Introduction: Modular Flora Pocket

In this tutorial, I will explain one of the ways to incorporate an Adafruit Flora computer into a jacket, or anything with a pocket.

So you probably want to use a computer to drive the logic of some circuitry you have sewn into your item of clothing. Well, here are the problems you might deal with

  1. Computers are delicate and need to be protected from the external elements
  2. The computer is bulky and could be poorly secured, you dont want it falling off and losing it
  3. What if you get wet, or you want to wash your clothing, or you just want the clothing without the computer at times

We can solve these problems by housing the computer inside the pocket of your clothing. It will act as a shield, and also as a basket to catch your computer in case it falls loose.

Additionally, we can aim for a modular design, where the computer is removable. Lets see how we can achieve these things.

Step 1: Prepare Your Pocket

Find the inner side of your pocket, and make a cut along two edges of the pocket.

We need two cuts, or three, just to ensure that the pocket space opens up more and allows us to work with the computer(insert/remove) with more dexterity.

We make the cuts on the inner side of the pocket since we may not want to spoil the external look of the clothing.

We still want to be able to close up this pocket space, so we can use zippers or velcro to close the newly cut clits.

In this example, I make 2 cuts, but only apply velcro on 1 of the cuts.

Note that your conductive thread cannot pass across these cut slits, so you need to plan for your conductive thread from the computer to exit the pocket area from the UN-cut sides of the pocket.

Step 2: Using Snappable Buttons to Secure Computer to Fabric

Traditionally, conductive thread is sewn into the I/O holes of the Adafruit Flora. This is not conducive to modular design.

Instead, snappable buttons act as a conductive interface between the Flora and the thread sewn into the fabric.

The above video shows how to superglue the MALE ends of snappable buttons onto the Flora board.

The FEMALE end will be sewn to the end of the conductive thread that is running along your fabric.

Step 3: Using Conductive Thread to Connect Flora I/O to MALE Button

In the above video, we see how conductive thread can be used to form the connection between Flora and MALE button.

To refresh your memory, here is the order in which electricity passes from your Flora to your LED (for example)

On fabric: FEMALE -> thread -> LED

On Flora: Flora I/O -> thread > MALE

The full connection: Flora I/O -> thread > MALE -> FEMALE -> thread -> LED

The modularity comes from being able to separate the Flora from the fabric by separating the MALE/FEMALE snappable buttons.

Step 4: Final Result Will Look Like This

We see the pocket opened up by splitting the velcro in the first image.

In the second image, we see the inner side of the fabric, but still the external of the pocket.

The clusters of thread are where the FEMALE buttons are sewn into the pocket fabric. We can also see the thread lines originating from the clusters(buttons) and eventually leading to the circuit components (LEDs, resistors, conductive fabrics)

In the third image, we see the Flora with a few of it's buttons unsnapped.

Step 5: Finished Product Can Look Like This!

Enjoy your sick new computer aided jacket.