Introduction: RoBot Gets E-textiled. Worlds First Ever Interactive Bot on Fabric

About: I work in a D.i.Y style superstore. I am not sure if that is a good thing or not, but it certainly perpetuates my interest in such areas. I enjoy high powered devices of any kind. I do not give in, even…

MaKe a fabric RoBot circuit, to jazz up a boring old t-shirt.
This I'ble will show you how to Craft, an out of date t-shirt and revive it into a spectacular interactive work, surely to amaze all that gaze upon its electronic wonder.

E-textiles seem to be the new "in" thing, when it comes to modding garments in this day and age.

Continue and I shall show you how to create your own work of electrical delight, sprinkled with some fabrictry wonder.

Amaze and amuse your friends as they wonder as to the workings, of your magically lit device.

Step 1: Ingredients

What you will need-

~ One tragrically out of date bright yellow T-shirt.

~ Conductive thread (Free Conductive Thread).

~ Conductive wire.

~ Needle.

~ Thread- Various colors.

~ LeD's.

~ 9V Battery/Terminal.

~ Soldiering iron/Solder.

~ Fabric.

~ Multi-meter

~ Scissors

Now that you have acquired/borrowed/stolen (No don't steal them, just borrow them, until you can replace them.) these items, move onto the design.

Step 2: Choosing Your Design and Planning the Circuit

Take your favourtie image, tranfer it to paper via what ever means you choose to do so.
I have chosen to free hand tranfer. I would assume printing your design would be easiest.

Once you have chosen your design, plot the applicable path for your circuit. This will depend on what elements you wish to add to your circuit. In this demonstration I have chosen the Instructables Robot as its segmented body, allows for a simple circuit layout. It also offers the availablity for expansion in the future. See his wheels? Endless possibilities.

Your circuits maybe as simple or as complex as you wish.

I have chosen a simple circuit, comprising of three LeD's and a switch (described in Step 8).

The power source will be a 9V battery. It will be connected to a + and - fabric tab to join the circuit.

Once you have an idea of your circuit, trafnser it to your fabric/shirt. This can be done via lead transfer or copying the image through the fabric. Once you have tranfered the image/circuit to the fabric, move onto the sewing stage.

Step 3: Sewing the Circuit

Now we will take our conductive thread and sew our circuit.

Make sure to tie off a significant amount of thread at each terminal, in order to attach the applicable element.

At this stage I would say it is a good time to check conductivity, with our multi-meter
It is essential that there are no breaks, through the lengths we have sewn.

Step 4: Over Sewing the Circuit

In this step we shall over sew the conductive thread, with standard cotton thread.
I have chosen to follow the circuit, with red cotton to elaborate the flow of electricity.

I have cross stitched, as to bind the conductive thread and stop its shifting.

During this process, be sure as to not break the conductive thread.

This step and those that follow maybe done with a sewing machine. I have chosen to hand sew as a machine was not available. I do not know however how effective, the fine detail may be when using a machine. If you could get your hands on a programmable machine, which you can scan you image into, that would be idea.

Step 5: Sewing Pwr Tabs and Switch Belt

We will need some way for power to enter our circuit. Here I have used fabric and sewn a simple tab. The tab allows an alligator clip be easily attached. This method was used in order to easily adapt, to other power sources. In the near future the 9V will be scrubbed, for a solar panel setup.

WARNING- LftnDbt has a brain melt down, after several (eight) hours of sewing. Please disregard the next paragraph, unless you are in a particularly imaginative state of mind-''The belt switch is a simple hook switch which will enable third party interaction with the device.
I decided not only should it "light up", it should also pose a form of human interactivity. Hence the switch arm was incorporated to allow others to complete the circuit also.
I believe heavily this is the direction of this new tech. It should be used as interactivity devices. Stay tuned for more Sharing devices. The elements described throughout this I'ble, I hope to develop as a means of bonding with others and to enhance everyones communication experiences. But like I said more to come, so stay tuned.'

The terminal tabs were create by simply taking two 2 inch x 3 inch or 50cm x 75cm pieces of fabric and folding them as to hem a clean tab.
In other words, fold all the edges in and sew the tab closed as to eliminate ratty edges.
After this conductive thread, was sewn to the under side. It needs to be of a significant enough surface area, as to allow the alligator clips to attach.

The belt is made in much the same way. We need to take our small pieces of wire and construct a simple hooking mechanism in order to create our switch.

Insert you length of wire through a piece of card in order to create a stiff switch.
Wrap the fabric over the card and the hook mech. Then hem as to seal the edges of the fabric, around the switch. Use a dab of super glue to stop fraying on the edges.

Step 6: Adding Details

You will now want to take, your various cotton thread colors and fill in the details of your image.

Fortunatley for me Robot didn't take too long, but your image may be more complex. I would advise you use fabric paints, if you areas are too large to sew.

Step 7: Adding LeD's

Now you will want to start adding your various elements. Here I have inserted my LeD's into Robot.
A small insertion may need to be made to allow the legs of the LeD's to enter the circuit/cloth. Ensure the legs fall close to the conductive thread, you have previously sewn.

Once the LeD's are inserted, sew the legs to the circuit with conductive thread. I have also chosen to apply a small amount of solder, to ensure a good connection.

Now that the LeD's are installed, it would be a good time to once again check for conductivity.
If all goes well you should get your first practical experience with fabric circuitry.

Was you circuit complete? If not go back and check with your multi-meter each point, until you find where the break is. Repair as required.

Continue applying your elements to the circuit.

Step 8: Adding Tabs and Switch Belt

The next elements I will install are the power tabs and the switch hook.

Initially the elements are sewn on with the conductive thread and then finished off with standard thread to ensure the tabs/belt switch do not come off.

The belt is stitched at one side permanently with conductive and standard thread. The other "hooked side" remains free hanging.

Next sew the loop tab/wire on the other side of the switch circuit. This will allow the hook switch to be "hooked" up to complete the circuit.

Step 9: One Snazzy New E-Textile Robot T-Shirt

Light it up!! Send some electrons through your circuit and feel the power of your fabulous fabrictric design.

Impress your friends and all those around you with you snazzy new re-furbished E-textile T-shirt.
Not only impressive yet functional also. The three HI LeD's can provided much needed light in a variety of applications. Neat tidy and a flashlight built right into your pocket. What more could you want out of a humble T-shirt.

I hope you enjoyed reading, as much as I enjoy my new Robot shirt.