Please help me start my wearable project

Hello,

I'm looking into starting my first arduino project, this is going to be a 6-button wearable bluetooth transmitter that's meant to be "velcroed" around a leg while sitting (or possibly arm while standing). The velcro strap simply transmits the 6 unique button messages over Bluetooth to the host, which interprets them contextually in the host software (buttons are used for simple UI navigation and transport control).

I've done some initial research and determined I probably need all of the following:

Here are my questions so far:

  1. Am I missing anything? I already have a breadboard and some other components I could possibly use for prototyping
  2. Will the simple board have enough pins for what I need? I guess I need 6 separate pins to receive from each button, plus 2 more for rx and tx, but it looks like the simple board only has 6 pins total?
  3. If you had a pre-programmed LilyPad, then the FTDI wouldn't be needed, right? I'm hoping to find a way to only need to program the initial prototype unit, then take the finished sketch and have it be loaded onto other LilyPad's prior to being sewn into the velcro strap with the other components. The idea would be to be able to offer a pre-made wearable controller that could be purchased by software users as an optional accessory.
  4. What are some good methods, materials, links, to take the final prototype and sew it all into a velcro strap? I can upload a sketch of how the final strap should look
  5. Would any other components do a better job than the ones I have listed for my project?
  6. Would this project conform to the Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0 protocol, or the regular Bluetooth protocol? I really hope that it wouldn't burn through batteries quickly (though I doubt it would)

Thanks a lot!

bump 1 for people possibly in other time zones!

Thanks for any and all help!

bump2
Would it be better for me to email sparkfun?
Thanks!

kcoul:

  1. Am I missing anything? I already have a breadboard and some other components I could possibly use for prototyping

It looks like you have the main components you will need and at first glance either list should make a workable device. However, the intended operational distance is going to be a major factor in determining power usage (since the range is directly proportional to the transmission power). Depending on how far you want the transmitter to work away from what you are interfacing with, you may need increased battery capacity or just live with a charging meaning only a few hours use.

kcoul:
2. Will the simple board have enough pins for what I need? I guess I need 6 separate pins to receive from each button, plus 2 more for rx and tx, but it looks like the simple board only has 6 pins total?

I count a total of nine I/O "pin holes" on the Simple's PCB.

kcoul:
3. If you had a pre-programmed LilyPad, then the FTDI wouldn't be needed, right? I'm hoping to find a way to only need to program the initial prototype unit, then take the finished sketch and have it be loaded onto other LilyPad's prior to being sewn into the velcro strap with the other components. The idea would be to be able to offer a pre-made wearable controller that could be purchased by software users as an optional accessory.

If by "pre-programmed" you mean have the sketch uploaded to Lilypad boards before attaching them to anything, yes. You shouldn't need have any physical connection to a computer for this application to work like you want it.

kcoul:
4. What are some good methods, materials, links, to take the final prototype and sew it all into a velcro strap? I can upload a sketch of how the final strap should look

I don’t know of any specifically for Velcro straps, but you could start with the tutorials over at Sparkfun. A few different attachment methods are shown.

kcoul:
5. Would any other components do a better job than the ones I have listed for my project?
6. Would this project conform to the Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0 protocol, or the regular Bluetooth protocol? I really hope that it wouldn't burn through batteries quickly (though I doubt it would)

As previously mentioned, this will depend upon the useful range you want. The BLE has an advertised range of ~50 m, but that’s your best case scenario. I wouldn’t count on the actual range being that high through obstructions or with interference on the same channels being used. Still in most circumstances it could easily be over half that distance.
But if you use BLE, remember you can’t count on your device interfacing with normal BT devices. So that might end-up limiting its usefulness to some of your customers.

Note that on the simple board, the TX/RX lines are only available on the 6-pin header. So if you need those, you’ll have to tap off of that header. If you need to reprogram the Lilypad, you’re going to need that header as well.

As for your question of whether an FTDI is needed: only when programming the sketch into the Lilypad. After that it’s no longer needed. And rather than using the coincell holder with the main board, I would opt for the LiPower module: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/11260 (this is not needed if you use the simple board as it has a build-in connection and charger.)

Another possibility is that you create/design your own board, with the specific pins you need. Been there, done that.

Just wanted to say thanks, this is exactly the advice I was looking for. It seems like the LiPower battery is much more appropriate. I will likely only need short range but long battery life is very important, as is an easy and inexpensive recharging method.

Did you say the Simple already has a LiPower unit embedded on it, KirAsh4? If there are 9 pins, using 2 for Tx/Rx would still leave 7 for my use, and having 1 left over after using 6 for the buttons might be good if I end up needing it for something I don't realize now.

If Simple has LiPower, seems like the way to go until I see a reason for needing the full Lily during prototyping.

After final considerations I suppose I'll put together my order and get started.
Thanks again.