Introduction: The Balance Brace

This instructable provides step-by-step instructions on how to build a Balance Brace. The Balance Brace is an arduino-programmed brace that detects the unbalancement of a wearer. The brace is used to prevent hunching or slouching, which can lead to serious spine-related injuries such as Kyphosis or Scoliosis.

Step 1: Gathering Materials and Tools

In order to build the Balance Brace, you must first collect the essential materials and proper tools.

The Materials needed for The Balance Brace include:

  1. An adjustable Back Brace
  2. An arduino (pre-assembled)
  3. A 9 Volt Battery
  4. A Battery Terminal
  5. A Breadboard/PT Board
  6. Multiple Jumper Wires (At least 6)
  7. A Vibration Motor: Model ROB-08499 (3V)
  8. A Tilt Sensor AT407
  9. Fabric - 9.5" x 7.5"
  10. Velcro - 12 inches

The tools needed for The Balance Brace include:

  1. A soldering iron
  2. Solder
  3. A wire cutter
  4. A wire stripper
  5. A computer
  6. USB cords

Step 2: Program the Arduino Code

After all materials and tools have been gathered, the next step is to begin to develop a code. In order to do this, you must first download the Arduino environment, which can be found on the Arduino's software page ( You also must be either familiar with coding on the Arduino program or able to find an already pre-programmed code on their website.

If you are programming the code yourself, you can start by clicking New under the File tab on the Arduino program. The code you are to create must contain the inputs and outputs of the Balance Brace. Therefore, it essentially needs to at least involve the use of a tilt sensor and a vibration motor. However, the code needs to be correctly formulated so that the Balance Brace may work. If you are interested in programming the code yourself, but have no knowledge of programming, you should introduce yourself to it by opening the How To page on the Arduino website (

If you are uninterested or unfamiliar with programming, you may use the Arduino website to find a pre-programmed code in their search tab. The pre-programmed code you find must be in the restraints of the project, meaning it must at least involve the use of a vibration motor or a device with similar voltage.

The code used for the original Balance Brace is shown below.

// Defining a pin for the tilt sensor#define SENSOR_PIN 2 // Defining a pin for the LED diode#define LED_PIN 13// Defining a pin for the piezo buzzer#define PIEZO_PIN 3void setup(){ // Setting sensor's pin as input pinMode(SENSOR_PIN, INPUT); // Turning internal Pull Up resistor on digitalWrite(SENSOR_PIN, HIGH); pinMode(LED_PIN, OUTPUT);}void loop(){// Checking sensor's state if (digitalRead(SENSOR_PIN) == HIGH) { // Action if on digitalWrite(LED_PIN, HIGH); // Turning the LED on tone(PIEZO_PIN, 600); // Alarm sound } else { // Action if off digitalWrite(LED_PIN, LOW); // Turning the LED off noTone(PIEZO_PIN); // Turning alarm sound off }}

Step 3: Applying the Code and Programming the Arduino

Once you have obtained a code, the next step is to program this code into the Arduino.

You must use the Arduino you obtained in the first step in order to do this, along with USB cords that are compatible with the Arduino board.

Open the Arduino program that you have downloaded in the prior step and need to install the USB drivers. To do this, if you are n Windows unzip FTDI USB and then, when you plug in the Arduino board, point the Windows Add Hardware wizard to the FTDI USB Drivers directory. If you are on the Mac, mount the FTDIUSBSerialDriver_v2_1_6.dmg (on PPC machines) or theFTDIUSBSerialDriver_v2_2_6_Intel.dmg (on Intel machines) disk image and run the included FTDIUSBSerialDriver.pkg.

When the USB drivers are installed, plug in the Arduino board to the computer; the LED should go on. On Windows, the Add New Hardware wizard will open; tell it you want to specify the location to search for drivers and point to the folder containing the USB drivers you unzipped previously.

If you found a code from the Arduino website, you now must copy and paste this into the Arduino program; this does not apply to you if you have composed a code into the program already. Then, select the serial device of the Arduino board from the Tools | Serial Port menu. On Windows, this should be COM1 or COM2 for a serial Arduino board, or COM3, COM4, or COM5 for a USB board. On the Mac, this should be something like /dev/cu.usbserial-1B1 for a USB board, or something like /dev/cu.USA19QW1b1P1.1.

Push the reset button on the board then click the Upload button in the IDE. Wait a few seconds. If successful, the message "Done uploading." will appear in the status bar.

