Infrared Glove #phablabs

About: PHABLABS 4.0 is based on combining the World of Photonics (Science of light and light technologies) with the growing creative ecosystem of existing Fab Labs. The “Photonics Workshops” introduce a variety of ...

Make a do-it-yourself remote control IRglove. By joining two fingertips, a signal will be emitted by the Infrared emitter to a device. The principle of transferring control signals via invisible wavelengths (in infrared) are used in the IRglove to f.e. let a robot move or let it turn. You learn how to implement opto-electronic components and control them with a microcontroller.

This Photonics Workshop starts with the principle of wavelengths in infrared used to send a signal with your remote control. Most remote controls make use a the near infrared light with wavelengths between 800 and 950 nm. The participants will build an IRglove that will serve as a remote control for a certain device. By touching two finger with each other, a signal will be emitted by the IR emitter. A controller and a battery into a bracelet are attached to the glove.

Properties of this workshop:

Timeplanning: Total: 3h

1. Introduction and explaining of the concept of 'IR light' and 'IR signals': 15 minutes
2. Sewing conductive fabric and IR-emitter to the glove: 45 minutes
3. Controlling and implementing electronics: 90 minutes
4. Programming the Arduino: 30 minutes

(This time is estimated on programming en preparing two fingers with two different codes. When you want to programme more fingers, you will need more time. If you never soldered before, the time will also be extended.)

Target audience: Students (15-18 years old)

Estimated cost: € 25

DISCLAIMER: By using this information you agree to be legally bound by these terms, which shall take effect immediately on your first use of the information. PHABLABS 4.0 consortium and its member organizations give no warranty that the provided information is accurate, up-to-date or complete. You are responsible for independently verifying the information. VUB cannot be held liable for any loss or damage that may arise directly or indirectly from the use of or reliance on the information and/or products provided. PHABLABS 4.0 consortium and its member organizations disclaim all responsibility to the maximum extent possible under applicable laws: All express or implied warranties in relation to the information and your use of it are excluded. All liability, including for negligence, to you arising directly or indirectly in connection with the information or from your use of it is excluded. This instruction is published under the Creative Commons licence CC-BY-NC.

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Step 1: Infrared?

Light is an electromagnetic wave. And one of the most important property of an electromagnetic is the wavelength. Forms of electromagnetic radiation like radio waves, light waves or infrared (heat) waves make characteristic patterns as they travel through space.

Photo 1: Each wave has a certain shape and length. The distance between peaks (high points) is called wavelength. The difference in wavelength is the way we tell different kinds of electromagnetic energy apart.

Wavelength is commonly designated by the Greek letter lambda (λ).

Photo 2: The electromagnetic spectrum is the collective term for all known frequencies and their linked wavelengths of the known photons (electromagnetic radiation).

Radio Waves: 104 km > λ > 1m
Radio waves are used for transmission of data, via modulation. For example: television, mobile phones, wireless networking and amateur radio all use radio waves.

Microwaves: 1m > λ > 1mm
Microwaves are absorbed by molecules that have a dipole moment in liquids. In a microwave oven, this effect is used to heat food.

Infrared waves: 1mm > λ > 780nm
Far-infrared: (1mm - 10 μm): used in astronomy
Mid-infrared: (10 μm - 2.5 μm): Hot objects can radiate strongly in this range. Near-infrared: (2.5 μm - 780 nm): used in image sensors for infrared photography

Visible light: 780 nm > λ > 380 nm
Visible light includes all colours we can see with the human eye. The range of colours lies between red (700 nm) and blue (400 nm).

Ultraviolet waves: 380 nm > λ > 10 nm
The sun emits significant UV radiation that could potentially destroy most life on land.

X-rays: 10 nm > λ > 1pm
X-rays can interact with matter. One notable use is diagnostic X-ray imaging in med- icine.

Gamma Rays: λ < 1pm
These are the most energetic photons. They are used in medicine in radiation cancer therapy.

This workshop is using infrared technology.

Some properties of the infrared light:
1. Infrared light is an electromagnetic wave that is not visible for the human eye. But did you know that snakes can? Boid and crotaline snakes have a very special property: they can detect infrared by an infrared registering membrane, located in tiny pits around the mouth. This infrared light corresponds to very small temperature changes. They use the temperature sensor to estimate the location of, and distance to, prey animals.

2. Infrared light is detectable through the skin because of their heat mode. Everything with a temperature above minus 268 degrees Celsius emits IR radiation, wherein the wavelength is dependent on their temperature. The sun gives off half of its total energy as IR, and much of its visible light is absorbed and re-emitted as IR.

