Coding Exploration – Tim Chou

In this blog post, I would like to explore how to make a Tron animation using an RGB light strip.

Okay maybe not as cool as these but it should look like something similar.



In order to create a Tron-like light trail animation, the neopixels will have to turn on and off individually from one pixel to another. Pressing button A on CPX will initiate an animation running in one direction; pressing button B, the light will run in the opposite direction.


Make code:


What worked?

In make code, I made a for loop that creates an index that the CPX will use to refer to the pixels’ positions. (index 0 = pixel 1, index 1 = pixel 2, etc.) The for loop will count from 0 to 20, which is the total number of pixel on my light strip, creating the animation. At the same time, I added two lines of code in JS mode (strip.setPixelBrightness(index+1,255),(index-1, Fade)) to make the first light the brightest and the fading the brightness of the two following pixels aim to create the fading tail.

For the opposite direction, the code has to be inverted but there is no way to create a for loop with the descending count. So again, I made this function in JS,  which worked perfectly running in the opposite direction!

What didn’t work?

The fading effect for the tail worked only for the first button push. For some reasons, the light trail (the two following fading pixels) won’t show the second time running the animation. The problem is still not resolved…

Tim Chou – Open Project Prototype


The idea of this project is to use a zipper as the switch to trigger LED light strips. There are three points of open switches sew-in alone the fly that will close when the zipper touches them. When the wearer zips up the jacket the zipper will first touch switch A, which closes the circuit, and triggers the light strip that is attached next to the fly to play an animation that looks like the neopixels are following the zipper. When the zipper passes switch B and hit the last switch on the top of the fly, switch C, the light strip that’s attached to the inner collar will play a rainbow animation for 2 seconds. When the zipper goes down and hit switch B, The first light strip will play an animation that follows the zipper down.



The objective of this project is to create an expressive jacket that reacts to motions. It is also an expressive outfit that would attract attention in darker environments.



    • Because of the thick protective layer on the light strips, they create some weight both at the center of the torso and the back of the neck that can feel a bit uncomfortable within 10 minutes.
    • When the zipper is closed, the light strip near the fly creates some resistance when the wearer leans forward, causing some difficulties in performing the action.
    • The light strip behind the neck is obvious for viewers, but hard to notice by the wearer, so the wearer has to keep turning his head to check if the lights are working.
    • The light strip behind the neck got a bit warm so it was a little scary when wearing it.


Process Images:


    • img_6680

Final images and demonstration:


    • img_6683 img_6684


Parts List

    • LED light strip
    • Conductive thread
    • Crimping beads

Circuit Diagram

Reflections & Next Steps

    • This is overall a really fun project to work on. The part when the code is actually working is very satisfying, but the sewing part is still a bit difficult as my circuit did not work at the end so I was forced to use alligator clips for demonstration. I also encounter a problem when I was creating the switches on the fly, I stiched them too much and they became too thick so that the zipper couldn’t pass through. Lesson learnt..



Resources & Related Works (cited in APA)

How to get what you want. (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2022, from

Complex Circuit Planning with Aluminum Tape

Group 7
By: Jared Ireland, Sylvia Slakva, Tim Chou


Circuit Planning

  • Sketching your circuit on paper is one of the quickest and best ways to plan out your circuits. It’s excellent for getting a rough draft going or refined some of the more complicated parts of your circuits. Your sketches can be applied or transferred to fabric patterns via hand drawing or a drawing machine. 
  • The CPX is great for paper prototyping because the PIN holes can be easily traced out onto paper.


Symbol Conventions

  • Knowing your symbol conventions are essential in creating an accurate and understandable circuit diagram. For this workshop you should familiarize yourself with the LED, resistor and photocell symbols. For more useful symbols, visit this website: Circuit Diagram Symbols




Circuit Prototyping – Why use Aluminum Tape?

  • Breadboards are good for prototyping hardware but not so well for soft-circuits. 
  • Alligator clips are useful for prototyping with the PCX but they can get messy easily and aren’t great for planning a two-dimensional circuit. 
  • Aluminum tape is a great affordable prototyping tool that can be purchased in any hardware store (ex. Home Depot, Canadian Tire). 
    • If you just finished sketching out your circuit diagram you can easily test it out by laying aluminum tape over your sketch to replicate the circuit. 
    • Copper tape is a better alternative because it’s more conductive and easily soldered to, but it is harder to find and costs much more.


Turning your Sketch Diagram into a Working Circuit

  • Using aluminum tape is great for quickly converting your sketch diagram into a testable circuit.
  • You can start by cutting long strips of aluminum tape beforehand to save time. Using a rotary blade cutter to cut the aluminum tape is much cleaner and more effective than using scissors. 


Techniques to using Aluminum Tape

Fold-Over-Overlap + Tape-Over-Overlap:

  • Fold the end of a strip of aluminum tape and tuck it under the sticky side of another strip so that it holds the folded strip in place, then lay down the folded tape so that the aluminum faces are touching.
  • Align 2 strips with one’s end overlapping the other’s, then fold the end overlapping strip so that aluminum faces are touching before taping over the joint to secure it in place.





  • Line up or overlap 2 strips of aluminum tape and sew through both of them a few times with conductive thread. 




  • Prepare 2 short strips of aluminum tape so that one of them is at least ¼” shorter than the other, then align the 2 strips at the center and stick the adhesive sides together so that you have a double sided strip with a sticky side on each end. Use this to bridge the gap between 2 strips continuously.



