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[DPRG] Return of the flat sensor

Subject: [DPRG] Return of the flat sensor
From: Patrick Innes kc5ugq at yahoo.com
Date: Wed May 24 19:06:22 CDT 2000

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for their
input and ideas regarding the flat touch sensor I was
working on.

Up until the night before the installation of my
friend's sculpture, I hadn't even had a chance to see
the keyboard I was working with, so I was kind of
designing blind, and hoping for the best.  The unit in
question wasn't precisely what I was expecting, but it
worked just fine all the same.

The two biggest concerns I had about doing this
project were the time and cost restraints.  Time was
at a bit of a premium, as I was working on the floor
of the exhibition room as the installation was being
set up.  Meanwhile, we were trying to keep costs down
as low as possible, shooting for "free" if we could. 
turns out, we made it on both counts.

The first of the six sensors used the plastic-backed
foil on both sides, just as I had described in my
initial post.  In the other five touch switches, this
was simplified, using the plaster cast as the backing
on one side of the switch.  This worked well, except
in one instance, where the foil tab ripped off just as
we were hooking it up, and it had to be replaced at
the last second.

I had known that connecting the sensors to the wires
was going to be "interesting", since soldering to
aluminum involves certain...er..."issues".  This was
solved the "quick and dirty" way by using alligator
clip-leads, taped into place once fastened onto the
tabs of the sensors.  This didn't result in the
neatest wiring job in the world, but it was all hidden
inside the sculpture anyway, so it really didn't
matter.

>From there, a flat ribbon cable was run from the
sculpture to an old Mac keyboard, where the conductors
were soldered in pairs to replicate the "A", "D", and
"G" keys as various sensors were touched.  After that,
it was all just a matter of programming, which was
Kelly's bailiwick.  

The resulting interactive sculpture went over very
well, and everyone (including the instructor) was
impressed with her work.  While they aren't the focus
of the page, the sensors are mentioned (with photos)
on a web page she did to illustrate the installation
at:

http://www.gl.umbc.edu/~kskidm1/belly.html

Thanks again to everyone on the list for your helpful
suggestions.  It's really nice to know that there is a
place like this where people can go to collaborate on
projects like this!

-- Patrick
   KC5UGQ

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