Trials, Errors and Triumphs – Working with Bluetooth & Microcontrollers

Recently I have been working on a dance piece called Unraveled which utilises crocheted stretch sensors across the ribs to measure breath. This is then sent via a microcontroller wirelessly to a laptop where it manipulates sounds. During this process there have been many technicalities in working with bluetooth (Bluesmirf in particular) and Flora which have made me change directions in the parts/technology which will be implemented this project.

Kate 02

First idea was to use the Flora microcontroller from Adafruit. This is a newer microcontroller that is for wearables with slight differences from the Lilypad (mostly around the battery). Adafruit plan to release a bluetooth module according to their website. This being the case I thought the Flora might work with other bluetooth modules, such as Bluesmirf. Unfortunately this is not the case.

Firstly, I had to reconfiguire the Bluesmirf anyways. There is more about how to do this here and here. There is also a small bit about this in Tom Igoe’s book Making Things Talk (2nd edition) on page 68. Basically it has to be changed from HID to SPP in order to pair with a laptop and send serial. I did this first in Cool Terminal and later realised I could also do this in the Arduino software. However, even after trialling various CMD codes, it would still not handshake with the Flora.


It is definitely not the Bluesmirf because the set up works with the Arduino Uno. And I can send serial from my stretch sensors to the computer wirelessly. The problem with the Uno is that is is a bulky board for prototyping, not really to be worn as part of a costume.


My next idea is to move away from bluetooth and use xbee and lilypad. This is a working combo and will allow for sewing the lilypad onto the garment that is also housing the stretch sensors.