Sewing Conductive Thread in Parallel Lines

sewing-parallel-lines-conductive-thread

[Cynthia] has shared a great video of  machine sewing parallel lines of conductive thread onto ribbon using a cording foot which usually comes standard with most machines. This technique could be particularly useful when using addressable LEDs like a NeoPixel to get the ground, data, and positive lined up fairly accurately. Sewing the conductive thread onto ribbon also makes it a hell of a lot easier to attach to many garments or textiles,  and also makes it easier to replace or reuse.

The method is pretty easy, essentially using the grooves in the cording foot to guide the conductive treads and ensuring even spacing. Two of the lines are sewn down approximately 3 mm apart using a zigzag stitch. The third line is sewn separately making sure the stitching doesn’t break the first two lines. In the video, a striped ribbon is used which has slight troughs that additionally helps the threads stay in place and the sewer to stay on target.

[Cynthia] of Cynthia Designs Studio has been experimenting with embedding electronics in textiles and has quite a few great videos that you can check out on the Cynthia Designs Studio YouTube channel.

We have seen a machine embroidered LED matrix and a hand sewn LED quilt here on Hackaday, but those who have tried know that conductive thread can be very tricky to work with and keep conductivity.  Do you have any tips or tricks for hand or machine sewing conductive thread? If so, please share in the comments below.

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NFC Ring Unlocks Your Phone

NFC Ring

This little ring packs the guts of an NFC keyfob, allowing [Joe] to unlock his phone with a touch of his finger.

The NFC Ring was inspired by a Kickstarter project for a similar device. [Joe] backed that project, but then decided to build his own version. He took apart an NFC keyfob and desoldered the coil used for communication and power. Next, he wrapped a new coil around a tube that was matched to his ring size. With this assembly completed, epoxy was used to cast the ring shape.

After cutting the ring to size, and quite a bit of polishing, [Joe] ended up with a geeky piece of jewelry that’s actually functional. To take care of NFC unlocking, he installed NFC LockScreenOff. It uses Xposed, so a rooted Android device is required.

We’ll have to wait to see how [Joe]‘s homemade solution compares to his Kickstarter ring. Until then, you can watch a quick video of unlocking a phone with the ring after the break.

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RFID Jacket Flashes the Crowd at Make Fashion 2014

RFID-DRESS

The [RADLab team] has created an eye-opening RFID jacket for Make Fashion 2014. For this project, [Dan Damron, Chris Zaal, and Ben Reed] of RADLab teamed up with designer [Laura Dempsey] to create a jacket which responded both to a dancer on the runway and the audience itself. RADLab stands for Radio Frequency Identification Application Development Lab, so you can probably guess that RFID was their weapon of choice for interaction. We’ve got a bit of RFID experience here at Hackaday, having recently used it at The Gathering in LA. The [RADLab team] didn’t skimp on processing power for this jacket. A BeagleBone Black running Debian controls the show. The BeagleBone receives data from a Thingmagic M6e 4 port UHF RFID Reader. The M6e is connected to 4 directional antennas. The BeagleBone responds differently depending on which RFID card is read, and which antenna reads it. With the data processed, the BeagleBone then issues commands to a teensy 3.0, which controls  WS2811 “Neopixel” addressable RGB LEDs sewn into the jacket.

During the fashion show, the jacket wearer danced with a second model who had RFID tags sewn into his t-shirt. The LED clusters on the front, back and sleeves of the jacket would light up, and change color and flash frequency based upon which tag and antenna got a read. Once the performance was over, the audience was encouraged to pick up tags and interact with the jacket themselves. The software was still very much beta, so the [RADLab team] monitored everything via WiFi and restarted the software when necessary.

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Make Your Own Smart Watch

SmartWatch

Wearables are all the rage lately. Have you been eyeing the Pebble or one of the new smart watches lately but are not sure if it’s for you? With [GodsTale's] “Retro Watch” you can now build your own, allowing you to try out a smart watch without making a huge investment.

