Picture of turn signal biking jacket
This tutorial will show you how to build a jacket with turn signals that will let people know where you're headed when you're on your bike. We'll use conductive thread and sewable electronics so your jacket will be soft and wearable and washable when you're done. Enjoy!

A version of this tutorial is also on my website.

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of supplies
Get your supplies. You need:

-- LilyPad Arduino main board
-- FTDI connector
-- mini USB cable
-- LilyPad power supply
-- 16 LilyPad LEDs (note: these aren't available from SparkFun yet, but will be soon)
-- 2 push button switches
-- a spool of 4-ply conductive thread
-- a digital multimeter with a beeping continuity tester. This is the one I have.
-- a garment or a piece of fabric to work on
-- a needle or two, a fabric marker or piece of chalk, puffy fabric paint, a bottle of fabric glue, and a ruler
(Available at your local fabric shop or Joann Stores.)
-- a pair of scissors
-- double sided tape (optional)
-- a sewing machine (optional)

disclosure: I designed the LilyPad, so I'll make some $ if you buy one.
Viniciusoh2 months ago

If there's anyone wondering about the links that aren't working, I've found them here:


And for the code:


Now the link is hosted at MIT.

Also, wonderful project! If here in brazil would be easy to buy those boards, for sure I would do it!

lclaiborne2 months ago

I've been commuting, racing and touring since 1978. Honestly? This is really cute for nightclubs, but in the real world of urban riding it's waste of time. Drivers who actually pay attention see hand signals, but this? It's only going to be visible at night, and assuming drivers are actually paying attention. Better you all learn how to manage traffic, as in looking over your shoulder to see what's behind you, looking at drivers eyes to see if they see you, all the skills an urban rider already has. This garment will only promote sloppy dangerous riding and get people killed. It's not a new idea. LED turn signals on helmets have already died in the marketplace out of apathy - it's heavy high maintenance stuff that costs a lot of cash for little benefit. And at least those wouldn't be a stinking gamey mess after a ride. How do you wash this? What about rain? How do you intend to deal with high temperature weather with fabrics that won't support all this stuff? Where I live we wear all cotton t shirts to ride in half the year because of hot weather. That won't support the lights and wires. Then there's sweat corrosion. Then there's the plain old who needs the hassle of a complicated shirt when a spread of AA battery blinky lights on bike and helmet works better to be visible.

Sorry if this sounds harsh, It's not meant to be, but my years as messenger taught me a lot about city riding and extra high maintenance stuff you can't wash is useless. The brain is our best tech - watch behind you for cars and turn when there's room. The cagers won't pay any attention to this. Bike turn signals date back to at least the 1920's. They'd be standard if they did any good.

I can think of a bunch of other apps for this tech in sporting goods, but the problems of sweat and complicated maintenance would need to be addressed. And the power unit.

TheMaciej2 months ago

Okay, does it have street homologation or is it only for offroad ?

peinkc2 months ago

I haven't been on a bike for years but this is one of the best ideas yet.
Take it to Shark Tank ASAP

omikeo2 months ago

How far/often do you ride, what type of bike do u have ?

NonofYabiz2 months ago

A wonderful idea! :)

dalauner2 months ago

I've done a similar project only with a professional cycling shirt:


cowcrusher2 months ago

Did anyone already suggest adding reflective tape in a fashionable way so that drivers see you first? I noticed that these jackets used are dark which is for the contrasting "arrow board" to be noticed but not for instances of poor visibility such as rain or fog. Great project though.

zainulislam3 months ago
any one please help me to learn arduino i want to learn arduino i send you money of classes my email
jamesr124 months ago

you have the code to turn the left signal off and the right on and off to flash but for the left signal do you just do the same have the right turned off and the left on and off for flashing and do you just input the code under the loop or what

hello sir i am new here and in arduino so iwant to learn arduino programing and every thing about arduino so if you khow about programing so please help me to learn arduino sorry for my poor english thanks in advance i am very thankful to you please give me replay to my email

my email:-zainulislam23@gmail.com
skype id:-zainulislam49
jamesr125 months ago

is the info about the power supply all you need to know for the power requirements for all the components or is there more power reqs needed

ArvinL5 months ago

Well, get one of these http://shooln.co.uk/bike-led-signal-jacket.html. Both the jacket and remote control are waterproof, wireless remote control, got 4 buttons (rather than 2 like in this article), and less hassle to buy stuffs, program and build. I bought one from them and couldn't be happier!

Claudia O5 months ago

FTDI serves to put the program in Lilypad

jamesr125 months ago

hi i am new to this stuff and just wondered what the FTDI connector is used for sorry ia m reserching for a project

Claudia O6 months ago

Hello, I was wondering if we can use a two ply conductive thread however a four ply one. Thaaaanks!!

How do we make this project waterproof? I understand it not being machine washable, of course, but I need some way to clean it, some insurance that it's not going to short and burn me because it started raining...

I can't believe I had to scroll all the way down here to find this concern. I like the idea, but the first thing that came to mind when I saw it was rain.

I WAS going to suggest Liquipel (http://www.thedailyserge.com/2012/03/tech-tuesdays-vol-25-waterproof.html?spref=fb) until I remembered that Liquipel is more of a SERVICE than a product. Add to that I don't even know if the machinery is equipped for clothing. NEVER FEAR: The solution is once again back into the capable hands of the DIY-er:


This Never Wet superhyrophobic stuff works great with clothing.

Hope that the product reaches retail soon.
jamesbrosuk6 months ago

Excellent, problem is with the battery pack

Snellingkorey8 months ago

highly practical, you couls sell a ton of these to the mountain biking and running world.

We will see, a variation has already been productized. - http://www.visijax.com/

DeanGPotts2 years ago
i love this project, but how much did all these arduino bits cost to make the project? please dont think im having a go, but when i saw it i immedietly thought this kit would work just as well using a simple oscillator circuit, using a few capacitors and resistors with a rocker switch on each handle bar, maybe $4 worth of bits.

