Introduction: The ThreadBoard (Non-3D-Printed Version): E-Textile Rapid Prototyping Board

About: I use wearables, human augmentation, and multimodal interfaces to design technologies that enable novel and immersive sensory experiences.

The Instructable for the 3D printed version of the ThreadBoard V2 can be found here.

Version 1 of the ThreadBoard can be found here.

Through the hurdles of cost, travel, pandemics, and other barriers, you may not have access to a 3D printer but want your very own ThreadBoard. Worry not, as this is the non-3D-printed version of the ThreadBoard that can be constructed with easily obtainable materials.

The ThreadBoard is a magnetic breadboard for embedded computing that allows for the rapid prototyping of e-textile circuits. The motivation behind the ThreadBoard is to develop a tool that will adapt to the unique set of constraints that e-textile creators face when fabricating an e-textile project. With the ThreadBoard, we hope to make a tool that will take into account the fabric-based nature of textiles with the electronic capabilities of ubiquitous computing. With this device, makers can rapidly prototype circuit designs, debug mistakes, and test components.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award #1742081. The project page can be found here.

This project was developed in the Craft Tech Lab and ATLAS Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Special thanks to my colleague and the ThreadBoard's co-creator: Michael Schneider.

If you have any questions, want to keep up with my work, or just toss around ideas, please do so on my Twitter: @4Eyes6Senses. Thanks!

Step 1: Materials

Lilypad Arduino or Adafruit Circuit Playground - The measurements in this Instructable is specifically for the Circuit Playground - Link

4mm (Diameter) x 3mm (Height) magnets - 16 magnets per halo and 4 magnets for the microcontroller holder - Link

3mm (Diameter) x 2mm (Height) magnets - The count and size will be different if you aren't using a Circuit Playground - Link

Hot glue gun and glue sticks - Link

Stainless steel conductive thread - Link

Acrylic board - My board is 15 1/2 by 18 inches - Link

Duct tape - Link

LEDs - Link

Needle nose pliers - Link

Step 2: Adding Magnets to Your Circuit Playground Pins

Now that you have the materials, it's time to add magnets to the fourteen Circuit Playground pins. The reason we are adding magnets to the pins is to (1) hold the microcontroller securely to the magnet enriched ThreadBoard and to (2) allow for a magnetic connection between the pins and the conductive thread. Typically, to connect the Circuit Playground with conductive thread you would need to sew and secure the thread around the open pins, and if you wanted to change your circuitry you'd need to cut the thread attached to the microcontroller and possibly resew your project. With the ThreadBoard, you can simply drop your conductive thread on top of the magnets and they will keep the thread secure to the microcontroller pins and the rest of the board/components.

- Place duct tape on the bottom of your microcontroller then cut around the edge of the microcontroller. The duct tape will be used to hold the magnets within the pins.

- Isolate one disk magnet from the 3mm x 2mm set. Make sure that you have identified which end of the magnet will attract or repel the other magnets, the poles of the fourteen magnets need to be the same so that they are attracted to the magnets that will be glued onto the acrylic board.

- Gently push the magnet through the pin until it adheres to the duct tape. On a flat surface, apply light pressure on the top of the magnets to make sure they are secured to the tape. Continue this process for the next thirteen magnets.

Step 3: Adding Magnets to the Acrylic Board

To add the magnets to your acrylic board, print out the pdf and either poke holes for each magnet or use a laser cutter to cut out the magnet's positionings. Using the attached pdf as a guide will give the ThreadBoard the phyllotaxis pattern you see. The process I used to place my magnets was as follows:

- Tape the pdf to the acrylic board so that it is secure and won't move.

- Make sure that the correct pole of the 4mm x 3mm magnet is facing up and will be attracted to the magnets that are in the pins of the microcontroller.

- Apply hot glue to a hole in the paper and place the magnet, repeating until the holder and all eight halos have magnets on the board.

Step 4: Done!

You are now a proud owner of a ThreadBoard! For future Instructables, I plan to continue the development of the ThreadBoard by refining this concept (keep an eye out for version 3 :) ).

Arduino Contest 2020

Participated in the
Arduino Contest 2020