Open Project : FEE

 

 

Concept

For this final wearables project, I wanted to explore the creative aspects of e-textiles and focus on design and structure. Making something that was aesthetically pleasing that almost felt like an art piece while including a cool e-textiles feature, in this case LEDs. I decided to make an inspiration board in the early stages of my brainstorm and I was inspired by various headwear from derby hats to tradition East Asian crowns. I noticed that I was mostly leaning towards a fairy-core aesthetic and decided to follow that style with material and structure. During my brainstorm ,I was inspired by the shape of a pelican flower which seemed like a very interesting option for a headpiece while taking into consideration all of my other hat/headpiece inspirations to come up with FEE. A headpiece made for an alternate universe.

Objective

My goal for this project was to really push myself to create something unique and not use any preexisting garments. Understanding how fashion forward designers create their pieces and are able to push the creativity of wearables was something that I felt needed more exploration. Circuit wise, I wanted LEDs to blend into the piece not taking away from its aesthetic but still incorporating e-textiles.

Process

The process for this wearable was complex but was a good learning experience for future projects and truly pushed me to put in a large amount of hours into one project.

My initial brainstorm + inspo board was quite successful and led me to a similar shape to my final product. While brainstorming , the biggest issue was always figuring out how to fit the circuit discreetly onto the piece while keeping the aesthetic I wanted.  I decided to use the beads as a switch for the LED which meant they would fit into the piece and act as my e-textiles component. (see slides for circuit diagram)

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I first started creating the metal wire structure and then testing my circuit with alligator clips and various bead combinations to make sure my switch worked. I then had to cover the structure with yarn to prevent short circuits and creating separate tubbing for the LED and resistor connections so that they would be isolated. Once all of that was done, I could finally attach it to my headpiece and start attaching the LEDs and the switch beads.

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Even though I was testing my circuit LITERALLY EVERY STEP of the way, after attaching the beads a connection was being made which constantly kept the circuit closed (NOT GOOD) and I unfortunately didn’t have enough time to take it all apart and figure out where it was going wrong so I improvised another switch where the battery was connecting to the LEDs. This new switch was based on the same principal as my original idea but had fewer beads. 

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After I got all of that working and ready, I could finally crochet the entire piece, add finish beads and VOILA! 

See google slides for detailed step by step of process: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/14IK8RrtWnqajgSNP8DfCWIaqQzW2Z3_vlitRrT_EUHQ/edit?usp=sharing 

Final Product

FEE turned out pretty much how I wanted minus the circuit troubles but overall I am very proud of the wearable that I created!  (See slides for LED interaction video)

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Parts List

  • Aluminum Metal Wire
  • Hot glue
  • Regular thread
  • Conductive thread
  • Felt
  • Yarn 
  • Beads
  • 220 Ohm resistor
  • 2 LEDs
  • 3V battery

Reflection + Next step

Overall I think my open project turned out pretty well (even if the circuit wasn’t working as expected) and I would definitely evolve this project into a series if I had opportunity. Planning a better execution for the circuit and really making sure every bead strand is working in its intended way when attaching them to the piece would definitely be the takeaway from this project. Positioning the circuit differently or even creating the base structure in coated wire might make a difference in trouble shooting and having a better circuit workflow. I would also maybe consider using metal beads instead of conductive thread looped around regular beads as that would be much easier to manage and might attach better to a wire structure.   Making a series of headpieces integrating bead switches w/ LEDs might be an interesting future project or even creating an entire outfit based of the aesthetic of this headpiece could also be another interesting future endeavour.

Resources

Prior, O. (2022, Feb 10) Digital Switch Workshop. Canvas OCAD U. https://canvascloud.ocadu.ca/courses/2871/pages/workshop-making-our-own-digital-switches-45-min?module_item_id=241164

Plusea. (2019, Jan 26) Beaded Sway Sensor. Kobakant. https://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=7370

Wilson, H. (2010, Mar 8) Knitted Stretchy Cable. Kobakant. https://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=2245

 

Skill Sharing Workshop: Circuit Management

Skill Sharing Workshop: Circuit Management                                                Marina Diolaiti, Ethan Shapiro, Marcus Tang

What is Circuit Management?

Circuit/Cable management is the planning and organization of a circuit and its connections in order to achieve a productive workflow and effective prototype/end product while having a better understanding of ongoing inputs and outputs of your e-textiles circuit.

Here are the tips and tricks we will be sharing for better circuit management!

  • Organization + Planning
  • Colour Coding 
  • Insulation w/ Various Circuits
  • Mapping & Mark making

Organization + Planning

Organizing and planning out your circuit connections before embarking on a new project can help prevent unwanted circuit mixups and benefits troubleshooting while keeping your workflow clean and documented (ex: Brainstorming, Planning Inputs/Outputs, Drawing out your circuit)

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Brainstorming ideas and circuits on paper before drawing out final ideas is a great way of exploring layouts for e-textiles and allows us to better understand our objective and therefore, create a circuit that efficiently delivers our concept.