The difference is that you can't program multiple results from the same button like in this ible. That requires some kind of small wearable computer like an arduino. Personally I'd like to see someone get a raspi hooked up with bluetooth ot wome other wireless tech to make it so there's a thing that sticks on your back or your backpack and permanently mounted buttons on the handlebars. That would be awesome.

That's a great idea dana, they could be placed on the handlebars

davidbarcomb9 months ago

What an awesome idea. Gotta try this

jason00010 months ago

Hi everyone

can anyone do this project for some $? the person doesn't reply!.

Victor Does10 months ago

Every one on a bike should have this! Nice idea!

TylerB211 months ago

Is there a reason you didn't use interrupts and sleep mode? I think it would make some of the logic simpler(of course the interrupt registration code itself would add some more lines) and reduce power consumption. You could even put the processor to sleep between LED flashing state changes and use timers, if you were really looking to reduce power consumption...

Carlo.BaCon.411 months ago

Hi! I'd just like to know its power consumption. Great project by the way!

danmellow1 year ago

super cool.. and stylish as well

ChrisW31 year ago

I love that you used the Lilypad, it adds style! :D

tnjiti2 years ago
I was not able to get the code for the behavior...can u kindly post it ?


Kelly022 years ago
nice project.
RadarTech2 years ago
Thanks for the good work. I'm using this as a blueprint for my own project.

Have you thought of using Bluetooth to remotely operate the switches?
Really cool, Nice work, Leah.

We had a guy bring something like that to our Portland chapter of DorkbotPDX meeting. He also made an LED bike polo scoreboard.

I didn't even know there WAS such a thing as bike polo!
piedrabob782 years ago
HI can I use a normal powersupply instead of the lilypad powersupply?
raptor882 years ago
you ride one handed for just that second
I think it's still better than turning my head twice or treble to check for cars. This invention could save a lot of effort and troubles.
sorry i meant to send this comment to matthieutje65, i agree whenever i am biking on the road i look behind me all the time as well as right and left
Really a nice concept

Find another unseen concepts with Arduino based electronics Projects
Gato Nipon2 years ago
I always ride my bike with bakcpack, so do you think it can be done with the shoulder stripes of the back pack instead of in the wrists??? I live in spain, where the bike use isn't really opened well yet, so this could be a great invention to a lot of people that are constantly harrased by agro cars. I cannot overstate how fascinated I am about this. Bravo.
double_g2 years ago
Nice Instructable!! I ride my bike a lot and something like this would be awesome! I'm on a college student's budget so I think I'm going to throw together a little bit cheaper circuit. I'm thinking I'll just use a 555 timer and some toggle switches. I think I'll make the resistors for the LEDs with the "wire", the only tough part will be getting the resistance down since I only have 80 ohms between the toggle and the LEDs to create the right resistance, I might have to "reinforce" my lines a lot haha. Thanks again for the instructable, this is going to be a fun project!
This is a great idea, but I see one problem (don't know if it allready has been posted). while riding your bike your holding the handlebars, How are you going to press the Left/Right Button on your wrist? This is just a small adjustement that can easily be solved but thought it was worth sharing.
u got a point there .riding 1 handed while planning to turn is a bad idea and reaching over to other side of handlebar is about the worst move one can make :d ,id prefer to use my chin to use the gadget,with the switch being left and right of the zip,just below it,maybe 2 touch sensitve foils could handle that?
double_g cthang2 years ago
Bikers signal by putting their arm out in the direction they are turning as such you would be riding one handed anyways right before your turn. If you do change it so you don't have to remove your arm from the handle bars make sure you still turn and check what the traffic behind you is doing. I've had a few motorists speed up when I motioned my intent to move to the left lane either because they didn't see me or didn't want to be behind a slow bicyclist.
da832 years ago
thanks for the project
cthang2 years ago
U are awesome

Can anyone tell me what arduino software was used to program the LilyPad Arduino main board?can i use any software? or does it have a specific software designed for lilypad arduino only? is it possible to put it in a hat? or is ther a problem considering the short length of the conductive thread to be used?

I'm hoping for a reply because I'm using this as my project to be passed about a month from now. Thank you.

if anyone would like to share their knowledge.or can answer this questions pls contact me at rafbeb1905@yahoo.com

Can anyone tell me what arduino software was used to program the LilyPad Arduino main board?can i use any software? or does it have a specific software designed for lilypad arduino only? is it possible to put it in a hat? or is ther a problem considering the short length of the conductive thread to be used?

I'm hoping for a reply because I'm using this as my project to be passed about a month from now. Thank you.
hoffmmd3 years ago
Nice idea, reminded me of the simpsons when Bart had the utility belt, was being chased by the bullies, turned on his blinker, but ran the opposite side, and got away. classic.

lizrincon4 years ago
I was testing the sewing on the jacket, and found that the left signals were not blinking.

I tested resistance, all was fine, so I went into the code and first changed left to right signals.

Once I was sure I had not messed up with the sewing, I modified the loop code so that both blink when testing, helping me make sure that connections are correct.

I wanted to share it here, in case someone else is testing it and wants both signals to flash:

int ledPin = 13; // the LED on the LilyPad
int leftSignal = 9; // my left turn signal is attached to petal 9
int rightSignal = 11; // my right turn signal is attached to petal 11
int signalLow = 10; // the - sides of my signals are attached to petal 10

void setup()
pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT); // sets the ledPin to be an output
pinMode(leftSignal, OUTPUT); // sets the leftSignal petal to be an output
pinMode(rightSignal, OUTPUT); // sets the rightSignal petal to be an output
pinMode(signalLow, OUTPUT); // sets the signalLow petal to be an output
digitalWrite(signalLow, LOW); // sets the signalLOW petal to LOW (-)

void loop() // run over and over again
delay(1000); //wait for 1 second
digitalWrite(rightSignal, HIGH); // turn the right signal on
delay(1000); // wait for 1 second
digitalWrite(rightSignal, LOW); // turn the right signal off
delay(1000); // wait for 1 second
digitalWrite(leftSignal, HIGH); // turn the left signal on
delay(1000); // wait for 1 second
digitalWrite(leftSignal, LOW); // turn the left signal off
delay(1000); // wait for 1 second

