Interfacing With The Rest Of The World

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Sensors and displays are only useful if you can put them in just the right place to detect what is going on in the world, or to give people feedback. Here we outline some pragmatic advice for interfacing your controllers and circuits with the rest of the world.

Going to pieces

As convenient as your mini-protoboards may be, it is unlikely that you will want to mount them on your saxophone, on your body, or where ever you'd like your sensors to be. Often it makes sense to have sensors mounted as satellites on wires or smaller boards; you should think about what pieces you will have, and how they will go together (and come apart!). Maybe it is better to have the sensors further from the board, and the Arduino closer to the computer; often it makes sense to have the Arduino closer to the action, and to use a longer USB cable

Consider using:

  • crimps and headers for connecting individual buttons and sensors
  • perf boards for mounting groups of buttons and sensors
  • IDC connectors and wireharnesses to create reliable but separable connections
  • stranded wire instead of solid wire for wireharnesses
  • cable ties and heatshrink for bundling wires

Stick with me

Another major issue in building physical devices is attaching things in place. Here are some resources to remember:

  • velcro straps for attaching things to body parts
  • gaffers tape to secure objects without leaving residue. (Don't use duct tape!)
  • dual-lock fasteners for mounting boards, etc. to objects
  • cord and cable ties can provide strain relief, route wires nicely and keep things from being pulled off
  • hot glue can secure wires and connectors on protoboards, hold plastics, woods, and paper materials together--without the mess or commitment of other glues!
  • double-sided foam tape is conforms to surfaces well and enables a little bit of "squish"

Quick and Dirty

Rapid Prototyping is the name of the game; by throwing something together quickly, you can learn far more about an idea than you can by planning each aspects slowly and deliberately. Here are some rapid prototyping materials to keep in mind

  • Foamcore
  • Lightweight balsa wood
  • Hot glue