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Sigh v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Sighed}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Sighing}.]
1. To inhale a larger quantity of air than usual,
and immediately expel it; to make a deep single
audible respiration, especially as the result or
involuntary expression of fatigue, exhaustion,
grief, sorrow, or the like.
[1913 Webster]

Description:
These are instructions for building a home monitoring system that measures and 'collects' sighs. The result is a physical visualization of the amount of sighing, for personal use in a domestic environment.

The project is in two parts. The first part is a stationary unit, which inflates a large red air bladder upon receiving the appropriate signal. The second part is a mobile unit, worn by the user, which monitors breathing (via a chest strap) and communicates a signal to the stationary unit wirelessly when a sigh is detected.

Assumptions:
1. You have a basic understanding of construction and fabrication techniques,
as well as access to the appropriate tools and facilities.
2. You have a working knowledge of physical computing (reading circuit diagrams)
3. You are overwhelmed with the anxiety of living in a failing state, and frustrated
that most of your household objects address only physical rather than emotional health.
 
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Step 1: Material Needed

Picture of Material Needed
Here is an overview of the materials that will be needed.
Each individual page has more details and links on where you can purchase some of these materials.

Physical Materials:
> 1, 4x8 Sheet of Plywood. I used a piece of shop-grade maple ply.
> 2, 2x2 for the structural frame
> ~2 yards of red nylon strap fabric
> Some loose red fabric from a fabric store
> Latex tubing (Inner Diameter: 1/8", Outer: 1/4")
> Wood Screws ( 5/16, 3", 4" )
> 1 Rechargeable battery powered air pump (Coleman Rechargeable Quick-Pump)
> 1 unidirectional "Check Valve"
> A piece of a garden hose
> Liquid Latex & Red Pigment, or a large red balloon of some kind.

Electronics, Misc:
> 1, 20cm Stretch Sensor
> 1 red RCA cable, Male and female headers
> 1 10K Potentiometer with large sized knob
> 1 3-way toggle switch
> 2 Arduino Microcontrollers (Diecimille or newer)
> 2 9V battery clips with 5mm (center positive) male jacks.
> 2 xBee wireless modules
> 2 xBee shiels from LadyAda
> 1 FTDI cable for programming the xBees
> 1 LMC662, "rail-to-rail" OpAmp chip
> Misc Electronics components (see circuit diagrams for details).

Step 2: Build and Program Circuit. Hack into Air Pump

Picture of Build and Program Circuit. Hack into Air Pump
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I like to start by getting the electronics working first, usually with a prototype of what I want to build (made from cheap exterior plywood, or even cardboard and hot-glue).

The electronics are divided into two parts. This part is the receiving end. It will receive a wireless signal from the wearable unit and use that signal to turn an air pump on for ~2 seconds and then turn it off.
Between the pump and balloon, is what's called a check valve, which lets air pass one direction but not the other.

The air pump is a Coleman Rechargeable "Quickpump". I like it because of the rechargeable battery, and the different sized nose attachments.

Open up the pump and rework the toggle switch, so that it's bridging between the battery and one terminal of the motor. The other terminal of the motor will run to the collector of the TIP120 transistor. To do this, you'll have to de-solder the black wire from the second motor terminal, and also de-solder the lead coming from the battery charger and going to the other end of the toggle switch. Be sure to common ground the motor's battery with the arduino's power supply.

Build the circuit in the diagram below. There is also a PDF attached for higher resolution.
Program the arduino with the code supplied in the text file. You'll need to install this library.

If you don't know how to work with Arduino, here are some references so you can learn:
> Main Arduino Website
> Freeduino -- Repository of Arduino knowledge and links
> NYU, ITP's in-house physical computing site with tutorials and references.

Step 3: Build the Sigh Collector main unit

Picture of Build the Sigh Collector main unit
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For the sake of brevity, I will not detail every step in the process of building the main unit. Suffice it to say that it can be as simple or complex as you wish; anything from cardboard and hot glue to custom fabricated or more advanced materials.