Thanks. +1
scottstead3 years ago
and an FYI, I'm buying a 1966 Vespa (they didn't start putting turn signals on them until 1974) - which means no turn signals. While they are not required because they're grandfathered in I feel I'll be much safer wearing my turn signals...so thanks for the idea!
scottstead3 years ago
The turn signal code fortunately was cached by google! This should be the final code to get it working...


int boardLED = 13;
int leftSignal = 9;
int rightSignal = 11;
int signalLow = 10;
int rightLow = 4;
int leftSwitch = 6;
int rightSwitch = 12;
int leftLED = 5;
int rightLED = 3;
int x, y;
int mode = 0;
int DAY = 0;
int NIGHT = 1;

void setup() // run once, when the sketch starts
pinMode(boardLED, OUTPUT);

pinMode(leftSignal, OUTPUT);
pinMode(rightSignal, OUTPUT);

pinMode(signalLow, OUTPUT);
pinMode(rightLow, OUTPUT);

pinMode(leftSwitch, INPUT);
digitalWrite(leftSwitch, HIGH);
pinMode(rightSwitch, INPUT);
digitalWrite(rightSwitch, HIGH);

pinMode(leftLED, OUTPUT);
pinMode(rightLED, OUTPUT);

digitalWrite(boardLED, HIGH);
digitalWrite(signalLow, LOW);
digitalWrite(rightLow, LOW);

void loop() // run over and over again
if (mode == NIGHT)

void checkLeft()
if (digitalRead(leftSwitch) == LOW)
digitalWrite(boardLED, LOW);
while (digitalRead(leftSwitch) == LOW)
if (digitalRead(rightSwitch) == LOW)
while (digitalRead(rightSwitch) == LOW | digitalRead(leftSwitch) == LOW);
mode = 1-mode;
digitalWrite(boardLED, HIGH);

void checkRight()
if (digitalRead(rightSwitch) == LOW)
digitalWrite(boardLED, LOW);
while (digitalRead(rightSwitch) == LOW)
if (digitalRead(leftSwitch) == LOW)
while (digitalRead(leftSwitch) == LOW | digitalRead(rightSwitch) == LOW);
mode = 1-mode;
digitalWrite(boardLED, HIGH);

void leftTurn()
for (x=0;x<10;x++)
digitalWrite(leftSignal, HIGH);
digitalWrite(leftLED, LOW);
if (digitalRead(leftSwitch) == LOW)
while (digitalRead(leftSwitch) == LOW);
digitalWrite(leftSignal, LOW);
digitalWrite(leftLED, LOW);
digitalWrite(leftSignal, LOW);
digitalWrite(leftLED, HIGH);
if (digitalRead(leftSwitch) == LOW)
while (digitalRead(leftSwitch) == LOW);
digitalWrite(leftSignal, LOW);
digitalWrite(leftLED, LOW);
digitalWrite(leftLED, LOW);

void rightTurn()
for (x=0;x<10;x++)
digitalWrite(rightSignal, HIGH);
digitalWrite(rightLED, LOW);
if (digitalRead(rightSwitch) == LOW)
while (digitalRead(rightSwitch) == LOW);
digitalWrite(rightSignal, LOW);
digitalWrite(rightLED, LOW);
digitalWrite(rightSignal, LOW);
digitalWrite(rightLED, HIGH);
if (digitalRead(rightSwitch) == LOW)
while (digitalRead(rightSwitch) == LOW);
digitalWrite(rightSignal, LOW);
digitalWrite(rightLED, LOW);
digitalWrite(rightLED, LOW);

void night()
digitalWrite(boardLED, LOW);

digitalWrite(rightSignal, HIGH);
digitalWrite(leftSignal, HIGH);
digitalWrite(leftLED, LOW);
digitalWrite(rightLED, LOW);
digitalWrite(rightSignal, LOW);
digitalWrite(leftSignal, LOW);
digitalWrite(leftLED, HIGH);
digitalWrite(rightLED, HIGH);
digitalWrite(leftLED, LOW);
digitalWrite(rightLED, LOW);

void day()

digitalWrite(boardLED, HIGH);
digitalWrite(boardLED, LOW);
digitalWrite(leftLED, HIGH);
delay (1);
digitalWrite(leftLED, LOW);
digitalWrite(rightLED, HIGH);
digitalWrite(rightLED, LOW);
delay (5);

I'm really excited for this project. I'm using a Mac 10.6.8. I'm following the directions on the arduino page, but I didn't notice where or how to install the drivers and the lilypad arduino is not being recognized as a serial port. Any suggestions?
lyakunina3 years ago
"We're sorry ... the requested page cannot be found on the Computer Science Department website: /~buechley/LilyPad/build/turn_signal_code.txt"

Can you upload code again?
kperezdupa3 years ago
this idea is really helpful, but after you do it, is it washable????
I'd like to know the answer to this question, or if it can be worn while in the rain
reverpas3 years ago
donde puedo encontrar el codigo de este proyecto ?? se los agradeceria please
agis683 years ago
what if i use the arduino duemilanove and not the Lilypad (hard to find)???
mman1506 agis683 years ago
That's fine they're exactly the same internally
jnewman113 years ago
Great idea and everything, but did you have to use a black jacket? A nice bright color of jacket, perhaps even a contrasting one to the LEDs would be a better idea
This is by far my favorite and most useful (for my lifestyle) instructable yet! Especially living in Portland Oregon where biking is our preferred mode of transportation.
agis683 years ago
well this exactly i need to build riding my motorbike....also i have an extra idea to add same signals in goves.......
ben_xman4 years ago
Mind my noobish asking, whats difference between the 168 (which has been retired) and the 328 models?
jma89 ben_xman4 years ago
It has to do with the ATMega chip used on the board. The 168 was used the the Arduino in time past, but it has been replaced by the 328. Biggest advantages are increased program memory (32K up from 16K) and 2K of RAM (Up from 1K)

