Over the past weeks, I was able to get my hands on and help out on both projects that are co-occurring. While at Metrix working on the blinky bike jacket with Blaine, Thuy, and Paige, Paige had to leave early, so Blaine, Thuy, and I stayed to work on the jacket. Thuy worked on sewing the conductive thread and securing the battery pack and lillypad in place on the jacket. Blaine and I worked on the wiring and I designed some plastic wafers, which were then created with a laser cutter. These were necessary in stabilizing the LED lights since we didn’t have any lillypad LEDs. After wiring the LEDs together, Blaine and I tested them and the blue lights wouldn’t light up, however, they would light up when they were not connected to the other LEDs. Later Matt from Metrix told us it would work if we used resistors. To bad it was getting late so we did not have time to do this. The three of us left around 9:40 pm from Metrix that night.

Recently I was able to lend a hand in helping out with the second Hackademia project with Brian, Thuy, Julius, and Amado. Their project was also a jacket, however, the LEDs would be placed on the hood of the jacket to look like eyes and have the LEDs’ brightness be adjustable, or so we hoped. They had an idea of how to carry out the plan, Julius and Brian would figure out the coding and me and Thuy would do the stitching. The lights were already positioned and I started out sewing the LEDs to the hood. Using alligator clips we tested the connections. After much fiddling the connections finally lit up. It was getting late, I finished the sewing and had to go home. Later on at our group meeting I got to see the jacket working but blinking instead. I also found out that the guys had the same issue with getting the blue LEDs to blink. I plan on helping with fixing this issue on their jacket.

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For the past two weeks while Beth was away Hackademia has been discussing and thinking a lot about how we can all contribute to our project. During our first meeting we were able to establish where we were at and where we wanted to go. We discussed what roles there were in the blinky jacket project, which consisted of coding, sewing, making the wafers, and basically putting all the components together to make it blink. Since one blinky jacket project was not going to allow every individual in the group to work on a significant part of the project, we decided that we should have other projects going on at the same time. Some project ideas raised at the time included a temperature sensor clothing that would light up indicating the surrounding temperature, a party light up jacket for fun, to other crazy ideas. I believe right now the other wearable project is going to be a brightness adjustable jacket. After that meeting Blaine, me, Paige, and Thuy were able to go to Metrix to work on the blinky project right away.

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Today, Julius, Brian, Thuy, and I went to Metrix to work on the second LED jacket project.   We also met up with Jarmin for a little bit.  Julius and I were trying to figure out how to connect several LEDs together so they could all light up.  Thuy and Brian, in the meantime, sew the lily pad and battery pack onto the jacket (see Figure 1).

The Metrix dude gave me and Julius a small device to quickly test if we connected the LEDs properly.  We connected two LEDs with thin wire by wrapping them around each LED leg.  When we tried to light the LEDs with the device, it didn’t work.  We tried rewiring the LEDs again, but it still didn’t work.  After a while, we figured out that it wasn’t our wiring that was wrong, it was that the LED was just dead.  When we wired together two new LEDs, they both lit up (see Figure 2).

Wiring the LEDs with our hands was kind of a pain because the wires and LED legs were so tiny.  The Metrix guy gave us another tool that made wiring easier.   You simply put the thin wire through the smaller hole on the tool, put the LED leg through the larger hole on the tool, and twist to connect them together (see Figure 3).  We really wanted to take the tool with us, but we couldn’t.

Julius, Brian, Thuy, and I decided to put the LEDs on the front-end of the hood.  The LEDs would create two eyes when they lit up (see Figure 4).  We drew the tentative positions of the LEDs on the jacket and poked the LEDs legs through the jacket.  We then put the wafers that Cam created through each of the LEDs.  Then, we began to wire all of the LEDs together.  Jarmin also came in to help us in this step.  Each LED eye would have 6 LEDs (5 orange LEDs for the outer eye area and 1 blue LED for the pupil).

After we finish putting the actual LED jacket together, our next step would be to play with the code to make the LEDs adjust brightness using a dial/knob.

Figure 1                                                               Figure 2

   Figure 3                                                               Figure 4

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Metrix Day!

November 18, 2011

After our group discussion of a second LED jacket, Amado, Julius, Brian and I took a trip to Metrix to work on the second jacket.  Since I have some experience working on the signal turn jacket with Cam, Paige and Blaine, I was able to help the group get started.  We delegated tasks to be more efficient since we were paying by the hour at Metrix.  Brian and I worked on sewing the Lilypad and battery pack onto the jacket.  I learned that my stitching of the conductive thread on the first jacket produced no conductivity therefore I would have to weave the conductive thread differently.

