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Notable Board Books

How alert and happy my mother (with Alzheimer's) became when she heard familiar songs! Lift the book, turn the page--the book does the rest.

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Music benefits people. From toddlers to seniors, music enhances moods, promotes health, and stimulates memory. Recently I shared a children’s musical board book with my mother who has Alzheimer’s. I was amazed at how alert and happy she became when she heard the familiar songs. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Mom could have her own book with age appropriate music?
My husband Mike and I (Annelle) are creating Notable Board Books. Notable Board Books are customizable, interactive books containing personalized music and pictures. To encourage sing-alongs, Notable Board Books include an audible track with instrumental and vocal music.

We are trying to eliminate all buttons and switches. The book will go into "ready" mode when picked up and will play the page that is selected by the user.

We didn't want the book to jump from the middle of one song to another if a page is turned, so a certain operating logic was established.

Build instructions, 3d print (also design) files and royalty free music are included within this project. 

Here's a video of a functional prototype.

Instead of buttons to select a song, photo resistors will indicate which page is being examined.

A tilt switch array can be used to sense that the book has been picked up.

An array of mechanical tilt switches will be used to put the book into "ready" mode.

Here's an overview of the project.

We are using an Adafruit Sound Board to store and replay the audio bits.  The board is very small and it can handle multiple audio files. Separate pins can be activated to play individual files (up to eleven).



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View all 10 components

  • Verify Photo Resistor Output

    Annelle Rigsby10/01/2018 at 17:56 0 comments

    Holes in the board book that are misaligned or not clean can impact the output of the photo resistor. To verify the voltage received on the analog input pins of the Arduino, I attached wire wrap wire to the resistor junction that connects to the analog input pins. I labeled the wires (1 through 5) as shown below.

    I brought these wires out (as well as a ground connection) and placed the board book on the electronic housing. In normal room lighting, I opened the book to each page and recorded the voltage on each input pin. The "dark" readings were about two volts (light leaks in from many places). The "page open" readings were 3.5 volts or higher. Pages deeper in (less hole space for light to travel through) read a little higher. If the room was lighter, the readings were higher.

    Because zero to five volts on the Arduino results in readings of 0 to 1023, the open readings would correspond to a value of about 700. I didn't want to cut it too close, so I used 600 as the number to indicate a page was receiving light.

  • Adding Photos and Text to the Board Book

    Annelle Rigsby10/01/2018 at 17:32 0 comments

    After selecting and sizing the text and photos for the book, the pages should be printed using photo paper (the paper needs to be stiff and durable to prevent wrinkling during the glue process). I use ordinary white wood glue.

    Spread the glue liberally on the page.

    Using a paper towel or brush, spread the glue evenly.

    Place the photo/text on the glue. Check for excess glue around the edges of the image. Wipe excess away if necessary. Wait until the glue has dried before attaching another image to another page; otherwise, pages may stick together.

  • Making Holes in the Board Book

    Annelle Rigsby10/01/2018 at 17:05 0 comments

    Making clean holes in the correct spot for the photoresistors can be a challenge. I 3d printed a "punch jig" to make this process a bit easier. First, line up the the punch jig with the upper right corner of the page to be drilled.

    Use a drill punch to mark the place for the hole.

    Use hollow core drill bits to create the hole.

    I had to gently start the hole with a normal drill bit, then use the hollow core bit. 

    The first hole goes through five pages, the second through four etc.

  • Recording Music

    Annelle Rigsby10/01/2018 at 14:02 0 comments

    Music has to be moved from a source to the Notable Board Book. For this example, and to be completely open source, I selected songs where the copyright had expired, then I played the keyboard and our daughter Tia provided the vocal accompaniment. My husband, Mike, recorded our efforts and transferred the music by the process shown below. 

    You would probably be safe using commercially produced music if: a) you purchased the music AND: b) you are using it for a loved one AND: c) it is not played publicly AND: d) it is not distributed or sold.

    Not having access to serious recording equipment, we used an iPhone. Under "Utilities," select "Voice Memos."

    When you are ready to record, press the red record button.

    Press the red button again when the song is complete. Press "Done."

    Press "Save" and open the file you just saved.

    On the left side of the word "Edit" there is a small box with an arrow pointing upward. Select that box.

    Select "Mail" and email the file to yourself.

    Unfortunately, the file will arrive as a type "m4a." Go online and search for "convert m4a to ogg". 

    The Adafruit sound board has eleven control pins that correspond to software "slots" in memory. If the sound you just recorded is to be played when you pull the pin for slot #5 low, then the sound file should be labeled "T05.ogg".

