Introduction: Wearable Tech for Kids: Hero Armband

About: I enjoy creating educational 3D Models and working with Arduino.

This instructable will cover how to make a 'hero armband' that lights up when worn. Using conductive fabric tape, conductive thread and sewable LEDs this is a great activity for school students to learn the basics of circuits and wearable tech.

Teaching Wearable tech can be challenging for an audience with little sewing skills, and this activity is designed with those participants in mind. This activity does not use any running stitch, just conductive thread to stitch the pieces in place.

When the clips are attached around an arm, the battery is connected and the lights turn on. This is a great way to show how to create switches in the circuits.

In my sessions, I like to highlight some of the other great creators in this space. Some of my favourites include:

- David Shorey: Some great 3D printed fabrics and creations.

- Billie Ruben: Designer of the 'floating necklace' technique

- Loomia: Company making wearable fabrics with heating, light and pressure sensors

Let me know if you have any other favourites in the comments!


Step 1: Alternative Supplies

You can also use normal cathode LEDs by bending up the legs into a sewable tab in a pinch if you don't have the specialty ones, like in the image above.

I've also designed specialty snap-out circuit boards for this project, you can purchase them here:

Step 2: Circuit Diagram

Here's a circuit diagram you can download, print and hand out to your participants. It's got the layout and some extra facts around LED polarity and in-parallel circuits which complement the activity.

The first step is to cut the felt into strips. Use the participants arm as a measure for how long they should be.

Next, lay down the strips of conductive tape as per the diagram. Make sure the battery strips aren't touching the light rail strips or the switch won't function as intended.

Step 3: Sew in the Parts

Make sure participants remove the battery before they begin stitching.

Use three tight stitches with conductive thread to hold each anchor point in place. Make sure to line up the polarity of each part, where all '+' signs are on the top rail and all '-' signs are along the lower rails.

On the back of the circuit, trim all conductive thread close to it's tie-off point. Any stray strands will short the circuit and the lights won't turn on.

Lastly, sew in the snap-in clips. Make sure to line these up before you begin stitching each side to make sure they sit where they should.

Step 4: Enjoy!

It's compulsory to put the armband on, go outside and fight crime after you finish this activity. Enjoy!

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