Dazzling Coat Sure To Be In Demand With Pimps Everywhere

This is the newest addition to [Arren Parker’s] Burning Man wardrobe. The full-length lighted faux-fur coats is completely his creation. He started with a pattern that he acquired from Ebay, adding side pockets and changing the hood to a collar. From there he added the 256 RGB LEDs that make it shimmer so appealingly.

For this to work, he designed and ordered 300 tiny PCBs on which a connector socket and the LED are soldered. These are driven by a set of six TLC5940 pulse-width modulation chips, and ultimately by an Arduino. The effect is spectacular (see for yourself after the break), and we’re sure it’ll be a hit at burning man.[vimeo=http://vimeo.com/15385739]

37 thoughts on “Dazzling Coat Sure To Be In Demand With Pimps Everywhere

  1. I have to agree, it’s not really a hack. Unless hacking clothing is what this is all about. I like it anyways, and it kinda proves he is a pimp because of all the money he burned on this coat. Spendin’ them dollas

  2. Hack or not?

    1. Did the maker design it himself ? Yes – HACK
    2. Did the maker make it himself? Yes – HACK
    3. Is clothing hackable? Yes – HACK
    3. Is it unique and new? No probably not – I found several led coats online – Not HACK

    So what is the definition of a Hack?

  3. The coat definitely makes a statement. Not sure what the statement is though…

    Anyway good luck to him, the way I see it I think I would pass on wearing it; this coat only makes it easier for the rooftop snipers to see him in the dark.

  4. On the comment of Original/Unique. I have yet to find one LED coat out there that is completely programable and doesn’t require a connection to a laptop to run it :-)

    Ideally I will be including a handheld controller and some ability to make it react to sound/music. I will likely need to go with a more powerful microcontroller.

    Plus the whole point of this was to be a roving art installation at Burning Man. I had brighter lights on me then most art cars roving the playa. Thank you for the comments :-)

  5. @Arren

    Apparently you never googled it. Try it, there’s a whole lot of results, most running with embedded controllers. There was even a RGB LED coat on hack-a-day recently that is programmable and accepts commands from an iPhone for modes. Hell, even I built an LED Lab coat back in college (with a college budget), 3 years ago before RGB leds were affordable; and made it “completely programable and doesn’t require a connection to a laptop” a year ago.


    I’m not trying to belittle your work at all. It’s gorgeous, and I respect the quality of wiring and design; and i’m glad Hack-a-day featured it so I could see it. LED clothes just isn’t a new thing at all, everybody’s doing it now; which could explain why people don’t feel like this is a hack(it really is). It’s just an old (and over-done) one.

  6. @Bill I apologize for any claims to originality regarding having a controller built in :-)

    To a point on the LED-suit posted recently, he is using pre-existing LED Modules and the impresion I got about his code is that the arduino is only acting as a reciever for all commands from the Iphone. But his build quality is still very impressive.

    I suppose what I am claiming in originality is more the scale and configuration. I should get a clearer picture of the wiring on the coat, it may require inverting the lining however. The matrix itself is pretty much its own hack. Controlling a 16×16 12bit RGB matrix with a single Arduino was no small feat.

    And no, light up LED clothing is not by any means new :-)

  7. I hear you Arren. Right now i’m working on a project i’m calling ‘Arduquee’


    which is a 8×8 Red/Green LED matrix driver that is chain-able to any length, all running off 6 IO lines of a single Arduino. Future plans include PWM colors, and scaling up to a RGB matrix. I can appreciate the control you have over your RGB LEDs, and i’ll most likely be creating something similar soon, a new version of my Lab coat. :)

  8. @Bill Pretty cool looking, and excellent design. I like how clean the boards are. I really need to start working with SMD components so I can get smaller simpler layouts. I started out my project testing with an 8×8 rgb matrix of the same type. I will be curious how you end up doing PWM.

    One of the reasons I went with the TLC5940 was ease of use for PWM control. The biggest issue I had to overcome was the refresh rate. Each frame requires shifting out just over 1kb of data via I2C which ate up a lot of the Arduino’s resources. Until I was able to get the interrupt code to work properly, I was very limited as to what patterns I could actually get the Arduino to do.

    256(leds)*3(rgb)*12(pwm bits)+8(Shift Register bit)=1152 bytes

    The biggest advantage to this is the clean color transitions and is scalable on any axis at the loss of either brightness(adding an additional Shift register for more rows) or data throughput with addiitonal TLC5940s. Currently I do not know what my refresh rate actually is, I need to borrow/get an oscilliscope.

    With a more powerful controller either of these issues could easily be overcome.

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