Solenoid Shape Display – Senior Thesis

solenoids prototype

Fall 2014 – Spring 2015
As part of an initiative at the University of Colorado to make PhET simulations accesible to non-sighted learners, I explored sonification, tangible user interfaces, and built a shape display. The display consists of an 8×8 array of small 5v solenoids which can be individually actuated, and utilizes an arduino and custom solenoid driver PCBs. The display is capable of generating patterns like the movement of soundwaves which users can feel via placing their hands on the display. The project fulfilled my senior capstone requirement in the Department of Computer Science at CU Boulder.

The progress made on this project would not have been possible without electronics help from Jiffer Harriman and CAD help from Thomas Brunsgaard.

Read my report on the project here and my research proposal here.

Solenoid Driver PCB

Solenoid Driver PCB


Design for Array in SolidWorks


Solenoids Connected in Rows


Solenoid Array Before Wiring



Wiring Components Together


Array After Wiring