Wearable Electronics Takes The 3D Printing Route

There was a time when a cheap 3D printer was almost certain to mean an awful kit of parts, usually a so-called “Prusa i3”, which was of course as far away in quality from the machines supplied by [Josef Průša] himself as it’s possible to get. But as Chinese manufacturers such as Creality have brought machines with some quality and relaibility into the budget space these abominations have largely been crowded out. There are still cheap 3D printers to be found though, and it’s one of these that [3D Printing Professor] has mounted on his wrist (Nitter) for the ultimate in portable manufacturing.

The Easythreed K7 is a novel take on a 3D printer that positions the device more as a child’s toy than a desktop manufacturing solution. It’s somewhat limited in its capabilities by its tiny size but by all accounts it’s a usable machine, and at around $100 USD it’s about the cheapest 3D printer for sale on the likes of AliExpress. The wearable mount is probably best described as a forearm mount rather than a wrist mount, but has provision for a battery pack and a small roll of filament. And this contraption is claimed to work, but we maybe would think before committing to a day-long print with it.

This may be the smallest wearable 3D printer we’ve shown you so far, but it’s not the first. That achievement goes to Shenzhen maker [Naomi Wu], who strapped one on her back way back in 2017.

Thanks [J. Peterson] for the tip!

A Tshwatch on a table

TshWatch Helps You Learn More About Yourself

TshWatch is a project by [Ivan / @pikot] that he’s been working on for the past two years. [Ivan] explains that he aims to create a tool meant to help you understand your body’s state. Noticing when you’re stressed, when you haven’t moved for too long, when your body’s temperature is elevated compared to average values – and later, processing patterns in yourself that you might not be consciously aware of. These are far-reaching goals that commercial products only strive towards.

At a glance it might look like a fitness tracker-like watch, but it’s a sensor-packed logging and measurement wearable – with a beautiful E-Ink screen and a nice orange wristband, equipped with the specific features he needs, capturing the data he’d like to have captured and sending it to a server he owns, and teaching him a whole new world of hardware – the lessons that he shares with us. He takes us through the design process over these two years – now on the fifth revision, with first three revisions breadboarded, the fourth getting its own PCBs and E-Ink along with a, and the fifth now in the works, having received some CAD assistance for battery placement planning. At our request, he has shared some pictures of the recent PCBs, too!

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The Tracer board strapped to the frame of a bicycle with a red Velcro strap

Tracer, A Platform For All Things Movement Logging

[elektroThing] is building a lightweight, battery-powered board to track and measure movement of all kinds, called Tracer. Powered by an ESP32, it has a LSM6DSL 6DoF accelerometer & gyroscope sensor, and a VL53L0X Time-of-Flight sensor. A small Li-ion battery in a holder reportedly provides for 5 hours of streaming data over Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) at 100 Hz. It’s essentially a wireless movement sensor platform to be paired with a more powerful computer for data logging and analysis. What’s such a platform good for?

They show it attached to a tennis racket, saying you could use the data to, for a start, count the strokes done in a given match. They’ve also strapped it to a bicycle’s crankshaft and used it as a cadence sensor – good for gauging your cycling efficiency! But of course, this can be used in more applications than sport. A device like this could be used for logging movement of any relatively nearby objects, be it your cat, an office chair, or a door someone might slam a bit too hard at times. Say, you wanted to develop a sleep tracker and were to collect some data for defining your algorithms and planning your hardware requirements – this would work wonders.

There’s already available example code for streaming data into the Phyphox data logging and graphing app, as well as schematics – hopefully, the full board files will be available soon. A worthy open-source opponent to commercial devices available for similar purposes, this platform is good news for any hacker that wants to do motion measurement projects without reinventing quite a few wheels at once. We are told this board might get to CrowdSupply soon, and we can’t wait! Platforms like these, if done well, can grow an offspring of new projects for us to have fun with, and our paid projects get all that much easier to work on.

We’ve shown projects with such sensors before – here’s one that helps your rifle aim by giving you data to debug your last-second rifle movements, and another that logs movement data from inside a football. There’s a million endpoints you could stream your data into, and we are told you could even use Google Sheets. Just a year ago, we held our Data Logging contest and the entries we received will surely point out quite a few under-explored areas in your daily life!

REMOTICON 2021 // Hal Rodriguez And Sahrye Cohen Combine Couture And Circuitry

[Hal Rodriguez] and [Sahrye Cohen] of Amped Atelier focus on creating interactive wearable garments with some fairly high standards. Every garment must be pretty, and has to either be controllable by the wearer, through a set of sensors, or even by the audience via Bluetooth. Among their past creations are a dress with color sensors and 3D-printed scales on the front that change color, and a flowing pantsuit designed for a dancer using an accelerometer to make light patterns based on her movements.

Conductive Melody — a wearable musical instrument that is the focus of [Sahrye] and [Hal]’s Remoticon 2021 talk — was created for a presentation at Beakerhead Festival, a multi-day STEAM-based gathering in Calgary. [Sahrye] and [Hal] truly joined forces for this one, because [Sahrye] is all about electronics and costuming, and [Hal] is into synths and electronic music. You can see the demo in the video after the break.

The dress’s form is inspired by classical instruments and the types of clothing that they in turn inspired, such as long, generous sleeves for harp players and pianists. So [Hal] and [Sahrye] dreamed up a dress with a single large playable sleeve that hangs down from the mid- and upper arm. The sleeve is covered with laser-cut conductive fabric curlicues that look like a baroque interpretation of harp strings. Play a note by touching one of these traces, and the lights on the front of the dress will move in sync with the music.

