Intro: DIY Data Glove V2
With this glove you can control your mouse with the wave of a hand, clicking and scrolling by flexing your fingers. It's wireless and perfect for mobile computing via USB or Bluetooth.
The First Attempt:
Awhile back I had the idea to build my own wireless mouse glove. Version 1 worked, but required the user to press buttons on the glove with their thumb, which I felt reduced the overall functionality and seemed inelegant. Another problem with the first version was that the wires I used were too big and looked ugly, so this time I used fine enameled wire. The sort you might use in speaker magnets.
The goal of this project is to make a glove that you can use to control a computers mouse functions without needing a surface or even any wires. You control mouse movement by waving your hand around Minority Report style, and control Left Click, Right Click, Scroll Up, and Scroll down by flexing each of your fingers. This glove works with any PC and even functions as a Bluetooth device for android phones and tablets.
The heart of the glove is an off the shelf wireless air mouse that we will be modifying. This project requires an ability to solder simple connections and some basic tool use, but doesn't require any programming or advanced electronics. I was able to put this together in an afternoon.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Soldering Iron and Solder
A Drill (optional but helpful for one step)
A Small Screwdriver
Small or needle nose pliers
A multimeter (really all you need is a simple continuity checker)
Lighter or small torch
A pin or sewing needle.
Foam tape, or hot glue
A Measy RC9 Gyroscope Mini Air Mouse
Thin Enameled Wire (magnet wire)
Thick Copper Wire (stiff craft wire)
5 Small Momentary Micro-switches
A Set of Kobalt Maximum Impact work gloves
Step 2: The Measy RC9 Gyroscope Mini Air Mouse
I chose this mouse as the guts of my project because it was cheap and had a compact form factor. The board is laid out perfectly for our uses. Remove the 2 screws and pry the case apart. This reveals a rubber button pad that comes right off. Under that is a sticker that has some springy contact pads. Peal off the sticker and you are left with a circuit board that has a small battery wired to it (the battery was glue taped into the case with a little foam tape).
Step 3: The Glove
Kobalt Maximum Impact work gloves
I thought for a long time on how to make the switches click when you flexed your fingers. I had a few ideas on how to do it when I went shopping for gloves. When I saw these gloves I instantly knew they were the ones for this project. They were the most expensive gloves at Lowes ($20), but the rubber guards on the fingers are perfect for mounting the switches and rigging them.
I'm sure there are a lot of ways to do this sort of thing, and probably several gloves that will work, but for this set up I used these.
Step 4: Prepare Your Wires
We are going to eventually have micro-switches on the fingers, and the circuit board on the back on the glove. To connect the two we will need some wires. I chose really light gauge enameled magnet wire because it's light, easy to manage, and polarity isn't an issue with the switches.
For each switch we will need two strands about 6 inches long. To keep it neat I figured out this trick. First cut off about a foot or so of wire from the spool, then fold it over on it self so you have two wires that come together at one end. Next, chuck the folded end into your drill, getting it as close to the center of the chuck as possible. Then hold one end of the strand pair, while twisting the other end with the drill. This will twist the two wires together making them more neat and easy to manage. One small warning though, don't twist them too tight or they will become brittle and be more likely to break with use. I made this mistake the first time and had to redo two of my wires.
Finally trim of the last half and inch of the folded over end, spread the wires apart a little and use a lighter or torch to burn just a tiny bit of the enamel off the end of the wires so you can solder them later. Don't worry about the other end of the wires, you'll have to trim these to size in a later step and burn those ends then.
You will need 5 sets of wires, one for each micro-switch, so repeat this 5 times.
Step 5: Momentary Micro Switches
I chose some small momentary micro-switches to use for the buttons. Polarity is not a factor, so there is no need to label positive and negative contacts, just check the contacts with a circuit tester while pressing the button to make sure you know which legs to solder to. The one's I got, had two legs on each side, I was able to use two of the legs on one side and ignore the others.
Carefully solder the prepped ends of your twisted wires to the two legs you are using. It helps if you tin the ends of the wires and the legs of the switch first. Repeat this for all 5 switches and wires.
Once you have all of your switches prepped we can start actually attaching them to the glove. We will be placing one switch on each of the 4 fingers, and one on the side of the hand near the thumb. The 4 finger switches will control Left Click, Right Click, Scroll Up, and Scroll Down. The side switch will turn mouse tracking on and off.