Step 4: Preparing the Jumper Wires for Soldering

In this step, you will need the several jumper wires in addition to a wire stripper and a wire cutter. In the next step, you will solder the jumper wires to the PT board; in order to do this, the wires must first be trimmed and stripped. Each wire must be cut to an appropriate length so that it may reach from the PT board to the arduino; use the wire cutter to do this. Also, all ends of any wires that are to be soldered onto the PT board must be stripped. Using the wire stripper, strip the wire just enough so that it can fit through a hole in the PT board and be soldered.

Step 5: Soldering Components on the PT Board - Jumper Wires

In this step, a clean soldering iron and solder. First, you will need to obtain the PT board you gathered in the first step. This board should be relatively small and it will contain the several jumper wires, the tilt sensor, and the vibration motor. In order to do this, you must solder these components.

Start by soldering the jumper wires and make sure to wear safety goggles. You should NOT solder if you are unfamiliar with the procedure; you should learn both the techniques and precautions of soldering before continuing making a Balance Brace. You can do this by reviewing the pictures that are provided on how to solder this PT Board, as well as ask from help from a student or teacher who knows how to solder. You can also review the Spark Fun website, which includes instructions on how to solder (

These wires must be soldered precisely along with the other components so that they may conduct a flow of current. It may be easier to follow these directions if you use different colored wires so you are able to designate one from another.

If you know how to solder and are familiar with the process, you can begin by soldering jumper wire 1 on the board; there is no specific hole you should do this in, but it should be designated on one side of the PT board; take this same wire and solder the other end to the other side of the board. Then, take jumper wire 2 and solder this wire below the wire you JUST soldered - the second end of wire 1. Make sure these two wires DO connect. After that, take jumper wire 3 and solder that a little bit below below the first end you soldered of jumper wire 1 - these two wires should NOT be soldered together. For the last jumper wire (4), solder it away from the others, such as below jumper wire, but NOT touching it.

Step 6: Soldering Components on the PT Board - Tilt Sensor

After the jumper wires have been soldered to the PT board, the next step is soldering the the tilt sensor to the board.

Solder the tilt sensor to the board; the short leg of the tilt sensor, should be solder next to the first end of the first wire you soldered in the previous step. These wires SHOULD touch. Then solder the second leg of the tilt sensor next to the jumper wire 3, which should be relatively close under jumper wire 1. Jumper wire 3 and the second leg of the tilt sensor SHOULD touch.

Step 7: Soldering Components on the PT Board - Vibration Motor

After soldering the tilt sensor, the next step is to solder the vibration motor.

However, before soldering the vibration motor, you should extend the wires of the vibration motor. You can do this by taking two jumper wires and soldering one of them to the end of one of the wires of the vibration motor and then by soldering the other wire to the other end. You can then cut a piece of shrink wrap and apply it around the area of where the wires are exposed. Apply heat to this area, and the shrink wrap will shrink. Do this to both areas.

Choose one wire of the vibration motor and designate this as the first wire of the vibration motor. Solder this wire to the second end of the first jumper wire you soldered. There should be a cluster of three wires in that area right now. They SHOULD be soldered together.

Now, take the second wire of the vibration motor and solder this next to the fourth jumper wire you soldered in the previous step. These wires SHOULD be soldered together.

Step 8: Attaching the Ends of the Wires to the Arduino Board

In this step, you will take the ends of the Jumper Wires and plug them into certain holes of the Arduino board. The location of the wires is specific and important.

The second end of jumper wire 2 should be plugged into 13 on the Arduino board.

The second end of jumper wire 3 should be plugged into 2 on the Arduino board.

The second end of jumper wire 4 should be plugged into 3 on the Arduino board.

Step 9: Secure Components to Brace

The last step of this instructable is to secure the components onto the brace. Cut a strip of velcro for each component you are putting on the brace - the battery terminal, the arduino, and the PT board. Put a corresponding strip of velcro onto the brace. Look at the picture we provide in this step for a visual direction on where to put the pieces of velcro. After you placed the components on with the velcro, add a piece of black felt over the belt. This felt should measure around 9.5" x 7.5", but should generally cover the components. This piece of felt is also attached with velcro; however, there is no specified area to place the velcro as long as it holds the piece of felt onto the brace.

Step 10: Wearing the Brace

Congratulations! You have just completed making the Balance Brace. We hope you enjoy your Balance Brace, and we hope that it assists with preventing and treating any spine-related diseases or injuries.