Bear with me, this is going to be a long post.

This Saturday just gone, July 14th, was Dublin's first Mini Maker Faire! It was held in the Science Gallery and on the Physics Lawn of Trinity College. I was there as a part of TOG, the Dublin maker/hacker-space. It was a fantastic day. So many people showed up who already knew a lot and came up with interesting questions and ideas. Some people were just wandering through Trinity like they do every weekend and were a little confounded to find us there. Yet others showed up wearing ESOF lanyards! I'm sad I didn't get to see much of the other makers or exhibits, things were just so hectic! It certainly seemed like everyone was having a good time.

The Faire itself
As a Maker I got swag. Check out the nifty laser-cut wooden badge and tshirt!

Ah. The tshirt. When I went to pick up it up I asked if they only had mens-fit styles, or if they had womens-fit styles too. One volunteer shook her head sadly, another corrected me, "unisex, unisex". *sigh* I won't go on about it, but if you've no idea what I'm talking about I recommend you check out this article; "T-shirts, YET AGAIN". Still, free tshirt! Awkwardly for me it is white (as well as ill-fitting), so I feel a tshirt hack coming up.

One thing I did get to catch (because there would have been blood if I'd missed it) was the talk with Mary Fitzgerald about the art&crafts show she used to do about twenty years ago, "How Do You Do..?" She even made crepe flowers live on stage! Afterwards they were selling DVDs (how did I not know there was a DVD?!) and she signed them!

Aside: Back in the late 80s and early 90s Ireland was poor. We had two tv channels. Mary did the only art&crafts show on tv. It was aimed at children and on in the afternoon with other childrens programming, like The Den (which gave the world Zig & Zag). Am I just making this worse? Here, have a clip.

On the Wednesday before, in TOG, a new tshirt design was born. Yes, we have a thing about ducks. We rescued a whole bunch of them from certain peril. And in return they have taken over. The little yellow dictators that they are. Namit built a tshirt printing press a while back, and light-box to develop photo-resistive screens, the whole lot. So when he came up with the idea for the new design he was no time at all churning out a dozen tshirts!

(You can see more here.)

New tshirt in hand I figured I'd try out this foil technique I'd been meaning to do for ages. Quite simple, paint the special glue on all the places you want the foil to stick. Leave to dry flat for 1-8 hours, then press the foil (colour side up) down, real well. Peel off the rest of the foil, and you're done.

Reflective foil and glue

All done


It's hard to photograph the iridescence, but I hope you get the idea. The foil picked up the brush-strokes from the glue application. Maybe there's a way to screen the glue on nice and smooth too?

We only had mens-fit tshirts as well, which has made me resolve to ensure we have womens-fit tshirts in future. It's not easy, especially when you're trying to get a good size selection as well, but we're working on it.


I had wanted to hook an Infra-red receiver to my LED top, so I pulled open the Adafruit tutorial and got it working with the IR receiver that's a part of PartFusion's Laser Tag m0dul, an Arduino, and an old remote I had for an old mp3-player.

PartFusion IR receiver with Arduino and Creative Zen Vision W remote

Disappointingly, about six button code arrays in the Arduino started running out of memory. That's never happened to me before! So I stripped down the code to simply react to any IR code detection; meaning anyone with a compatible IR remote could trigger the sequence. (Yes, the idea was for the laser-tag gun to be able to shot my top. That's not weird, right?)

All well and good, until I actually tried attaching it to my top. I have only one pin left free! And no straight-forward way to add it in. At some point I may rearrange my components to try and squeeze it in, but until then, this had to be abandoned. *SAD*

Okay, the IR improvement was out, but that didn't mean I couldn't bring the top with me! (Last time we saw this top was when I added the keypad.) What I hadn't done was add a permanent power source. That much, at least, I could manage.

I'd been using the 110mAh batteries but found the lifetime lacking for this project. After consulting people who know more about electronics than I do, I went ahead and got a couple of 1,000mAh batteries. Essentially a 10x longer life, which not even fully charged lasted longer than Maker Faire was open! Now that's worth adding in properly. I used the original Lilypad microcontroller so I needed to add the LiPower board as well. Added it all in with metal-snaps so can be removed for washing, etc.

LED matrix top, add LiPower battery interface (isn't felt magic?!)

LED matrix top where battery connects in, and distinct lack of free pins

So here's Felicity (the mannequin) working the TOG stand at Maker Faire. I like how she managed to get her own badge and everything.

LED top on Felicity at TOG stand

But the big project for Faire was the first collaborative project from the crafters. We brain-stormed, we experimented, we eventually got started, and I think we pulled it off rather nicely! I wrote up some details about the construction process over on the other website, so here I'll just focus on the electro-sewing bit. Basically, Tangent had the idea of nice wall hangings what were star constellations. With each star being an LED. Triploidtree had recently come into a lot of bias-binding. And I mean a lot. So we took some of it and ran two lines of conductive thread down each side. Allowing a positive/negative separation and a fair bit of insulation.

We had a bunch of different LEDs with different power consumptions, so we had to isolate different ones into different stands. Meaning, the large 8mm blue was on its own, it RGB 5mm was on its own, three blue 5mms near each other got strung together. Just before the battery connection, on the positive strands we added resistors, and joined all into one positive connection point. (All the negatives joined into one connection point too.) To make sure all light up, and not just the red one (red lits up with less power, and electricity takes the path of least resistance). It's a bit messy at the back, but if we add a backing-sheet it'll be all hidden away.

Back of constellation quilt, with conductive thread bias-binding traces

Constellation quilt with positive traces connected through resistors to prevent uneven draw on power

And finally, here are the two quilts at the TOG stand at Maker Faire! They are Orion and Cassiopeia (no-one seemed to get Cassiopeia). Only Orion got wired up in time (about 1:30am with Maker Faire starting at 8:30am), but Cassiopeia only needs 'wiring' up and it'll be done too.

Constellation quilts at TOG stand

You can see other photos from the day at the gallery.

Well, I fairly collapsed with exhaustion about 4pm (missing the after-party and everything), but up until that point it was a great day and I'm already looking forward to next year!