Wearable XBee Morse code keyer


NYC Resistor hosted a wearable wireless workshop today. It was taught by [Rob Faludi] and [Kate Hartman]. They brought along their recently released LilyPad XBee breakout boards. The goal of the class was to use the digital radios to build wireless communication gloves. Above, you can see the conductive thread sewn into the fingertips to key the device. The signal is transmitted to the other glove, which flashes an indicator LED so you can communicate using Morse code.

Arduino buyers guide and the Seeeduino


Make has assembled a buyers guide for the many different types of Arduino devices. The Arduino is an open hardware platform designed to make prototyping easily accessible. The design allows for other people to modify, expand, and improve on the base, and many people have started producing their own versions. The guide features a lot of the hardware we’ve covered in the past like the LilyPad, Arduino Pro, Sanguino, Duemilanove, Ethernet Shield, and Freeduino.

Out of the pack, the Seeeduino (pictured above) definitely caught our eye. It’s a low profile SMD design much like the Arduino Pro. They’ve taken advantage of the space saved by the SMD ATmega168 by adding more useful headers. In addition to the ICSP, you get the pins in UART order and an I2C header. Vcc is switch selectable for 3.3 or 5volts. The reset switch has been moved to the edge plus two additional ADC pins. Our favorite feature is the new spacing on the digital pins. Arduino digital pin headers have an inexplicable 160mil gap between the banks. The Seeeduino has the standard row for shield compatibility, but has an additional row spaced at standard 100mil spacing for use with protoboard. At $23.99, it’s competitively priced too.

Sonar navigation jacket


[Lynne] had this crazy idea to build a piece of clothing that would give you feedback about your surroundings using sonar. She started with a carefully selected thrift store jacket. She wanted something that looked good and also provided plenty of places to hide electronics. She used the LilyPad system, with a vibration pad and a sonar range finder. When the system detects an object within a certain distance directly in front of the wearer, it warns them with some vibration. Not only is it practical, it looks pretty cool too. Did we mention she designs clothing?

She notes, in the comments section, that while it can detect an obstacle, it cannot detect a void. How could she detect a drop in the floor or a step down?

Coin slot detector

Wow, how quickly the wearable electronics world has slid into the gutter. They’re now resigned to watching our nations finest natural resource, the butt crack. This project by [semiotech] uses a LilyPad Arduino to monitor the exposure of the wearer’s coin slot. It detects the presence of light with a photoresistor and alerts the user with the vibrations of a pager motor. This breakthrough in coin slot technology will prevent dryness and certainly reduce our exposure to domestic terrorism. We see plenty of room for future development; the Arduino is already capable of logging exactly how often your coin slot is exposed. Even if you feel this is more protection than your coin slot needs, we recommend Neutrogena’s Coin Slot Cream for general upkeep.

Wearable project inspiration

Yesterday, Gizmodo published a roundup of wearable gadgets for people who “don’t mind looking like a tool”. It’s interesting to see what has been deemed commercially viable and put into mass production. The list covers HMDs, embedded WiFi detectors, integrated keyboards, tech jackets, speaker hats, and others. We thought you might find some inspiration from the list for your next project. In the past, we embedded a WiFi detector in a backpack strap for our Engadget how-to. The natural choice for wearable projects is the LilyPad Arduino which was featured most recently in the turn signal jacket.

[photo: cksthree]

SparkFun Arduino Pro

SparkFun’s new Arduino Pro is an updated version of their Skinny. The board comes populated with the running gear of an Arduino, but without all of the connectors in place. It’s targeted at people building integrated systems around the Arduino and not just prototyping. The board is 3.3V with an 8MHz bootloader just like the LilyPads and is fully certified by Arduino. It has a small side mounted power switch, but you have to supply your own DC jack (if you need it). There is no USB hardware on board and you’re expected to program it via an FTDI breakout board or cable. We definitely like the stripped down approach, but it would have been nice if the price had dropped more.

[via Make]

New from SparkFun

SparkFun is rolling out interesting things to play with every week. They’ve added a NanoMuscle actuator that uses a shape memory alloy to lift nearly 70 times its own weight. Their LilyPad collection has expanded to include small momentary switches and a thermistor type temperature sensor. Lastly, they’ve got an FM receiver module. It just needs an antenna and uses I2C or SPI for control.