Touch Board Troubleshooting

If you are stuck, check out this Touch Board troubleshooting guide

Red, blue and yellow crocodile clips attached to a touch board

The Touch Board is a great device to develop a project that uses capacitive sensors. You can use many of our example codes or write your own one; you can paint capacitive sensors or capacitive proximity sensors with Electric Paint; you can use it to either output MP3 files or MIDI sounds; you can use the Touch Board as a MIDI controller. If you are getting stuck in your project, because something isn’t working as expected, have a look at the suggestions below!

Unable to upload code

In order to change the code on the Touch Board, you need to install the Touch Board installer for the Arduino IDE.

If you are unable to locate the Touch Board within the Arduino IDE under Tools -> Port, but you ran the Touch Board installer, then check your cable. Some USB cables are for powering only, but you need to use one that works both for powering as well as transmitting data. If you bought the Touch Board in one of our kits, please use the USB cable that came with the kit. If you bought the Touch Board separately, please try using a different cable.

If you are able to locate the Touch Board under Tools -> Port, but the code isn’t being uploaded, and instead it’s just idle, then please try following these steps:

  1. Press the reset button on the Touch Board
  2. Make sure that you don’t have any menus open in the Arduino IDE
  3. While the L LED is flashing, select the correct port from the Tools -> Port menu in the Arduino IDE (you have about 8 seconds to do this)
  4. Ensure that Bare Conductive Touch Board is selected in the Tools -> Board menu in the IDE
  5. Allow the L LED to stop flashing
  6. With the code that you want to upload open in the IDE, click the upload button and immediately after, press and hold the reset button on the board
  7. Release the reset button at the point where the text above the black console at the bottom of the screen changes to “Uploading…”

Unable to hear any sounds

The Touch Board can play MP3 files from its SD card, or act as a MIDI synthesizer. If you have previously set up the Touch Board as MIDI synthesizer, for example as a piano, but now you want to play MP3 files again, then you need to remove the soldering from the two solder bridges of the Touch Board and upload the right code, for playing MP3s, it’s “Touch_MP3”. Also make sure that the headphones or speakers that you are using are fully charged, and plugged in all the way into the Touch Board.

If you are using your own MP3 files, make sure that you have labelled them correctly, you can find a detailed tutorial here. Sometimes it’s good to start from scratch if you are getting stuck, so if you want to use the example files that came with the Touch Board, you can download them here.

Also, make sure that the micro SD card is fully inserted into the Touch Board and remove any dirt if applicable.

Unable to trigger the sensors

The sensors might not respond or trigger an output erroneously for a couple of reasons. First, make sure that you are not touching the sensors when you turn the Touch Board on and that the Touch Board isn’t placed on a conductive surface.

If your sensors aren’t responding, then we always recommend using the Grapher first, it helps you visualise the sensors. Work yourself up from testing the electrodes directly on the Touch Board to one large sensor after another.

If you are attaching anything to the capacitive sensors of the Touch Board, make sure to reset the Touch Board, either by turning it off and on again, or by resetting it with the Reset button on the board, or by resetting it via the Grapher. When the board first turns on, it spends a few seconds finding a background capacitance level against which to detect touches, any time you connect something new to the Touch Board you need to let it readjust so that each electrode can do the necessary calibration.

Make sure that any connections to the sensors is stable and constant, so for example with alligator clips, make sure that they are secured to the surface and are not overlapping each other. In your design, there shouldn’t be any displacement of the sensors. Overlapping clips can cause interference and noise, so stabilising them helps.

If you are painting long lines with Electric Paint as an interface, you need to be careful. Electric Paint can have a high resistance over a long distance, which means that the signal might get lost at such a long range. You can then either paint shorter lines with Electric Paint or change the threshold values. You can change the threshold values with the Grapher or with the code in order to detect your target, you can even have a variation in the thresholds for each electrode. Also, make sure the Electric Paint hasn’t cracked anywhere, if it has, just apply another layer of Electric Paint.

Also, like with wires, make sure that the Electric Paint connected one electrode isn’t touching the paint of another.

If you are using long cables to create sensors, make sure to use shielded cable, otherwise, the non-shielded cable will pick up noise.

Sometimes, there can be interference with the sensors due to background noise or because a ground reference is missing. This is especially true for when using the Touch Board with a battery or a power bank. One quick way to eliminate this noise is by grounding the Touch Board and connecting the GND connection of the Touch Board to ground.

Next steps

If you are writing your own code or modifying one of the example codes for your design, we’d recommend using the serial monitor in Arduino. By adding lines of Serial.println(""), you can see what happens in your code when. We use this, for example, in the Touch_MP3 code.

If you get stuck and can’t figure your problem out, let us know at