Use a pin or sewing needle to poke two holes in the side of the middle rubber guard on one finger. The holes should be about as far apart as the legs on one side of a switch. Next put a dab of gel super glue on the middle of the guard where the switch will go. Now press the two legs that you haven't soldered wire to into the holes in the guard and fold the switch over onto the dab of super glue. The switch should be centered in the middle of the guard.
Option 1: The part with the holes and the legs might be optional, you can probably just glue them on, but I wanted to make them extra sturdy so that's what I did.
Option 2: Another thing I did, was I arranged the buttons so that the index and middle finger buttons had their wire side facing the inside of the hand, and the ring finger and pinky reversed so there wouldn't be any wires on the outside of the hand and it looked symmetrical.
For the last switch bend the two unused legs flush with the bottom of the switch, and then bend the wired legs out so that the whole thing will sit flush against the side of the glove. Glue this switch to the side of the hand, more or less on the side of the index finger knuckle so that you can easily reach it with your thumb but it is mostly out of the way.
Once all this is done you've got a glove with five buttons attached to it and wires trailing off of it. Next we have to rig them so they activate when you flex your fingers.
Step 6: Flex Control
This step is a little tricky, but it's where the magic happens in this setup. Measure and cut a piece of your sturdy copper wire that is a little longer than the rubber guards on the back of one finger. Use a pin or needle to poke a hole into the front of the front guard, and then poke another hole into the back of the back guard.
Next, push your length of sturdy wire firmly into the hole on the front. A pair of small or needle-nose pliers are useful for this. Then, fold over the wire so it runs a long the length of the guards, next to the switch. Now bend the end over and press it into the hole at the back of the guards. Finally bend the wire up and over the switch.
I'm sorry for the lack of measurements, I free handed this part and it took a little experimentation. The result should be a bit of sturdy wire that fits snugly over the top of the button and is stuck into the rubber guards at either end. The whole thing has a bit of flex in it so it shouldn't trigger the button unless you actually flex the finger.
You should be able to hear the button click when it's engaged. so you don't need to have a multi-meter on it while you are fiddling with it to get it right. Take your time and repeat this step for each finger.
Step 7: Mount the Hardware
The circuit board for the air mouse needs to be mounted on the back of the glove. The orientation is important, the USB port on it should be facing forward, with the button contacts visible. I first mounted it with foam tape, but I decided that it moved around too much and wasn't secure enough. In the end, I decided to sew it onto the glove, looping some mono-filament (fishing line or any strong thread should work) through the four mounting holes around the edge of the board.
For the battery, I just used a bit of foam tape to stick it to the glove next to the board. The only other thing I added was the little plastic box that holds the USB dongle. When I took apart the casing for the air mouse I found that the dongle box was easy to remove, so I foam taped it onto the glove on the other side of the board from the battery. This gave me a convenient place to store the USB dongle when it wasn't in use.
Step 8: Finishing the Wires
So now you have a glove with 5 micro-switches mounted onto it, 4 of which can be activated by flexing your fingers. You also have all of the hardware to run it mounted. The last part is to attach them together.
One at a time, use some gel glue to stick the wires to the glove, leading to the circuit board. Make sure to leave some slack around the knuckles so that the wires won't break when you flex your fingers or close your fist. Follow the contours of the glove to make it neat, leading each wire to the edge of the circuit board nearest the contact point you will be soldering to.
The board is pretty well labeled, the top and bottom contact on the D-pad is the Scroll Up and Scroll down. The left and right contacts below the D-pad are the Left and Right mouse buttons. The bottom most contact is the button that turns mouse tracking on and off, you'll wire that to the thumb switch we put on the side.When you have a wire routed to the board, leave yourself an inch or two of extra wire to work with and cut off any extra. Then pull the two wires apart a little and burn off just a little of the enamel from each.
Now we can solder them. It's ok if there's a little extra wire, once you've finished soldering a contact you can hide any extra wire under the board. It gives it a little play to keep stress off the solder points and makes it look neater. Melt a little solder onto each contact point you are using and tin each of the wire ends, then carefully solder the wires to the contacts. It doesn't matter which strand is soldered to the inside contact or outside ring of each pad, as long as you don't bridge them with any solder or extra wire.
There, that should do it. As long as your glove is charged you can check your connections by flexing each finger. When you hear the switch click you should see the blue light on the board light up. It's a good idea to turn mouse tracking off with the thumb switch when you are testing the finger buttons, because the blue light will always be on when mouse tracking is active.
Enjoy manipulating cyber space with your new data glove!