3. The temperature of an object depends on the average speed of movement of all the atoms and molecules in the object. More important is that infrared radiation does not have a negative influence on our health.

Applications of infrared:

Infrared light has a lot of applications.

Photo 3, 4 & 5: An infrared camera can detect the heat of objects or bodies. It is used for example to detect heat losses in a house. Using the infrared camera helps to find out which part needs to be isolated better. A camera is also used in veterinary medicine. Animals can not tell where they are in pain, but such a camera can indicate at which place the body is much warmer. An inflammation feels warm. NightVision have infrared sensors. These are used to find missing persons, or security cameras for during the night. And during the ebola crisis, people were screened on fever in the airport with an infrared camera.
Weather satellites provide by means of infrared radiation day and night the cloud cover. Infrared is used in astronomy to observe the Universe at infrared wavelengths. This allows us to see cold objects as well. Infrared lamps are also used for various applications. They are used eg for hatching eggs in incubators or to keep food warm, as a heat source in terrariums. But also in infrared saunas or for the correction of muscle and joint pain in physiotherapy.

Photo 6: A TV remote control uses IR waves to change channels. In the remote, an IR light-emitting diode (LED) or laser sends out binary coded signals as rapid on/off pulses. A detector in the TV converts these light pulses to electrical signals that instruct a microprocessor to change the channel, adjust the volume or perform other actions. IR lasers can be used for point-to-point communications over distances of a few hundred meters or yards. In this workshop an IRglove will be made, so you are able to change channels by touching two fingers.

Step 2: Part List

Photonics parts:

*1 IR emitter
*1 IR receiver

Other parts:

*9V battery connector with plugin
*Conductive thread
*Arduino Uno
*1 transistor
*Resistors 330 Ohm and 10 Ohm
*Breadboard 170 pin
*9V battery
*1 Glove

Tools (for example in Fab Labs):
*Laser cutter
*Soldering iron
*Computer for programming Arduino
*Hot glue gun
*Needles for sewing

Don't find the material you are looking for? Via this link you could buy all the material needed for this workshop in one toolkit.

Step 3: Sewing Conductive Thread

The conductive thread need to be sewed on top of the fingertips. If you then put one fingertip on another, you close the electric circuit and you will be able to send out an infrared signal.

Photo 1: Sew with conductive thread on the thumb. (The length of the thread should be minimum twice the length from the fingertip to the wrist.) Don’t trim the beginning of the thread.

Photo 2: Then sew the thread along the top of the glove all the way down to the wrist. Sew it at least once around the border of the glove. Leave minimum 5 cm of thread hanging loose at the wrist. Do this for all 5 fingers. Make sure the wires of the different fingers do not touch each other, otherwise you will cause a short circuit.

To win some time, you can only sew the thumb and two other fingers. Then you will have a glove that will be able to emit two different signals.

Step 4: IR-emitter

The buttons are ready now. But for sending the signal, we need an infrared emitter. This IR-emitter should be placed prominent on the glove. The easiest place is on top of the knuckels of the hand.

Photo 1: Weave the legs of the IR-emitter through the fabric of the glove. Do this on the back of the hand, at the level of the knuckels.

Photo 2: Bend the legs of the IR-emitter with a pair of pliers to create barbed hooks. Make sure you still see the difference between the long and the short leg.

Photo 3: Attach a conductive thread at the end of a leg with a knot and weave it around a little bit. Sew with the conductive thread from the legs to the wrist. Leave at least 5 cm of thread at the wrist. Do this for both legs of the IR emitter.

Photo 4: Foresee 7 electric wires of about 20cm. 1 for the thumb, 4 for the other fingers, 1 for the longest leg of the IR emitter and 1 for the short leg of the IR emitter. Strip all wires at both ends. Choose the colours of the wires, so you can keep them apart.

Photo 5: Knot the thread, coming from the thumb, fixing to the wire of the thumb. Trim the excess thread. Cover this connection with a heat shrink sleeve. Do this for all 5 finger connections. Heat up the sleeves to shrink them around the connections. Solder the remaining wires to the legs of the IR emitter.

Photo 6: Secure every connection on the glove (e.g.the starting point of the thread at the conductive fabric) with hot glue. Now you can trim the excess wire at the finger tops.

Step 5: Electrical Scheme

Follow the electrical schemes to connect all components with each other. (Photo 1 & 2)

Photo 3: Secure the wires coming from the fingers easily in the Arduino. The four wires starting from the four fingers exept the thumb can be attached to four pins next to each other. Foresee heat shrink sleeves to cover the connections. These pins will be connected to the 8, 9, 10, 11 pins of the Arduino.

