Squat Sense




Introduction: Squat Sense

About: I'm a first year Health Informatics PhD student at Indiana University. I received my bachelor's degree in computer science from The University of Alabama. As an avid CrossFitter with a newly found love for t...

With weight loaded on your back, what feels like "below parallel" often isn't. Proper squat execution is lowering your hips past your knees (breaking parallel).
I created Squat Sense as a detector for this break in parallel.

How it works:

By using a push button, the wearer can set the value for his or her desired depth. When the button is pressed, the current bend value is saved to the board. As the the wearer moves, the current bend value is then compared to the set value. The LEDs shine red to green depending on how far away or close, respectively, the wearer is to the target position. The system blinks green and vibrates a motor upon reaching desired depth
- 1 Rehband 7751 Knee Support Sleeve

- 1 Adafruit Flora board

- 4 Adafruit FloraRGB Smart NeoPixels (version 2)

- 1 Bend sensor

- 1 push button

- 1 Vibo meter

- Puffy paint

- Conductive thread

- Regular sewing thread

- Stretch fabric for covering

- Needles
- Scissors
- Pen and pencil
- Ruler

Code to run

Step 1: Creating the Bend Sensor

To create my sensor, I used the Instructables tutorial Neoprene Bend Sensor
Materials I used:
- Elbow Support Sleeve from Kroger
- Velostat by 3M from LessEMF
- Conductive thread from Adafruit's FLORA budget kit
- Stretch conductive fabric from LessEMF
- Fusible interfacing from Joann's fabric
- Black sewing thread from Joann's fabric

- Flat Iron (CHI hair straightener)
- Sewing needle from Adafruit's FLORA budget kit
- Scissors
- Ruler
- Pencils and markers

For the step that involves fusing the interface on the conductive thread, I temporarily panicked. I thought I had an iron in my house, but was mistaken. True to the "hacker" mentality, I used a flat iron instead. It actually ended up being advantageous because of the size of the strip.

NOTE: To get valid Flora output from the bend sensor, initialize the internal pull-up resistor by simply adding the code: pinMode(9, INPUT_PULLUP).

Step 2: Creating the Push Button

To create the push button, I followed a tutorial from Instructables.

Materials: - Elbow Support Sleeve from Kroger - Conductive thread from Adafruit's FLORA budget kit - Regular sewing thread - Stretch conductive fabric from LessEMF - Fusible interfacing from Joann's fabric - Black sewing thread from Joann's fabric

- Flower stencil from about.com

Tools: - Flat Iron (CHI hair straightener) - Sewing needle from Adafruit's FLORA budget kit - Scissors - Pencils and markers

To make my push button, I used scraps leftover from my bend sensor. I cut out two square of leftover knee sleeve material and cut fingertip-sized holes in the center of each square.

Fuse or sew (with regular thread) conductive fabric to one side of each square.

(Original design was a flower-button, hence "petals")

With regular thread, sew two pieces together, with conductive fabric on the outsides so they don't touch.

Conduct one side to GND and the other side to D12, and you're ready to test!

Step 3: Sewing It Together

The next step is sketching out your designs. Because we are creating wearable that involves a lot of bending, it's important to have clean, simply lines. The less wires have to cross, the better.

I chose having my LEDs displayed in a line, to reduce the amount of wirecrossing/sewing.

NOTE: My first attempt resulted in a burnt knee sleeve because I crossed my wires. (Picture shown).

For this iteration, I sewed the bend sensor to the back of the leg. Ultimately, it requires some playing with to see where on the leg you get the best reading. Initially, I thought the back of the leg produced the best reading, but with the weight of the battery back and all the added components, I think the side of the leg my produce a better reading. So experiment!

With regular thread, sew the bend sensor vertically inside the knee sleeve (dorsal side, so it rests against the back of the knee). With the conductive thread, sew into the conductive fabric ends, connecting one end to D9 and the other end to GND.

