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Crazy idea for a custom input device?


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#1
Pappy da Pimp

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Hi! I enjoy using computers in my home to create unique interactive experiences with certain rooms. Recently I've wanted to make an addition to my media room. It runs a projector and touch panel currently, but I'd like to try something new. I was thinking about getting some glass plates custom made. A grid of them, about 4" tall and 2.5" wide, laid out on the wall in some sort of logical positioning. Each one would act as a "switch", triggering some type of backlighting and triggering and event on the PC. Let's say, touch one and open the browser. What type of hardware would be required to connect 12-16 of these panels? And what is the best method of detection? Resistance?
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#2
Digerati

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Just get one of these:
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#3
Pappy da Pimp

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Surface is an interesting concept. And a very interesting idea for POS and commercial applications. However, it's extremely over prices and impractical for my needs. I simply want suplimentary input for the touch panel already in place, presented in a manner that is unique and decorative. I do not want a 42" gigantic space heater of a computer cluttering up my walk space and detracting from the flow of the room.
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#4
Digerati

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However, it's extremely over prices

Yeah, but one day, we will all have something similar to this coffee table.

Nevertheless, you are still talking about building a touch screen input device and while touch screens have been around for years, building one on your own is a big project, and would require an understanding of electronics systems and theory, hardware maintenance, and software programming. If each of these 4 x 2.5 inch panels do more than act as a button, then the programming would be very complex, and I suspect the panels expensive.

I would start with Google http://www.google.co...b...mp;oq=&aqi=
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#5
dsenette

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IN THEORY....you could either get a pre-built touch screen monitor (of any size) and then write a custom app on a PC that would run on that monitor and allow you to assign actions to the "buttons"



OR a "niftier" method would be to get a touch reactive overlay for an existing monitor (again...of any size)...which is basically a piece of plastic with touch capabilities that you can put over any surface....this would allow you to place the film over anything (a mirror, a picture frame...anything)...then do the same job of writing a custom application (in VB i would imagine) that would react to the touches however you like
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#6
Digerati

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That sounds more doable to me. I've done hardware support and software testing for years for software companies - but I am not (by choice) a programmer, so I could be wrong. Certainly, since your intent is for each of those grid pieces to act simply as a switch, or a "momentary contact" device that signals a "low" on some pin, the programming required to see that "low" would not be hard. But you are talking 12 or 16 individual input devices. So the program would now have to see each low, but also identify and not confuse the source of each low. I think I would just get a tablet PC, program it to display a 4 x 4 grid, and assign tasks to each grid section.
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#7
dsenette

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you could definitely read the "high" "low" signals in with some form of micro controller (possibly something as easy as an arduino)....at which point you could even go wireless with it if you had a couple of XBee adapters (googlate that)...but that's pretty complex...though i guess not really that complex...just something i wouldn't know how to do....you could have the microcontroller read the ups and downs on the voltage and translate that to numbers in a register...then have a simple application that watches the serial port all the time read those numbers off the serial port
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#8
Digerati

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you could have the microcontroller read the ups and downs on the voltage and translate that to numbers in a register...then have a simple application that watches the serial port all the time read those numbers off the serial port

Reminds me of years ago when to program, you set a bank of 8 toggle switches to "on" (1 or high) or to "off" (0 or low).
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#9
dsenette

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yeah.....that last method would pretty much be a remote dip switch register....hehe which sounds pretty bad
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#10
Digerati

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Well, I did say "years" ago. :) And it was in some "microcomputer" (a buzzword back then) class, using hardware that was not exactly state-of-the-art. These were real, full size toggle switches. Now I feel real old.
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