Photo 4: Put the IR receiver, the transistor and the resistors in the breadboard as shown in the electric scheme. A transistor is mainly intended to amplify or to switch electronic signals. In general, there are three connections (electrodes). The signal to be amplified is fed to the emitter, E, the amplified signal can be extracted from the collector, C, and the third connection is common for the two signals, the base, B. The Collector of the transistor should be connected to a resistor of 330 Ohm in series. The resistor should then be connected to the IR emitter in series. Connect the collector pin of the IR emitter (short leg) to the resistor.

Simply connect then the Base of the tranistor to a resistor of 330 Ohm. Attach then the other side of the resistor to a cable which we will connect to the D3 pin of the Arduino.
The Emitter pin of the transistor should be connected to the ground. The next step is to connect the IR receiver correctly. An IR receiver has a flat side and a convex side. When the convex side is facing up, the middel leg needs to be connected to the GND, the left leg is the output, OUT and the right leg is Vs. Connect a wire to the OUT leg of the IR receiver, which will be connected to the D2 pin of the Arduino.
Put a wire to the GND leg of the IR receiver, which will be connected to the GND pin of the Arduino. Put a wire to the Vs leg of the IR receiver, which will be connected to th 5V pin of the Arduino.

Step 6: Case Arduino

Photo 1: Make your wooden case for the Arduino with the laser cutter. .stl file can be found attached. Or you can design your own case with

Photo 2: Glue the side parts and the bottom together.

Photo 3: Insert the Arduino and the breadboard on top of it in the case. Put the connection pins through the foreseen holes in the cover of the box. Put the pins in the right inputs/outputs of the Arduino. Click the cover on top of the box.

Photo 4: Cut a piece of Velcro with the length equal to the outline of your wrist. Glue the two parts of the Velcro on top of each other. Put the Velcro bracelet through the foreseen holes in the bottom of the wooden box. Put on the glove and the wrist bracelet.

The battery can be left outside the box, which makes it
easier to replace. Put a piece of velcro at the back of the 9V battery and the reverse part of the velcro on the outside of the box.

Step 7: Programming the Arduino

Note: programming doesn’t work with the arduino version 1.8.7 due to an internal error - arduino version 1.8.5. needs to be used for the programming part.

Steps for the use of Arduino:

1. Download the program ‘Arduino’ on your computer. Arduino is open source and freely download- able via this link: the Arduino Uno and this programme, you can build a lot of systems.

2. To use the programme for the IRglove, you first need to install the IR Library.
-Visit the IRLib2 page on GitHub.
-Select “download ZIP”, or simply click on this link.
-Unpack the ZIP-file after download.
-The file “IRLib2-master” contains 5 seperate files. This is because this library is a collection of 5 libraries which work together.
-Make a copy of all 5 files to your Arduino-library file next to your other Arduino-libraries. Mostly you will find this in your file: home/Documents/Arduino/Libraries. Libraries can’t be installed next to the Arduino-application itself.
-Restart the Arduino IDE programme.

3. Connect the Arduino to the computer. Select the correct board: “Arduino/Genuino Uno”. And then select the correct “Port”. (Photo 1)

4. Upload the program “GloveIR_phablabs” (Attached) to the Arduino. 2 tabs will open: GloveIR and EEPROMAnything.h (Photo 2)

5. Pick a device with remote control (working with IR) which you would like to control with your IR glove. You can put 4 commands in your Arduino. Open the Serial monitor of the Arduino programme by clicking on the magnifying glass in the right upper corner. (Photo 3)

Type first number ‘0’ and then push on a button on your remote control while you point out to the IR receiver. You will receive a message when the signal is loaded to the programme. For the next finger you do the same with number ‘1’. Number ‘2’ and ‘3’ are for the other fingers.

Now these commands are recognised by the Arduino.

Be carefull! Make sure the Arduino is powered all the time, otherwise he will lose the commands. Attach a battery to your Arduino before disconnecting the Arduino from your computer.

Point out the glove to the device and try to put it louder, on mute... by pushing your fingers to your thumb.

Step 8: End Result and Conclusions


PHABLABS 4.0 is a European project where two major trends are combined into one powerful and ambitious innovation pathway for digitization of European industry: On the one hand the growing awareness of photonics as an important innovation driver and a key enabling technology towards a better society, and on the other hand the exploding network of vibrant Fab Labs where next-generation practical skills-based learning using KETs is core but where photonics is currently lacking.

This workshop was set up by the Brussels Photonics Team, Vrije Universiteit Brussel in close collaboration with FablabFactory.

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