Looking at wires and ways to attach the sensors

The wires of the glove are currently pieces of ribbon cable separated from an old “IDE-cable” and connected to 0.1″-spaced crimp connectors. This works pretty well. Each sensor is connected directly to a DIY Arduino shield and is quite easily exchangeable. However, it’s a lot of wire and I’d like to find a better (looking) solution, but I’m having a hard time to come up with ideas.

The old 40-wire IDE-cable I’m using is good, because it has stranded wires unlike many of the 80-wire PATA/UDMA cables. Although smaller, the solid wires are stiffer and I’m afraid they’ll break sooner by bending them about.

There are some bendy 4-wire cables, but they all seem a bit thick. Also, a thicker cable will push harder against the sensor itself and may thus severe the connecting joint or displace the sensor.

The flat flex cables with surface mount ZIF-connectors would be nice, but they make the cables stick out of the back of the glove, as it is now. Another downside is that I can’t cut the cable to a wanted length, but instead they need to be bought individually. Although I found a nice selection on digikey, the price of almost $5 per cable makes me want to find a better alternative as I don’t want to spend $150 only for the cabling of the fingers on a pair of gloves.

The 2€ headphones I bought turned out to have very thin solid core wires. So, although very nice otherwise, I’m afraid of them eventually breaking. They are difficult to put on a connector for easy replacement of the sensor, too. I still haven’t found good connector or a source for stranded headphone wire (other than headphones).

Conductive thread is much like the headphone wire. There are at least two kinds of conductive thread: silver plated thread or stainless steel thread. The former can’t be soldered (nylon melts) and silver oxidizes over time. The latter might be an alternative, but as it is uncoated, one has to worry about shorts.

EDIT: Here is a neat idea to make flexible PCBs stretch a little: the LIMBERboard. Reminds me a lot of the Seeeduino film.

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