Tag Archives: e-textiles

A Short Explanation of a Circuit

So, what do you think about giving this soft-circuit thing a shot? I’ve got a pretty cute (if I say so myself) pattern in the works for Monday, but in the meantime, let’s talk about circuit basics.  (WARNING: I’m so not an electronics person, so if I use the wrong words, or if I say something backwards, I apologize.  This is just what I’ve managed to figure out bumbling around on my own.)

Let’s make a little imaginary circuit.

We’ll start with an LED. I bought mine from SparkFun. They’re sold in packs of 5 for about 4 bucks. It’s tiny- about a half inch long, and less than an eighth of an inch wide, but it’s super bright when it lights up.  See on the two little holes on either end? Those are the connections to attach it into a circuit. You sew your conductive thread through those, as if you were attaching a button.

10081-02[2]We’ll also need a battery (duh).  I’m using a little coin battery (also from Sparkfun).  It’s the size of a nickel.

Let’s use two “wires” (pieces of conductive thread) to attach the battery to the LED, like this:Circuit 1

See how the + side of the battery is attached to the + end of the LED? And the – side of the battery is attached to the – end of the LED? That’ll make sure that the LED will light up.

Now, we could stop here. We have a lovely, bright, and shiny LED. But, where’s the fun in that? I’d like to try turning the light off and on.

You can buy switches, buttons and other devices for turning your circuit off and on, but they all follow the same principle:  When you make a hole in one of the wires, the circuit is broken and the LED will turn off. If you patch up the hole, you complete the circuit, and the LED will turn on again.

See?  (The switch is shown in red)

OFF:Circuit 2ON:Circuit 3Easy! Frankly, the hardest part of this is making sure that your wires don’t accidentally cross and create a short circuit, but even that’s not too difficult!

Think you’re ready to try your hand at E-Textiles?

Yarn + Electricity = Winning

This weekend MakerFaire is happening in San Francisco!  I am so excited to finally get to go after years of reading about it.  MakerFaire is a super cool craft fair/creative festival that  celebrates innovation and ingenuity.  Anyone who has a cool idea is welcome to share it with other fair-goers.

You made a bicycle-powered sewing machine?  You developed a robot that tends your garden for you?  You used scrap metal to build a car?  You have a spot at MakerFaire. People at MakerFaire are especially known for taking two things that don’t usually go together, combining them and making something amazing.

Like fiber arts and electronics.

E-textiles (aka soft circuits) are a really cool way to try your hand at electronics and create some amazing projects.

The basic idea is that you use conductive thread (nylon thread, coated in a conductive metal) instead of wires to connect your electronic components (like leds, batteries, sensors and tiny computers).

You could go super simple, and make a pair of texting gloves.  The conductive thread woven through the fingertips allows you to use a touchscreen  without removing your gloves.  (Handy in the Great White North in February.)

Teknika Gloves by Laura Nelkin

6437487283_bc44cb9a7d_z[1]Or you could get your embroidery on, and make a little sampler, including LEDs, a battery and an on/off switch.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAOr, if you have more tech experience than I do, you could get your hands on a LilyPad Arduino.  It’s a tiny computer that you can plug into your computer, program, and use to make LEDs blink in cool patterns.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAWhat would you use soft circuits for?