Batteries. Batteries vex me. They are often bulky, heavy, and non-rechargeable. They run out, and/or need recharging all the time. But they're necessary in absolutely everything if you're to be free from the wall socket. And until we're free from chemical power storage we're stuck with them. So it's a good idea to be able to look after them. (This is not advice, just my own reckless adventure.)

Sometimes you'll purchase a cheap piece of electronics from the internet, only to have it show up not working. Unless it's plugged in to USB. So you open it up and find this goopy, lumpy mess. Measuring between the terminals reveals there's no current flowing, so you have to cut it out.

Distressing images of batteries below )

*sigh* Hurry up Science, I need a better solution than batteries!
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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.

Maker Faire )

TOG's new tshirt )


Arduino IR receiver )

LED matrix top )

Constellation Quilts )

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!
I've talked about using Spark Fun's Lithium Ion batteries before, and of my frustration disconnecting their 2-pin JST connectors. As I've said before JST connectors come in different sizes, seemingly arbitrarily from every single different vendor. So if you're going to use Spark Fun's make sure you get some replacements with your order. You could get the headers themselves, and crimping pliers, and do it all yourself, but unless you plan on doing a lot that's a bit on the expensive side. I recommend getting some of the pre-made wires, with only plain wire on one end.

It went wrong and then I made it better )
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Phew. It's been busy around here. And the weekend is set to be frantic as well, leaving only tomorrow looking in any way sedate. If you ignore the fact that I have to get four days of college work done in one day that is. But, I have slowly been getting places, doing things, and thought I'd give you a sneak peak. After all, the intersection of tech and craft has been absent from this blog for a little too long. Therefore I proffer unto you, LED fabric flowers.

The beginnings of a bouquet )

The blue flower is made with a skeleton of jewellery wire, covered with blue nylon/stocking/tights, taped together around a blue LED, with fibre optics hot-glue-gunned onto it. Two power leads are soldered onto the legs of the LED. (I actually made this many months ago, but it has sat unloved since then.)

  • Bad things; All that wire and fabric makes it very bulky through the middle. Annoyingly the blue LED requires two 3V coin-cell batteries to power it. I've been stumped on how to add the battery-pack in an accessible, yet unobtrusive manner.

  • Good things; I love the effect of the fibre optics (just harvested from a donated pound-shop toy).

  • The white flower is made from felt. The grooves on the petals were made by stitching down the undersides with white thread. I mostly followed this tutorial from Tech D.I.Y. Except, I added a mesh of white seed-beads over the (white) LED once it was in place. Then anchored the legs of the LED through a button.

  • Bad things; The white felt is rather reminiscent of prawn-crackers. I'm still trying to figure out how to add the battery pack in an accessible, yet unobtrusive manner. (I intend this to be a hair clip/piece.)

  • Good things; It looks really good, simple yet elegant, actually wearable. It only needs the one 3V battery. Is quite small and compact.

  • As you can see, I'm still having trouble with the batteries. Earlier the lovely David of pointed me to FabricKit. I didn't know it, but I'd bought the conductive ribbon that these guys created?/use from another source. (It's three-stands of conductive thread in a tinsel-like braided ribbon.) They also have a rechargeable 5V coin-cell battery brick/piece. Yes, as you can imagine, I got very excited when I saw that. I only hope a 3V one appears too. Perhaps I could use these wonderful inventions to help solve my problems?

    In other e-textiles news I, like many others, was charmed by the Sparkle TuTu Instructable. So much so that I finally popped over to Aniomagic. I'd been pointed in their direction before, but it is their Sparkle board/switch that finally won me over. It's used in the TuTu, and without programming, lets you switch between blinking light patterns! The simplicity! I had to try it. While there I noticed that they sell pre-made surface-mount-LED sequins/beads! If you remember my how-to you'll know just how awesome it is to be able to find others to do all the work for you! They're also cleverly colour-coded, one-side is a silver bead and (I think) the positive terminal. The other is brass, and the negative terminal. I'm certainly looking forward to playing with these when they arrive! So many toys, so little time!
    Science Week has just passed. I wanted to do something Arduino related, and remembered the Breathe Project. I'm not a biology person at all, but loved the idea of investigating breathing. Something we do all the time, most of the time completely unaware, until one day it's very cold, or we're told about breathing exercises as a way to relax. Then we start to get an inkling of how important an act it is. So, shamelessly, I decided to make one of my own.

    Where I waffle on about construction of a breath sensitive scarf )