A milled PCB next to a woman wearing a dress that includes it

Elegant Evening Dress Sports Servo-Actuated Flowers

There’s been plenty of research into “smart fabrics”, and we’ve seen several projects involving items of clothing with electronics integrated inside. These typically include sensors and simple actuators like LEDS, but there’s no reason you can’t integrate moving electromechanical systems as well. [Rehana Al-Soltane] did just that: she made an elegant evening dress with flowers that open and close on command.

It took [Rehana] a bit of experimentation to figure out a floral design that opens and closes smoothly without crumpling the fabric or requiring excessive force to actuate. She finally settled on a plastic sheet sandwiched between two layers of fabric, with pieces of fishing line attached that pull the edges inward. The lines are guided through a tube down the back of the dress, where a servo pulls or releases them.

The mechanical flower can be operated by touch — [Rehana] made one of the other flowers conductive by embedding copper tape between its petals and connected it to the capacitive touch sensor interface of an Atmel microcontroller. The micro is sitting on a custom PCB that’s worn on the hip, with wires going to the servo at the back. You can see how the system operates in the video embedded below.

The dress is [Rehana]’s final project for the famous “How To Make (almost) Anything” course at MIT, and required a wide variety of skills: the cable guide was 3D printed, the flower petals were laser cut, the PCB was milled, and the end product was sewn together. [Rehana] has a knack for making electronics-infused clothes and accessories, including the flexible PCB crown that she’s wearing in the image above. Continue reading “Elegant Evening Dress Sports Servo-Actuated Flowers”

Three flowers in a corner of a darkened room, shining in different colors.

LED Flower Bouquet Is A Radiant Hacker Desk Decoration

[Jeremy Cook] writes to us about a project of his – a bouquet of LED cube flowers. The flowers are PCB cubes made out of small castellated PCBs, each of those having an individually addressable LED in its center. Castellations hold the cubes together mechanically, and thanks to a cleverly chosen pinout, only two different kinds of PCB need to be ordered for building such a flower!

As a vase for these flowers, he decided to use a glass bottle – which would need a cutout to fit a ESP8266-powered NodeMCU board, a controller of choice for the project. After a few different approaches for cutting glass all resulted in the bottles cracking, he gave up on the “clean cut” idea and reused one of the broken bottles, gluing it back together well enough for the aesthetic to work.

[Jeremy] tells us that he’s had help from a hack we covered back in 2017 – using a diode for level shifting, as the ESP8266’s 3.3 V level signals aren’t a good match for WS2812 inputs. From there, the WLED firmware for the ESP8266 ties everything together beautifully. It’s clear that [Jeremy] had a field day designing this, toying with all the ideas and approaches!

Colorful LEDs are a must-have for decorating hacker homes. From a bouquet of flowers, you might find yourself sketching a castellated PCB tile design, and next thing you know, you’ve created a beautiful system of LED triangle tiles. Some PCB fabs scoff at castellations, and if that’s the case, you might as well finish the job yourself.

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Biofeedback Flowers At Burning Man

Burning man, the premier desert-based convention, is a vacation for some. [Sam], on the other hand, points out that he is there to get his hands dirty. This year, he (with a team of six) built a set of 20 interactive lotus flowers that light up in sync with a heartbeat.

[Sam]’s biofeedback circuit is able to sense up to two heartbeats per flower. When a person’s heartbeat is detected, a set of high-power LEDs light up from the base of the stem upwards towards the petals for an incredible illuminated display of biofeedback.

The lotus flowers themselves aren’t anything to scoff at, either. They range from 8 to 18 feet high and are made out of steel and rowlux plastic. The circuit boards are all custom-made as well, with every part chosen to be as affordable as possible. The whole installation is powered by a deep-cycle marine battery and a set of 6V batteries, which can run all of the electronics in the flowers for the entire night before needing a recharge.

Burning man is a great example of art meeting technology. For other examples, check out this 2010 pyrotechnic ball, or head there yourself next August! Be sure to check out the videos and the project’s code on the project site as well.

Move Over Humans And Things, Flowers Now On The ‘Net

Tweeting Poppy Plants

The ‘Internet of Flowers’ is upon us thanks to an artist named [Adrian]. He has designed a project that not only monitors the growth of Poppy Flowers but also monitors the soil, air and surrounding activity.

The entire project is based on a Raspberry Pi mounted in a purpose-built enclosure made from laser cut birch plywood. The enclosure is mounted in a window of an adjacent building that has a view of the flower bed. An internally mounted camera was carefully aligned so its field of view was mostly of the plants and would limit taking photos of unknowing passersby. The camera takes a snap shot every 5 minutes, see the time lapse video below.

Tweeting Poppy PlantsA box containing sensors is installed in the flower bed. The intent of this project was not to have the Raspberry Pi spit out hard factual data regarding soil moistness, temperature and ambient noise, but to instead take that data from the sensors and send out a story-like narrative that makes the communication feel more personal. To receive these comments from the poppies, you can follow them on Twitter: @tweetingpoppy.

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Taking Moving Time-lapse Images Over Days At A Time

It’s neat to watch these lilies open and close during the time-lapse movie. But what makes it even better is to see the camera slowly move during the time-lapse event. It’s thanks to a special dolly which the photographers built for this purpose.

The system is based on two curved and inclined pipes which make up the rails of the system. The dolly that rides along the rails has a geared motor on it which turns at 2 RPM. This is used as a winch, spooling a string that is tied to the high-end of the rail system. As the winch winds the string, the dolly slowly moves along the track.

To make this work over multiple days they covered all of the windows in foil and lighted the room with fluorescent fixtures. An intervalometer was used to trigger the camera every three minutes. An Arduino monitors the camera’s shutter LED via a light dependent resistor. Sixty seconds after an image is take the Arduino will drive the dolly motor for a few seconds

The finished video, as well as a hardware show-and-tell, can be seen after the break.

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DIY Flower Bouquet Guaranteed To Get You Dumped On Valentine’s Day


[Erik] is a broke engineer.

When this past Valentine’s day rolled around he didn’t have any cash to buy a gift for his girlfriend, so he had to get creative. Every girl likes flowers, but unless he was going to give his lady some day old daises from the grocery dumpster, he would have to make them himself.

He started by bundling together and bending some T-shirt hangers into stems. He then wrapped them in the green & green/white wire pairs from some Cat-5 cable to give them some color. An old keyboard was sacrificed to create the flower petals and leaves, which were presumably colored with markers before being glued to the end of the hangers. He added a reed switch to the flower pot, which illuminates the LEDs he installed under the petals when a magnet-bearing cardboard placard reading “Love Erik” was placed near it.

How did his girlfriend like them?  Well, let’s just say she’s no longer in the picture. He didn’t tell us if the bouquet was the reason, only that she’s gone. (though we happen to think it’s pretty cool).


Keep reading to see a quick video demonstration of the light-up bouquet.

Continue reading “DIY Flower Bouquet Guaranteed To Get You Dumped On Valentine’s Day”