The touchscreen uses infrared (IR) sensing to detect fingers and other objects on the screen. An IR laser at each corner shines IR light across the surface of the screen. When a finger or other object touches the surface, it causes the IR light to scatter in many directions. Some of this light is directed down into the screen, towards an array of 64 IR sensors. By scanning through the sensors, you can determine the x and y position of the touch event(s) and use this to control a variety of apps.
An array of 64 LEDs underneath the display provides visual feedback for the interface via rear projection. The LED array operates completely independently from the sensor array - this means the LEDs may be used in more ways that just displaying the current touch positions.
This interface is a controller, it does not run apps that are stored in its memory (though that is possible). Instead, it connects to a computer via USB and sends a series of touch messages to control applications running on the computer (similar to how a computer keyboard sends keystrokes to a computer). The computer processes the input data and determines the configuration of the output display, then it sends a series of LED messages back to the interface (similar to how the computer drives an LCD display). This way, the controller is very simple and does not need to handle any processing outside of the basic tasks of getting the states of its inputs (IR sensors) and setting the states of its outputs (LEDs); the computer is doing all the heavy lifting in this scenario.
As I said before, this device relies on IR sensing as input information, I found out by accident that it does some cool stuff when you put it outside while the intensity of sunlight is changing rapidly (sunrise/sunset). I had some fun trying to find interesting ways of transforming seemingly random noise from the inputs into sound/lights:
Although the project was done a while ago, I've taken it apart recently to refinish the wood and fix a few things that were bugging me. I've still written this Instructable as if I was building it from scratch, but it will be obvious at times that this is, in fact, a finished project.
Hot tip: the schematic and firmware used in this project is a modified version of the Arduinome project, which is a modified version of the Monome project. If you run into problems during any stage of this project, you might find what you are looking for in one of those forums.
Safety note: this project uses laser diodes strong enough to permanently damage your eyes (or the eyes of those around you), do not use lasers if you don't know how to handle them properly.
(x4) 25 milliwatt 780nm laser diodes with 89 degree line lens Aixis AIX-780-25-8 - really important note here, even though these lasers are labelled "3.2V," they are actually 5V, this took me a really long time to figure out.
(x1) rosco black projection screen (a ~2' by 2' piece at least) Rose Brand
(x1) Arduino Uno (I used a Duemilanova, but an Uno should work too) Sparkfun DEV-11021
(x1) 20"x20" phenolic sheet (for installing LEDs and IR sensors)
(x1) wood 2x4 (for enclosure- I used some redwood that was laying around
(x1) 1mm aluminum sheet (for light-tight partitions underneath screens) enough to make 14 20" x 2.5" pieces - I used black anodized aluminum, but regular un-anodized aluminum should work fine too.
(x1) 20"x20"x¼” glass pane
(x64) 800nm IR phototransistors Digikey 511-1357-ND
(x64) white wide angle LEDs Digikey C535A-WJN-CS0V0231-ND - I found that the quality control on these LEDs is not so great, and they each turned out to be slightly different shades of white. I thought the effect actually looked pretty cool, but if that's not what you're into, I'd try to find some other wide angle LEDs.
(x1) MAX7219 LED driver Digikey MAX7219CNG -ND
(x1) 24 pin socket Digikey 3M5466-ND
(x1) 10uf capacitor Digikey P828-ND
(x1) 0.1uf capacitor Digikey 490-5401-ND
(x1) 74HC595 shift register Digikey 296-1600-5-ND
(x1) 16 pin socket Digikey A100206-ND
(x10) 10kOhm 1/4 watt resistors Digikey CF14JT10K0CT-ND
(x1) 1/4 watt 7219 resistor (value determined here depending on your LEDs)
(x2) usb cable male type A to male type b Amazon
(x1) usb adapter female type a to female type b Amazon
(x1) perfboard with copper Amazon
(x1) polycrylic clear coat Amazon
(x1) silicon adhesive Amazon
(x1) black electrical tape Amazon
(x1) 16 pin ribbon cable Jameco 643532
(x1) 16 pin crimp socket Jameco 1578111 (I didn't actually use this but I wish I had)
(x5) male header pins Jameco 103393
(x1) 22 gauge solid core wire Jameco 36792
hot glue gun
aluminum sheet cutter
infrared/nightvision camera (optional, but useful)