Dec 082014
Ariana Berdy's circuits project. A felt strawberry cake

Photo by Ariana Berdy

As a busy college student I often forget or don’t have time to eat. Often times I have observed that society in general gets so wrapped up in the things that they are doing or need to get done that they place a minimal importance on eating. This food-comes-second lifestyle is unhealthy. Making a habit of skipping meals can lead to negative consequences such as physical fatigue; mental exhaustion; and , when you finally do eat, overeating and calorie loading (Skipping meals can have negative consequences).

In response to the “food comes second” way of life I have created a project that directly deals with a person’s relationship to their meals. My project idea is to create a “health bar” or “fuel indicator” for a person to wear. This indicator acts as a timer. The timer measures the time from their last meal or snack and counts down to when the wearer’s next meal should be. The health bar then visually represents the drain of energy as time passes between meals. Continue reading »

Apr 222014

My project concept was to create a device that would allow people suffering an anxiety attack to alert people around them of their impending attack.  The device checks a wearer’s pulse and alerts those around the person when the pulse increases.  I know this sounds oddly familiar.  If you’ve ever been on a treadmill you know that there are heart rate monitors that will do this for people working out.  My device isn’t much different than a heart rate device.  The difference is the intent of the device.  My device is meant to address issues in the mental health arena.  I’ve lived with people who had anxiety attacks and there is no way to know the person is suffering unless they tell you.  The idea behind my device is to give the person wearing it and the people around them to understand what is happening.

When I started this project I had anxiety.  I am not adept at sewing or coding.  The first thing I had to decide was what I was going to create the device on.  I decided a cuff or bracelet would work, but I decided to use a sleeve.  You can buy sleeves at REI.  I owned workout sleeves.  They are exactly as they sound they are sleeves without shirts.  They fit by using elastic on the openings to grip the skin of the wearer.  The sleeves cost roughly $25.

Once I got the sleeves it was time for me to layout how I wanted the LilyPad and LED lights would be set.  I bought the Sparkfun stickers.  I laid them on my sleeve to configure everything.

LilyPad stickers laid out on a black sleeve

LilyPad sticker with LED lights planned out

I originally bought gum drop looking LED lights, but they didn’t work for what I was doing.  I did want the person wearing the device to alert those around them that they were having a panic attack, but I didn’t want the sleeve to alert everyone in the room.  The gum drop LED lights were to obvious for my project.  I chose to use the LED lights that came with the Protosnap and the one extra LED light that comes with the LilyPad.


Once I configured my components I was ready to paste my parts down on the sleeve.  I used fabric glue to paste the LilyPad and lights down.  I left them on their for a day before I started working again.  I am not a good or confident seamstress.  I realized I needed to sew a ton of components and was looking to create a project that would have very little sewing.  So I hopped in my trusty car and drove to my local Radio Shack.  The very nice man showed me two different Electrically Conductive Paint pens.  I chose the Bare Paint pen

Bare paint conductive pen in case

Bare paint I used to “sew” my components together

Electric Paint Pen with Conductive Ink is a pen applicator full of conductive paint.You can paint on all different surfaces to create a circuit, although you shouldn’t try it on your skin.  The pen ink will conduct electricity. I also bought because once I painted my original circuit I could paint over the original paint to blend into surfaces or add other elements to the circuit.  This pen saved me so much sewing time, although I am grateful for it I don’t think it was the right thing for me.  At the time of this writing I haven’t hooked up my pulse sensor.  Prior to hooking up the sensor I had to pain my circuit.  The first time I did it I made the lines too thin and they broke off immediately.  The second time I used the pen I put my hand in the sleeve and the lines broke again.  I tried to keep the sleeve on my arm and draw the lines, but once again the lines broke.  Finally, I decided that since my sleeve is a prototype I wasn’t going to put my hand in it and I laid down thick lines between the LilyPad and the LED lights.

In class today my paint snapped so I have to start over.  Also, I figured out that my pulse sensor is made as a plug and play for the Arduino UNO – yikes!  Needless to say today was a setback.  I removed all the paint from the sleeve and my instructor, Kim Knight, gave me wire glue to use.  I think it functions the same as the paint, but it may be more durable on bendable fabrics.  I plan to connect my Red, Purple and Black wire tonight and let them dry overnight.

I let the paint dry overnight and I couldn’t get any of my LEDs to light so I set everything together with Alligator clips.  Now, the LEDs work, the pulse sensor lights up now I just need to get the code right and I will be on my way.  This thing will not be beautiful, but I hope it works.

I finally got the code to work… and guess what?  It worked!  AHHHHHHHHH!  There goes my anxiety, but now if I ever need to check it, I have a my own homemade device 🙂

Image of a sleeve with alligator clips attached tio LilyPad and LEDs and pule sensor

Alligator clips attach my project together

Dec 192013

If you are in class, teaching a class, or in a business meeting, everyone has had the awkward experience off their phone going off at the wrong times.  My project doesn’t make people think about what’s changing or trending.  It adds the affordance of having another option to receiving a text or phone call other than ring tone, vibrate, or silent.  A simple pattern would light up if are getting a phone call and flashing light if have received a text.  You could also remove the board and light and place into a different sleeve allowing a person to choose what design they want to wear on any given day.

