Embedding electronics into textiles is an exciting way to get kids interested in electronics. Unfortunately, the techniques necessary to create a robust project are not trivial. I've created this system which allows you to:
This Instructable will cover sewing the circuitry into a felt toy as an example. This just scratches the surface of possibilities. Bracelets, bags, hats. Check out the imaginations at work at my last workshop
For building and testing the electronics, see the previous Instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/SnapNsew-An-Educational-Soft-Circuit-Platform/
A kit for the electronics and conductive thread is available at Tindie.com.
Step 1: Supplies and Template
A kit for the electronics and conductive thread is available at Tindie.com, or see previous Instructable for creating the electronics portion.
You will also need:
All good project starts with a plan. It is far easier to change ideas when they are in pencil that after the stitches have started flying. I'm providing you with a detailed plan of both the circuit layout and the craft portion. Deviate at your own risk!
Step 2: Stick Me
I like hot gluing the components in place and then stitching them. The only drawback is that hot glue is very hard to stitch through if you get it where the eyelets are. Use sparingly as we a just trying to tack components in place. The stitching with secure them later.
We are going to do one component at a time so we can test as we go. Start with the microcontroller and LED.
Step 3: First Knot
We will look at the first knot in detail. It is important to get a good electrical connection and avoid short circuits, so take your time and keep it neat.
Step 4: First Stitch
Step 5: See Me
If you don't get the expected outcome, start by checking your lines are not shorted and that they are connected to the correct eyelets, and with the correct orientations.
Check to see if you have a fresh battery.
Use a multi-meter to locate any shorts.
Step 6: Touch Me
Once you have your first output tested (the LED), it is time to add an input.
If you don't have the correct indication, trouble shoot as before with the LED.
If you are having shorts, but can't locate them, use the sticky side of a piece of tape on the felt to remove any stray conductive strands.
Ensure lines are 1/4 inch apart so that loose conductive strands can't short out on the other signal.
Step 7: Hear Me
With one input and output installed and tested, you are a pro! Add the speaker as with the LED, using hot glue to tack it place on the inside surface of the project. Stitch ground and D0 to the speaker and test.
If you do not get sound, make sure the microcontroller is in the correct mode (two flashes on startup is silent!)
Check for shorts as before.
Step 8: Let There Be Light
Our final component is a light sensor. It is optional, but will let you have fun with turning lights on and off.
This can be either a photoresistor, or a phototransistor. I like using a phototransistor because it is cheaper and faster, but it does require you pay attention to polarity.
Attach the photocell like you did the LED.
Step 9: Final Touches
Home stretch. If everything checks out, you are ready to put on the final touches. Add any embellishments and then sew up the edges with regular thread or embroidery floss and stuff it with polyester filling or some other material.
Step 10: Credits and Final Thoughts
Hopefully you had a successful project. Post in the comments if you have suggestions or frustrations. Soft circuits is a relatively new Maker area and there are still a lot of rough edges still to be smoothed out. Hopefully you've realized this project helped quite a bit.
The original idea for this project started with MIT's Soft Circuit Facilitator's Guide and the Lily Twinkle Board. The "snap-a-part" idea is based on LilyPad's ProtoSnap concept. My goal was to make an inexpensive "through-hole" soft-ciruit board allowing multiple input/outputs that could be assembled and tested by the student before being implemented into a soft-circuit project.
I am grateful for ChickTech.org for enabling me to develop this project. Their programs help young women discover career opportunities in engineering fields. This project started as a simple one-hour workshop for teenage girls and as evolved in to an excellent teaching resource that I am hoping to share with other!