Making flex sensors on the cheap

When [Michelle] was making a sign language translation glove, she needed a bunch of flex sensors. These flex sensors cost about $10 a pop, meaning her budget for the project was eaten up by these bendy potentiometers. Since then, [Michelle] figured out a great way to make extremely inexpensive bend sensors using anti-static bags and masking tape, allowing her to start her project once again.

The build works by sandwiching Velostat plastic bags – the same electrically conductive bags all your components arrive in – between layers of masking tape. A jumper wires is attached to a strip of Velostat attached to a piece of masking tape. Between two of these anti-static/masking tape assemblies, another piece of Velostat is placed. After laminating all these pieces together, [Michelle] had a primitive yet very functional flexible potentiometer.

After attaching one of these flex sensors to an analog input of her dev board of choice, she had a wonderful and inexpensive flexible sensor. You can check out this sensor in action after the break.

Comments

  1. Smeeg says:

    YouTube link for those who detest Vimeo:

  2. zuul says:

    Nice

  3. raged says:

    i like it! clean demonstration also. What constitutes the flex percentage?

  4. NsN says:

    I love how many wearable electronics projects repurpose packaging material such as anti static bags or foam.

    Similiar for pressure instead of flex:

    http://justgeek.de/simple-pressure-sensors/

    (Full disclosure: link to my own blog)

  5. mauimaker says:

    Excellent!! Glad to see this documented nicely. I recall seeing it demonstrated/used for some DIY pressure sensing projects a decade or so ago… back when I was hacking the nintendo powerglove.

  6. mechail says:

    Thanks for the kind comments everybody! =)
    I’ll be really happy to see these being made and used for mind-blowing stuff. But I’ll be just as happy if these actually helped someone out.

    @NsN: Great project at your site! Would never have thought of using pressure sensors to log sleep patterns. Then again. I don’t really move in my sleep.

    @raged: I’m not sure if I understood your question correctly, but I mapped the voltage i was getting to percentage so it’s easier to draw to screen.

    Cheers
    Michelle

  7. Stoutlimb says:

    Another option is to take rubber cement mixed with powdered graphite, and sandwich it between two pieces of flexible plastic cut from a soda bottle or something similar. Insert electrodes. Works great!

  8. 1000100 1000001 1010110 1000101 says:

    Very nice

  9. technodream says:

    @Stoutlimb – interesting tip. fyi powdered graphite is sold in hardware stores as “graphite grease”

  10. samramble says:

    What is the cycle count on this? The standard commercial flex sensor available from sites like sparkfun say they’re rated for >1m, but users say they have trouble getting 1000.
    I need it for a pair of gloves that will be flexed many, many million times. Any ideas?

  11. shreyas says:

    please can u tell me about velostat and from where will i get it?

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