I have designed mine this way, which isn't to say it's the only way it could be done. If you care to follow or elaborate on my instructions, see the diagram below. Again, a higher resolution PDF is attached. On the diagram, you will find exact measurements and specifications on how to build the unit pictured below.

As stated in Step 2, I built mine out of shop-grade Maple plywood. It has a nice grain and cuts well. I left the surface raw.

A couple design notes:
I decided to drive all the screws in from the inside so that you wouldn't see them from the exterior. It can be tricky to sneak a drill inside of the unit, so I recommend building it in sections. I angled the bottom edges of the 2x2 frame, so that they would look a little sleeker when visible.
The top piece with the mitered corners and circular opening is removable, for easy repair of inside parts. The pump and electronics will sit inside the box, on a shelf that is held up by two of the 2x2's on the inner frame (see diagram).

The reason I built it on a frame is so that the corners would stay square. Otherwise, plywood can tend to warp. This way, also, everything can be held together by screws and therefore broken down easily into pieces.

Step 4: Make the air bladder

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I wanted a more organic, fleshy texture of my air bladder, so I cast it out of liquid latex. Liquid latex of many different sorts can be bought in a craft store, prop shop or easily on the internet. I mixed the latex with red pigment to color it, and painted it, in layers, onto the outside of a large balloon. The many layers built up to form a big, floppy fleshy balloon, with the texture I created with the brush.

A simple balloon, beach ball or even a garbage bag could replace. Check out this website for different types of large-sized balloons.

Step 5: Combine electronics with main unit. Install Check Valve and Pump

Picture of Combine electronics with main unit. Install Check Valve and Pump
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Place the air pump and circuit inside of the main unit, on the lower shelf. Now it's time to make a connection between the air pump, and the air bladder/balloon, which will sit on the surface.
We only want air to go one way, and not come out the other direction, so we use something called a "check valve". The basic principle is that a hinged door, rubber diaphragm or ball is displace by air going one way, but then prevents the air from going back.

I bought my check valve on McMaster Carr's website; More specifically it's called a PVC Swing-check valve. I'm using the 1" diameter one. This one was attractive to me because of it's extremely low "cracking pressure", or the pressure needed to displace the barrier. < 0.1 psi !!

I used a simple garden hose to run from the pump, to the check valve, then from the other side of the valve into the balloon. The fittings are coupled and sized properly, and I used some glue to further secure them, and prevent any air leaks...

Step 6: Build carrying case, Sew handle.

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Sighing is monitored by a chest strap that you will wear. To hold the electronics and power supply, you must build a "carrying case". This will be mobile and will attach to the chest strap. You will carry this around with you while you perform your daily tasks and it will monitor your sighing activity. When a sigh is detected, the mobile unit will send a wireless signal to the main unit.

Again, you may follow the diagram I've provided and find measurements on how to build the carrying box. Or you may choose to make your own, unique version, or improve upon my own. I modeled mine after various kinds of medical, patient monitoring devices.

Notes:
I spliced an RCA cable in between the circuit and the sensor/chest strap (Steps 7 & 8) so that it can easily plug in and out of the box. I chose RCA cable because it's a simple way to have two stranded wires, packaged nicely with an easy to plug/unplug header. I slipped the RCA cable into a length of latex tubing, for aesthetic reasons.

Step 7: Build and Program circuit for sigh detection. Assemble electronics into carrying case.

Picture of Build and Program circuit for sigh detection. Assemble electronics into carrying case.
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Follow the circuit diagram below. A higher resolution PDF is also attached.
Program the Arduino with the provided code.

To monitor breathing, we will be making a chest strap that is outfitted with a stretch sensor. The expansion and contraction of the chest will provide us with data that we can use, in code, to extrapolate what normal breathing is, and therefore determine with a larger than usual inhalation (followed by large exhalation) is. A 10 or 20K potentiometer will be used to dial in a threshold value, which will represent how large of an inhalation is associated with a sigh.

