[Textile Interface] Stretch, compress, experiment with soft swatches

Swatch #1

The first patch I made was a simple switch with an LED. Kevin and I used conductive threads and iron-on conductive fabrics (are those what we have in the shop?) — and when the two ends touch, the circuit is closed. The battery situation took some figuring out. After trying the folding technique, we decided that to make a little pocket to hold it. It was not until we sew the patch on did we realize that the conductive part needs to live inside the pocket in order to touch the battery. Eventually I 1) took out the pocket, 2) ironed everything on, 3) sew the pocket back on, 4) ran conductive thread across.

Alternatively: wrist band?

This was the first thing I made, so i didn’t really consider materiality or how it looks. These red felt materials are from Angelo (thanks Angelo!), and I continued using it cause it’s very soft.

Swatch #2

Next, I tried to make a parallel circuit with multiple lights, experimenting with velostat, a pressure sensitive conductive plastic, very much inspired by this video by Chibitronics. I was hoping when I press the lights will gradually light up in order, but they didn’t quite do that.

The end result looks like this:

A lot of effort went into juggling with the sewing machine (using conductive thread and sewing patterns). I feel like a lot of the difficulties is because of the thread?? I was recommended the H-12 conductive thread, that they work much better than most other conductive threads? It’s unknown what thread we use here at ITP, but I might try these if I find a way to buy them. Apart from the 3-hour attempt to machine sew, I used the same pocketing method like the previous one, just adding a piece of velostat on the anode side of the battery.

I didn’t have time to make any more small experiments, but I found an impressive presentation deck on textile sensors: https://cdn-shop.adafruit.com/datasheets/HandcraftingSensors.pdf

It’s now Tuesday afternoon, but I’ll try a couple of these tonight!

Swatch #3

Last but not least, I attempted to make a 555 Timer.

From this ——————————————————— to this

I didn’t do a good job documenting, but basically I used an old circuit design on EAGLE (555 Timer IC with three resistors, one LED, and one capacitor. I tried resistors of different values and got a desired speed. I forgot to save the EAGLE file so now I don’t know what values I ended up using…), and routed a new board.

It took me the LONGEST time to figure out how to attach the IC to anything. Honestly it would’ve been much better if I didn’t use felt here. Eventually I ironed small pieces of the iron-on fabric on the front side, poked the IC through, and wrapped conductive threads on the legs on the back side. It wasn’t the most secure, and therefore it only sometimes works.

Family photo:

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