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Here is the “final” documentation for our final project. I enclose final in quotations since this project will continue to grow as we explore more options for sound, materials, and installation possibilities.

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Here is documentation for my attempt at etching a PCB board using copper taffeta. After two failed attempts, I think the problem arose in traces that were too thin, a bath that was too long (on the first try) and a bath that was too deep (on the second – not enough oxidation) on the second).

After a few snags in materials and construction, Paola offered us a fantastic solution. She suggested placing fabric around the boxed structure and focus on using the materials that we know work (i.e. the elastic), instead of forcing the materials we considered more aesthetically in line with our concept. As mentioned in a previous post, the elastic works much better in getting a dynamic range from the painted on liquid graphite; the other materials, such as spandex and jersey, ended up breaking the connection too much after a few uses.

Below are the videos documenting our first working prototype for the final piece and a bit of user testing:

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For these prototypes, we painted the liquid graphite (no base) directly onto small piece of each substrate, then connected them to Arduino. Overall we found that the sonic success of this project is heavily dependent upon the fabric used. The woven jersey was the least responsive to the ink; it cracked under the pressure of pushing thereby losing the connection needed to sustain the connection. The spandex was very responsive; it did not crack and held the connection. The black elastic was by far the most responsive, but more out of line with our original concept. Our next step is to try silkscreening the pattern onto the fabric to see if it will hold the connections better.


The properties of spandex are friendlier than the jersey. The material absorbs the paint, so cracking is not an issue at this point in the usage process. The only “faulty” aspect is the warp of the fabric where the paint is, but I think this can be exploited with a different pattern printed onto the material.


This test went extremely well; the elastic absorbs the graphite thereby increasing and solidifying connections.

Woven Jersey

This is a first prototype for our final project in Soft Circuits. As you can see, jersey doesn’t hold the paint very well; all of the cracks prevent any type of connection. However, before the cracks occurred, this design produced a much more dynamic range of sound than a simple strip.

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Liquid graphite
Fabric Substrate
(shown here: woven jersey, elastic band, spandex)
Paint brush
Electrical tape

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Ayah Bdeir’s work covers a spectrum ranging from installations commenting on social and cultural identity to toolkits that aid less technologically oriented designers realize new ways of prototyping. Aside from her residency at Eyebeam, she also co-chairs the Open Hardware Summit. She is pretty awesome, so look at her website.

Identities in Motion

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Fabric pushbutton
Fabric pressure sensor


The code for the pushbutton is located in “File” –> “Examples” –> “Digital” –> “Button” in Arduino.

The code for the pressure sensor is a very simple variation of the AnalogInput example code:


Liza Stark

Fabric Pressure Sensor

March 7, 2011

This is a variation of the AnalogInput code that can be found on the Arduino website.


int sensorPin = A0; // select the input pin for the potentiometer
int ledPin = 11; // select the pin for the LED
int sensorValue = 0; // variable to store the value coming from the sensor

void setup() {
// declare the ledPin as an OUTPUT:
pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT);
//pinMode(sensorPin, OUTPUT);

void loop() {
// read the value from the sensor:
sensorValue = analogRead(sensorPin);
// turn the ledPin on

// write the value of the sensor to the ledPin using PWM

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Move the washer onto the both of the conductive threads to complete the circuit and light up the red LEDs to illuminate the vellum 3D form.

conductive thread
conductive fabric
5050 LEDs
double sided tape
Exacto knife