I'm sure there are other cool differences, but those two are the biggest ones to note.
Very nice project, will it operate while rain soaked?
Vranov4 years ago
Very usefull :)
Thank's - all drivers pass me by safely during night ride
pizz4 years ago
Nice idea, I'm going to try doing this on a backpack.
bloodgarm14 years ago
I even changed the positioning of the buttons... in my prototype they are on the sides of index fingers. And "jackzylkin " said about light activating when we bend our elbows.. i am interested in doing that too.
bloodgarm14 years ago
I made one similar to this using leather and different circuits... was looking for similar products i found yours ;) i used the latest ones available of sparkfun. Im trying to use this idea in different feild...
happyjo4 years ago
I noticed your first picture appeared in the Scholastic Almanac 2011!
poofrabbit4 years ago
This is simply brilliant!
mary candy4 years ago
I love this thing!!!
it is pretty awesome.
sillywilly4 years ago
Very nice and innovative "ible"! One suggestion, if a person were to install this circuitry in one of those neon reflective vests like construction workers wear, there would be extra visibility plus no need to wash the garment nearly so often as a sweatshirt? :--) Also, you might have a salable product there?
fossilfool4 years ago
Great invention, would love to see some riding action shots! Keep it up. Fossil Fool.
mijoette4 years ago
Very cool! How difficult would it be to make this waterproof incase of flash showers?
banane5 years ago
This is a really sweet product! I'm looking forward to make one when money will be pouring in. I might ask the same question as Poincare but... first, I know nothing about electronics and I was wondering if any LED was compatible with the other LilyPads? Can I just buy any LED and use it or do I have to somewhat work on them? Are you going to sell the LilyPad LEDs any time soon? If yes, I'll just wait for it to be available. Thanks a bunch!
mikebook banane4 years ago
I'm assuming that the Lillypad LEDs are machine washable and designed to be used in wearable applications. I'm not sure though, and that was going to be my very same question. I've been looking at some applications to justify getting an Arduino to play around with, and this is definitely going on my list.
banane banane5 years ago
Hello again :) I don't know how to edit my message so... here it goes anyway! I noticed that the LilyPad Arduido 168 Main Board and the LilyPad Power Supply are washable but when I have my finished product, can I just throw it in the washing machine (after taking out the battery)? If not, what do I have to remove? I'm sorry if my questions are a burden.
Remove battery and hand wash with mild soap, hang to dry. LilyPad LEDs are available at sparkfun. Cheers, Annabelle
djrock90004 years ago
That totally remind me of a turn signal I had on my bike a long time ago lol. I have a few Arduino projects I have been working on that I would like to share. I have a really popular PHP Serial project I have been working on that is pretty cool. I have a special area on my blog just for Arduino projects. Here is the link http://missionduke.com/arduino-projects/
jackzylkin5 years ago
Hey, your instructable is great. I have thought about this idea, and can't get past the difficulty of how to press the buttons easily. Have you considered putting flex sensors in the elbows, so that an arm bent at 90 degrees triggers the lights? That is what my boy scout handbook says to do to signal a turn...
what about the jackets where you put your thumb through a hole in the sleeve? that way the switch can rest between your thumb and the first knuckle and a little squeeze of your hand can activate the switch
patenaude5 years ago
Hi Leah,

I love the project, but I'm wondering about the design.  Each LED looks like it takes 20mA.  Putting 7 in parallel means each of the two pins will be sourcing 140 mA.  Is that driving the chip too hard? Does it get hot? 
Eonir patenaude5 years ago
Arduino is designed to work safely from a USB, which provides a maximum of 500mA.
patenaude Eonir5 years ago
I can't find the datasheet right now, but I think the ATMega 328 can only source/sink about 100mA per pin. Now you can exceed those specs, but you run the risk of burning out the chip.
Simply divide LEDs into groups, so that no more than 5 of them are tied to each output pin. If you're only using your Lilypad to power those LEDs and nothing more, then you can use all the output pins available.
traitor5615 years ago
cool never thought of that i should have though o well props to you
Eonir5 years ago
This project is simply AWESOME. Not only is it fun, but it's also easy to make and gives real utility! It's educating, safe, and cool. I would be glad if my kid was able to make it and then use it to be safer on the road.
zchan11205 years ago
How much do the supplies cost?
rasbazz5 years ago
That is so cool!!! You are too.
hjsnapepm5 years ago
You don't happen to be an Alias fan, do you? Because the arrows and the circle in the middle in your first picture look exactly like the eye of Rambaldi. Like so:
< O > I've been watching the show over paying special attention to all things Rambaldi the past few days, so stumbling across this gave me a chuckle.
beshur5 years ago
Great work!

This should become a necessary measure for the cyclist!
jhd045 years ago
 Supercool!  Me wantee makee!  Apparently nobody in NYC knows what the hand signals mean, especially right turn, which you do with your left hand.  This is much better!
dsdunham5 years ago
It took some digging but I found your web tutorial. ;) You gave the wrong link..
You can stabilize the area under the power supply in several ways -even on a knit.

The easiest is to use "stabilizer" aka "interfacing", available in the fabric store. While you may be tempted to buy the heaviest one, it is better to select one that is the closest in weight/drape to your fabric. You can always apply two layers, one slightly smaller than the other. A "fusible" stabilizer is best, it irons on. There are some good ones for knits but being lightweight, you may need two layers.