I purchased my stretch sensor from Merlin Robotics, a company in the UK. They stock a variety of sizes. I'm using the 20cm sensor.
In my circuit, i'm amplifying the signal from the sensor with a resistor bridge and an OpAmp chip (see diagram). This is the method suggested by the manufacturer. You can find the datasheet on the internet. Note: I imagine a similar idea could be done with pressure sensor instead of a stretch sensor. You'd could attach the pressure point on the sensor to some kind of tubing and wrap that tubing around the chest.

Drill holes in the front face of the carrying case and attach the potentiometer, indicator LED, power switch and stretch sensor attachment (RCA, female) to it from the back before screwing the box back together.

I'm powering the Arduino with a 9V battery. I've got 2 of them wired in parallel so i'll get the same voltage, but double the amperage (it'll last longer).

Step 8: Cut and Sew chest strap and attach the stretch sensor.

Picture of Cut and Sew chest strap and attach the stretch sensor.
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The basic idea here, is that a fabric strap is wrapped around the chest by the lower ribs (where the most motion occurs). The stretch sensor bridges a small gap in the chest strap, the rest of which is not stretchy, so breathing, subsequently deforms the sensor as needed.

You'll have to measure the length of strap to your individual body type. I sewed an extra strip of fabric around the strap, so the wires can safely sit inside. In the front, where the stretch sensor connection is, I sewed a 'sleeve' of fabric that would loosely cover the sensor so it wouldn't get rubbed or damaged.

In the back of the chest strap, I made a simple shape (like on a backpack) for tightening and loosening the strap. I had the shape laser-cut out of clear acrylic (see image), but you can make it any way you are able to.

Step 9: A word on Wireless

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One thing I haven't talked about yet, is how the wireless communication is being achieved. I am using xBee wireless modems. xBee's are an easy way to make a wireless point-to-point connection, or create a mesh network. To interface with my Arduino board, I used LadyAda's xBee adapter. It's inexpensive, easy to put together and there is a detailed instructional website explaining how to configure it.
Through a combination of this website, and a chapter on xBee radio's in the book "Making Things Talk" (Tom Igoe), I implemented, possibly what is the simplest use of these radios, which are actually quite powerful.

I got my adapters and xBees (+ the appropriate cable) from here.
Instructions on configuring the xBees are here.

The only thing i'm not going into is how to configure the xBees. I did it very easily (on a mac) by transcribing some code from Igoe's book that uses Processing to create a simple terminal for programming the xBee. That code is on page 198.

Step 10: Finished

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Congrats! You're finished. You can now use your Sigh Collector to monitor your emotional health.
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allenpeter1 month ago

Brilliant Use

n0ukf5 years ago
What do you do with all the collected sighs once they're collected? Someone should build something that uses them.
wakojako n0ukf2 years ago
I'd make a sigh powered pipe organ to cheer me up/relax me.
Hi, I am a Registered Respiratory Therapist. We were taught years ago that a normal, non-stressed sigh breath normally occurs two times per minute. That's the way we usually set our ventilators. You surely have some data on the number of sigh breaths per minute. If you will, please tell me how many sighs per minute on average you have measured in a "normal", "non-stressed" person. It would be very interesting to me. Thanks, Robb, RRT Grand Rapids, Michigan
I think that bladder needs to be yellow, with a big smiley on it... then when your emotional health is in the "blue", i.e. depressed... the big yellow smiley will be revealed and you'll smile :)
pingirl95 years ago
Finally!! A project that meets so many of my needs!! thanks so much for sharing it with us!!
ac7ss5 years ago
Looks like you could have placed it in a much smaller case, Cell phone sized even. At least on a belt clip. You can power the arduino from 3-4 AA batteries more cheaply than 2 9v (2400mah @$2 vs 1800mah @ $2-4) Interesting choice of biometric technology!
yoyology5 years ago
Does it measure in angst-stroms? I love this project so much it hurts. Also, reading through the Instructable made me acutely aware of my breathing and whether I was sighing or not. :-)
kd0afk6 years ago
WHY???????????????????
yoyology kd0afk5 years ago
Because.
randomray5 years ago
LOL , I love the whole idea , what a sense of humor .
Very cool! I think my wife could keep a bounce house inflated with one of those.
This is very interesting, it reminds me a lot of the Nike video on youtube where they explain that the air in their Nike Air shoes is actually the air of their greatest athletes collected through a respirator type device. "The Secret Behind Nike Air" is the title of the video
Zerber45 years ago
Very interesting idea. I'd really like to hear from anyone who seriously decided to try this. Thanks.
Very nice!  I like the natural wood look u gave everything.  Was that a wood remote in the video?
1nstru6 years ago
a very nice piece of art! (i just boldly define it as art, see if i care if anyone protests) too bad you didn't really provide a lot of actual instructions. it is less an instructable or project documentation than a coarse project description. skipping the woodwork is fine with me, but the electronics deserve a better coverage. nontheless, a good idea and beautifully implemented.
1nstru6 years ago
you may want to correct the lower left picture comment: it says "extra amperage (but same current)."

