Debugging Tools for E-textile 

Research

Prototyping

As the maker culture expenses beyond traditional electronics to other craft disciplines and materials, there is an urge to design hybrid tools to address these new practices. The E-textile debugging tools are prototypes designed to be used by high-school students with no prior electricity knowledge as part of their e-textile curricula. 

Role: Project manager, research, design, and prototyping 

Team members: Chris Hill, Arielle Blum, Ann Eisenberg (PI), Mark D.Gross (Co-PI)

Tools used: Arduino (IDE+ microcontrollers), Fusion 360, 3D printing, E-textile materials. 

 

Publications

+ Sadan, Rona. "A" Low-Floor" Multimeter: Supporting E-textile Debugging by Revealing Voltage and Continuity." Proceedings of the 51st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education. 2020. Read It here.

+ Sadan, Rona (2020).Low-Floor debugging tools for E-textile students. MS Thesis. Read It here

The Finger-meter prototype

This prototype was the first iteration of the debugging tool. It takes the form of a fabric-based soft thimble and functions as a multimeter. The Thimble-meter allows students to measure continuity in their circuits and display the voltage level with an LED (Analog visual output). Also, the Thimble-meter can be used as a power supply thus, to assist the students to isolate different components of the circuit.

The Thimble-meter was designed to provide novices with a low-floor tool that supports their exploration of e-textile bugs and issues, by revealing the properties of the circuit.

 

The Finger-meter is a modular analog device that is based on a simple electrical circuit and contains a battery module, a thimble probe with a conductive surface, an LED for visual feedback, and an E-textile wire with alligator clip/needle ends.

The Hand-meter prototype

This device is the second iteration of the low-floor multimeter series of prototypes. The device is a handheld, low-floor multimeter that uses an OLED screen to display the voltage of a given point on a circuit. The hand-held tool is designed to close the gap between the steep learning curve of the existing multimeter as a measuring tool and the difficulty of forming an understanding of the physical computing mental model. The tool enables students to explore circuits and debug their e-textile projects by relying on its electrical

properties- a fundamental element of physical computing. The device has two main features that address common bugs in circuit design:

    •Continuity meter - measures current in a                 specific range. It can indicate shorts or breaks         on a circuit.

    •Voltage meter - measure the voltage at a                 specific point (i.e., component/pin/wire) in a             circuit. It can indicate, for example, variables in        a code that do not match the circuit. Probing            pin on a microcontroller and using a common          ground point will tell us which of pins are                powered.

The device is equipped with two probes for measuring. One serves as ground point and the other as analog input. The device was designed to allow children to trace their e-textile wires and circuits in order to construct and scaffold their debugging process.

 Desktop station -meter prototype

This device is the 3rd iteration of the multimeter project. This iteration of the prototype is based on the data of the previous two iterations and on informal conversations with professional textile and soft-tech designers on the unique needs of a designer in the filed in the prototype process of soft interactive systems. Moreover, this version of the meter contains an improvement in the circuit design of the hand-tool version.

The desktop version of the multimeter is a measurement station that uses two probs (ground and input) in order to measure voltage, continuity, resistance, and analog value of sensor components in a circuit.

• Continuity meter - measures current in a        specific range. It can indicate shorts or breaks on a circuit. Unlike the numerical output in the hand-tool (V2) that was confusing, the feedback on a continuous electrical connection is an LED and a buzzer that indicates a continuous flow of electricity.

• Analog value meter – This allows the students to test the input values of a sensor with isolation from the circuit.

• Resistance meter – a key practice in the process of designing soft interactive systems is defining and constantly measuring their resistance based on the desired behavior. While this action is possible to execute by using a multimeter, it does not support the physical position of the textile designer on a loom, and of the physical form of the fabric