Another way is to do this is to use stays. You make your own stays, either scraps of fabric or a flat stable trim of some kind (stay tape). Just don't use bias tape, it defeats the purpose. Anyway, you attach the stays to the stabilizer the power supply will be mounted to and then run the other end of the stays to the closest seam, say the back neck and secure them to the seam allowance. This way, some of the weight of the power supply will be distributed to a joined seam which is already reinforced with another layer of fabric and multi stitching.
where can i purchase these lights?
 I am a bit confused i have very little electronic experience but wouldn't it be simpler to solder the LEDs together and instead of the conductive thread and ardunio just use regular resistors and wire? i am just curious why you would use any microcontroler but i have almost no knoledge of electronics beyond the basic internals of a disposable camera  
Macka7 years ago
Is it possible to add a touch of solder to the pads after it has been stiched or will this damage the thread?
Hubiewan Macka5 years ago
Saw something on a "geek" website called wire glue.  It conducts electricity.
thinkgeek.com might be it.   Hubiewan
You can order wire glue from electronic goldmine online.
leahbuechley (author)  Macka7 years ago
unfortunately the silver coated thread burns easily, so soldering near it can be dicey. if you try it I recommend lots of flux, especially on the thread. out of curiosity, what do you want to solder? maybe you could do it before sewing?
I thought that might be the case. I was just thinking it might add a little more strength and guarantee a good connection between the thread and the pad. This is an excellent project, and the Lilypad system is perfect for it, just a little pricy, otherwise I'd certainly attempt this.
They sell conductive glues and epoxys. If you were worried about the connections you could always use that.
What about that solder paste, would that also do the trick? I spose it probably wouldnt be too much of a problem anyway.
triumphman5 years ago
Love to do this but, I don't have any of the techy stuff to program anything! I do have led projects  experience, ( LED lighted Frisbee) and LED lighted jewelery boxes. But thats as far as I ever got. No programing or Arduino experience.  Any way to get the stuff to just sew or glue it in to jackets? Thanks. Realy awesome though! Triumphman.
 An Arduino isn't necessary, but some sort of electronic knowledge will be helpful. I'm sure you can devise a simpler circuit by looking for designs on the internet. For example, you could have a basic blinker circuit, then have the switches for the blinkers in parallel to each other and in series with the blinker. You'd have a master switch for the whole circuit as well. 
silversony5 years ago
Hi Leah,

I have a question, I do a lot of cycling, and I have looked at and like your tutorial on your indicating system for cycles, however, I do have a serious question, can you not design an all in one package, which contains everything needed, to complete the job, I am sorry I am a newbie at this and have never programmed any thing like the lily pad, but I would love to be able to try and learn it.   I looked at your site o  many occasions, but I tend to come back to it, and dream of being able to do it.

Any help would be most kind? 

Thanks, great tutorial Leah :-)
5ifty05 years ago
Hi there, fantastic tutorial! I'm hoping to use this with EL wire for a motorcycle bike jacket with a customized logo, with different parts flashing etc, so could you tell me - for the power supply would I use the Arduino's or the inverter's? Thanks.
exon335 years ago
I believe that car visibility from the rear would be enhanced if he arrows were placed on the shoulders--they would be higher and further apart.  And why not add a pair in the front for things coming at you?  Another consideration:  yellow going down the outer arms or side might help avoid a few side slams.

kachup5 years ago
I think people would pay for this, its far better than streathing out your arm when riding.
sergiuung5 years ago
Brilliant idea 5*
ShortedOut5 years ago

Leah, are you still answering questions from your Instructables? I have seen many links out on the Internet, as well as the ones on this page, that are links to your University of Colorado Computer Science area. The pages you are linking to have apparently been removed from that site, which gives a Page Not Found message. Therefore, the code used to program this turn signal biking jacket is no longer available. For those people for whom this could well be a first project, the fact that there is no code available puts a damper on making a purchase of LilyPad products. Could the code be posted on this page, or is it too long? Thanks. I'll also send a message through the SparkFun site.

You can find her code on her website http://web.media.mit.edu/~leah/LilyPad/build/turn_signal_jacket.html
codongolev5 years ago
I want to wear one of these in the halls at school.... use it to passpeople and everything....

"excuse me, I have to merge...."

(also, get a bicycle horn from the dollar store and keep it in my pocket)
  AHAH! Too funny. Or just wear one when you have to go to Walmart. Lol.
Quick question. I did steps one through five and actually went ahead and did five before four....I put the battery in the power source and my lilypad is blinking without my pressing the switch. What could be causing that?
blurofred5 years ago
What is your estimated cost for everything?
pajjakid6 years ago
perhaps its short for short...?
Wehrdo6 years ago
Great idea!! I'm starting to think about biking to school, instead of using a whole car just for me. Unfortunately, on a bike it takes about 30 minutes to get there, but it could get me in good shape! Also, my parents aren't too keen on the idea, because getting hit by a car on the highway is not a fun ordeal... =/
zoltzerino6 years ago
This is really nice, I might try and make this at school sometime, I shall look for an alternative to the Arduino, perhaps a PIC16Fxxxxx or a PICAXE ( readily available at school). Very well made, documented and produced! 5 stars :-)
DoItOrDie6 years ago
This is brilliant! Not to mention really cool. Though it might be a bit warm on those hot summer days.
NASAguy6 years ago
he you should sell them because they r awesome
otoupalik6 years ago
That is awesome. Anything to help drivers see you more clearly at night is definitely a plus!
sebberdreng6 years ago
Omg i look so nice i wanna try make it.
Muratas6 years ago
Creative, Great Idea
Gjko6 years ago
great work! I want to do it!
FeedTheGrid6 years ago
Hands down; best instructable ever. Great work. FTG
warpling6 years ago
I just thought of a project with two temperature sensors on the end of your bike handles and Led turn signals on the back, it would only activate in the dark (light sensor) and the blinkers would come on when you move your hands to the ends of the handles :D As soon as summer comes I am doing this.
Wankaah6 years ago
May I ask, do you feel the lilly pad on the other side? can you email me at t-g-l.crackelin.cracka@hotmail.com :) this is exiting
Marksson6 years ago
This is absolutely BRILLIANT! (pardon the pun) I just came into a beautiful old bike and I'm converting it to fixed gear when I get the chance and maybe, just maybe, I'll construct one of these. I've added this page to "my favorites" in my "InstructablesAWESOME" folder. Wicked cool 'ible.
Poincare6 years ago
Is it necessary to have LilyPad Led's? I mean can't you just cut up a small piece of PCB and a 603 resistor and solder them.
Yet another awesome innovation from Leah! I've been reading your tutorials on making e-textiles and I'm currently working on a mega-168 controlled 14x7 LED array on a t-shirt. Right now, I'm sewing with 4-ply thread and it keeps on fraying. should I try getting the 2-ply and using a sewing machine? Also, is switching from raw AVR to arduino difficult? I'm thinking about just using your lilypad arduino, in conjuction with my controller. I'm going to be automating my room from the little bugger, monitoring my sleep patterns and movements with an ir camera and several sensors, and hope to be able to display me in my sleep on my shirt during the day. I'm also thinking about adding in different modes where it can graph my movement with an embedded accelerometer as well as other various functions. As of now, I've got the mega-168 mounted on the controller board with a jumper interface to the shirt (which has a header sewn on), as well as a binary clock mounted on the controller board. I've not yet learned how to interface with a computer via usart, but that should all come pretty easy. Again, great work and excellent instructable.
That sounds incredibly difficult, you definitely have to post that when you're done. Good instructable too!
It shouldn't be too hard - it's just a matter of learning how to do things. I just learned USART communications this morning after about 20 minutes of reading, and now I've decided that if there will be more than one AVR uC, I'm going to go with SPI rather than USART (that baud rate stuff's not for me).
leahbuechley (author)  T3h_Muffinator7 years ago
your project sounds great! I would love to see how it comes out!

