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Make a Breadboard Sweatshirt (Instant Wearable Electronics!)

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Are wearable electronics The Future? I think so! Here's the quickest, most versatile wearable electronics project ever, The Breadboard Sweatshirt.

Mostly, wearables involve conductive thread for wiring. But that stuff jams my sewing machine, and I wanted to be able to change it if I didn't like it when I was done. Also, I hate doing lots of long, tedious hand-sewing.

Solution? Slap a breadboard on it!


(Q: What's a breadboard?

A: Just a piece of plastic with holes, on top of metal strips in a pattern, that makes it really fast and easy to build a circuit.)


This instructable is dedicated to the single mom in Kansas who wrote to me asking how she could make this "outfit" for her daughter's Halloween party.
 
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Step 1: Prepare the Substrate

Get something really comfortable, a shirt, sweatshirt, sweater. Anything you can sew on.

I grabbed one of my dorm's logo "burning man" sweatshirts,
but I painted over the silkscreened logo so it would just be a plain black sweatshirt.

You can sort of still see it in the photo.

For a little extra brio, I added the instructions for how to use a breadboard sweatshirt, as a pun-couplet on the back, using just a paintbrush and some bleach.

Check out Alex's bleach dyeing instructable to see how I did that.

My major (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Course 6) produces an unfunny yet punny shirt every year. Walking around MIT's campus, you notice students wearing, "Six Hertz" shirts. Meaning either "(Course) Six Hurts" ('cause there's a whole lotta work), or an electronic signal frequency specification.

I thought I could do much better in terms of EECS related puns (and why should school "hurt"? I don't wanna wear a shirt that says that), so I wrote "Socket to me" on the back, in response.
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maxwelld2 years ago
I recommend not wearing this shirt to the airport.
After reading what happened to you I realized I really don't want to ride on an airplane ever.
Now I think the sweater is a cool idea. I'd love to be able to just wear this to school (yes I'm in an electronics class where we use breadboards quite a bit) I have a big packet full of ideas. I love the star design you did! Very nice and cool idea!
Is this THE breadboard sweatshirt? The one we all heard so much about a year or so ago?
stasterisk (author)  drinkmorecoffee6 years ago
yes it is! I waited almost exactly a year to publish the instructable.
Hooray, this finally made it up! I think we should all MAKE one and wear them in protest of the TSA. Thanks, Star!
 Nice one, I would so do that.
it's a scary Halloween costume, but only scary for Jackbooted TSA thugs who need a bit of drama to spice up an otherwise dull task of keeping up the illusion of security theater.

Besides, I suppose they needed a scapegoat after they made themselves look like idiots during the Aqua Teen Boston Scare (LED not IED) and the
even more embarrassing Deadly (j/k) Traffic Counter Scare a mere month later (you'll note that in the second case there were no fines or lawsuits, because the city of Boston would have to sue itself to distract the media from its own incompetence)

What I want to know is if anyone has sent you any ''This Bike is a Pipe Bomb'' band bumper stickers yet?
lol security theater sounds like a bad midnight drama
MYSTERY SECURITY THEATER 3000!
Aha, very cool. I saw this and had to go re-read all the old forums and comments about that... event. It almost makes me want to walk into an airport myself with that on! But really, I almost had a similar thing happen last month when I went through security with oil-based pastels wrapped in magnet wire in my carry-on. I suppose it looked like a block of plastic explosives or something on the x-ray machine. No one pointed any guns at me, thankfully. Just some near-panicking folks keeping their cool while they searched my bag. :)
Maybe we could start a movement...

One day, someone walks into Logan Int. Airport wearing one of these.
And the next day, two people do it.
Then 3 people, 3 people a day.
Then, can you imagine 50 people a day, wearing one of these shirts, walking in to Logan Airport.

Eventually Arlo Guthrie will write a long song explaining the whole event in great detail and it will become famous.

That's what I think should happen.
bustedit marc926 years ago
...and there i was, sittin there, on the group W bench, with all sorts of mean nasty father rapers mother stabbers hairy eyeball...i mean...i mean...i wanna kill...dead burnt babies...veins in my teeth
marc92 bustedit6 years ago
Maybe those lines should be: ...and there I was, sitting there, in the State Police barracks, with all sorts of mean nasty airplane bombers, and hijackers, hairy eyeball...I mean...I mean...I wanna explode...dead burnt airplanes...wires in my teeth... Lol!
gog stasterisk6 years ago
Thats cool, Infamous Art!
revtkatt5 years ago
Eit!  You have a fantastic sense of humor.