Troubleshooting and Connecting Components

  • Using a multimeter can be useful for testing if your circuit has continuity because it’s really easy to mess up your circuit if you don’t apply aluminum tape properly. 
  • Aluminum strips have an adhesive side which keeps your circuit in place but can also insulate so it’s not a good idea to overlap a strip over another to extend the wire. You also can’t tape over a LED or resistor leg over another strip of tape because it will break the circuit. 


  • Piercing through the aluminum tape with the LED or resistor legs can help you get a solid connection. 
  • Make sure to position your CPX properly on your circuit to get a proper connection and avoid a short circuit. Holding down the PINs the circuit uses can establish a stronger connection as well. 




We prepared three circuit planning challenges for you to try out with the aluminum tape and handouts that were given out in class. skillshare-circuit-diagram-challenge_page_2

Simple Circuit Challenge 


  • 3 LEDs
  • 3 200 ohm Resistors
  • Aluminum Tape
  • Pencil + Paper
  • CPX



  1. On the simple circuit diagram, Sketch three series circuits with an LED and resistor in each. Use pins A3, A5, and A6 as outputs and use only one GND pin. 
  2. When you finish sketching your circuit, lay down strips of aluminum tape over where the wires should be. 
  3. Upload the simple circuit code and lay your CPX on top of the one in the diagram to test out your circuit.


NOTE: Your circuit can be a bit funky especially when first starting with aluminum tape so you may need to press down on some points of the circuit to keep the connection going through the circuit. 




Simple Circuit Code





Advanced Circuit Challenge 


  • 3 LEDs
  • 4 Resistors (220 ohm)
  • Photocell
  • Aluminum Tape
  • Pencil/Paper
  • CPX


  1. Using only the right half of the CPX, create a circuit diagram that uses one photocell and resistor connected to pin A6, as well three LEDs and resistors that connect to pins A4, A5 and A7.

RESTRICTION: The LEDs and photocell must be spread out around the template without crossing the circle in the middle, or go outside of the outer hexagon. 

NOTE: Photocells (or photoresistors) are light-sensitive variable resistors that change the resistance based on light levels. The higher the light it detects, the lower the resistance.





Advanced Circuit Code


Demo Circuit Challenge


  • 1 LED
  •  Resistor (220 ohm)
  • Aluminum Tape
  • Pencil + Paper
  • CPX



  1. Draw a series circuit of a resistor and LED that uses A2 and GND. Instead of connecting the LED straight to GND, draw a line from the LED to the bottom right corner of the paper before going back to GND.
  2. Draw a line from A3 to the top right corner of the paper.
  3. Place the LED and resistor on top of the spots you drew your diagram. Lay strips of aluminum tape where you drew your lines and over the legs of your resistor and LED.
  4. Place your CPX on top of your diagram and upload the demo code. When the code is uploaded, fold the top right corner of your paper over your bottom right corner to light up your LED. 




Demo Circuit Code





Circuit diagram symbols. Lucidchart. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2022, from,Electrical%20circuit%20diagram%20symbols,zigzag%20lines)%20reduce%20current%20flow.

Ada, L. (n.d.). Photocells. Adafruit Learning System. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from

A. (2017b, February 28). Chapter 6: Adding the photocell. Arduino to Go.

HOW TO GET WHAT YOU WANT. (2022). Kobakant.

Circuit Stickers – Jie Qi. (n.d.). Technolojie.

E-Textile Swatch Exchange. (n.d.). E-Textile Summer Camp.

Sketching in Circuits – Jie Qi. (n.d.). Technolojie.

Wearable Electronic Prototype I: The Clarity Scarf


The Concept

The chosen emotion for this project is Fear.
Different people feel fear for different things. I know that the feeling of fear and anxiety increases when being in a very dark environment and is often due to a lack of clarity of my surroundings. When people find themselves lost in a dark space, even a single point of light, such as an emergency exit sign or the distanced moonlight, would help make sense of the space and provide confidence to navigate the environment.


Project Objective

The Clarity Scarf provides comfort and visibility while being in dark environments.
The scarf is made with soft fabric that protects the user’s neck. It increases visibility in the dark by using light-sensitive neon pixels located on one end of the scarf. When wearing, the neon pixels should be positioned near the wearer’s chest, facing front, and designed to be used as a mini flashlight that constantly adjusts its brightness based on the surrounding lighting.


The Ideation

The concept of this project emerged from the self-led ideation session instructed by Olivia, which generated interesting results. One of my favourite ideas from this session is a scarf that will shine when it is dark. I initially named it the Starlight Scarf, which includes a light sensor and will emit starlight when there is minimal light pollution.


After a failing attempt to connect the LED light strip meant to create the starlight effect. I moved on and modified this concept with my second favourite idea, The Clarity Neckless, and renamed it The Clarity Scarf.










Project Reflection

This project helped me understand how to build a working circuit on fabrics and textiles using soft, conducted materials like conductive thread and fabric. By learning how to use the brightness level received by the photoresistor as a reference to control and create different light patterns and colours on fabric, this assignment helped me gain a basic knowledge of crafting and programming wearable electronics.

If more time is allowed, some improvements I would be focusing on include, for one, moving the light sensor to another location that is better exposed to the surrounding light as shades of the fabric currently block it due to poor planning decisions; Secondly, I would make the position of the light source lower as it is closer to the user’s face which may cause discomfort to the eyes.


Part List

  • Microcontroller (CPX) X1
  • Photoresistor X1
  • Mini power bank X1
  • Micro-USB cable X1
  • Conductive tread
  • Regular thread