Transform your plain skirt for blinking LED dance party skirt in no time.
This is perfect for holidays, parties and just a fun night out with friends.
Step 1: Get Your Supplies and a Perfect Skirt
You will need:
- LilyPad main board
- LilyPad USB Link
- mini USB cable
- 3.6 V AA Li-Po Battery (or a similar power supply)
- 20 Surface Mount LEDs (1206 size or similar)
- 30 AWG insulated wrapping wire
- AA size battery holder (optional)
- a digital multimeter with a beeping continuity tester
- a needle or two, a fabric marker or piece of chalk, threads of your choice
- a pair of scissor
Most importantly, a skirt!
I chose a sequined skirt to make it extra sparkly, but any garment will work as long as they are not made of light fabric like silk or knitted fabric like a sweater. Those fabrics do not hold electronics in place.
If you are using conductive thread instead of wires, you would want an extra stiff garment so that the threads of different current (positive side and negative side) do not touch each other.
If you're using ultra thin wires, make sure the garment of your choice has a good lining. Other wise, the wires can feel quite uncomfortable.
Step 2: Plan the Electrical Layout of Your Piece
Design the pattern of your LEDs. Surface mount LEDs often have one side as positive and the other as negative.
Make sure you calculate voltages and current to get the correct power supply if you will modify the design.
Step 3: How to Choose LEDs
There are so many different kinds of LEDs, it’s almost mind boggling.
In order to get a similar look, you would want to pick Surface Mount LEDs no smaller than 1206.
If it’s smaller than 1206, it would be really hard to solder or sew them on to the fabric.
When choosing LEDs, make sure you choose the ones that consume less energy.
For my project, I used 3.2 forward Voltage – 20 mA- 140 MDC
(MDC indicates the brightness. The higher MDC is the brigher the LED will be.)
Step 4: How to Choose Power Supply
As for power supply, Lilypad Arduino takes 3.3-5.5V.
Choosing something that has similar voltage of your LEDs within that range will save you sometime soldering resistors.
For example, if you choose 5 V power supply and your LEDs takes 3.2 V you would need resistors to take down your 5 V to 3.2V.
If not, the LEDs will turn on really bright and burn out really fast.
For my project, I chose 3.6 V 2200mA Lithium-Polymer battery AA size.
It is portable, rechargeable has a lot of Current and just enough Voltage.
Also, if you are not so sure what resistors you need for your project.
Step 5: Use Conductive Thread or 30-32 AWG Coated Wire?
Conductive threads are great for wearable projects.
However they tend to have high resistance.
If you decide to use conductive thread, take desired amount of conductive thread you would use, measure the resistance before you cut the thread to use.
Every inch makes a huge difference with conductive thread.
If it has higher resistance than the circuit needs, LEDs will not turn on.
For my project, I chose 30 AWG coated wire instead which is available at any local Radio Shack at $5.
32 AWG is thinner than 30 AWG but it’s harder to find.
These wires have a trivial resistance, and you can tie them up around your Lilypad Arduino instead of soldering them.
This is great if you want to keep your Lilypad Arduino clean and in tact.
The only drawback is that it might take longer to sew them onto the fabric if you are not used to sewing.
Step 6: Construction
1. Solder two leads to your LEDs
I soldered stripped out 30 AWG wire to my LEDs to make the leads but it could be easier to solder clamping beads to your LEDs. Here are some helpful links to make LED beads.
2. Wire LEDs and sew them onto the Fabric.
3. Sew Lilypad Arduino in place and wire LEDs to Arduino.
4. Sew the battery holder in place and wire your accelerometer
Battery holder is not necessary as long as you can fabricate something that has secure connection.
You can DIY your own holder using neoprene or other materials as well.
As for your accelerometer, you would want it in a place where it gets the maximum acceleration.
5. Test your connection
See this tutorial for information on how to use the continuity tester.
You would want to check your connections as often as possible when fabricating so that you have a secure connection between wires.
Step 7: Program Your Arduino
You're almost done. Now you need to program your arduino so that it can turn on the lights as you want.
What it's programmed to do is this : when the user is standing still no LEDs turn on.
Then, according to the acceleration, the harder you dance the more LEDs turn on.
Interestingly, you can use pins in Lilypad Arduino as ground if you keep it as digital Low.
Step 8: Finish!
NOW YOU’RE DONE!!!
PLUG IN YOUR BATTERY…. SEE IF IT WORKS….. HAPPY DANCING!!!!