amperage and current mean the same thing. when you put the two batteries in parallel you get a higher amperage/current at the same *voltage* than that of a single battery.
consequently, you get a higher voltage and the same current when putting the batteries in series.

batteries in series will
- will deliver the current that one battery can nominally deliver and
- the overall voltage will be the voltages of all batteries added up.

batteries in parallel will as a unit
- have the nominal battery voltage of a single battery and
- deliver a current which is the sum of all battery currents.

these are generalisations, take them with a grain of salt please. and never ever make a mashup of non-identical batteries, unless you know what you are doing and not only think that you know what you are doing....
mathman476 years ago
Please cut all the dead space from the end of the video and re-upload. Otherwise, a very interesting idea and project. Performance art!
....ok exactly what's the point of making a box that inflates a little every time you sigh. if there's something wrong with you and your emotions, you should have figured it out a while ago.
It doesn't seem to me that he is actually sad. I think this is just a great piece of art that is meant to be a visual representation of one's actions and or feelings...
excessive sighing is a sign that something is wrong, don't make it a regular habit and get it sorted out !
50mm6 years ago
Beautiful.
what happens after it fills up?
it pops with the most massive explosion you've ever heard, causing you to have a heart-attack, and reconsider you sigh-inducing life style forever :P
Lolage that was one of the most funny comments I've heard
why thankyou :P
Tommyhzy Kazeem6 years ago
You're very welcome.
bmlbytes6 years ago
Not to be the negative one, but isnt the "carry around" box kinda big and heavy? You could just use a small project box and wear it on your belt or something. Then you could hide the strap under your shirt. Your circuit doesn't look that big, but you have a huge box for it.
Also to help make it smaller, use a mini jack instead of a RCA jack.
ReCreate6 years ago
Powered by 2 9V batteries, wired in parallel for extra amperage (but same current).
That kind of Contradicts itself,Amperage is current,The voltage will stay the Same but the current will be doubled,to about 1.6 Amps
mkontopo (author)  ReCreate6 years ago
Oops! I meant extra amps but same voltage. Thanks for catching that; will fix now.
You should Out Double the Current,Not amperage,Amperage is Said Mostly in High amperage/current things,like car batteries.
Yeah
mdlmusic6 years ago
Great Instructable (although a trifle strange). I'm going to try and adapt some of the materials to make a set of bagpipes.
hg3416 years ago
so I tells you and others when your stressed in a artisly pleasing way well I don't see why I would want but I think it is cool concept and would like to see this add to other things and good work it look like it was running smoothly on the vid if you do any upgrades it would be cool to use a heart beat monitor and body temp gauge
Wow. Are you doin ok? That is a most meticulously constructed and beautifully depressing piece of art. Nice work on the video. It made me sad too. Best of luck. Very nice, clean understandable instructable. Sigh..... vroooom.
luvit6 years ago
i substituted the organic bladder for a tractor tire. it's a win.
Lftndbt6 years ago
WoaH!!
jdtwelve126 years ago
This is... breathtaking. Does this piece include the concept of returning to some kind of equilibrium, or does the main unit just continue to expand until it meets or exceeds it's physical limits? (I recognize that this is perhaps a philosophical question as well as a technical one. I'm curious on both fronts.)
JakeTobak6 years ago
Completely useless, yet extremely awesome.
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