If you're working with the mega168, switching over to Arduino is *super* easy since that's the chip Arduino is based on. You can basically just copy and paste your C code into the Arduino IDE (with some small caveats). Arduino is essentially a collection of great libraries + a GUI wrapper for avr-gcc. So, I'd recommend the switch. It will make using the USART on the AVR trivial, for one thing :)

I'd recommend using the USART weather or not you make the Arduino switch. There are good C code examples on the AVR site for how to do this if you stick w/ raw AVR. There are also a lot of hardware devices (like the LilyPad USB link) that make it easy to attach your controller's USART to a USB port.

So, about the thread. The 2-ply thread is very easy to work with, but unfortunately is has a relatively high resistance. For peripherals like LEDs that aren't too far from your chip this is fine, but it won't work for power supply connections or other connections that need to carry a lot of current. It also won't work well over long distances. What I sometimes do is machine sew with the 2-ply as top thread and the 4-ply as bottom thread.
what exactly is the difference between the mega168 and arduino?
Thanks for all the tips! I guess I'm sticking to USART, then. I actually didn't check my budget, but it seems as if I'm going to have to wait a bit until I can switch over to arduino... *grumbles about how tutoring while school isn't in session does not work*

I haven't yet tried machine-sewing with a 4-ply bottom thread. Will it fit in most machines?
leahbuechley (author)  T3h_Muffinator7 years ago
so, I've never had any problems using the 4-ply in the bobbin. I've used a few different & pretty standard home sewing machines. As for your Arduino dilemma, it's also really easy to use the Arduino IDE to program AVR chips. Just burn one of the arduino bootloaders (the LilyPad bootloader if you don't want to deal w/ an external clock) onto your mega168 & you're good to go. There's good documentation on the arduino site about how to do this & ladyada's site is also a fantastic resource.
Oh, sweet! I didn't realize I could just load the bootloader myself..... I think I'm going to need an external clock, though - I plan on keeping the time so I don't have to wear a watch ;-). Thanks again!
So I finally "sewed-out" the matrix on a shirt..... after going through two others due to using tight stitching that ended up ripping the shirt... and just as I start testing it, there are shorts in the grid grr. I think I'm going to try and use a small rectangle of a thicker, canvas-ier fabric, then jump that via headers into a shirt. As an added bonus, I can simply sew a few traces on to several shirts without having to sew on more matrices, making this much more versatile.

This morning I'm going to experiment with the arduino bootloader.

Thanks for all of your help, and CONGRATULATIONS on your win!
leahbuechley (author)  T3h_Muffinator7 years ago
ack, shorts! they are the major pain you struggle with in this medium unfortunately... Denim is probably the ideal fabric to work with: thick & non-stretchy. Also, what I do when I'm sewing out a grid is to stop stitching w/ the machine & just jump (no stitches) for a centimeter or so around the crossing points. This really helps prevent shorts. I like your patch idea! would love to see pics!
Okay! Denim it is! I'll go out to the local fabric store during lunch to pick some up. So... it turns out I got here a few (probably somewhere around 10) hours after you left?! (I'm interning again this summer). I didn't know you were going to be here! Anyhow, I looked into the bootloader, and you don't need one so long as you're not programming with rx and tx (usart). But... it gets better! I finished making the "professional" version of the board yesterday, and made another board that does the usb to usart conversion (the dock), with a built in male header for easy breadboard prototyping! I'm sending out both designs today w/ batchPCB, and I'll hopefully have this whole thing done (relatively) soon. The board has 2 1M i2c eeprom expansions on it, along with 2 8bit shift registers for column sinking/driving. I'm aiming for a 14x7 matrix, but I should be able to expand it to a 22x7 matrix if I really want to using a pseudo-charlieplexing technique. I ditched the onboard clock idea - it just took up more space. Right now the board's only 2X1.5X.25", excluding Li-ion batteries. I'm really excited to get cracking on this - I'll upload pics of the patch as soon as it materializes.
leahbuechley (author)  T3h_Muffinator7 years ago
oh... nice boards! sorry I missed you! I was kicking myself after I left for not hanging out longer & seeing more stuff anyway, though 10 hours might have been a stretch ;) looking forward to seeing more pics soon!
It was only a matter of time until someone came up with this. It's funny and creative. Great job!
Default1176 years ago
Haha. You look like Iron Man in the last picture.
are the "Lightboard" LEDs at Aniomagic the same as the LilyPad LEDs? more importantly, will they work just the same? second question: any plans to design a sewable LED driver board so that we can program these LEDs individually? also, awesome awesome tutorial.
leahbuechley (author)  thebookofkevin7 years ago
the aniomagic lights are mostly the same. the main difference is that they do not include resistors, so you would want to add a resistor in series w/ your lights if you used these.