This smart watch uses very common and easy to obtain parts: Arduino Pro Mini, HC-06 Bluetooth module, Adafruit’s 0.96’’ OLED display, and a lithium battery. It is amazing how few parts can be used to make such a functional project. While the example packaging shown is a bit rugged around the edges, it gets the job done. Having such simple hardware allows [GodsTale] to focus on the software. One of the coolest aspects of this project is the Android app [GodsTale] provides. The app provides basic functionality, such as viewing RSS feeds and Android notifications. Check out the GitHub and a more detailed write-up for more information.

It would be great to see this project evolve in the future, it has so much potential. We would love to see a custom circuit board, or a model for a 3D printed case for this awesome smart watch. See a video of the Retro Watch in action after the break. If you thought this was cool, check out a few of these recent hacks.

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HackPhx Winter 2014 Hackathon Winners

HackPhx 2014

The HackPhx Winter 2014 hackathon was held at Heatsync Labs hackerspace in Mesa, Arizona, USA. The advertised theme was “Arduino Wearables”. Participating attendees were randomly placed on teams evenly distributed by their disclosed skills across all teams. There were 10 teams with 4 to 5 members per team competing for two winning spots.

Each team had to build an amazing wearable project utilizing the secret ingredient which was Seedstudio’s Arduino-compatible Xadow wearable platform and add-ons. The Xadow is similar to the Arduino Leonardo and participants used an Arduino cross compatibility and pin mapping chart to assist in development.

Top prize was the Judges’ prizes for the best completed and documented Xadow wearable team project. The second prize was the Jury’s prize given to the team project that the other teams liked the most regardless of event criteria.

Read more about the winning teams and watch their presentations after the break.

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A Light-Up Dress for a New Year’s Dance Party

wearableLedress

Don’t let the above picture’s lack of blinking colors fool you, the light-up dress [Sam] fashioned for his girlfriend is rather eye-catching; we’d just rather talk about it than edit the gifs he’s provided. [Sam's] been a busy guy. His last project was a Raspberry Pi digital photo frame, which we featured just over a week ago, but wearable hacks allow him to combine his favored hobbies of sewing and electronics.

If you’re looking to get started with wearable electronics, then this project provides a great entry point. The bulk of the build is what you’d expect: some individually-addressable RGB LEDs, the ever-popular FLORA board from Adafruit, and a simple battery holder. [Sam] decided to only use around 40 of the LEDs, but the strips come 60 to a meter, so he simply tucked the extra away inside the dress and set his desired limits in the software, which will allow him to preserve the entire strip for future projects. If you’ve ever attempted a wearable hack, you’re probably familiar with how delicate the connections can be and how easily the slightest bend in the wiring can leave you stranded. Most opt for a conductive thread solution, but [Sam] tried something different and used 30 AWG wire, which was thin enough to be sewn into the fabric. As an added bonus, the 30 AWG wire is insulated, which permits him to run the wires close to (or perhaps over) each other while avoiding shorts. [Sam's] guide is detailed and approachable, so head over to his project page if you think you’ve caught wearables fever, and check out his GitHub for the source code.

Touching Conversations: Email Snippets Scroll By on Electro-Embroidery Piece

electroembroidery

[Wei Chieh Shih] really moves the needle when it comes to wearable technology. His textile design project entitled I Am Very Happy I Hope You Are Too is a striking marriage of masterful hand embroidery, delicate circuitry, and careful programming.

[Wei] is using an Arduino micro to drive a matrix of surface-mount LEDs in the Hello, World video, which is a ramp-up to the scrolling text version that’s in progress now finished. That full version is part of his residency project at Arquetopia in Oaxaca, Mexico and displays snippets of emails from his past relationships. It’s huge, with multiple matrices as large as 8×25 pixels!

No build notes could be found for this or any of [Wei]‘s similar projects, like this awesomely dangerous 200 laser diode jacket or this eerily beautiful light installation on Taiwan’s north beach. Based on the pictures, our speculation is that he is using ordinary 6-strand embroidery floss to make stem or half cross-stitches on all the paths. He then runs very thin, flexible conductor underneath the channel of stitches and solders the wires to the component pads.

If [Wei] wants another way to wear his heart on his sleeve, he could investigate these dynamic LED clothing hacks.

Update: [Wei] has completed this project, and has more information available at his Behance site.

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