We brainstormed the design of which the LED’s would take on.  We had to take into account the number of LED’s we had and arrived at the idea of eyes!  We would put eyes on the hood of the jacket and make it blink.  Brian sketched out our ideas and we marked the position of the LED’s on the hood with corresponding colors.


Amado and Julius worked on wiring the LED’s together.  I used Blaine and Cam’s concept of wiring to help them get started.  One of the workers at Metrix gave us a wiring tool, which made the wiring easier.   After Julius learned how to operate the wiring tool, I asked him to teach me and he showed me how to wire the legs of the LED’s.  I learned that the longer leg is the positive end and the short leg is the negative end.  You wire the positive legs together and the short legs together.  We later found Jarmin who joined us in wiring the legs of the LED’s.  Overall, I think we had a very productive day at Metrix.

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Happy Veterans Day!

Today, Amado, Thuy and I came into the Hackademia lab to start working on our alternate jacket project. Similar to the turn signal jacket, we are planning on using a LilyPad and LEDs to make a form of wearable technology. Instead of having the user press buttons to make the LEDs flash, we want to make a jacket that causes the LEDs to be set to a specific brightness. As a result, the jacket would be an adjustable light-up jacket (useful for dark places!). The LEDs will be able to change brightness through some kind of knob, dial, or button.

So, coming into the lab we started to do some searches on how to make LEDs light up with the use of dials and Arduinos. We wanted to go with some kind of dial (or knob) so that the user has more control of the LED’s brightness. We decided to look at Youtube videos, instructables.com, and other Google searches. We were able to find a video of it working, which is listed below:

However, we were unable to find a tutorial. So after failed attempts at finding a tutorial, we decided to just stick with a digital brightness control and use buttons (since we were able to do it in the past).

Now that we have a clear focus on what to do, we decided to create a plan on how we are going to approach it. But instead of just following a YouTube tutorial of how to do it step by step, we wanted to get a better understanding of how the different components would work together. Since we don’t have any electrical engineering experience, we decided to go with the basics and learn everything there is to know about circuitry. We watched videos on how to solder LEDs with resistors, what resistors do, what breadboards do, etc. It was a little confusing to us, but it did help us gain a better appreciation and understanding of what we will be doing in the next few days. Knowing this information will definitely make the end product much more satisfying since we have more knowledge of how it was done.

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Hackademia Lab Time

Today, Julius, Thuy, and I went to the HCDE lab to work on the second LED jacket project.  We want to create a jacket that has multiple LED lights on the back that can adjust brightness.  For example, the LEDs would become brighter when it is darker outside.  We wanted to find a way to adjust the brightness of the LEDs by turning a dial/knob so we looked online (YouTube, Google) to see if we could find a tutorial.  We couldn’t find a tutorial, but we did find a video that actually showed us a dial/knob adjusting the brightness of an LED.  As a result, we decided to use a button to adjust the LEDs’ brightness because we thought it would be easier than using a dial/knob.  Also, there are tutorials using buttons on YouTube.

In addition, we decided to watch an electrical engineering basics video so that we could learn more about the fundamentals of circuitry.  We learned that V (voltage in volts) = I (current in amps) * R (resistance in ohms).  The video was pretty confusing, but I think we learned some of the basic ideas.  We also looked up more information regarding resistors, breadboards, and other components.  We watched a video to solder LEDs to resistors as well (Julius taught us that this technique will eliminate the need of the breadboard).  We were too afraid to solder anything to the arduino because we did not want to damage it.

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Learning about EE

November 11, 2011

I came into the Hackademia lab with Amado and Julius to get started on the other blinking jacket.  This form of wearable technology is fashion focused since we plan to have the jacket light up to different intensities with the manual turning of a knob or dial.  We searched around for the materials to work on the jacket but were disappointed that the Lilypads were taken out of the lab so we couldn’t tinker with them.  However, we Googled information on how we would approach the knob controlled LED.  We watched some videos where people successfully used a knob to change the intensity of the LED light.

Furthermore, we watched videos that taught us how to solder LEDs to resistors.  l learned that you solder the longer wire of the LED to the resistor.  I wanted to attempt the soldering but then was afraid that we might be unsuccessful at doing so and break the Arduino, which would be a bad thing.  We attempted to learn some of the basics of electrical engineering and watched an explanation of Ohm’s law.  Frankly, we found some of the information rather confusing to follow.  Additionally, we found information on what resistors and breadboards do.  Joining this research group has introduced me to different facets of electrical engineering.

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