[Sahrye] started the dress portion of Conductive Melody with a sketch of the garment’s broad strokes, then painted a more final drawing with lots of detail. Then she made a muslin, which is kind of the breadboard version of a project in garment-making where thin cotton fabric is used to help visualize the end result. Once satisfied with the fit, [Sahrye] then made the final dress out of good fabric. And we mean really good fabric — silk, in this case. Because as [Sahrye] says, if you’re going to make a one-off, why not make as nicely as possible? We can totally get behind that.

[Sahrye] says she is always thinking about how a wearable will be worn, and how it will be washed or otherwise cared for. That sequined and semi-sheer section of the bodice hides the LEDs and their wiring quite well, while still being comfortable for the wearer.

Inside the sleeve is an MPRP121 capacitive touch sensor and an Arduino that controls the LEDs and sends the signals to a Raspberry Pi hidden among the ruffles in the back of the dress.

The Pi is running Piano Genie, which can turn eight inputs into an 88-key piano in real time. When no one is playing the sleeve, the lights have a standby mode of mellow yellows and whites that fade in and out slowly compared to the more upbeat rainbow of musical mode.

We love to see wearable projects — especially such fancy creations! — but we know how finicky they can be. Among the lessons learned by [Sahrye] and [Hal]: don’t make your conductive fabric traces too thin, and silver conductive materials may tarnish irreparably. We just hope they didn’t have to waste too much conductive fabric or that nice blue silk to find this out.

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Breathe Easy With This LED Air Sensor Necklace

When you’re building wearables and glowables, sometimes a flashy rainbow animation is all you need. [Geeky Faye] likes to go a little further, however, and built this impressive necklace that serves to inform on the local air quality. 

The necklace consists of a series of Neopixel LED strips, housed within a tidy 3D printed housing made with flexible filament. A dovetail joint makes putting on and removing the necklace a cinch. A TinyPico V2, based on the ESP32, runs the show, as it’s very small and thus perfect for the wearable application. A USB power bank provides power to the microcontroller and LEDs.

The TinyPico uses its WiFi connection to query a server fed with air quality data from a separate sensor unit. The necklace displays a calm breathing animation as standard in cool tones. However, when air quality deteriorates, it shows warmer and hotter colors in a more pointed and vibrant fashion.

It’s a neat project that shows off [Geeky Faye]’s abilities at both electronics and tasteful wearable fabrication. It’s not always easy to build projects that are both functional and comfortable to wear, but this one works on both counts. Both the 3D files for the necklace and the microcontroller firmware code is included in the GitHub repo for those keen to dive in to the nitty gritty.

We’ve seen some great necklaces over the years, including those that rely on some beautiful PCB art. Video after the break.
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A styrofoam head wearing an electronic headband with cat ears

These Mind-Controlled Cat Ears Move With Your Mood

As any cat owner will tell you, a cat’s ears are great indicators of its state of mind: pointed forward if they want your attention, turned backwards if they’re angry, and folded down flat when they’re afraid. Humans sometimes don cat ear headbands as a fashion statement, but sitting motionless those ears are more likely to confuse a cat than to provide any meaningful communication.

[Jazz DiMauro] aims to fill that gap by designing a cat ear headband that actually responds to your emotions. It does so by continuously taking an EEG measurement and extracting the “attention” and “meditation” variables from it. Those values are then applied to a set of servos that allow two-axis motion on each 3D printed ear. The EEG readout device is an off-the-shelf MindWave headset, which outputs its sensor data through Bluetooth. An Arduino then reads out the data and drives the servos.

Turning all this into a usable wearable device was a project on its own: [Jazz] went through several iterations to find a suitable power source and wiring strategy until they settled on a pair of lithium-polymer batteries and a single flat cable. The end result looks comfortable enough to wear, and the ears’ motion looks smooth and natural. All that’s left is to test it with real cats, to find out if they can now finally understand their human’s emotions too.

We’ve featured a few moving cat ear headbands before: one that moves along with your head’s motions, and another one with manual control. Today’s EEG-powered one shows yet another application for EEGs, which have been used for anything from invoking lucid dreaming to playing beer pong. Continue reading “These Mind-Controlled Cat Ears Move With Your Mood”

PiGlass V2 Embraces The New Raspberry Pi Zero 2

Well, that certainly didn’t take long. It’s been just about a month since the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 hit the market, and we’re already seeing folks revisit old projects to reap the benefits of the drop-in upgrade that provides five times the computational power in the same form factor.

Take for example the PiGlass v2 that [Matt] has been working on. He originally put the Pi Zero wearable together back in 2018, and while it featured plenty of bells and whistles like a VuFine+ display, 5 MP camera, and bone conduction audio, the rather anemic hardware of the original Zero kept it from reaching its true potential.

But thanks to the newly released Pi Zero 2, slapping quad-core power onto the existing rig was as easy as unplugging a couple cables and swapping out the board. With the increased performance of the new Pi, he’s able to play multimedia content through Kodi, emulate classic games with RetroPie, and even stream live video to YouTube. Using the custom menu seen in the video below, a small off-the-shelf Bluetooth controller from 8BitDo is all he needs to control the wearable’s various functions without getting bogged down with a full keyboard and mouse.

Although it might not have the punch of its larger siblings, the new Pi Zero 2 is definitely a very exciting platform. The highly efficient board delivers performance on par with the old Pi 3, while still being well positioned for battery powered projects like this one. We’re eager to see what develops as the new SBC finds its way into the hands of more hackers and makers in the coming months.

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