as for a sewable driver board... you can use the lilypad main board to run up to 14 individual LEDs (22 if you're a bit of a hacker & use the analog input pins as outputs) & if you multiplex the LEDs, you can run up to 121 (11x11). see my wearable display tutorial for info on multiplexing ;-):
You can sink many more LEDs if you use the lilypad to turn on transistors (or off if you are using a PNP type.)
hmm. looking at the diagram, it seems like you'd have to change the wiring around to get as many lights up as possible. for instance, it seems that the switches and LEDs are each connected to two pins, rather than one pin and a rail. two and a half more questions: where are the contacts for the other three ADCs? and it's impossible to tell from the photos online, what contact is at 12 o'clock? lastly, are there digital ports 14 and 15? it seems peculiar to me that the chip only has 14 digital i/o's. those 6 contacts in the middle seem like they could be the culprits...
leahbuechley (author)  thebookofkevin7 years ago
so, for your first question. yes, you would need to reorganize your design to run more lights. I was using digital I/O pins for ground pins simply because I had extra pins & this simplified my wiring. of course to do any other design you'd need a different wiring :) as for the second half of your questions. I was a bit of a dork in my last reply! ;) The lilypad has 14 digital I/O (0-13) and 6 analog input pins (0-5) for a total of 20 pins, not 22! The pin at 12:00 is pin 0. the atmega168 that the lilypad is based on has a total of 16 digital I/O & 8 analog. 2 of the digital are devoted to an external clock source on most arduinos, that's why there are only 14 digital petals on the lilypad & 2 of the analog pins are only available on the SMD atmega168s, that's why there are only 6 analog petals. those "six contacts in the middle" are an SPI programming interface. useful if you want to use a traditional AVR programmer w/ the lilypad. this doesn't affect being able to use any pins on the chip as regular I/Os.
aha. thanks a ton for the info! i'll post pictures and stuff if i can get funding for the project (see: parents' wallet :) my idea is to add some flashy blinky stuff for visibility, solid-on for stop, and the standard left-right turn signals. i'm still in awe of how awesome this is. oh, and would you recommend 1k or 10k for the current limiting resistors? there's no data on the aniomagic LEDs and i don't want them to be too dim. alternatively, how soon will the sparkfun LilyLEDs be ready?
leahbuechley (author)  thebookofkevin7 years ago
I'd recommend 1k or even lower. The thread will also add a little resistance. Not sure when the sparfun LEDs will be out, soon I hope!
Briguy96 years ago
lol on picture four if you look carefully at the screen of the ohm meter it says 5hrt, looks a lot like Shr, which looks a lot like Shirt, right?
oneeb6 years ago
how did you get the stitching not to show on the outside, did you paint it?
leahbuechley (author)  oneeb6 years ago
The fabric was thick enough so that I could conceal the stitches on the inside. see page 3 of the instructable ;)
krisbkreme6 years ago
I am thinking about starting an e-textile project using the LilyPad. I want to make a sweatshirt with LED's around the hood. Is there a particular reason why you sew the LilyPad on the outside of the garment? Why not sew it on the inside?
leahbuechley (author)  krisbkreme6 years ago
You can sew it on the inside or outside. I just liked it on the outside :)
PizzaPlanet7 years ago
Incredibly perfectly awesomely amazing best bike instructable ever!!!! My dad is a big spin/bike fanatic. It would be cool to make him something like this.
lycoris37 years ago
You aught to patent it and sell it in diffrent styles at stores. You will make $$$ off the lilypad thing in itself. I highly suggest it.
For the Bike rider, if you put a pressure sensor in the biker's gloves, it would activate brake lights.
Outstanding Instructable. Your Lilly Pad microprocessor is awesome too. I'm your newest fan. I'll be looking for other instructables from you too.
thatonekid7 years ago
wow. that's a really great idea and if it doesn't cost too much I might make one. i do wonder though, does anyone carry conductive thread that is shellac coated so that you don't have to worry about shorts?
After totaling all the lilypad products prices, you're probably looking at between 90 and 100 dollars... But it's totally worth it.
leahbuechley (author)  thatonekid7 years ago
alas, no insulated conductive thread out there yet. soon I hope!
SoapyHollow7 years ago
This is sheer genius in both creativity and utilitarianism. Fabulous!
sgabei7 years ago
really cool ! I'll try to make one for me and my son. ciao from Maurizio (Italy).
hammer98767 years ago
Wow. When I see things like this I have to laugh. "They" said everything had already been invented. Stay safe on your motorcycle.
silverbyte7 years ago
leahbuechley you are a true delight. I've seen your previous projects maybe 6-8months ago and just to see you here now with another awesome project just puts a smile on my face to know there truly are beautiful women out there who find the beauty in electronics :)
NachoMahma7 years ago
. Excellent job!! . 4.5 stars and a vote for the book contest.
har1ey7 years ago
I've been looking for hours for battery operated turn signals for my electric bicycle. You have the answer! I will now just need a tail light of some sort and this great jacket! Way to go girl!!!!!! You REALLY ought to think about marketing this!
Goodhart har1ey7 years ago
It doesn't look like it would be very difficult to add a "tail light" just a bit lower on the jacket, depending on what you wanted it to do (just be on, or flash, as some do).
hierarchy7 years ago
this is amazing awesomeness! if only i had any idea about the electical wireing part. if i did it on my own i'll surely screw it up. great!
I agree with leahbuechley, I taught myself how to read schematics and solder more then 34 years ago when I was 15-16 years old. You can start by practicing with simple kits and soon you will be reading engineering diagrams....really. It all depends on how much desire one has in any given activity.
i'll definitely try itout if i knew where to start. i'm beyond clueless. i guess the very thought is intimidating enough.. but thanks for the encouragment
Well, a good start (if you are really interested) is with a book like "Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics" (that link is provided for reference only, it can be gotten at a lower price elsewhere).

For some very basic, basics online, there are lots of places like THIS one that are a big help in getting started.
thanks for the help! =D
leahbuechley (author)  hierarchy7 years ago
ah, electrical stuff is easier than you think. once you start playing with things you learn fast ;-) anyway, don't be intimidated!
Goodhart7 years ago
Very very cool.
timmy1234s7 years ago
yay!!! the winner of the contest!!!! yAY
Sandisk1duo7 years ago
Looks a little itchy
leahbuechley (author)  Sandisk1duo7 years ago
the thread is really like regular fabric thread, so that's not an issue, but the glue & paint can make it a little scratchy...
Out of curiosity how much does this cost in total.
leahbuechley (author)  lemonshark107 years ago
let's see... the LilyPad main board is $20, switches $1, LEDs I'm not sure yet but probably another $25 or so, thread is $17 & USB link is $15 for a total of $78. though you can use the thread & USB link for future projects...
leahbuechley (author) 7 years ago
thank you all for the great feedback!
somehow your voice makes me really really relaxed. cool project....what else can you do with the Lilypad Arduino?
pretty much anything you can do with a medium sized microcontroller ;-) It's the same as the regular arduino, just in a different form factor.
jeeez thats a cool instructable. Ill make one when I turn 18 and can finally buy a bike
...you can buy a bike at 16 if you have ID. or did you mean motorbike?
robac7 years ago
what a great idea :o and it even looks nice
timmy1234s7 years ago
5 start too! And voting this one!
GWJax7 years ago
Love it! both inventor and project great work! 5 stars here!
wevans7 years ago
Very, very cool. I'm working on a project for a friend who is going to burning man and was wondering how many of the tri color leds will work with the LilyPad before you have to charlieplex them?
leahbuechley (author)  wevans7 years ago
the LilyPad has 6 pulse width modulation (PWM) pins, so you can run 2 tri-color LEDs that way. You can also hook tri-colors up to the other 8 digital I/O pins (& the 6 analog pins if you're a bit of a hacker), but color mixing is trickier to do on the non PWM pins.
Mr. Rig It7 years ago
This is so cool. I have been desinging a turn signal system for my ATV but now I don't have to. Great job and video. I love it when "Hotties" have intelligence and skills! Oh yeah thats right! I said "Hottie"!
I would so like to tie a set up like that to my backpack and the signals on my Motorcycle. One switch and just some wiring.
nafango227 years ago
boy this could be easily adapted to a motorcycle too. In fact, it would be even easier, you could just tap into the wires that lead to the turn signals and have a plug on the side of the jacket that the bike plugs into.
leahbuechley (author)  nafango227 years ago
cool idea!
wow thats cool.
vanpaun7 years ago
is it weather proof?
leahbuechley (author)  vanpaun7 years ago
works fine in light showers, but not so great in a downpour ;) it's never dangerous though... it would be relatively easy to build a waterproof version if this was important to you. use a rain coat & a little clear vinyl ;).
endolith7 years ago
Conductive thread has non-trivial resistance.

I'm surprised that it's as high as 14 ohms/foot; seems like it could be better.

But remember that conductors in parallel decrease resistance. If the resistance is a limiting factor in some design, just sew multiple threads between the same two points for lower resistance (also would make it more robust against thread breakage if they are routed away from each other).
leahbuechley (author)  endolith7 years ago
different threads have different resistances. spun stainless steel threads have lower resistance, but are harder to find and harder to work with...
Fantastic - best bike indicator idea I've seen, you've really thought through the ergonomics - love it!
blinky7 years ago
I think this is the coolest thing I've ever seen. I had no idea that it would be possible for me to make something like this... I'm gonna get ordering!
Wow. this doesn't look THAT difficult. It is an awesome project!!! It should be entered in some sort of contest, that's for sure. And as an avid biker myself! I should say that this project is simply amazing. Great job! ; )
leahbuechley (author)  CreativeChick87 years ago
yeah, it's really not hard! all the tools for playing with this stuff are out there now ;).
emma11817 years ago
i love this project! your work is awesome!
Grey_Wolfe7 years ago
No offence intended, but I kinda expected this to lokk kinda silly when I read the title. As most light up wearables do. But this actually look very nice. And the nighttime flashers are a whole lot less silly looking then those orange vests. Nice work. Good use of matterials.
P.S. Nice work on the arduino unit itself. Very pretty little thing.
Great idea, like the use of wearable electronics to do something useful and it looks cool.
I've been planning to do something like this, but mounted (and Waterproofed)on my bike. that way, you can wear a raincoat if you like, and you don't need to deal with the hassle of hand washing a jacket/sweatshirt. Not that I have anything against your idea, of course, it's very original! (Voted)
This is FANTASTIC! I have been avoiding biking/walking at night because of visibility issues - I was preparing to do a jacket with reflective tape, but adding in some sort of lighting would make it lots more noticeable. Thanks for sharing!
You are a genius... seriously!
leahbuechley (author)  aliceownsj007 years ago
thanks! ;)
foobear7 years ago
D'oh, this is something all bicyclists need. I had a similar idea, just hadn't quite worked it out. Nice job and good idea to embed it in a jacket instead of on the bike itself.
Cool! Hope you do good in the contest!
I recently bought a new bike that I was gonna ride on the rode, and here is my easy answer to that! Coolio! Favored, and +1
uguy7 years ago
Very well done, looks great. Just don't wear it to the airport.
fabianoecjr7 years ago
what a fantastic idea !! you REALLY should enter this into the contest!
You should enter this into the Let It Glow contest!