This was inspired by the turn signal biking jacket and Adrian monk's sculpted hand but what do you do if you are not ready to tackle an arduino microprocessor controlled blinking LED project which also uses conductive thread as a component? Well, spin the dial of frugalness and hack a dollar-store red LED blinker and a pair of regular gloves to give you a scaled down ghetto version of a turn-signal device on a piece of clothing that provides the same functionality.
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Step 1: Get a Pair...
I had thought about building a joule thief (search for the many and improved designs) as a greener way to power this project but you need to go find a couple of transistors and torroids. Well, you know what kind of luck I have when I walk into a Radio Shack to ask about parts...
You will need to get a pair of gloves.
I used a pair of regular insulated fleece gloves for this project. You can really use any kind of glove that you might use for riding. You can also mod your real mesh/leather riding gloves if you want in the same manner.
As a quick alternative to building a control circuit, get a blinking LED flasher that runners or bicyclists use. We will gut out the circuitry and splice on wires to connect to our custom switch.
Hopefully there will be a few operating modes for the flasher - mine has constant ON, rapid flash, slow flash, slow chase up, slow chase down, fast chase, slow chase up and down.
This will add to the versatility and fun use of the glove for different effects.
MOMENTARY SWITCH and HOOKUP WIRE
I did not have any conductive thread and have not worked with it before so I used regular thin wire to work with this project. I just took a piece of some spare network cable I had lying around. It was actually four conductors inside but you only need 2 wires to extend our circuit switch.
Please don't snip a segment of your network cabling if you can't scavenge spare wire. And it comes insulated so you don't have to worry about any shorts. Wait, you may need shorts to ride...
REFLECTIVE TAPE or DUCT TAPE in any color
This is a simple hack to the gloves so reflective tape found in an auto parts store will be the best choice. You can also use duct tape but the reflective properties of the reflective tape adds to the visibility factor of the glove.
You can also do sewing such as hemming the edges of our cutouts to reinforce the openings and to attach the switch. Tape works great in our case.
CAUTION: You will need to solder wires to the circuit board and to the new switch. Please know how to handle and use a soldering iron or gun properly. It is HOT! Low voltage is present in exposed circuitry. Please follow all precautions regarding safety around electricity.
Step 2: Switch It On...
Take your momentary switch and solder wires to the 2 terminals.
I used some heat shrink tubing to enclose the finished end.
We will be modifying the LEFT hand glove. This is normally the hand you use for manual turn signals.
Try the glove on and move your thumb to see where it will press against a switch mounted on the side of your index finger. Mark or make note of that spot.
Take a piece of tape and punch out a hole where the switch will be mounted in the center. This will serve to reinforce the fabric around the switch.
Since the switch is meant to be mounted through a hole in something like sheet metal in a face panel, I just cut a piece of cardboard to act as the mounting panel for the switch. There is a mounting nut that goes on the barrel of the switch and now it has something to grab onto.
Poke a hole in the fabric and cut it large enough just for the switch body to pass through. Cover with more tape to permanently fix the switch to the glove. You can cut slits in the tape to help it conform to the shape of the hand. Overlap the tape at those points.
The flasher has a belt hook attached to the back so we will use that to mount the flasher. With your hand in the glove, find the position where it will be mounted flat on the back of your hand.
Place a piece of tape there to reinforce the hole that we will cut so you can "clip" the flasher in. Cut a slit to insert the flasher's belt clip. Pass the switch wire through for the next step.
Step 3: Poking Around...
Time to take your LED flasher apart.
Good thing about this flasher is that it provides us with a readymade battery case and the LEDs are mounted under a bezel.
This one is activated by a soft rubber button switch. Pressing it a number of times will cycle it through its preprogrammed sequence of flashes.
Taking a look at the circuitry, we just need to add a momentary switch to bridge the traces under the switch. It looks like a bit of conductive foam was under the switchpad and pressing down on it closed the circuit on the circuit board. The momentary switch will have leads long enough going to the index finger.
I had trouble soldering to the thin traces. I ended up drilling a small hole next to the trace and fitted the wire in for mechanical support. I pooled up solder next to the trace to connect the wire. I think I actually had to burn up some coating that was on the circuit board in order to get the solder to stick.
That blob of epoxy or something in the middle of the board is covering some proprietary transistor or chip that controls the flashing.
Step 4: Put It Back Together...
Test your circuitry with the batteries in.
Tuck the wires into the glove and if needed, add additional tape to hold the flasher in place if the belt clip slips.
Replace the bezel back on the flasher.
Step 5: Now Go Play in the Street...
To turn on, press your thumb to the index finger switch to complete the constant-on or flashing circuit. Press again to cycle through the flashing patterns. Please, no Michael Jackson impersonations when you take this for a test ride.
Now does anyone remember how to do proper turn signals with their hands?
Practice this long enough and you will be ready to do the silent auction bidding at Sotheby's.
Do not pass this off as a lie detector or stud-indicator when you try to apply the Vulcan mind-meld or neck-nerve-pinch to impress the lads or lassies.
Further modifications of this are to:
- Add more reflective tape or piping to accent the fingers.
- Use electroluminescent wires (EL wires) instead of LEDs.
- Use real conductive thread to wire up your LEDs and contact pads.
- Use a scratch-built LED controller circuit.
- Make your own leather gloves in the steampunk style. attach leather bindings, pop in brass tacks and eyelets and attach little flickering gas lamps. >sarcasm but serious<
- Add padding and cardboard/fiberglass plates to make it HALO armor style.
- Use a joule thief circuit to get the most out of a bunch of used batteries that would go to waste.
So when in heavy traffic don't just give the finger, use the lights on your turn-signal glove to show them where to go.
Please, hack my hack. I'd like to see what you can do with this. Good luck. Happy and safe riding!