Debugging by Design

Collaborative Research: Debugging by Design: Developing a Tool Set for Debugging with Electronic Textiles to Promote Computational and Engineering Thinking in High School.

CU Boulder PIs:  Ann Eisenberg/Mark Gross
CU Boulder research team:  Michael J. Schneider,  Christian Hill,  Arielle Blum, Ethan Frier, Rona Sadan

In collaboration with:
Yasmin Kafai,  University of Pennsylvania
Debbie Fields,  Utah State University

We are developing hardware and software tools to assist in the process of “debugging” e-textile circuits.  E-textile debugging presents a unique set of constraints due to the flexible and fabric-based nature of project materials.  In collaboration with teams headed by Yasmin Kafai (U. Pennsylvania) and Deborah Fields (Utah State University), we study the way that students use these tools to debug their textile projects, their cognitive models of e-textile troubleshooting, and the educational implications of these activities.


This is a DIY magnetic “ThreadBoard” for prototyping eTextile circuits that use conductive thread.  This version is designed to work with the BBC micro:bit.  Here is an Instructable for building your own.


This is a 3D-printed version for use with the Adafruit Circuit Playground.  View the Instructable here.

ThreadBoard for Circuit Playground

Short-Sensing Needle

This Debugging by Design wearable enables the user to sense when they have created a short with the conductive thread, while they are sewing their project.  This allows the crafter to correct the error before sewing further, which would necessitate a lot of “undoing” to correct the error

E-Textile Prototyping Kit

This is a DIY kit for prototyping e-textile circuits using leads and connection points.

Pin Status

This software tool (Pin Status) is a library for use with the Arduino IDE designed to help programming students debug their code.  This poster was accepted for presentation in the student research competition at SIGCSE 2020, which was unfortunately canceled. The published abstract is here.  Download the poster here.

Schneider SIGCSE

The (beta) debugger library is available for download.

This project is funded by the National Science Foundation, Award #1742081.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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