chebe: (StarryNight)
I think that's right, yeah. There's a festival this weekend called Prototype, which focuses on play and interaction. There are some interesting talks and performances ranging from games, to analogue human interaction, and even some wearable tech. Niki and I are running a workshop tomorrow morning, teaching the basics of soft circuits.

We're going to be making pet stars. Now, we all know that stars like to shine, but they have to feel safe and loved (go watch/read Stardust). And pets like being petted and cuddled. So when you pet your pet star it shines brighter! If you poke too hard the lights go off. If you do a good job the star will purr! (Turns out a star purring is a lot like lights twinkling.)

Here's the prototype I did up. The real ones will be much nicer, have proper felt, and be more cushiony.

A blue felt star, with a silver star in the middle with a trail of white LEDs

Pet Star - prototype
Photo by chebe



insider details )

I'll take some photos of the proper finished pieces at the workshop. And if the workshop goes well I'll do up detailed instructions on how to make your own.
chebe: (Default)
As we learn, we grow. We're iterating on the existing projects, to make them better, stronger, more reliable.

One piece that definitely needed improvement was the Talking Torque. An over-abundance of technical issues meant we were left using a microcontroller to control a malfunctioning specialised microcontroller. So version two has just the one (functional) LilyPad MP3 Player, a microphone, and we replaced the tilt switch with an accelerometer (for finer control with less dependency on placement). Niki also wanted to make it much bigger, and give it a back. See it from the front on display here.

Back/inside of version two of the cough torque; just a LilyPad MP3 player, microphone, and accelerometer

Version two; LilyPad MP3 player, microphone, accelerometer
Photo by chebe




The Kelp then was more subtle; we changed the LEDs from blue to green, reinforced the connections more, and varied the appearance of the felt.

Version two of the humidity neckpiece; electronics just added and wired, using green LEDs this time

Version two; humidity sensing neckpiece freshly wired up, with green LEDs
Photo by chebe




There will probably be at least one more iteration of the Kelp (and perhaps an instructable on it), but we're looking forward to coming up with new pieces, new explorations and adventures.
chebe: (Default)
Things have just kept on keeping on.

My work with Niki is just finishing a run on display at a felting exhibition in Farmleigh called Common Ground. I was at the opening on the 25th September, feeling quite out of my depth amongst the very talented craftspeople. But the nibbles were delicious, and I got to see some beautiful pieces.

Kelp piece displayed on a square of clear perspex, with mine and Niki's name visible on a label next to it

Kelp piece on display at Farmleigh
Photo by chebe



The 4th October then saw newer versions of our work on display at RuaRed as part of Digital Week. I was unable to attend, but Niki tells me there was great interest, which is exactly what we're doing all this for! At least she wasn't alone, with plenty of company from toglodytes. (Photos; close-up of the kelp, and newer, larger version of the talking torque.)

Niki demoing the kelp piece

Niki demoing the kelp
Photo by Joseph Carr at Rua Red



Yesterday, 11th October was the UNs International Day of the Girl. Intel had an idea and got in touch with both tog and CoderDojo Girls and #GalileoGirls magic happened. 75 (or so) girls and teens crowded into the usual CoderDojo space, and got to play with some hardware. From getting started with the Galileo board, to then choosing to play with electronics, wearable electronics, or social media programming. It was a long, chaotic day, but fun seemed to be had, which is very important imho.

Some of the CoderDojo mentors early in the morning

Mentors on parade
Photo by Niambhs, source



Next Saturday, 18th October, Niki and I will be running a 'Playful Wearable Electronics' workshop. I'm looking forward to it as it's a slightly different demographic and I'm curious on what aspects they're interested in, and grasp the fastest.

It's also my last commitment for a while, so I'm looking forward to break afterwards. And I totally mean it this time.
chebe: (Default)
All the pieces were inspired by bits of Irish heritage or sayings. Some people seemed a little insulted that we were explaining the inspiration to them, while the majority of people had never heard of them at all. Were they just very regional activities/sayings, or are we largely discarding our past?

Which brings us to my own personal favourite piece. My favourite because of its relative simplicity, and because it's the closest to actual etextiles. During this piece I discovered just how wonderful real felt is to work with, and how perfect the thick soft fabric is for running channels of conductive thread, completely hidden.

And so I present, arguably, the piece most suitable for modern Ireland (perfect for the daily grind in an office); a waistcoat that lets you know someone is standing behind you, by sending a shiver down your spine.

Mannequin wearing felt and spotted silk waistcoat, front Mannequin wearing felt and spotted silk waistcoat, back

Waistcoat at Dublin Maker
Photo by chebe



Magnificent details )

And so our tale comes to an end. I learned a lot, had fun, stress, and sleep deprivation, along the way. But it's always worth it. I'll leave you with photos of the day from the official photographer. *falls down in an exhausted heap*
chebe: (Default)
In times gone by, when you caught a cold or got a cough, one of the things you could do to try and cure it was to tie a red flannel around your neck, under your clothes. Did the extra layer of warmth actually help, or was it just superstition? I'm not in a position to answer that, but it sparks some interesting questions.

For all its vibrant colours, traditional torque design, and dynamic nod-to-Newgrange kerbstone spirals, this piece strikes me as something futuristic, or interstellar. How Niki massaged the felt into these shapes I've no idea but, except for the torque clasp, this is one solid piece.

Mannequin wearing black tshirt, and a red felted torque piece

Red flannel neckpiece at Dublin Maker
Photo by chebe



Glorious details )

But for all the set-backs and frustrations, this piece turned out to be many peoples favourite. Everyone who tried it laughed, some almost split their sides. Niki has some good ideas on improvements for the next version, and at the very least there will be fewer microcontrollers involved! So keep an eye-out for the next revision.
chebe: (InADream)
A time not so long ago, in this very land you're standing, some people were known to hang seaweed out to dry. Whenever the moisture in the air reached a certain level the seaweed would rehydrate; warning those around of rain.

