Tag: El Panels
We all know and love ThinkGeek’s Wifi Detecting Shirt, but modifying it to add to a your car is dork-tastic! Instructables has a relatively easy project to upgrade your car from chic to geek. Not sure how useful it is, but we imagine it can make any traffic bound geek pretty happy.
They say that the Mona Lisa’s eyes fix on the observer at any angle as if by magic. Like the famous da Vinci eyes, the desire to make this into a wearable piece has followed us obsessively for a year now. We want to reproduce this magic using El panels, sensors and Arduino.
The ultimate plan is to have a shirt with motion detection input, an EL-panel array output and a kickass design that will use motion detection software to trigger the EL eyes to point in the direction of the last movement.
While we’re still a bit down on Sparkfun after getting stiffed on free day, they made a comeback in our hearts with this Zilog PIR (passive infrared – if you forgot) sensor with onboard processing chip.
This onboard chip has a serial interface that sends, amongst other things, direction data of the object being tracked. We’re still looking at the datasheets but it looks like this 5/8″ x 1″ sensor will provide the size and functionality we need to make this design work as a wearable piece.
The EL Street Lamp is our debut design of the Subway Series. The user can sport the classic WW design as a plain shirt or upgrade to the new bling using the EL Light Unit. The light illuminates the awesomely designed shirt to give you an extra element of cool.
EL Light Unit sold separately.
We got our EL Escudo last week and put it to work right away. The first thing we learned was that the Barebones board doesn’t work with any standard Arduino shields out of the box because of differences in the pin-outs. I was being cheap and adventurous when I put together this BBB kit and it has served it’s purpose up until now. Sometimes, being cheap and adventurous only leads to more work in the end. Arduino shields are getting popular so keep that in mind when choosing a prototyping platform.
In order to get things going, we had to mate the pin-outs and power from the Arduino to the El Escudo. This wasn’t a huge deal to link +5v to +v and ground to any of the ground pins on the board. There is some significance to pin 10 in the code but we’re still working through that.
We used the CoolLight inverter Sparkfun suggested but we also bought a cheaper one to mess around with. The cheaper inverter has a 3v input rating and it doesn’t work as well for our applications. Even directly powering our panels with the smaller inverter from a 3v power source just doesn’t give the brightness that we want. The tiny inverter also heats up quickly.
Connecting the inverter to the board was very easy. There are 4 connections, 2 for inverter output and two for power. The 9v cables on the ends of the inverters make them easy to alligator clip or connect to a battery pack.
The example code and library is pretty basic. It all works around the basic on/off functionality of the lights. The pin constants are A-H with A starting at pin 2. We found that the EL_PULSE function is a good time-saver. We wrote some simple code to turn 3 lights on/off and delay. Everything seems to work fine except for the fading. That’s not a huge concern right now, so, we’ll revisit fading at another time.
Once everything worked (usb powered from BBB) we switched over to the lilypad with USB power. This worked well.
Overall we’re still very pleased with the outcome but we did by some triacs to take it further than the prototyping stage. The very funny part of this story is the other product they offered the same day -The EL Sequencer.
EL Escudo does sounds cooler than EL sequencer and has a cooler shape but honestly, this board is an all-in-one board and makes the other board look like a tire with no wheels. It has an ATmega168V chip onboard and it’s compatible with the Lilypad Arduino libraries. There is an additional LiPo power connection which makes a lot of sense. The only downside is that there is no array of inputs. There is only a footprint for a wireless board.
So, for prototyping and using a real Arduino, EL Escudo is better. For a finished product that already has a microprocessor on board, the EL Sequencer is a good choice. For the most flexibility, just use some triacs and make your own breakout board. Stay tuned for more on the breakout board.
Dear Crafty Bastards Applicant,
Thank you for applying to Crafty Bastards Washington, DC. Sadly, we can’t take you this time. Our jury judged a field of more than 480 applicants and was limited to accepting 120 vendors. We love the indie craft community and encourage you to keep on crafting!
And that’s the final word for the 2009 Crafty Bastards Arts & Craft Fair. We were a little bummed but are keeping our creative minds and spirits high. Speaking of which, we have this little guy heading over to our labs, and are quiet excited to play with it. It is the El Escudo and it is the Arduino shield of our dreams. We were actually speaking to small product developing firm a few months ago to prototype an el driver with the inverter and sensors we need in an all-in-one package, but this looks like a good prototyping option in the meantime. With a moderate foot print 3”x2” it looks to be a great tool for all kinds of el panel/wire projects. It may be too big to be a final solution for shirts but we’re sure this and a lillypad can be arranged in a bag or other craft work.
We also ordered a few triacs to make our own breakout shields based on how we can use these. This is right along the lines of what we have already done on the breadboard but it helps that it’s in a package and we want it…
After looking at the documentation, we found that it comes with it’s own Arduino library for accessing the outputs individually, as a group and even some special effects like fading and pulsing. Sounds like fun.
Well, we did it! We submitted our application for this year’s Crafty Bastards Arts and Craft’s Fair! We are exceptionally excited, and hope to see other wearables crafters out and about. After speaking to two of the Directors of the fair, Kimberly Dorn and Sara Dick, we did not get the impression they were very familiar about wearables let alone expected other submissions. Great news for us, but we’re hoping there will be an active interest in our products and the industry.
So what are we bringing? Inspired by Alison Lewis we’re bringing our own variation to the Light Up Purse. The instructions are outlined in her book Switch Craft and is a great project for the intermediate crafter. We’ve also resurrected our Street Lamp Shirt using two forms of wearable technology: Thermochromic Inks, and El Panels. While our intention is to bring out our latest Thermochromic Ink designs inspired by global warming, the Thermochromic Street Lamp demonstrates just how cool this medium is. The EL Street Lamp is one of our first wearables project that’s seen many iterations and is still a very cool shirt. And because we are Webelow Wear and want you out there to pick up a needle, conductive thread and continuity checker, we’re holding a brief workshop on soft circuits where participants will create their own soft circuit patch using conductive threads, led’s, resistors and a battery.
We’re still only applicants and won’t know if we’re vendors until July 20th, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope to see you and all your wearables crafts on October 3, 2009!
More information on all projects coming soon!