to specific functions. [Dave] enabled his touchpad to use absolute mode, and mapped a handful of different functions on the Arduino. He can now fade his lights on and off or light the room on a timer, as well as use a sliding function to tweak the LEDs’ brightness.
It’s a neat, yet simple hack and a great way to repurpose old laptop touchpads.
Continue reading for a quick demo video he put together, and swing by his site if you want to take a look at the source code he used to get this working.