Instructables
Picture of Neoprene Bend Sensor IMPROVED
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Better results and slimmer design, this Instructable improves on the previously posted Fabric Bend Sensor.

Previous Instructable >> Fabric Bend Sensor

Using neoprene, Velostat, conductive thread and stretch conductive fabric to sew your own fabric bend sensor. The sensor actually reacts (decreases in resistance) to pressure, not specifically to bend. But because it is sandwiched between two layers of neoprene, pressure is exerted while bending. Allowing one to measure bend (angle) via pressure.

To make the sensor fully fabric one can use EeonTex conductive textile (www.eeonyx.com) instead of the plastic Velostat. Eeonyx normally only manufacture and sells its coated fabrics in minimum amounts of 100yds, but 7x10 inch (17.8x25.4 cm) samples are available free of charge and larger samples of 1 to 5 yards for a minimum fee per yard.

VIDEO
To prove the competitiveness of this sensor vs. a commercial bend sensor I made a short video in which Sheep demonstrates their similarities.


 
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Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools
The materials used for the sensor are basically cheap and off-the-shelf. There are other places that sell conductive fabrics and Velostat, but LessEMF is a convenient option for both, especially for shipping within North America.

Velostat is the brand name for the plastic bags in which sensitive electronic components are packaged. Also called anti-static, ex-static, carbon based plastic& (So you can also cut up one of these black plastic bags. But caution! Not all of them work!)

- Neoprene 1.5 mm thick HS quality from www.sedochemicals.com
- Velostat by 3M from http://www.lessemf.com/plastic.html
- Conductive thread from http://www.lessemf.com/fabric.html
- Stretch conductive fabric from http://www.lessemf.com/fabric.html
- Fusible interfacing from local fabric store
- Regular sewing thread from local fabric store

TOOLS:
- Pen and paper
- Fabric scissors
- Iron
- Sewing needle
- Possibly pliers for pulling needle through neoprene

Step 2: Stencil

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Print out a copy of the Neoprene Bend Sensor Improved PDF and cut out the stencils for the neoprene, Velostat and stretch conductive fabric tabs. Trace it twice onto your piece of neoprene and cut these out. Now mark the inner stitches and placement of conductive fabric patch onto these cutouts. Caution! The tracing should be identical and NOT mirrored.

Download Stencil PDF >> http://kobakant.at/downloads/stencils/neoprene-BS-improved.pdf
kimoakes made it!5 months ago

I made this without neoprene. I used a cheap elbow support from the drug store.

Photo Apr 22, 3 24 39 PM.jpg
BowMan8315 months ago

That's pretty impressive accuracy for a home made sensor. nice work!

ryerex7 months ago

Seattle Fabrics has 2mm Neoprene which worked for me.

raj_at10 months ago
why do you need both neoprene and stretch conductive fabric won't they both basically do the same thing?
Do you know some material to replace Velostat?
JesusGeek1 year ago
Going to use these in my iron man suit project to turn on and off the repulsers. What substitutes for Neoprene is there?
Capt.Phil3 years ago
Hi, Was wondering if there was any household material that you know of that would provide the same function as velostat? If i'm right in assuming that we are using a conductive material to place inbetween the conductive thread would something like tin foil work?
Plusea (author)  Capt.Phil3 years ago
that is a great question. unfortunately i don't know of a household material that can replace velostat. aluminum foil won't work because it does not have piezoresistive properties (changes electrical resistance under pressure). but you could try using a porous material that allows for more or less contact depending on how hard you pressure it. let me k now if you find something that works!!!
I live in the uk and need only a small amount of velostat (or substitute). Do you know whether something like this would work? http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=396629
Plusea (author)  Capt.Phil3 years ago
i have not had luck with the silver/transparent anti-static bags. you want to find a black one. try ordering linqstat from caplinq. it is the same as velostat.
Thanks for your quick replies, I will try and get hold of some soon and let you know how it all goes.
I managed to get hold of some (very similar to but not actually) velostat and after following your schematics managed to come up with sensors that work but there opperating in the Mohm range....not really what I want. Any ideas why this might be? just due to the anti-static material?

I am trying to build a flex sensing glove to control a robotic hand that I am building currently. So any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
Plusea (author)  Capt.Phil3 years ago
yes, i think the high resistance range might likely be due to the velostat/substitute. try using conductive fabric (or aluminum foil) instead of the conductive thread on either side.
NicOmbra4 years ago
Could you attach these to an electric key board's keys to play music by bending your fingers?
azdelslade4 years ago
hi, first off, thanks for the brilliant instructable! i made one of these with all the components you listed here, neoprene and actual velostat. i can get readings off of my multimeter fine and change an led with a battery fine, but when i hook it up to my lilypad on a1 or a0, I only see changes between 1023 and 998, which is not much. I tried loosening up the stitches and using digital 5 as a power source instead of +, but it doesn't seem to help. Any suggestions? When I put my multimeter on 200k i get readings between 20 and 0.5. I tried adding 10k, 1M and 10M resistors, but that still didn't improve the sensitivity. I also tried adding another piece of velostat.
I was able to get a decent reading by making a voltage divider circuit, after looking at this lilypad flex sensor example: http://mtifall09.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/rhinoglove.pdf
 Hello Hannah, 
Greath idea and Super instructables.
Have you some Ideas where is possible to find in Europe some sheets of EeonTex?
I'm working to construct some of this for one subject in my University in Italy, also connected to Arduino.
Thnx

