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Okay, I'm a little too excited, but I've just discovered new Arduino Lilypad components on Spark Fun! If you reckon my trick with the elastic is too tricky you can now buy a Lilypad coin-cell holder. There's also a battery connect and Simple Power, a JST connector, and JST connector with slide switch and space to add resistor, respectively.

Then in the world of LEDs, we now have Red, Green, Yellow, and Blue Lilypad sewable surface-mount LEDs (a big improvement on just White), but also, you can buy packs of the boards so you can add any 5mm LED you want yourself!



What's really exciting in a new Lilypad itself; the Simple Board. It's smaller the same size, has less holes, and you can plug the LiPo batteries right into it.

And, to really put the icing on the cake, they have a Lilypad Basics Workshop kit! If you want to try something similar but non-Lilypad there's even a Schemer kit like this Sapphire Blue Bracelet kit which looks nifty! So now, no excuses, give this stuff a go! You'll have fun, I promise!
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Remember part 1, with the 3x3 LED matrix? That was practice, for this, a 7x7 matrix, on a functional, wearable, piece of clothing.

Lots of text, pictures, and a couple of videos. )
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I can't help it, I think LEDs are pretty. So what could be better than a tshirt with 49 of them? Well, there's a lot to figure out before I get that far. Let's start with a more reasonable number, say 9, that's a 3x3 matrix. Yes, that's doable. But let's not make it too easy, let's try using the sewing machine, and user input. Okay, ready?

Details, pics, and vid. )

Things I Learned:
1. That to use 4-ply conductive thread in a sewing machine it needs to be in the bobbin.

2. That your choice of fabric is very important. If it is thin/light you need to skip a couple of stitches at the point where two traces cross, to prevent possible shorting.

3. That I can use user input through the computer to affect Arduinos through Serial.read().
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My Lilypad is now aware! It actually does something in response to changes it detects! I can't take the glory, I simply used the code from the project that inspired mine: Leah Buechley's accelerometer shirt.

Interesting things about this code:
Code talk... )

The Result:
Short video... )

Also, there is a newer version of the Arduino IDE available, 17, that fixes the bug I mentioned in a previous post about how the Lilypad was using the wrong baud rate to communicate back to the computer. So now if you set it at 9600, it actually uses 9600. This makes me happy.

Next step? Using data from the 3-axes!

Getting there...

2009-Sep-16, Wednesday 10:33 pm
chebe: (Default)
The physical construction of my Arduino Lilypad glove is almost complete. Just have to tighten the fit, finish a few edges. I was going to line, decorate, and all that jazz, but feel it's a bit unnecessary for this project. I am getting usable information in, and just have to decide what way I want to use that information, as in, how I want the lights to behave in relation to movement. Here's the glove:

Some text and pics )

Things I learned:

- Analog sensors give you a value between 0 and 1023, which represents the level of current flowing through it. Not anything useful like an absolute temperature, sound level, or angle. You have to work these things out yourself, with a thermometer or other measurement device in hand, and seeing what the values correspond to.

- Analog actuators take values between 0 and 255, which I assume represents a level of current?, but that doesn't really matter much. The easiest way to get from sensor data to usable actuator data is to simply divide by 4. This however, doesn't always give you the behaviour you desire.

- Accelerometers also require + and - lines. If you can't see the markings you need a magnifying glass. It will still seem to work without them hooked up, but you'll get somewhat random data that if plotted looks like a soft wave, sitting at 0 for a bit then increasing over a few values to 1023, where it will sit for a bit before descending over a few values to 0, and repeating.

- The language you use to program the Arduino is called Processing.

- Getting data from the Serial object is quite simple. For the regular Arduino if you specify the transfer rate Serial.begin(9600) it comes through on baud 9600. However, for some reason the Lilypad when set at 9600 comes in at 19200. If set at 4800 comes in at 9600. Don't know why. Yet.
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How It All Began:

In this world there a great variety of people, with vastly different skills, interests, backgrounds, and futures. But for the sake of this post I will concern myself with only two kinds. Those who know cool electrical stuff, and those who don't. I fall into the latter category. But when a friend told me about these pre-assembled circuit boards, that are used to rapidly prototype gadgets and inventions, that are so simple to use that artists with no technical background are able to pick them up and realize their visions, well, my first thought was, 'that's kinda cool'. So idly I browsed the interwebs, for this strange thing called Arduino, and discovered it's sleeker, purple-ier, sibling, the Arduino Lilypad. It offers a subset of the range offered for the Arduino, but washable, and redesigned for use on clothing. My imagination immediately filled with visions of me dancing, trailing swirls of colours. *ahem* And other less girly things. And I just knew I had to get my teeth into it. Afterall, if it was so simple to use then I could hardly fail.
This is long, and has two photos, and two videos )


Things I Learned:

- The Lilypad is more expensive than the Arduino, so unless you want wearable tech specifically, stick to the Arduino.
- The Arduino works in a three-dimensional space. You can build flat circuits, or giant cubes. The Lilypad, although it has to shape and conform to the 3-D form of the body, works primarily in flat planes. You are fairly limited to above the fabric, and below it.
- If you don't know much about electronics the Lilypad is easier to use and understand. As you learn more you start seeing how your projects would translate to the Arduino, and just how neat and clever (both intentionally, and coincidentally) the Lilypad is.

- I have installed the Arduino IDE on both Fedora 11 and Windows XP. Both are similar and very easy. Windows does have the disadvantage of offering you many COM ports, and you just have to try them all to find the one that's connected to your Arduino. Whereas on my Fedora machine I have to launch it from the terminal, and as root.

- When using the Lilypad you may notice a complete lack of resistors. This is because the power sources readily available are about 3-5V, which is the range the Lilypad likes. But also, despite it's name, conductive thread, while being conductive relative to ordinary thread, is a quite poor conductor with regards more traditional electrical items like wire. So in essence the thread is your resistor. If you need a greater resistance, simply create a longer path of thread between the power source and your components. Adding other pieces, like clasps and such can also add a decorative touch of resistance if needed.

- Conductive thread is like unshielded/uninsulated wire. It is very important not to cross the positive and negative strands. And seeing how easily the thread frays you will need a way to seal away the knot-ends at the very least. I currently use fabric paint, and find it very good, despite a quite long drying time.
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