Two New Prototypes

Things have been diverted away from the lab a bit with reading week; sorry I never managed to do a post about these new prototypes. Me and Jackson are developing a leather strap with EL tape that has laser cut holes to display the light. The other prototype is a 3D printed mould that is used to cast dragon skin. This will have SM LEDs embedded, as well magnets to clip onto the clothing.

Here are some pictures:


It’s hard to tell in this photo, but there are recessed parts of this mould that will result in a varied surface. It should be complete on Friday.

Here is a section of the laser cut leather. Since the laser chars the leather, it gets brittle. Here, I am adding a conditioning product that will moisturize the leather, and return some of its pliability. Tomorrow, I will further condition the leather, dye it black and burnish the edges.

New electronics!

So, we’re working through some of the issues with the latest boards, but in the meantime here is a demo of them fully assembled!


Also, here is a rapid prototype of how the “Fabric Loops” should work.

As you can see, a pocket is sewn onto the seams where the lights will be hidden, and snaps are used to keep it secured. We’re using snaps here but simple sew-on buttons and holes would work too…or Velcro. This integration method will be helpful mostly with garments, but perhaps it could spark an idea for the accessories too. We’re planning to move the loops to the protective casing instead of the actual boards themselves. Also, you can see here how it would be better for the LEDs to be centered on the board instead of placed on the edge. That is also something we are working on.


Finally, here is the plan for improvements we will make on the existing boards, and how I imagine the protective casing.

Board improvements and proposal for protective casing



Some Proto Photos

Both prototypes side by side; we brought the size down substantially.

The prototype clips closed with rare earth magnets.

Only the small section in visible. The battery is worn on the back.

Some Prototypes that Clip

Furthering the prototype made earlier that clipped onto clothing, Jackson and I set out to combine our material knowledge into a minimally designed prototype. We decided to combine wood and leather with the proto-boards Erin Lewis had developed. Both prototypes use li-po rechargeable batteries, which are rather large.

The first prototype uses 3oz veg tan leather treated with neatsfeet oil, which makes the leather more pliable. The wood was applied with snaps, which were adhered with contact cement. The magnets were also applied with contact cement. The cement unfortunately didn’t hold up very well.

The next prototype uses a smaller battery, a board with surface mount components and thinner leather. The magnets and wood are attached with a quick setting epoxy, which has a stronger bond. Unfortunately, I got the epoxy in places it shouldn’t go.

The wood and leather work nicely together, and many subtle variations in colour could be achieved. The next step here will be determining how the final board could be integrated into the design.

Aaaand, in our mad cleaning of the lab, I don’t know where the camera went. So, better photos to follow.



Sometimes hacking is a bit of a hack job

I wanted to look at the guts of MEC’s rechargeable bike light, which ended up being a little messier than expected. I couldn’t get the screws to budge, despite having the right screw driving, so I cracked the casing open. In the process, the circuit board cracked.

So, I can’t reuse the board but there are some cool features worth noting.

1. the light is enhanced by optics cast into the acrylic case

2. there are over a dozen resistors

3. they use a coin cell li-po integrated into the board

Honestly, I imagined the circuit to be simpler, but inside this little light, I found no easy short cut to making our light smaller.

Final Direction – Buckminster Fuller Influence?

When designing for this project, I’ve tried to keep Angella’s aesthetic preferences in mind, which has led me to decisions I wouldn’t have made otherwise. Angella’s preference for triangles, melded with my preference for hexagons (which, well, is a simple act of addition).

Without aiming to, the designs I was creating were akin to the geodesic domes of Buckminster Fuller. Buckminster Full is a maker idol to me, and I think that using his work as a site of inspiration could lead to interesting forms that are minimal but maintain enough interest in texture and form to be standalone accessories when the light is off.

For the final product, I think the team should focus on producing lights that can clip onto clothes or bags with strong magnets. I propose we develop three lights: one inch long, two inches long and four inches long. All would clip onto clothing.

These lights would be made from different materials. Possible 3D printed plastic for the one inch, laser cut acrylic for the two inch and cast silicone for the four inch.

The ceiling of this dome could be developed into an interesting geometric surface, akin to this student work in silicone from MIT.

These ideas still aren’t fully fleshed out, but I do believe we will need to start designing more deliberately, and this is a thread I would be interested in exploring.

More Reflective Things

Diana Eng is also making reflective wear.


I finally got reflective samples from Seattle Fabrics, I’ll bring them into the lab next time I’m in.


Just saw this on ElectricFoxy: