Introduction: DIY LED Sash Tutorial
Hey everyone! so this is a revision of my previous LED suited jacket. it was MUCH more LEDs than this... but it was in a strip, and the wiring kept getting crimped together to a point to where it wouldn't function properly. So I went ahead and made a more compact and interchangeable Sash to where you can put it on and take it off any kind of clothing! You can also take it up one notch and cover it with different fabrics that would match your styles. I go over more ideas for inspiration in the video! Please watch for a breakdown of how it came to be, then I go step by step the best I can to ensure that you all can bring your own sash that you would like, to life!
Step 1: Bill of Materials
The things you're going to need are as follows, some may be optional, but i'll say the required first, then put the optional next
Fabric (any color you like!)
Ruler (preferably the bendy type in a circular coil)
sponge or some type of solder non-abrasive (or slightly abrasive) cleaner
ball point pins (set of 100 or so is good)
Multimeter with probes
Velcro (sew on type. could use peel back type, but not sure how long will last)
Scissors, mainly for fabric, or rotary fabric cutters & cutting self-healing mat.
Flora Microcontroller > https://www.adafruit.com/products/659
silicone cover stranded core wire -- 2m a piece. at least 3-4 sets should do you well
https://www.adafruit.com/products/898 > USB cable 6" micro A/B. but it's like an android charger cable, so you may already have one. look at it to confirm
Lithium Ion Cylindrical Battery - 3.7v 2200mAh
(it doesn't have to be limited to this battery, but it MUST be at 5V or 3.7V or inbetween. otherwise you will kill the Flora, and possibly the neopixels too, or there might not be enough Volts to run it, respectively. you can use a different battery pack up to 4 AA batteries if you want, but you'll have to compensate for the amount of room that it takes up... 5V should give it an even brighter blinky greatness than my 3.7V though.)
Adafruit Neopixel mini PCB pack of 5. you'll probably want 4-5 sets of these, depending on how many neopixels you want for full blinky goodness. (if you want to go the same route I did to have snap on snap off accessibility to my flora, get 1 set of sewable neopixels, and conductive thread)
https://www.adafruit.com/products/1612 < neopixels PCB
Disapearing ink/marker/ tailor's chalk
https://www.adafruit.com/products/1304 < USB li-poly ion battery charger
Maybe you decide you DO want to be able to take your Flora off, yes? in this case, check out the optionals!
Sewable Snaps (you might as well buy 2 sets of these, because if you plan to use the flora for a different range of projects, you're not going to have enough. probably good for 2 different projects, and these can also go on sensors too! > https://www.adafruit.com/products/1126
https://www.adafruit.com/products/1260 < Flora RGB smart neopixels v2 (optional, 1 set ONLY if you plan to use your Flora for other projects, numerous more if you want to go down my route... albeit more pricey.)
Conductive thread (2-ply might be easier to work with than 3 ply, but 3-ply is what I used) >
Step 2: Disclaimers and Warnings
Please follow this tutorial at your own risk, and read up on your batteries, before attempting. I did not create the Flora, neopixels, and only tweaked the code, but originally, all of that is from adafruit. I just made a sash based on this, and got creative and putting it all together.
Adafruit gives excellent tutorial on batteries, please read up on them for your safety
Step 3: LED Sash Breakdown
Watch this video to see a demo and how I breakdown what I put on it, as well as how it works, and what possible things it could be used for
Step 4: Laying Out a Blueprint and Foundation
When starting out, you want to lay out a foundation of how
long you want this sash to be, and the width of it, as well as what goes where and such. Draw it out if you have to, and consider what you might want to add (sensor-wise, it can only get better!) I made my sash 2” wide and 54” long. Plan out where you’re going to put the Velcro to keep it in a loop and in place, and also make a little pouch for the battery pack to go in, CLOSE as possible to the Flora. Wear it, just to see how long or how much you need to shorten the fabric. I put the battery right above mine on the opposite side, but I plan to put a pressure velostat sensor above the flora, so I can use it as a switch to dim/brighten the lights depending on how soft or how hard I push down against it.
Step 5: Sewing It, Choose Your Path
This is where we go towards different paths of choice. You can choose to sew the Flora directly to the cloth with the conductive thread, and solder the PCB neopixels from there, or you can choose to use the sewable snaps to sew on first, making sure to use the disappearing ink/tailor chalk to mark where you want these to go. I chose the sewable snaps choice, but it's really up to you. The reason why we don't use conductive thread for all sewable neopixels is because the farther they go down, the more resistance starts to take place (after about 10 neopixels or so).
***NOTE***:Before you start this out, make sure you have your velcro already sewn on, your battery pouch made, and measurements done. If you choose the snap path, you can mechanically sew them on to keep the Flora on as well (as in, use regular thread instead of conductive thread to keep it in place. you can use both on one snap, but for "pins" not being used on the flora, this is acceptable as well.)
Non-snap path: Sew the flora in place, with a mechanical bond (regular thread) and follow through the rest of the way in the snap path (ignore any mention of snaps for yourself, you're soldering the PCB from D6, GND, and VBATT from the get go)
Snap path: mechanically sew on snaps to the top portion, and the bottom portion; you can mechanically, and conductively, sew them in place. See to it that the Flora successfully snaps in place accordingly before moving on. you don't want it to touch all together. make sure that for the first sewable neopixel, the arrows on it is pointing AWAY from the Flora, and sew a conductive thread line from VBatt to +, D6 to the middle, and GND, to -. Use the single thread technique for this, and leave a tail about 4-5 cm from the bottom of the sash, when you're pulling it from there. Do Not pull all the way through! for every knot you do, use your fray check/clear finger nail polish to keep it in place for good, and make very small backstitches.
Backstitches going over a far length can cause your threading to mess up over time, possibly crumpling the fabric in the process. After you sew the first neopixel down, use your multimeter to check for continuity, and making sure that your stitches don't cross! if they do, they may short-circuit and possibly damage the neopixels/flora. if you don't know how to use the multimeter, google it, it's a good learning process!
After that, you'll want to start cutting your wire accordingly, depending on dense (close together), or scattered (spread apart) you want your neopixels to be. mine is about 1 1/2" apart. if you take my path with the sewable neopixels, the middle wire will be shorter than the two outer wires.
Strip the wires about 4-5mm on both ends, and solder them to the other PCBs in a similar fashion of + to +, middle to middle (the signal, or D6 pin), and GND to GND, all the way down. this will be the exact same way for the neopixel PCBs. for the last neopixel, I'd probably use a sewable one, and mechanically bond the bottom middle pin, to the sash, so it won't flip itself up later. Look at becky stern's EEG costume cap for an idea of how to sew this down to the sash (but you want to keep it mind to do it in a linear fashion!) and how you'll solder the PCB neopixels as well. tin your solder iron, your wires, and tin the solder pads on the Neopixels accordingly, then let them iron, wire, and pad, touch together, to flow and stick together.
Step 6: Code It
At this point, you'll want to download the Arduino IDE, but with the flavor of adafruit. this is a arduino-compatible board, but you'll have to have the modified version of adafruit with it, which you can follow here! you can use their code from neopixels, or use my tweaked version.
And here you will need to download the libraries necessary to run the neopixels, as well as almost everything you need to know regarding neopixels!
Step 7: Work It!
wear it out! go to the store with it! think of different ways to change the way you live! I'm going to set mine up with different fabrics such as sash-velcro like add-ons to change with the color style of clothing that I may wear. You could put a weather sensor on it to let you know how cold/hot it may be by color blue for cold, color red for heat, and green for pleasant, a GPS waypoint sash to show you when you're getting "hot" to a location you're trying to find.. the possibilities are limitless! use your imagination to explore! and let me know if you have any more questions. always happy to help!