Etextile VR Gloves for Vive Tracker

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Introduction: Etextile VR Gloves for Vive Tracker

About: designer, leather ninja, tech explorer, ruiner of manicures

This tutorial shows you how to make etextile gloves for use in VR with the Vive tracker. They replace the joysticks designed for the Vive, making VR interactions more tactile and human.

They are called 'mudra' gloves because you pinch the index and forefinger with the thumb to make a connection.

The gloves are designed to be hackable and repairable. We will outline one main way to construct the gloves (as seen in our images) and later will add variations using different techniques and materials.

We have used stretch bonding film (textile glue designed for sportswear and lingerie) and stretch knit conductive fabric to construct the textile circuit with a domestic iron. Stretch fabric means the gloves fit more people. Bonding the circuit reduces the amount of sewing required as some people are not as familiar with sewing techniques. You can also use a pre-made glove, sew on the circuit with conductive thread or make a glove with non-stretch materials.

For a more detailed tutorial about the 3D printed connector and electronics connections, go to Becca Rose's instructable here

The gloves in this tutorial were made by Rachel Freire, Becca Rose and a team of scientists at the Intangible Realities Laboratory led by David Glowacki at Bristol University UK, who are using them to precisely interact with simulated molecules in VR. Making their own DIY gloves gave the team insight into how the gloves work and how to maintain and repair them.

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Step 1: Materials

Fabric:

- half metre/yard of four-way stretch fabric such as Lycra. We are using Carvico Vita recycled polyamide
- A3-sized piece of 3mm thick neoprene or a similar cushioned fabric. We are using Yulex sustainable rubber (neoprene alternative)
- small square of non stretch cotton drill or canvas to reinforce the cuff
- Stretch bonding film/glue. We are using Bemis Sewfree 3415 in 0.03mm. You can small quantities of Sewfree here: https://www.extremtextil.de/en/accessories/iron-o... (you can also make the circuit in non-stretch materials but the glove should then be sized to fit your hand)
- 5cm wide velcro (hook and loop fastener)
- 5cm wide elastic
- hard sheet plastic to reinforce the vive tracker. We are using the outside of a durable plastic wallet, such as this one which you can buy at a stationary store
- mara 70 thread. Often used for jeans, stronger than regular thread. You can also use topstitch thread.


Electronics:

- stretch conductive fabric. We are using Statex Technik-Tex P130b four-way stretch knit 99% silver http://www.shopvtechtextiles.com/5195-Fabric-Samplers--_p_177.html
A cheaper alternative can be found here: https://www.lessemf.com/fabric1.html#321 *
- conductive thread. We used Karl Grimm High-Flex 3981 7x1 copper, which you can get in small quantities here
- silicone wire for flexability. You can also use regular wire. We are using Daeburn: https://www.daburn.com/2615-Ultra-Flexible-Silicon...
You can buy smaller quantities of silicone wire on Adafruit https://www.adafruit.com/product/2003
- 3D printed connector (connecting vive tracker and glove) https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3781966
- 6x pogo pinshttps://www.digikey.co.uk/product-detail/en/mill-max-manufacturing-corp/1946-0-00-15-00-00-03-0/ED1360-ND/5176096
- 1/4" d-ring screw (from Jeffie)

* We recommend using Technik-tex P130, MedTex P130 or lessEMF stretch fabric.
Further info about different conductive fabrics on KOBAKANT:
Conductive fabrics overview https://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=376
Stretch conductive fabrics comparison https://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=2789

Step 2: Tools

Tools:

- large fabric scissors, small sharp pointed scissors, paper scissors
- domestic clothing iron
- a piece of silk or any thin non-synthetic fabric / waxed paper / ironing cloth
- sewing machine (or you can hand sew)
- hand sewing needles
- white gel pen or chalk
- scalpel

- round head pliers or needle nose pliers
- masking tape
- glue gun
- soldering equipment
- multimeter
- 3D printer

Step 3: Patterns and Prep

Print and cut out paper pattern:

The patterns are .pdf and .ai files and should print to scale.

- The pattern is for the right hand glove
- You will need to cut pieces for the glove textile, the cuff, the protective panel under cuff and smaller pieces for the conductive materials to make the circuit. You can also cut pieces for the elastic/velcro strap, or just use the pattern to measure the size required.
-the glove textile pattern includes seam allowances (meaning you stitch inside the line and extra material has already been added to allow for this. The other pieces (cuff, fingertips, strap) are net and should be cut neatly to the line or overlapped where necessary.

Print multiples of the pattern file and cut one of each piece, marking each side to denote pairs.

Mark the printed side right (R), and the reverse left (L).