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A.A (2017,11,21) Designing “Soft Circuits”. Kobakant: How To get What you Want.https://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=7075

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Drawing out your final circuit on paper is crucial to understanding inputs, outputs especially when working with complex circuits that can sometimes be difficult to process into a final project. It also allows you to see a 2d layout of what can become a 3d circuit especially in the realm of e-textiles.

Colour Coding 

Colour coding circuits makes various input/output connections clear in both prototyping and final product. It is beneficial with complex and parallel circuits (ex: Colour coding on circuit diagrams (paper version), Colour coding with Alligator clips while prototyping, Colour coding on final project, Embroidery)

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Colour coding your circuit diagrams can make it easier to identify various inputs/outputs while making sure every aspect is properly programed in its own circuit

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NO: no distinction between circuits and could make identifying input/output difficult

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YES:Using different colours to identify various parallel LED circuits each having their input match their assigned colours 

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NOMessy work station and lack of structure for different connections/ difficult for troubleshooting 

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YESClean work station and using specific colours to identify the multiple circuits makes testing your prototype and troubleshooting more efficient 

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QUICK TIP!
Using hair clips or bread pins to hold your alligator clips together makes less clutter on your workstation and enables you to work with shorter distances!

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COOL TRICK : Colour coding with regular thread of different colours  is a great way to identify your circuit components and mark up inputs/outputs!!!

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Here I am using pink/red/orange thread to create X marks, identifying different pressure sensors in my circuit and their connections to the CPX and common ground line

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Here I am using purple/blue/green thread to embroider on top of the conductive thread line to both colour code and add patterns to my circuit. This is a great way to explore creativity in e-textiles while creating clear indicators for circuits and hiding conductive thread !

Embroidery for Colour Coding 

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Embroidery can be extremely helpful in creating clear circuits while sharpening your sewing skills and exploring designs and patterns in e-textiles. This video by ZSK Technical Embroidery Systems https://youtu.be/YT1KhizhanI demonstrates embroidery use in a various circuit that includes conductive and regular thread while also showing multiple e-textiles examples! This blog post by Hannah Perner-Wilson https://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=5501 on machine embroidered speakers is also a great reference for the endless possibilities of embroidery in e-textiles  (Although it is all machine made, we can still apply this principle to our handmade designs and practice our embroidery skills)

Insulation w/ Various Circuits                                                                            

Insulation is crucial in preventing short circuits from overlapping interfaces and insures circuit completion. It becomes especially important when managing multiple complex circuits that are interacting to create one product.

Why is insulation effective?

  • Prevents unwanted exposed conductive thread
  • Prevents short circuit
  • Hold conductors in position

While dealing with conductive threads on fabric, unlike normal electric wires. It doesn’t come with a plastic coating to prevent the wires from being exposed. While the wiring is being exposed, circuits that are created around it might interfere such as causing a short circuit   For example, when finishing a wearable piece that has circuit exposed, while moving, it might lead the conductive threads to bind together accidentally and did the command that was not intended. 

I made an example to show the importance of insulation.

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I designed a simple double sided folding switch. FIrst I sewed the conductive fabric switches and conductive threads into a cotton fabric. Then I folded it in half and put thread as an insulator to prevent opposite circuit conducting each other. I wrapped the outer layer with thread as well to prevent the conductive threads from exposing.  Eventually, the conductive switches are labelled where A is intended to contact with B and C is intended to contact with D

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NO: Exposes conductive threads, No insulation between circuits

Because both circuits constantly contact with each other, the light from playground express will either flash only in a single colour or just not work the way as intended 

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YES: Conceals conductive surface, Insulates between circuits

As expected, the swatch with the insulated layers has worked to the intended way. Because of the threads are well protected, the chance of short circuit has greatly reduced 

From these samples we can conclude that adding layers of felt for insulation between complex circuits can have multiple advantages.

Mapping & Mark Making

Mark making facilitates the sewing process and understanding of circuits while keeping a clean aesthetic during construction of prototypes and final projects. It is a great way of managing circuits especially in the making process where things can get a bit tricky :[

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Tracing your paper circuit diagram onto your chosen fabric (in this case felt) makes the sewing process much simpler, basically sewing along a straight line. This trick allows you to always keep track of your inputs/outputs.

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NOLack of mapping your circuit diagram on final fabric can lead to crooked lines, fraying and risk of short circuit

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YESMapping out your circuit and identifying key components can make your circuit management easier and even help your sewing process, allowing straight lines and clear connections

Circuits used

  • Complex Circuit
  • Multiple resistors
  • Varying capacities

Learning Outcomes

Overall, circuit/cable management can be extremely helpful when building complex circuits. Using these various tips and tricks can make the workflow of any project much simpler and time efficient. Following the steps to effective circuit building/management listed below ensures use of all the previously mentioned steps and is a sure way of having an efficient making process.