    Plug the Adafruit sound board into your computer and it will show up as a new USB key. Copy the .ogg files to the sound board. Eject the board and it is ready to play.

  • Functional Prototype

    Annelle Rigsby08/15/2018 at 21:03 0 comments

    Here's what it works like:

    I started by soldering wire wrap wire to the photo resistors, then shrink wrapping the ends to prevent shorting.

    Then I inserted a photo resistor into the hole in the last page of the book.

    Metal duct tape was used to secure the photo resistor in place (the sticky side of the tape does not conduct).

    This was repeated for the five active holes.

    It looks like this from the front side.

    Using the schematic, the Arduino was connected to the Adafruit sound board.

    The relay and more Arduino connections are made.

    Wires from the photo resistors (the board book) are attached.

    Using some sticky putty, the board book was attached to the case (I didn't want things too firmly attached until I have tested the book more completely).

    The Arduino sketch for this is included in the files on this site.

  • Container

    Annelle Rigsby08/13/2018 at 19:16 0 comments

    Now we start the process of combining the speaker, electronics and book. Here are the speaker, retainers and speaker enclosure.

    The speaker is mounted using 3mm x 8mm screws.

    Next, gather the tilt switch and backplate.

    Fasten the tilt switch array to the backplate using a 3mm x 8mm screw.

    The tilt switch array is now ready to combine with the speaker housing.

    Screwed together, they look like this.

    Gather the battery cover and speaker assembly.

    Assembled, they look like this.

    The "behind the book" housing is made from two pieces that are glued or melted together.

    Now, the speaker assembly, electronics holder and book are coming together.

    The speaker enclosure sits too high and prohibits easy access to the lower pages. The electronics housing will need to be raised to correct this.

  • Power Lock On

    Annelle Rigsby07/31/2018 at 13:03 0 comments

    Although the tilt switches can be used to indicate that the book has been picked up or set down, intermediate "holding the book flat" can result in power loss. By placing a relay contact parallel with the tilt contacts, the Arduino can hold power on for a couple of minutes (or until finished playing a song). 

  • Pick Up the Book Detection

    Annelle Rigsby07/27/2018 at 13:42 0 comments

    Four roller ball switches and a 3d printed housing (file available here) can be used to "know" that the book has been picked up.

    The housing provides a slight downward tilt so that the roller ball switches are all reset when the book is resting on a flat surface. The short wire (brass color) should face outward--when the switch is tilted toward the brass wire end, electrical connection is made.

    I use wire wrap wire to connect switches together. The four switches are wired in parallel.

  • Page Selection

    Annelle Rigsby07/26/2018 at 18:09 0 comments

    Automatic page selection (our target audience may not be able to operate buttons and switches) is accomplished by reading the resistance of photoresistors.

    At this stage, the output goes to light emitting diodes. In the final version, songs will be played.

    Holes are drilled in the board book and corresponding photo resistors are lined up in the back of the book.

    When light strikes a photo resistor, the Arduino "knows" that page is active. 

    The "deepest page in" is the one that should be activated.

    The electronics have to be minimized in size and tied to the music playback system. The "Turn it on when picked up" system also has to be installed.

  • Page Detection and Turn on/off Concept

    Annelle Rigsby07/23/2018 at 18:29 0 comments

    By placing holes in the pages that correspond to photo resistor locations, a processor can tell which page is open.

    As more pages are opened, more photo resistors detect light. The "deepest" active page is the one that will be played.

    Four roller ball tilt switches, placed in a 3d printed enclosure, will be "off" when the book is lying on a table. In any other position, they will be "on."

View all 10 project logs

  • 1
    Build Instructions Part One

    Start by assembling the case for the electronics and speaker.  Take the 3d printed "backbase" and "speakerhousingb."

    Examine the two pieces from the end and match the holes.

    Using two M3 screws, connect the speaker housing to the electronic housing.

    Solder wires (about 9 inches long) to the 4 ohm speaker.

    Attach the speaker to the speaker housing using two M3 screws and nuts.

    Insert the speaker wires through the large hole into the electronic housing.

    Bend the leads of the photo resistors close to the resistor body.

    Insert the photo resistors into the round holes in the electronic enclosure. A small rectangular opening is provided for the leads.

    Prepare a short piece of heat shrinkable tubing (about 1/2 inch long) for the photo resistor.

    Slide this over one lead of the photo resistor into the plastic. This is done to prevent the two leads from accidentally touching and creating a short circuit.

    Do this for all the photo resistors.

    Now, we will start connecting things together using the schematic diagram.