Keep one printout uncut to use as reference for placement of pieces and the length of the elastic/velcro.


In fabric, you will be cutting:

Glove textile in lycra
Cuff and protective panel in neoprene
Cuff reinforcement in canvas (backed with Sewfree glue film)
Large velcro panel using velcro loops (soft)
Small velcro panel using hooks (sticky)
Strap in elastic

For the 3D printed connector:

Jump to step 8 for an overview and go to Becca Rose's instructable here for more info: https://www.instructables.com/id/3D-Printed-Connector-for-VR-Gloves/

Step 4: Cutting Out

Print and cut out the pattern pieces. Note the grain on the patterns. This is marked as a line with arrows at each end. The grain indicates the correct direction of the fabric and affects the stretch. The arrow should line up with the weave of the fabric and be parallel to the edge of the fabric.

Glove and cuff:
Lay the paper pattern pieces on the fabric on the correct grain. If you are making a pair, flip each piece to draw left and right glove. Cut out all of the pieces except the main lycra glove piece. Leave this on a small square of fabric as shown. This will make it easier to construct the circuit and sew the glove together.

Cut the velcro and elastic to the size seen on the pattern. Leave extra at the edges (this is called seam allowance) so the pieces can overlap and you can trim if needed.

Conductive fabric:
Fuse a square of Sewfree glue to the stretch conductive material (block fuse). For the conductive traces, draw lines 7mm apart on the paper backing and cut with very sharp scissors.. Cut enough 7mm strips to cover each finger (6 pieces per pair).

Draw and cut out the small pieces for the fingertips, top and bottom of the finger. You need pieces for both top and bottom to make enough of an electrical connection around the fingertip. A pair of each of the front and back fingertips (12 pieces, 6 pairs L+R).

Step 5: Making the Etextile Circuit

Mark the etextile circuit on the lycra fabric by drawing small notches outside the line of the pattern. If you prefer you can draw the entire lines for the traces.

The Sewfree glue we are using is heat activated. Once it had been heated with the iron it reaches a melted flow state, then you add pressure to push it into the fabric and make the bond. Because of this, you can bond two pieces of conductive fabric by layering them and it makes a good connection.*

Heat the iron to between 3 (cotton/max) and 2 (silk/med). To attach the conductive fabric, gently ‘tack’ it at intervals with just the tip of the iron and a bit of pressure. This should hold everything in place without burning the fabric. Once the pieces are in position, lay the piece of silk or ironing cloth to protect the fabrics and press down on the materials for about 10 seconds. Don’t move the iron! Just press and hold to heat the glue make a good bond. While it is still hot, apply pressure using something flat like a metal ruler, which will pull out the heat and speed up the glue curing process. Once it is cool you can carry on working.

Note that the Sewfree glue takes 24hrs to completely cure but is ok to work with once cool. Try not to stretch the circuit while it is still warm or the elasticity and stretch recovery will be compromised.

Glue the fingertip pieces first, adding the long strip traces on top. This will stop the corners of the fingertips from peeling.

Cut the conductive strips to roughly the correct length for each finger. Make each strip a little longer than needed as it is ok for them to go beyond the pattern lines. If they are too short they will not be caught in the seam and make the electrical connection.

The video above is for a different glove design but shows the same style of bonded circuit construction, using a mini iron and paper instead of cloth to protect the fabric. The photos show the circuit for this glove.

*Note that if you use a non-stretch glue alternative such as Bondaweb, this actually forms an extra layer with small fibres in it and may not make a connection. You should test this with a multimeter and if the connection is not stable, stitch with conductive thread to make the connection. Alternately you can cut the fingertip and long trace as one piece. We haven't done this as it wastes more fabric and we can make the connection using our glue.

Step 6: Constructing the Glove Textile

Cut out the main outline of the glove on the circuit side only. This means when you fold the glove in half to stitch together, you can line the fingertips to your outline and it will be easier to pin and sew. Fold the glove right sides together with the circuit in the fold. Line up the conductive fingertips top and bottom. Once stitched, trim both layers.

Make sure the tension on the stitching is tight. The front and back conductive tips need to be touching to make a good connection. Test this with a multimeter and if necessary, add some conductive thread to reinforce the connection.

Once stitched, turn the glove right side out and check the fingertip shapes are good.

CHEAT TIP! If all this sewing sounds like a nightmare, you could just buy a cheap ready-made snooker glove and add the conductive traces on top. You will still have to attach it securely to your cuff and follow those stages. The key to this design is the stretch fabrics, tension and reinforcing to make the tracker stable.

Step 7: Cuff and Textile Assembly

Constructing the cuff:

Place the cuff pieces together as shown in the compiled pattern image. The thinner piece of velcro on the back side is to secure the piece of neoprene which protects the 3d print and connectors. If you add this piece of velcro (not essential) stitch this on first.

