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ArduSensor Flex Quickstart Guide


 

 

The Basics:

 

Flex sensors are practically bend sensors.  When you bend them on the white lines, they read different values.  You can bend them both ways.

 

Assembly:

 

First off, if you don’t know how to solder, go here [how to soldering] to learn the basics so that you are thoroughly prepared to assemble your kit.

 

Parts in Kit:

 

Qtechknow ArduSensor Flex PCB (Printed Circuit Board)

Flex Sensor

330 Ohm Resistor - 1/4W

Male Headers (5)

 

Tools Needed to Assemble:

 

Soldering Iron

Rosin Core Solder

Safety Glasses

Safety Mask

Vice or Third Hand

 

You will need to get on your own:

 

Arduino Leonardo with micro-B USB Cable

or

Arduino Uno with USB-B Cable

 

When using lead, take precautions like:

 

  • Make sure to wash your hands with soap and water twice after you solder
  • Don’t eat the solder
  • Don’t touch your face or eyes after touching the solder
  • Wear a mask to prevent the solder smoke to come into your mouth, or to prevent you from inhaling it
  • When working with hot solder, you especially want to wear eye protection

 

Assembling the Kit:

 

Take out the ArduSensor Flex PCB out of the the bag and put face up into a vice or third hand.

Insert the flex sensor into the copper holes corresponding.

Flip the PCB over and put it back into the vice or third hand face down, so that all of the leads show on the back.  Bend the leads outwards in opposite directions.

Put your soldering iron on one of the junctions where there is a copper hole, and one of the flex sensor legs popping through it.

Wait three seconds, and then take your solder, touch it briefly to the junction, and then take your soldering iron away.  The junction should look something like the 'OK' volcano shapes in the picture below:

Credit: Adafruit

Make sure to not put too much solder on!  Repeat this process once more to the other joint with the copper hole and a flex sensor leg popping through it.

After you are done, flip the PCB over again so that the text and flex sensor are facing upwards.  At the base of the flex sensor (metal part), bend the sensor so that the sensor is standing up straight.  Only do this once, for bending it too much will cause it to break off of the ArduSensor PCB.

Take your 330 (Orange, Orange, Brown, Gold) ohm resistor out.

Bend the leads so that they make an upside-down “U” shape. 

Put these two leads into the 330 ohm resistor footprint on the PCB.  

Flip the PCB over and bend the leads of the resistor out in opposite directions.  Solder the two copper holes that have resistor legs popping out of them (using the same method as before).

 

Trim the leads so that they don’t poke you.

Take the 1 pin male header and 4 pin male header, and put them into these Arduino pins:  The 1 pin male header goes into A0, and the 4 pin male header goes into VIN, GND, GND, and +5V as shown below in the picture.  

Place the ArduSensor Flex on top of these pins, making sure that the 1 pin male header goes into the 1 pin male header socket, and the 4 pin male header goes into the 4 pin male header.

Solder in place.  But make sure that you don’t put too much solder in, because that can cause the ArduSensor Flex to be permanently installed on your Arduino!

Wait for the ArduSensor Flex to cool off (around 20-30 seconds), then pull out of the Arduino sockets.  Now you are finished soldering your ArduSensor Flex!

 

Programming:

 

If you haven’t downloaded the Arduino IDE, go here to download the latest version.  If you haven’t installed drivers for the Arduino (haven’t downloaded the software yet, or haven’t done this step yet), read the following table:

 

If you have...

Arduino Uno

Arduino Leonardo

Mac:

No drivers needed, proceed to the next step

Go here, then proceed

Windows:

Go here, then proceed

Go here, then proceed

 

 

Put in your ArduSensor Flex to your Arduino like this: Put the 1 pin male header into A0, and the 4 pin male header in VIN, GND, GND, and +5V.  

Plug in your Arduino with your USB cable (USB-B on the Arduino UNO or earlier, and USB-microB for Arduino Leonardo) to your computer.  Download this zip file and unzip onto your computer.  If you are on a Mac, double click the folder labeled “FishBank-ArduSensor-Flex-Example-Code-f78ead3”, double-click the file named “FlexRead.ino”, then press OK when the dialogue box pops up. If you are on a Windows computer, press Save instead of Open when you press the download button, double click the folder labeled “FishBank-ArduSensor-Flex-Example-Code-f78ead3”, double-click the file named “FlexRead.ino,” and then press OK in the pop up box.

The Arduino IDE should open up with the ArduSensor Flex Read sketch.  This sketch prints out what way the sensor is tilted, and which way.

First, make sure to select the board that you are using from Tools > Board.

Then, go into Tools > Serial Port, and select the correct COM/Serial Port.  On a Mac, the usual Serial Port will be /dev/tty.usbmodemfa131.  Any small variation of that will be fine.

On Windows, the COM Port will usually be COM 4, and anything lower or higher might work.

Here are the basic buttons/functions in the Arduino IDE:

Now let’s upload the sketch/code to the Arduino.  Plug one end of the cable into your Arduino, and then the other end into your computer.  Press the Compile + Upload button (Verify if there is any errors in the code, and then upload the sketch/code onto the Arduino), and the program will run on the Arduino.

Press the Serial Monitor button (in the upper-right hand corner), and you should see that it prints out “Forwards”, “Backwards”, or “Straight in the middle” depending on which way the flex sensor is pushed.  It will also print out a number after that, telling you the raw analog reading from the pin.

If you have any more questions on this product or how to use it, contact Qtechknow Tech Support at support@qtechknow.com



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