My project idea was very simple.  I wanted to make a wrist cuff that would light up a certain way based on if you received a text or getting a call.  However, getting this simple idea to work was not easy at all.  My first problem began with an incompatible board.  I did not realize it incompatible until after I spent several hours, with the help of Harrison, soldering the pins to the Bluetooth module thinking that was the problem.  Once I got that out of the way I was given a loner board and battery source.  Because of the new components, my idea of it being switchable sleeves was gone.  The new component made the wrist cuff bulky.  After finally being able to connect to the Bluetooth, I ran into the problem of not finding any program that would allow the arduino and android talk to each other.  I went through dozen of programs.  Some had the features I needed to get the task done but it didn’t have the option to talk over Bluetooth.  Other were only able to connect to the Bluetooth and that was about it.  I even tried to go a roundabout way by having one program perform the task I needed to get done.  Then try writing a code that would turn on the lights when the Bluetooth was on.  Which didn’t work because either I didn’t write the correct code(which is possible) or pins for the Bluetooth don’t work like the switch or button.  I was given the option to try to write a program for the android but there was no way to learn to write the code in a short amount of time (having four other finals to complete took priority).

After giving up knowing  I would not be able to make the arduino and android talk to each other I moved on to just sewing the parts together.  Because this wrist cuff was bigger I didn’t have to cut certain size pieces of cloth.  I decided to use the folds that were already there so all I do was measure how much cloth I needed and cut off the rest.  Then I sewed the lights and board into the interfacing, which I then stuck into the sleeve.  Because of the different power source, I had to sew that to the outside of the wrist cuff.  But because the positive and negative were to far spaced out from the board and power source i was unable sew the conducive thread corrected.  Instead i just used the clips to provide power.  Since the wrist cuff formed to my wrist the components with the interfacing did not slide around.

I did not want leave the wrist cuff unsatisfactory so I decided to upload a simple code so the lights turn on.  So what I thought was a good idea fell short leaving me with the same thing we did in the first project.  What I’ve learned from this is that what might seem like simple idea in your head could be a strenuous feat to try to actually accomplish with technology.

May 122012

Several of the women associated with the Fashioning Circuits blog recently took their skills to the Design Your World Conference to teach young girls aged 10-12 how science can be fun. Specifically, with the coordination and leadership of Amy Pickup, we conducted a workshop about the LilyPad Arduino.

Photo courtesy laurenvoneperphoto Flickr Stream

The computers were set up and ready to go when the 15 girls came in and we were ready to teach!  Amy lead a great discussion on the history of the LilyPad Arduino, then showed a video with some example projects, and went over all of the elements and add-ons for the LilyPad. Then it was on to the brainstorming session.

Each of the volunteers took a group of 2-3 girls and helped them come up with ideas and ways to use the LilyPad to create new clothing designs or functionality. It was really interesting to see what their young minds came up with.  Two themes that I picked up were dealing with fear of the dark, like a glowing teddy bear that turns off after a set amount of time,  and creating fun gimmicks to wear at school, like a backpack that blinks your name. Other ideas included glasses that would make a sound or light up if you lost them, and socks that would tell you when they are stinky.

Finally, it was time to get down to business and start coding! Each group had a computer, a LilyPad, an LED, some alligator clips to make connections, and directions on how to make it work. We started with attaching the LilyPad to the computer and then moved on to basic circuit completion. It was great to see how fast these girls learned! Continue reading »

May 042012

For my wearable media object, I chose to create an LEDs-only circuit using the LilyPad Arduino Board. After attending Ettiquette Creative’s LilyPad Arduino Workshop, I had the resources and references to begin my project. I installed the Arduino software, checked the drivers, and referred to a tutorial provided on the SparkFun Electronics site to design my wearable media object.

In order to allow the light display to be the focus of the media object, I sewed the LilyPad Arduino to the inside of the purse. The majority of the stitches are also on the inside of the bag, and the cloth flowers hide the more noticeable threads visible on the outside.

LilyPad Arduino

My goal with this project was to create a media object that could combine both style and technology. The outside of the purse has cloth flowers that camouflage the sewn-in LEDs. When the LilyPad Arduino is activated, the LEDs blink and fade in a random pattern. The soft blinking lights and smooth pattern are meant to tie back to the idea of flowers being delicate and graceful.

While I was working on my project, I wondered if there was a way to make the LEDs respond to the beat in music. I chose the track (in the video) with that in mind. I loved how the lights almost look like they’re dancing to the music. That might be something I’ll look into for a future LilyPad Arduino-related project.