Cut holes for the screw and wires to go through the neoprene.

Lay the hard plastic on the neoprene and using Sewfree, stick a canvas reinforcement over the top and around the plastic and the hole where the 3d print will sit (shown in yellow). If necessary, glue the plastic to the neoprene and stitch the canvas in place. The canvas needs to hold the reinforcement securely in place and stop the fabric from stretching in this area. The plastic reinforcement is really important to the design as it stabilises the tracker.

Lay out the 5cm pieces of velcro and elastic to make the strap and stitch them in place.


Glove textile assembly:

Use the lines on the pattern piece to mark where the glove and cuff should join and where the traces line up to the cuff.

Use lots of pins to attach the glove to the cuff as you will sew ‘in the round’ and it is tricky to get it lined up correctly. You can use Sewfree glue to hold the two pieces together to make it easier. (Alternatively, you can hand sew this part or try stitching the cuff to the glove when the glove textile is still flat, sewing up the fingers afterwards)

Sew the glove to the cuff. Then add the protective panel afterwards, so the glove textile is sandwiched between the two pieces of neoprene cuff. This means the traces end between these two neoprene panels and will be both protected and insulated when we connect the wires.

Step 8: Constructing the Hard Electronics

For this step go to Becca's separate more detailed instructable here:

www.instructables.com/id/3D-Printed-Connector-for-VR-Gloves/

Overview:

The Vive Tracker has 6 pins, each of which connects to a different part of the VR system (such as menu, trigger, track-pad). We use three of the pins - the ground pin, and two of
the general purpose input pins. We are only using two finger glove (index and middle finger) to keep the glove design simple. You can modify this tutorial to add more pins.

Wires:

The wires are used to connect the tracker to the etextile circuit using a hard to soft connection. Curl one end into a loop so that it can be sewn, and the other end will be soldered to a pogo-pin that fits to the tracker's break-out pins.

Insert the wires into the connector with the loop on the flat side, and the stranded ends on the curved part (these will be attached to pogo-pins). We labelled the holes on both sides of the connector using masking tape (label on both sides that way when you turn over your brain doesn't completely flip out trying to understand the mirror version!).

Soldering the pogo pins:

Curl loops in the wire with round nose pliers (the same technique as above), but make the loops smaller - so that they fit neatly around the pogo-pin.Solder in two stages: (1) stick flat side of the pogo to tape, and add some solder to the pin on its own, and (2) put the loop you just curled onto the pin and reheat the solder - this forms a good connection between wire and pin.

To stabilize the wires and keep pogo pins in place add some hot glue. Make sure that the pogo pins are correctly in place, and the flat side of pogos are flush against the curved part of the connector. Hold wires into direction they will eventually sit when embedded into in the glove and put hot glue into the base of the wire.

Step 9: Final Assembly and Hard/soft Connection

Final step is to embed the connector into glove.

Test your wires with the multimeter to make sure all the connections are good. The pogo pins shoud sit flush to the print as this is where it will connect to the Vive tracker.

Draw an outline of the connector with a gel pen onto your fabric so that people can position it correctly if they undo it at a later date.

Label the wires with masking tape - being organized with the wires is really important. We had a spare connector at hand to use for reference, and also labeled the wires to that we connected the wires to the right circuit.

Then insert wires into a hole in the glove.

Sew the loops to the conductive fabric traces on the gloves with conductive thread, tie off, and add a little bit of clear nail polish to the ends to stop fraying. Pull the wires all the way through so the connector sits flush to the glove. Tuck the wires out of the way underneath the neoprene backing.

Finally, push the screw through the hole from the underside and attach your Vive tracker. Make sure the screw is done up really tight so the plastic reinforcement creates enough tension and holds everything in place. The tracker should sit stable on the back of your hand.

You are ready to go!

Step 10: Repair, Maintenence and Non-stretch Fabrics

As was mentioned at the beginning, the gloves are designed to be repairable. Conductive fabrics wear, as do all textiles and we wanted a design which can be easily patched up if the circuit gets damaged through extensive use.

Pictured is a prototype version of our glove. It was made with lycra but the copper conductive fabric is non-stretch. This meant more strain was put on the conductive fabric and it wore quickly. In the second picture you can also see where some conductive thread has been added to reinforce the textile circuit.

To repair it a patch was bonded on using Sewfree adhesive which you can see on the index finger. On another glove conductive thread has been added to increase a failing connection.

Each material will act a bit differently so we are trying different methods to find the best.

We will update this section as we repair our gloves to share any tips and because the repairs also look cool!

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