    Solder a piece of wire wrap wire to one lead of a photo resistor. Cut off the excess lead.

    Add heat shrink tubing over the soldered connection.

    Do this for all the photo resistors.

    Connect wire to the other leg of the photo resistors. These legs will all go to the same place, +5 volts.

    Take a roller ball tilt switch and insert it into the 3d printed "tilt1." The brass end should be higher than the silver end.

    Solder wires to each end of the switch and place the assembly in the electronic container--secure using Velcro.

  • 2
    Build Instructions Part Two--the Book and Sound Files

    Take the 3d printed "punch jig" and align it with the upper right hand corner of the blank board book.

    Use a drill punch to mark the place for the holes.

    Use a hollow core drill bit (I used 7mm) to drill the holes. I found it necessary to pre drill slightly using a normal drill bit--to keep the hollow bit from wandering. A drill press could be used to avoid this problem.

    The first hole goes through five pages, the second through four, etc.

    After selecting and sizing the text and photos for the book, the pages should be printed using photo paper (the photo paper should be stiff and durable to prevent wrinkling during the glue process). I use ordinary white glue for this phase.

    Spread the glue liberally.

    Using a paper towel or brush, spread the glue evenly. Attach the photo or text and wait for it to dry before working on another page (we don't want pages to stick together).

    Music has to be moved from a source to the Notable Board Book. For this example, and to be as open sourced as possible, I selected songs where the copyright had expired, then I played the keyboard and our daughter, Tia, provided the vocal accompaniment. My husband, Mike, recorded our efforts and transferred the music using the process shown below.

    I'm not a legal advisor, but commercially produced music could probably be used if (a) you purchased the music AND (b) you are using it for one individual AND (c) it is not played publicly AND (d) it is not distributed or sold.

    Not having access to serious recording equipment, we used an iPhone. Under "Utilities," select "Voice Memos."

    When ready to record, press the red record button.

    Press the red button again when the song is complete. Press "Done."

    Press "Save," then open the file you just saved.

    On the left side of the word "Edit" there is a small box with an arrow pointing upward. Select that box.

    Select "Mail" and email the file to yourself. 

    The file will arrive as a type "m4a." Use your favorite search engine and search for "convert m4a to ogg." Numerous free converters are available.

    The Adafruit sound board has eleven control pins that correspond to eleven "slots" in memory.  If the sound just recorded is to be played when the pin for slot #5 is pulled low, the sound file should be labeled "T05.ogg"

    Plug the Adafruit sound board into your computer (via a microUSB cable) and it will show up as a new USB key. Copy the .ogg files to the sound board. Eject the board and it is ready to play.

  • 3
    Build Instructions, Part Three--Wiring, Test and Assembly

    Let's examine the schematic again.

    Bring the 9 volt battery wire through the large hole from the speaker enclosure into the electronic housing. Connect everything according to the schematic and load the software sketch (included in files for this project) into the Arduino.

    Power the system on (tilt the enclosure) and adjust the sound (using the knob on the audio amplifier) for the level desired. Louder (not distorted) is probably better.

    Holes in the board book that are misaligned or not clean can impact the output of the photo resistors. To verify the voltage received on the analog input of the Arduino, I attached wire wrap wire to the resistor junction that connects to the analog input pins. I labeled the wires (1 through 5) as shown below. I brought these wires out (as well as a ground) and loosely placed the board book on the electronic housing. In normal room lighting, I opened the book to each page and recorded the voltage on each input pin. The "dark" readings were about two volts. The "page open" readings were 3.5 volts or higher. Pages deeper in (less tunnel for light to travel through) were a bit higher. If the room is lighter, the readings will be higher.

    Because zero to five volts on the Arduino results in readings of 0 to 1023, the open page readings correspond to a value of about 700. Not wanting to cut it too close, I used "600" as the number to indicate a page was receiving light.

    I cut the one inch wide Velcro into 1/2 inch wide strips. These are attached to the indentions provided on the electronic enclosure.

    Peel the plastic from the Velcro and carefully place the book so that the holes in the book page align with the photo resistors.  Fasten the battery/speaker cover to the end using M3 screws.

    The book is now ready for use!

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nittygritty74141 wrote 08/03/2018 at 19:39 point

Hello Annette and Mike, I was impressed about the idea you had with your Mom to make her smile, seeing and hearing familiar things. I think, it is easily possible to add a MP3-Player board (or similar) that is playing the songs (or whatever) behind the text and the pictures. I had some similar projects some time ago - if you like, I will send you the hardware and software items, that can be simply adapted to the hardware you alread setup.

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