Finger Potentiometer

by deltaModulator, published

Finger Potentiometer by deltaModulator Jul 2, 2016
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This thing is a music controller in the sense that it forms a variable resistor that is adjustable by finger touch when printed with Proto-pasta conductive filament. Being spiral in nature, the thing bends when lateral pressure is applied which changes the electrical resistance between the terminals.

I like this thing as it is, yet really when you think of it, just about any shape can serve as a resistor if printed with conductive filament. Geometric shapes come to mind, as do ornamental and organic shapes. Imagine the "potential"!

I have chosen to accept the default license for this item which allows commercial use freely, so have at it if you need it for biz. i would appreciate if you do find a use for it in the biz world or in hobby world or whatever you do with it, please comment and/or post a make. This keeps me motivated to create more cool stuff! Thanks a bunch in advance...




The terminals on opposite sides have holes designed to accept 3mm or similar hardware. This hardware should include washers suitable for mechanical and electrical contact. You use an insulating panel material, drill two holes to accept the hardware, then attach with hardware. Use spade lugs or twisted wire between two washers under the panel to accomplish electrical contact.

Electrically, connect one contact to Vcc (+5V) from an Arduino, the other contact to the analog 5 (A5) pin. Then connect a 4.7 kOhm resistor with one lead on the A5 pin of the Arduino and the other lead on Ground.

These two elements then form a voltage divider such that the equations in the Processing program unwrap and convert back from the measured voltage into a resistance value. In this way the resistance of the Finger Potentiometer is always known.

The program then converts the resistance value of the Finger Pot into a frequency setting for the sine wave oscillator. The sine wave then acts as the frequency modulated part of a Theremin, or in other words it acts like a VCO (Voltage Controlled Oscillator).

In addition to serving as a VCO, the Processing program loops back to any other application on the computer via localhost in the form of OSC (Open Sound Control) so that it can become a general purpose music controller (or robot controller or whatever else).

Also there is a bit of customization required in setting the Serial Port (USB Port) by selection from a list of Serial Ports Detected. This customization process is described in the source code comments, so be sure to read the comments on this one. Finally, to shut off the VCO you will have to disable it by modifying the source code.

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I have added a fourth image, the one with three coils in it. This image shows the improvement of dual layering, where the bottom layer is printed in ordinary PLA and the top layer is printed in conductive PLA. This improvement allows the use of metal front panels and also separates the conductive PLA from the build plate as I was having problems with it sticking to the glass build plate. Yield is further improved by running the nozzle hot, at about 225 degrees. I will upload version 6 of the SCAD file now.

You know, instead of a spiral it occurs to me that an actual resistor symbol could be a good solution for the same application. Go figure!

Very cool. Nice work.

TY Urban, and BTW rockin' profile - the world needs more folks like you!