Nino
Plusea (author)  antonino.secchia4 years ago
as far as i know you have to get in contact with eeonyx - who are based near san francisco - and they should be able to send you samples of their materials or otherwise let you purchase a small amount at a reasonable price.
pbates1234 years ago
Plusea -

Great demo and I love the display on your computer.  I am interested in how you created the display is this a home made interface or something commercial??

Regards,
Plusea (author)  pbates1234 years ago
if you check out the last step in this instructable it will lead you to a previous instructable that explains the details in step 8:
>> http://www.instructables.com/id/Fabric_bend_sensor/step8/Software-Visualization/

basically i'm using the free programming environment Processing to write a basic graph application and the code for that application can be downloaded from the link above.
jpe14564 years ago
where on the eeonyx website can i request a sample
Plusea (author)  jpe14564 years ago
Unfortunately they don't offer information on ordering samples or even small quantities, but you should be able to use the contact from on their website, or email to: info@eeonyx.com
What specific kind of EeonTex fabric should I request for a sample for making sensors like this one?
Plusea (author)  Saint_Awesome4 years ago
i think it was their EeonTex RL-5-137 SL-PA coated stretch fabric. or anythin similar to this one should work good.

gorgeous865 years ago
Hi, i have already created a few bend sensors of the first version, but am still not satisfied about the result(s): the signal fluctuates too much... What i basically want is to combine stretch x bending of a persons t-shirts on the place of his back(spine?)whereby the sensors are placed horizontally in order to get better results. Someone can help me getting a better signal...? is it possible to only make a stretch sensor out of the conductive fabrics. The signal is basically influenced when the fabric is stretched, right? btw i am using MaxMSP instead of processing :) thank you very much, Gordon (utrecht, netherlands)
Plusea (author)  gorgeous865 years ago
the bend sensor works because pressure is exerted on the layer of velostat between the two conductive layers. if you stretch a strip of lessEMF's stretch conductive fabric you get a change in resistance by about half, when stretched fully. this might work as a stretch sensor for your.
to get clearer readings try a low pass filter - insert a capacitor of 4,7uF - 10+uF parallel to your pull-up resistor >>
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-pass_filter
Yingdan5 years ago
I am trying to make one. Could you please tell me what type of neoprene you use? For HS 1.5mm, they have shark skin, open cell and smooth etc. many types. Thank you very much.
Plusea (author)  Yingdan5 years ago
the type is fused with standard polyester jersey on either side. you can choose whatever colours you like.
Yingdan Plusea5 years ago
Never mind. I found some sources here too. Thanks again!
Plusea (author)  Yingdan5 years ago
glad you found a source in the US. maybe you could share it? sedochemicals delivers nicely within europe and shipping costs are relatively cheap, but for them to send to the US costs about 80USD in shipping.
Yingdan Plusea5 years ago
The best website that I found is:
http://www.hookloopoutlet.com/neoprene-sheets.html

Yingdan Plusea5 years ago
Thanks for quick reply. I checked your website and find you have been working on many interesting projects.

I sent inquiry to http://www.sedochemicals.com/, but have not got reply yet. It seems to me since the company is in Germany and I am in US, it might be impossible for me to get 2-3 sheets from them - is it true according to your experience? I have checked local stores and have not got satisfactory neoprene so far. Neoprene rubber seems not good enough.
giannichan5 years ago
Hi, love your work. I'm thinking of using 8 bend sensors in my next project. I've got my own conductive thread and I've looked up the other materials you've provided links for. Only problem is they sell quantities way larger than I need. Do you know of any alternatives? At this point I'm just considering buying plain old pre made flex sensors. PS. I'm in the UK so shipping is an issue too : / Thnx for any help.
giannichan5 years ago
Hey, I'm thinking of making a new kind of data glove. These sensors would be ideal. I'm only looking to use 8 sensors. I already have my own conductive thread and I've looked up the other materials on the sites you've suggested but it seems like they deal in large quantaties that I don't really need. Do you know of any alternative sources for these materials? ps. I'm ordering from the UK so shipping is an issue for me too : /
AndyGadget5 years ago
I was looking around for something I could make a pressure sensor with without resorting to a commercial strain gauge and this looks ideal. I've got some quantum tunnelling substrate tube which goes from several megohms to a few ohms with bending but this doesn't seem to be available any more and QTS is only available as small pads now (but not without possibilities). Your sensor is a better approach for an Instructable as the parts are easily available.
I am impressed agin by the simplicity of this sensor and it's excellent performance compared to the commercial sample. Got to find time to build one myself hopefully soon. I love your presentation of the 'incrediences' to cook up this sensor - fabulous :D