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Wearbles: light up poncho with bow switch

Bloged in Wearable Technologies by jennylc Sunday February 12, 2006

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Our 2nd assignment for wearables was to “make a garmet using leather, cotton, wool, conductive fabric and any type of electronics.” I had no idea what I was going to make when i went fabric shopping with Josh D and Kate H, but i bought a yard of flower-print mostly black material, a yard of some striped mostly red wool, and a remanent of brown leather.

At first, i thought i’d make a purse, which turned into a shawl and finally the idea of a poncho popped into my head. I figured that a poncho would take minimal sewing (i only had a few days) and that i could spend the bulk of the time getting the electronics working.

I started off making 6 leather roses or various sizes which i fashioned around green LED’s. I then created the poncho form by simply cutting a whole (which turned out to be too big) in the wool and using fusible tape to create a seam around the opening. I poked the leather rose LEDs through the wool trying to arrange them in some sort of asthetically pleasing way. I hot glued the flowers in place.
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I clipped the cathode end of the LEDs and soldered 220K resistors to them.
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Then i sewed the conductive fabric to the LED’s and poncho using cotton thread.
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I tested the resulting circuit(actually tested it many times along the way) with 3 volt coin cell batteries and decided to use three batteries. I was still not sure how i wanted to switch the circuit on and had also not used my cotton fabric. I had thought i might use the cotton as a lining, but time was running short – I still needed to make a switch for my circuit. A thought came that would allow me to kill two birds with one stone – make a switch using two cotton pieces with the conductive fabric leads sewn into them. That way, when the wearer tied a bow with the cotton strips, the cirucuit would be completed and the flowers would light up.
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While all the LEDs lit up, a couple of them were obscured by the leather flowers. I also used unidirectional LED’s which is why some don’t look they’re glowing.

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