A simple touch interface for Music Player Daemon and more

mpd-controller

[Andrew] recently got the authorization to install Linux on his work PC, and he was looking for a way to control his music without relying on keyboard shortcuts to do so. Additionally, he wanted an unmistakable visual cue when he received messages in Pidgin, so he decided to build an external input/notification box.

The control box, quite literally, is a cardboard box in which [Andrew] crammed some components he got way back when from the crew at Seeed Studio. A Seeeduino serves as the brains of his control panel, interfacing with his PC over USB. He uses a set of 4 touch sensors and a potentiometer to control the MPD, allowing him to easily switch tracks, pause his music, control the volume, and lock his computer with a simple touch. A side-mounted RGB LED lights green to show that the system has received his commands successfully, pulsing a bright blue whenever a message arrives via Pidgin.

While the case isn’t exactly pretty, it is small, recycled, and takes up very little desk space. [Andrew] says that it works great, and he has made his code available on github if anyone is interested in using it.

Touch-based wirless RGB lamp control

[Alex] built an add-on board for his TI launchpad that lets him use it as a wireless controller for an RGB lamp (translated). As you can see above, the board has a pair of female pin-headers which make it easy to install or remove the board. This way you can use it for other projects without any hassle.

The board itself doesn’t have any buttons. Instead, [Alex] etched a two-sided PCB, including pads for use as capacitive touch sensors. Here we only see the underside of the board, which hosts four RGB LED modules. These give feedback by showing the levels which are about to be set for each color. In the clip after the break you’ll get a good look at the touch sensors. There are two that act like buttons, scrolling through each color channel, and sending the updated values to the lamp via a wireless module mounted on that same side. There are also four pads which act as a slider. We didn’t see any code but apparently this uses one of TI’s touch sensor libraries.

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NES controller uses capacitive touch instead of buttons

Here’s one way to really keep the component count low. [David] developed an NES controller that doesn’t use any buttons. The copper clad has been milled to provide a pad which registers a button push based on capacitance. The board has a SIL header at the top, making it easy to plug into the Arduino board that reads the inputs.

[David] had trouble getting the Arduino pin read functions to respond fast enough for he NES console’s expectations. He ended up using commands to access the ATmega’s peripherals directly in order to achieve the target timing. Speaking of, he did his own sniffing of the communication scheme using a logic analyzer. The results of that work, as well as the board files and code are available at the site linked above. And there’s a demo of the controller used to play Super Mario Bros. in the clip after the break.

This is actually a tangential project using a PCB mill which he’s developing through Kickstarter. This certainly shows that the mills works as designed.  Continue reading “NES controller uses capacitive touch instead of buttons”

Simple touch sensors with the Arduino CapSense library

Ever thought of using touch sensors on your projects but didn’t because it would be too much work? [Paul Stoffregen] proves that it can be pretty easy if you use the CapSense library for Arduino. Here he’s created three touch sensors, connecting them to the Teensy microcontroller with two resistors each. The larger resistor (looks like 4.7 megaohms here) sends a signal through the copper pad which is read by the secondary pin. Here that pin is protected from electrostatic discharge with the 1k resistors. The microcontroller takes a reading by measuring how long it takes the voltage to change on the input pin.

Since the CapSense library takes care of the timing involved in these readings, all you have to do is decide how your program will react to the numbers that are coming in. In the video after the break [Paul] is echoing the timing figures back through the serial monitor to get an idea of what the data looks like. He experiments with touching the copper directly, and touching it through a piece of clear tape.

We’ve seen the CapSense library at work before in this interactive exhibit piece.

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Keypad uses a PIC’s built in capacitance functionality

[Giorgos Lazaridis'] most recent project was to build a capacitive touch pad. Since he’s using a PIC 16F1937 it will be relatively easy. That’s because it has a 16 channel capacitance sensing module built right in. But there are still some design considerations that make the development a bit touching.

This isn’t the first time he’s worked with capacitance sensing. Through past experience he has found that it is very important to position the microcontroller as close to the button pads as possible. Because of this, the chip is soldered on the back of the PCB used for the keypad itself. Because he’s hand soldering vias, he also used some foam tape to raise the button pads just a bit. This way they will be flush with the acrylic overlay, which cannot sit flat on the board due the via solder joints.

Check out the video after the break to hear [Giorgos] walk us through the project.

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Capacitive touch sensor shield for the TI Launchpad

Texas Instruments just released a product they call the Capacitive Touch Boosterpack which is basically a touch-sensitive shield for the Launchpad. The video after the break shows an unboxing and demonstration of the product which TI is launching with a $4.30 limited-time price tag. The red PCB itself has a capacitive touch button in the center, surrounded by a touch-scroll wheel, which is centered in a proximity senor that takes up the rest of the board. There are also nine LEDs which look like they’re soldered on the underside of the board, through routed holes that mount them flush with the top surface. The pack also comes with a new MSP430 microcontroller, the G2452, which has 8 KB of flash memory and takes care of calibrating, reading, and processing signals from the board thanks to the software package that goes along with the add-on kit.

Looks quite nice. There’s a heck of a lot of information in the documentation for this hardware. We do wish it was a bit easier to find board layout information, but we’re sure it’s there somewhere.

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Touch sensors: overview, theory, and construction

This collection of touch sensor information should be of interest to anyone who liked the simple touch sensor post from Thursday. That was a resistive touch sensor and is covered in detail along with AC hum sensors that trigger based on induced current from power lines around you, and capacitive touch switches like we’ve seen in past hacks. Each different concept is discussed and clearly illustrated like the slide above. [Giorgos Lazaridis] has also put together individual posts that build and demonstrate the circuits. We’ve embedded his resistive sensor demo video after the break and linked to all three example circuits.

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