Steps to effective circuit building/management

  1. Drawing out ideas/ brainstorming 
  2. Drawing out circuit on paper
  3. Testing circuit with colour coded prototyping
  4. Mapping & Mark making on final material
  5. Building circuit & colour coding inputs/outputs
  6. Insulating multiple circuits to ensure connection
  7. Clear documentation 

Resources: 

ZSK Stickmaschinen. (2020,04,07) Embroidery for E-Textiles [Video]. Youtube. https://youtu.be/YT1KhizhanI
Perner-Wilson, Hannah (2015,04,01) Machine Embroidering. Kobakant: How To get What you Want. https://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=5501
A.A (2017,11,21) Designing “Soft Circuits”. Kobakant: How To get What you Want.https://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=7075

Expressive Wearable Assignment : Wavve

Concept

Concert goers, sports fans, rave addicts, this one is for you and the heap of confusion that comes with finding the people you are meeting up with in crowded public spaces.

Wavve is a glove-like wearable that acts as a quick finder for lost friends in big crowds. Easily customizable in fabric and “personal find colour” Wavve is an easy accessory for any fit or style, making your night out as efficient as possible while keeping your look simple yet detailed.

Inspired by multiple incidents of miscommunication with friends at concerts and festivals trying to find one another through a crowd of small faces in packed arenas and overcrowded venues, This wearable is activated through the motion of the hand or “wave” (where it takes it name with an extra v for spice 🙂 ) lighting up the glove, sending a clear signal to the person trying to find you vice-versa.

This Wavve prototype lights up orange (my choice colour) when signalling as it is a striking colour for anyone in a crowd and also compliments the colour of the fabric chosen for prototype.

Objective

Helping people efficiently find each other in big crowds with light and motion while not drawing to much attention or concern from others around (hence the lack of sound or flashing ) was the goal for this wearable as it has always been an issue for me in the past, often wasting the first 20 minutes of a show or event trying to locate meet-up friends who are being quite vague with their location description (bad texters are strangely common these days) 

While a cellphone light could be used in a similar way, it is also a common signal at music festivals and concerts whereas a customized wearable that lights up a specific colour would make the crowd experience much easier

Additionally, I decided to make this prototype out of yarn (crochet style) and felt fabric as I find it keeps your hand warm and still looks cute and can accessorize easily with any look. It also diffuses the light well through the natural openings made by the crochet pattern.

Process

Brainstorming and trying to understand the project (after much confusion I finally got an idea and starting working) + Circuit Diagram

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Creating program in MakeCode (still = sparkle animation) (wave/shake = bright Orange LEDs)

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Starting on test fabric and drawing out circuit with magnet placements and CPX using conductive thread and conductive fabric to connect the circuit. (Tested the circuit with alligator clips like a million times to make sure it ACTUALLY worked)

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Recreating the circuit on the final fabric, sewing and glueing all pieces together also creating the outer yarn layer with crochet (and lots of patience)

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Using crochet to encase felt glove with outer layer and finally have a finished product!!!

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Please refer to the Google Slides here for a more detailed overview of the entire process (lots and lots of pictures :)) https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1L8YzGzP3NvKKcYQb0jpp0Hh0GtjgxGQMgfvho2-3PP0/edit?usp=sharing

Parts List

  • Yarn
  • Clutch Magnets
  • Conductive Fabric
  • Conductive thread
  • Hot glue 
  • Fabric glue
  • Regular thread
  • CPX
  • Micro USB to USB Cord
  • Rechargeable Battery Pack
  • Felt

Final Product Images

Well turns out shitty iPhone cameras don’t like when you wave so these pictures sadly don’t show the full wearable in action 🙁 I TRIED

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Reflections & Next Steps

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the finished product considering the amount of time and effort put in (especially the crochet) and I think if simulated in real-life situations, it would be an efficient way to find someone in a big crowd. It fits nicely on the wrist area and is quite cosy! I learned a lot about planning out circuits and the difficulty of execution especially when its making a piece of wearable clothing. I would definitely add LEDs around the entire glove just to make it brighter and would explore more features with the MakeCode program given that this one is pretty basic. Maybe somehow incorporating a second glove into the circuit to match this one would be an interesting experiment and would make a better selling product. I wish I could’ve experimented with different materials and maybe found something that diffuses light better than the yarn outer layer (although it makes for an aesthetic arm warmer) As a prototype I think the idea is good and could be developed further with more research and  testing in both the fabrication and programming. This wearables assignment made me reflect and plan out a lot which will certainly be helpful in future wearable projects and made me want to further explore motion in wearables. At the end of the day it’s a cute glove and manages to accomplish its objective while remaining subtle and detailed.

Resources

Prior, O. (2022). MakeCode Introduction [Online Lecture]. Retrieved from https://ocadu.techsmithrelay.com/connector/view/index?id=YHkB&isLtiSession=true&ltiUserId=0e0670105d1c2db73436feb02e0b28f357ee9a1f 

Prior, O.  (2022). Digital Switches & Buttons Overview [Online Lecture]. Retrieved from https://ocadu.techsmithrelay.com/connector/view/index?id=opY6&isLtiSession=true&ltiUserId=0e0670105d1c2db73436feb02e0b28f357ee9a1f 

Prior, O. (2022). Basic Circuits & Circuit Demonstration [Online Lecture]. Retrieved from https://ocadu.techsmithrelay.com/connector/view/index?id=EKtW&isLtiSession=true&ltiUserId=0e0670105d1c2db73436feb02e0b28f357ee9a1f