A fan.
dla8885 years ago
This must bring back memories of Boston Logan.
robotguy45 years ago
Well, its not as big a security threat as playing <a rel="nofollow" href="http://boortz.com/mp3/archive/countdown.swf">this</a> in an airport...<br/>
Have any of you seen the article in Make, I don't remember what volume but this lady had a sweatshirt almost exactly like this and she walked into an airport to meet one of her friends (and this was how she was going to impress him) and they actually put her in jail because they thought she was going to set a bomb off, I guess the moral of the story is "Don't wear exposed electronics into an airport"
Psst... Ben. You do realize that this Instructable was MADE by that lady, right?
Damn peaople.
zencoder6 years ago
Star, heard the story first day on CNN and thought defending you would be simple. Got some of most nasty ignorant comments ever on youtube, most deleted (/winsleuth). I learned a lot on how little the public understands the toys they love so much. Many thought it was about IED's, not LED's and Wow were they upset. Best of luck to you and sorry you had to go thru this event this way. There is so little empathy these days. Cheers
stasterisk (author)  zencoder6 years ago
Thank you, zencoder!
endolith6 years ago
Put the breadboard inside the shirt and poke the LEDs through the fabric?
clamoring6 years ago
Just saw your interview on bb. The community is squarely behind you! chin up!
jimmyb0nz6 years ago
great stuff. why did it take me so long to find the story on hack a day? Congrats, you are up there with the Boston guys.
Some things I have tried is the conductive paint and conductive glue. the combination of the two work great on clothing! but it is permanent and its not recommended to wash it.
cmrc6 years ago
Inspirational, and very informative. Thank you for pointing me towards Leah's site. Again great work. Keep pushing the envelope!
gmjhowe6 years ago
nice work! i might try walking in with an old style alarm clock hung round my neck, see what happens…
askjerry6 years ago
The concept is interesting... it allows people to show off prototyping which for me could be useful. ( I am the president of the robotics group http://www.robomo.com )

But I have a suggestion for you, How about attaching velcro to the back of the board, then sewing the mating peice to your shirt. This way it can be removed with ease for washing and such. Also, a small pocket could be sewn to the inside of the shirt and a small grommet installed. Then, the battery could be hidden from sight which would make the eye notice the board more and the external wiring less.

It would be a great project for an Atmel Mega-8 or Atmel Tiny-26 with many LEDs attached... doing patterns and such. A programmable shirt!
Jerry
stasterisk (author)  askjerry6 years ago
Hey, yeah! The velcro is a good idea. I thought about it, but didn't have any handy, and sewing is easy. Nice idea on the battery! If you make one, post pics!
I have a great idea... I was looking at another instructable that showed a method of bleaching colors... http://www.instructables.com/id/Controlled-Bleaching-with-Discharge-Paste/ and I started to think... I have a laser engraver... so I could make some spiffy stencil... bleach out the pattern, then do the breadboard.

Like...

ELECTRONICS
[breadboard]
ROCKS

Yeah... kool.
(Cheezy grin)
suhasm6 years ago
@ viacin , do breadboards really cost 10$ in america? here in india, they r available for around 80rs which is less than 2$.
askjerry suhasm6 years ago
The best I can do is from Electronics Goldmine at
http://www.goldmine-elec.com/ They are $4.95 for the small ones...
http://www.goldmine-elec-products.com/prodinfo.asp?number=G16567

A nice one is $30
http://www.goldmine-elec-products.com/prodinfo.asp?number=G16571

If you have a cheaper source I'd like to get a few.
jerry
wayn3w6 years ago
Those who do not read history are doomed to repeat it. Google "Star Simpson"
Kiteman wayn3w6 years ago
Ahem, you do know, don't you? This is the same person. She's not repeating history, she's making history.
hah. werd.
FAIL.
viacin6 years ago
gah...this grieves me. what a waste of a perfectly good breadboard. plus, I think it's ugly. Nice try tho, maybe would be better with a perf board.
viacin viacin6 years ago
breadboard = $10-$30
Perf Board = $ 1-$3
I'm guessing you're not an EE major at MIT? Plus, you're overpaying for breadboards ;)
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