Arduino LEDs Lilypad Arduino Technology Club Meetings Wearable Electronics

Tech Club Workshop: Preparation for Electronic Wearables

Turn Signal Jacket: I want you to analyze Leah Buechley’s diagram for her turn signal jacket at her website. There are three color lines on the diagram.

  • The red lines indicate positive stitches that connect to power (5V).
  • The black lines indicate negative stitches that connect to ground (GND).
  • Stitches connecting to the LEDs are in green.

Leah used supplies a little differently when she completed her project, but essentially, she used:

  • The LilyPad LED power supply ( ($15)
  • The LilyPad Arduino 328 main board ( ($20)
  • Mini USB Cable ( ($2)
  • A hoodie jacket
  • (2) mini push button switches ( (0.70)
  • (16) LilyPad LEDs (Pack of (5) comes to $4.00: Pack of (35) comes to $25.00:
  • Conductive thread
  • Multimeter
  • Fabric glue
  • AAA battery
  • Needle
  • Chalk

Her project is approximately a $50-$75 project. I am going to have you begin with 2 or 3 LEDs rather than the 16 she used, and you can work on making your designs more complex over time.

Things you need to realize:

  • Each LilyPad LED has a positive (+) and a negative (-) side. If you don’t connect to the proper sides of the LED, your configuration will not work.
  • You have to plan how far things will be apart without going overboard and spreading components out very far from the source.
  • Loop conductive thread several times around the holes/tabs. Don’t go overboard, though.
  • Leave about an inch of conductive thread extending from the holes/tabs. Don’t cut too close, or the thread will unravel.
  • The power supply has a + and -, and so does the main board. + goes to + on the other and – goes to -.
  • It is very important to put a bit of fabric glue on each knot you tie so it doesn’t come undone.
  • Using a multimeter is highly recommended.
  • Leah loaded an Arduino sketch. Here is her test sketch:
  • Here is her full code:

The ProtoSnap pretty much has everything come together in one purchase:

What is your most inexpensive option for LilyPad electronic wearables? 

Spending approximately $15.00 (without the conductive thread): The LilyTiny and LilyTwinkle costs $5.00. You see there is a + and – tab as well as four tabs for four LEDs that function differently. You still need LilyPad LEDs ($4.00 for five) and a LilyPad battery holder ($4.00) that has a + and – placement as well. Read this page to learn more about the LilyTiny.

Both these options also do not involve programming because the tabs’ functions are already set up for you.

Today’s Activity: 

Today, we are going to sew simple LED circuits (go to page 13 of this guide from Invent to Learn). You need: metal snaps, conductive thread, coin cell battery, coin cell battery holder, LED, felt, and any other accents that may enhance your project.

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