Flex Sensor Hookup Guide

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Contributors: Jimb0
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Introduction

This flex sensor is a variable resistor like no other. The resistance of the flex sensor increases as the body of the component bends. Sensors like these were used in the Nintendo Power Glove. They can also be used as door sensors, robot whisker sensors, or a primary component in creating sentient stuffed animals.

Flex Sensor 2.2"

SEN-10264
$7.95
11

Flex sensors are available in two sizes: one 2.2" (5.588cm) long and another coming in at 4.5" (11.43cm) long.

Left flat, these sensors will look like a 30kΩ resistor. As it bends, the resistance between the two terminals will increase to as much as 70kΩ at a 90° angle.

By combining the flex sensor with a static resistor to create a voltage divider, you can produce a variable voltage that can be read by a microcontroller’s analog-to-digital converter.

Suggested Materials

This tutorial serves as a quick primer on flex sensor’s, and demonstrates how to hook them up and use them. Aside from the sensor, the following materials are recommended:

Arduino Uno – We’ll be using the Arduino’s analog-to-digital converter to read in the variable resistance of the sensor. Any Arduino-compatible development platform – be it a RedBoard, Pro or Pro Mini – can substitute.

Resistor Kit – To turn the flex sensor’s variable resistance into a readable voltage, we’ll combine it with a static resistor to create a voltage divider. This resistor kit is handy for some trial-and-error testing to hone in on the most sensitive circuit possible.

Breadboard and Jumper Wires – The flex sensor’s terminals are breadboard-compatible. We’ll stick that and the resistor, then use the jumper wires to connect from breadboard to Arduino.

SparkFun RedBoard - Programmed with Arduino

DEV-13975
$19.95
32
Resistor Kit - 1/4W (500 total)

COM-10969
$7.95
144
Breadboard - Self-Adhesive (White)

PRT-12002
$4.95
36
Jumper Wires Standard 7" M/M - 30 AWG (30 Pack)

PRT-11026
$1.95
20

Suggested Reading

Analog components, like these flex sensor’s, are a great sensor-reading entry-point for beginners, but there are a few electronics concepts you should be familiar with. If any of these tutorial titles sound foreign to you, consider skimming through that content first.

Analog to Digital Conversion

The world is analog. Use analog to digital conversion to help digital devices interpret the world.

Voltage Dividers

Turn a large voltage into a smaller one with voltage dividers.

What is an Arduino?

What is this 'Arduino' thing anyway?

Analog vs. Digital

This tutorial covers the concept of analog and digital signals, as they relate to electronics.