Ruling out wearing seaweed around your neck, how can we use this knowledge to help us avoid getting wet? Thusly was the kelp neckpiece born!

Mannequin wearing black tshirt with white Dublin Maker logo, and a green felted kelp piece

Kelp neckpiece at Dublin Maker
Photo by chebe



I have already talked about parts of this project; in getting many LEDs to light up, and then getting the humidity sensor working. But to recap/elaborate;

Wonderful details )

There you have it; a felt neckpiece that warns you it might be about the rain. I began trying to leverage the extra information (temperature and pressure) from the sensor, and fit it onto local historical weather data to more accurately predict rain, but was pulled away from such indulgent pursuits by the need to complete the other pieces.

Dublin Maker 2014

2014-Jul-28, Monday 09:06 pm
chebe: (Default)
If you follow me on twitter you may have noticed a rise in the number of barely sensical tweets lately. That is the effect a deadline has on me. Last Saturday, 26th July, was Dublin Maker 2014. It was the events first time as an independent entity (previously Dublin Mini-Maker Faire). And it was a fantastic day! I didn't get to see as much of the other makers as I had wanted to, but I loved what I did see, and from all the photos, videos, and write-ups coming in everyone had a great time.

This year along with the event getting bigger, the branding also got much better. Check out my beautiful ladies-fit tshirt, and badges.

Black tshirt with white Dublin Maker logo, white and blue laser-cut badge, and blue and white soldering kit badge

Swag
Photo by chebe



White rolled icing decorated cake with blue and yellow logo

Cake!
Photo by chebe



This year was also my first year not exhibiting with TOG. They still had a very large, very hectic stand, but this year I've been collaborating with Niki Collier on some felt wearable tech pieces. We went under the name Adore, Adorn, Play and ended up with three wonderful pieces to show;


I'll do up individual posts over the next few days about each piece (you are here for the minute techie details right?). For now I'll mention the unofficial fourth piece; my fascinator.

Purple petaled felt daffodil with green headband and leaf, with a white LED and fibre optics core

The best kind of daffodil
Photo by chebe



While I was debugging some problems at one of our sessions in the weeks before Dublin Maker Niki started working on felting me a headpiece to wear on the day. I love daffodils, and I love purple. So, with no small amount of magic, in short time, she turned a pile of fibre, soap, and water into this beautiful headpiece! The Friday night before DM, I actually managed to get home before midnight. But found myself wired, and in the wee small hours rigged my flower up with an LED (complete with hot glued fibre optics and rubber tubes) and a battery.

Purple petaled felt daffodil with green headband and leaf, with a white LED and fibre optics core

Daffodil power!
Photo by chebe



It's just done quickly by stabbing two holes for the LED legs through the middle of the flower, and connecting them to the battery terminals with conductive thread (and a hint of fabric paint to avoid shorts). I got many compliments on it during the day, and wore it all night! (At which point people actually began to notice that it lit up *harrumph*) It now has pride of place among my growing LED flower collection.

It was a great, if exhausting day. And I'm already looking forward to both next years DM, and to working with Niki on more projects.

Collaborations

2014-May-19, Monday 07:19 pm
chebe: (Default)
The theme for this year does very much seem to be collaborations. So many talented, hard-working, fascinating people with great ideas to work with! It hurts to not be able to do everything. But sometimes, even if I can't go somewhere my projects find their way regardless.

First [twitter.com profile] partfusion and [twitter.com profile] Jeffrey_Roe wandered off to MakerFaireUK with a couple. But then [twitter.com profile] partfusion absconded, with the glove I was working on at Artek, to MakerFaireBayArea(!). It's more traveled than I am at this point. Speaking of, [twitter.com profile] partfusion has started his own collaboration, resulting in some beautiful garments. I mean, just look at that RGB crinoline! I'm in serious want.

In the meantime I'm at home, working hard on other projects. I'm currently working with Niki Collier, an amazing fibre artist and maker. We're working on a series of interactive jewellery pieces, hopefully for Dublin Maker at the end of July. We're coming to the end of our first prototype of the first piece. (The idea of finished pieces is rather a strange one to me, who's lucky to finish a single prototype. It's an interesting experience!)

Niki has been posting updates on the facebook page (warning; awkward photos of me trying not to pose). The first piece is inspired by an old Irish practice I've never actually heard of before. Apparently, some people would leave kelp out to dry, and leave it there. As the air got more humid the kelp would rehydrate, giving a visual warning that it was going to rain. Of course, carrying around kelp isn't conducive to modern living, but wouldn't a heads-up that it was about to rain be very useful?

Cue a felted neck-piece to resemble kelp, a bunch of LEDs, and a humidity sensor.

Early prototype days; some felted leaves incorporating LEDs, and a whole mess of crocodile leads

Early prototype; viva la crocodile leads!
Photo by chebe




Prototype with LEDs mostly soldered into felt tube to be worn around the neck, and other components still connected with crocodile leads

More recent prototype; LEDs mostly connected up, other components still connected with crocodile leads
Photo by chebe



I was hoping to use the Gemma for this, and I have videographic proof that it did work during the early prototypes. But something has gone wrong in the meantime. Worst scenario we'll use the Flora, but I'm hoping to figure out what the problem is.

We're using a cheap-and-cheerful humidity sensor (with built in temperature sensor). Getting it working was extremely easy, once I figured out that I needed this library, and that the samples included show you how to do everything. Really great library!

So now I'm trying to figure out the problem with the Gemma, and starting to look into the next piece. This collaboration thing is turning out to be a lot of fun.
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