With regular thread, attach push button to the knee sleeve. With conductive thread, connect one side of the button to D12 and the other side to GND. NOTE: Be sure not to cross your wires, or the button will not work!

Sew RGBs in sequence along the side of the knee sleeve. For your first RGB, use conductive thread to connect DIN (arrow pointing toward the RGB) to D9. Connect the (+) to VBATT and (-) to GND.

Connect your remaining RGBs. For each additional RGB, sew it's DIN to the preceding RGB's DOUT (arrow pointing away from the RGB). Sew the (+) to the previous RGB's (+) and (-) to the preceding (-).

Apply puffy paint to the inside of the knee sleeve, insulating all wires. Let dry.

Apply puffy paint to the outside of the knee sleeve, insulating all wires. Let dry.

Cover your RGBs (optional) with fabric.

Upload code to board. You're now ready to start squatting!

Step 4: What You Should See

Connect the Flora to power source, the RGBs should blink red. The blinking indicates that the squat angle has not been set. Squat to desired depth, and press the push button. This should cause the RGBs to blink green, indicating that the value has been set. As you stand up, the RGBs should go from green to yellow (and possibly red). Squatting back down should turn the RGBs green, and blink green when you reached your set depth.

NOTE: make sure the bend sensor is not stretched inside the sleeve, this creates too much resistance and gets an inaccurate reading.



    • Fix It! Contest

      Fix It! Contest
    • Tiny Home Contest

      Tiny Home Contest
    • Water Contest

      Water Contest

    19 Discussions

    Wow! This is absolutely amazing! Awesome idea :)

    Really clever. Well done. Its important to make tech work for the person not the other way round and if this eliminates the arbitrary subjective nature of judging depth, then that is priceless. Wouldn't it be great if you could get a spin off of this tech used in judging powerlifting. Judges are fallible, intentionally or not. Tennis was so resistant to hawkeye until they got it. Now they cant do without it. Brilliant.

    This is all very interesting, but how much do you squat? Let's quantify the progress in absolute terms we all understand, like pounds on a bar through full ROM.

    7 replies

    I fail to see how this has any relevance to the project? I think she did a fantastic job explaining it in terms that people who may not "lift, bro" on a regular basis.

    Thank you! That's how I intended it. I've been lifting weights for 2 years now, so I've forgotten what is common knowledge and what is lingo. I tried to make things clear on a very basic level.

    Awesome project, and a very useful one at that! One of the hardest things for a lot of new and at-home lifters is to know if your form is good. This would definitely help with part of that! (Note to public... please always try to lift with a friend if you can! :) it is not only safer, but fun as well!)

    Thanks! My sister does CrossFit alone in her garage. It's really for people like her that I design this. Countless times have I been squatting in the gym thinking I'm below parallel, only to hear my coach yell out, "GET LOWER!"

    No thanks needed! I've been lifting for about the same window of time, but I'm a sharer of knowledge by personality, (One time at the gym I had someone ask for help, next thing I knew I was giving a clinic. ;;>.> ) so I've managed to keep my "beginners dialogue" up to date.

    You did a wonderful job. Keep up the good work! :)

    Do you even lift, bro? Seriously, your comment has zero relevance.

    I haven't seen the entire instructable and are already impressed. I'm a physical therapist and my experience is that it's very difficult to give people good feedback on their squats. If you've never done it, it's quite a difficult move. Very well done! It would be interesting to see if you could make the feedback external. Like a set of LED's that you can position in your field of view that is comfortable to you. Or maybe even add a counter that counts the number of completed squats.

    Wayul...It's a good one. And I am all for avoiding back injury...and it's well thought out and well presented...On the other hand, it would take me awhile to get used to running around in bossy-ass drawers, you know? But I'm too old to squat, anyway...

    I would be interested in purchasing one of these email me back with a price please.

    Good job! I knew somebody could do this.

    Nice. A combination of my 2 favorite things. Weight lifting and electronics.