LED Jacket Projects

During our weekly Wednesday meeting today, we discussed our LED jacket project.  We thought that it would be wise to make another LED jacket project because working on one project with several people would not be efficient (two small groups working on different projects would be better).

One group was working on an LED turn signal jacket.  The other group decided to brainstorm on another potential LED jacket.  Some of our ideas are illustrated from the pictures below:


Our group decided to make an LED jacket with several LEDs on the back that can adjust brightness.

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Sewing with Conductive Thread

November 9, 2011

After our research meeting, I went to Metrix with Blaine, Cam and Paige to work on the blinking signal turn jacket for bicyclists.  It was my first time at Metrix and I found the place to be rather interesting.  There were a lot of equipment and supplies that can be used to make so many cool things.  I spent a couple hours sewing the battery pack and the Lilypad onto the jacket using the conductive thread that Paige brought.  I had to read through the directions carefully from the website because it was my first time working with conductive thread and I didn’t want to mess anything up.  I observed how Cam was designing the wafer for which the LEDs are to be mounted on which makes for easy sewing.  The software that was used was called InkScape.  Blaine also showed me how the LEDs were wired together so that they can be sewed onto the jacket.  I wanted to check the conductivity of my sewing of the conductive thread using a multimeter but didn’t get the chance to because it was getting late.  Blaine said that it would be easy to use the multimeter to check the conductivity if we were to learn from Bennett since he has the knowledge to do so. I hope I can finish sewing on the rest of the jacket and am looking forward to the finish product.

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So far, so good….

I’ve learned a lot in the class and so far it’s been a good experience. I was nervous initially about having an unstructured class focusing on new content and designing something in a domain unfamiliar to me using tools that I’ve never heard of. Assuming all the other students must have some sort of expertise in this particular area or they wouldn’t have signed up for the class was intimidating and without even realizing it, I decided I was going to be more of a passive observer. I quickly realized that everyone brought a different perspective to the class, each being valuable and the concept of the class started to click. I initially planned to work on kodu being the easier of the two projects, but given the supporting atmosphere of our group, have started to work on the arduino project and I’m starting to like it. There’s a lot to learn but everyone likes to share what they know and we usually have fun in the process.

In the past few weeks I have bought a few sensors to experiment with and I’m starting to think about projects beyond this class that I can possibly incorporate into work or just for fun. Alexis and I were looking into connecting the arduino with Vex (robotics) and possibly use sensors – speech recognition, range finder…..to control it. In the beginning of this class, I wouldn’t even have thought of this being possible.

I’ve learned a lot about my learning (if that makes any sense) and about multi-disciplinary collaboration and the exchanging of ideas that leads to innovative projects. As for the current project, I’m interested to see how it will come together and how we will proceed from here. Anyone planning to work in the lab before Wednesday?

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Meeting MakerBot

November 3, 2011

Amado and I met with Cam at the lab to get acquainted with the MakerBot.  I downloaded the replicatorg software onto my Mac.  It took a while for the MakerBot to warm up.  While we were waiting, Cam showed us the thingiverse website where we can download some designs and print them.  We browsed through the models that people posted.  I would like to learn a bit about 3D modeling so I can design something and then print it out with MakerBot.  We decided to print something simple and found the Lilypad holder.  We encountered some technical difficulties with connecting my Mac to the MakerBot, which took awhile for us to figure out what the problem was.  I’m going to ask Cam about the software where I can design something and come back to the lab some other time to print something out with the MakerBot.

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Trying to Make a Lilypad with the Makerbot

Last week, Cam, Thuy, and I were experimenting with the Makerbot.  We downloaded the ReplicatorG software onto Thuy’s laptop and searched for items that we could make from the Makerbot.   We decided to make a lilypad because the code was already provided for us.

The first problem that we encountered was that the Makerbot and ReplicatorG seemed to not be communicating or connected to each other.  We kept getting error messages from ReplicatorG.  We waited a pretty long time until the machine started to work (I think that we just had to wait until the Makerbot warmed up before it started working).  Before uploading the code, we waited for the Makerbot to reach a certain temperature (I think it was 255 degrees Fahrenheit).  In the meantime, Thuy taught me how to solder since I missed last Wednesday’s meeting.

The second problem that we encountered was that the code for the lilypad was taking extremely long to upload to the Makerbot.  We waited almost an hour, and it was still in the process of uploading.  We all had to leave before the code was fully uploaded so we never got to make the lilypad.

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I can solder!

I have always wanted to learn how to solder. Coming into the lab, I saw Jarman talking with Blaine about soldering. It was my lucky day! In the past I have looked up countless YouTube videos trying to teach myself how to solder but have always wanted some kind of assistance in case I did something wrong. Now that Bennett agreed to teach us how to solder, this was a good chance for me to finally get my hands onto the activity.

After receiving a quick tutorial, I quickly realized that soldering is actually not that bad. Basically, all you have to do is take two objects together, heat them with the soldering iron, apply the solder, then remove the iron. Easy! Something that I was pretty hesitant to do is now something that I want to do all the time. Great session!

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So this is soldering…

November 2, 2011

I didn’t have the slightest clue as to what soldering is.  This lab meeting gave me a chance to familiarize myself with the art of soldering!  Bennett was teaching a number of us how to solder.  It looked fairly simple but I had to try it out to know for myself.  I heated up a piece of protruding metal and wire with the solder iron and then melted the solder on both pieces.  So this is soldering!

We all decided to work on a blinking signal turn jacket for bicyclists.  We are going to use the website that Blaine found as our guide for the project.  We wrote the supplies on the white board and checked off the supplies that we already had in the lab.  I’m looking forward to working with the conductive thread because I have never heard of such material and want to learn more about it.

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