Go Big Or Go Home: A Tablecloth Touchpad

Phone screens keep getting bigger. Computer screens keep getting bigger. Why not a large trackpad to use as a mouse? [MaddyMaxey] had that thought and with a few components and some sewing skills created a trackpad in a tablecloth.

The electronics in this project are right off the shelf. A Flora board for the brains and 4 capacitive touch boards. If you haven’t seen the Flora, it is a circular-shaped Arduino made for sewing into things. The real interesting part is the construction. If you haven’t worked with conductive fabric and thread, this will be a real eye-opener. [Maddy’s] blog has a lot of information about her explorations into merging fabric and electronics and also covers things like selecting conductive thread.

As an optional feature, [MaddyMaxey] added vibration motors that provide haptic feedback to her touchpad. We were hoping for a video, but there doesn’t seem to be one. The code is just the example program for the capacitive sensor boards, although you can see in a screenshot the additions for the haptic motors.

We’ve covered the Flora before, by the way. You could also make a ridiculously large touch surface using tomography, although the resolution isn’t quite good enough for mouse purposes.

10 thoughts on “Go Big Or Go Home: A Tablecloth Touchpad

  1. I’m very surprised that she didn’t have problems with the long sense areas for the capacitive sensors. I’ve tried to do things similar to this in the past, using this very breakout board, and once the sense wire gets long enough, you start getting more and more sensitive. Eventually, adjacent sensors are getting triggered simultaneously from a foot away, and start sending spurious signals.

    If [MaddyMaxey] did indeed tangle with these problems, and defeated them, I’d love to know how.

    1. I’m pretty sure you can adjust the sensitivity. I have one of the boards and I have this problem. The data sheet for the chip had a fair bit of detail on how you can configure it.

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