More tech-fashion designs, see www.kittyyeung.com
This project was first published in Hackster.io here.
I improved the electrical circuit from the first version. This instructable is showing the crafty portion of the project - how the LEDs are attached to the cloth and how to make them durable.
I'm an engineer and artist who enjoys projects that combine science and arts. I've been making dress designs with microcontrollers embedded in so that certain functionality of electronic components can be used to enhance the design theme. For this project, I want to use the pattern matching engine (PME) and the accelerometer inside Intel Curie on Arduino 101. Curie is made for PME applications as it has neural network capability but there hasn't been a lot of PME examples out there. I hope this example may inspire you to extract Curie's PME capability.
The dress uses a page of my graphic novel as the fabric. A scientist and her robot are looking into the telescope. As the wearer draws a pattern in the air, a set of LEDs arranged in the shape of constellations will shine in the night sky on the fabric.
Step 1: Position the LEDs
I used a NeoPixel strip from Adafruit and cut it up into pieces and arranged them into the shapes of constellations. Feel free to use other types of LEDs such as the individual RGB LEDs. Glue or sew them onto the base fabric.
Felt is a nice type of thick fabric that gives structure and works well with hot glue. Arrange the LEDs into respective positions so that when they light up, their positions reflect stars in constellations.
Step 2: Plan the LEDs and Wires
Glue the LED stripes onto felt at a few points. Do not put glue under the whole strip because you need some leeway to slide heat-shrink tubes around, as shown in the figure. Cut stranded wires into the right lengths and place them onto their relative positions on the same piece of felt. I would recommend not to hot glue the wires just yet. My figure here is a blunder in that respect. Rather, it is better to hold the wires in their positions with temporary tape so that when you solder the wires to the LEDs, the wire positions can be adjusted.
Step 3: Make All Pieces Ready to Sew
The figure shows that I prepared four constellations (Orion, Big Dipper, Cygnus and Cassiopeia) onto four separate pieces. After soldering and heat-shrink around the soldered joints, you can glue everything tightly onto the felt.
Test your circuit before going further! Can just do a NeoPixel Strandtest for each trace.
In parallel (figuratively), make the dress. After you test the circuit, sew the base fabrics with the LEDs onto the inside of the dress. LEDs will shine through the graphics.
Now glue or sew the felt pieces onto the dress behind the front graphic layer.
As you can see, the Arduino 101 is in my hand. There are long wires connecting the LEDs and the board, which are hidden in the sleeve.
Step 4: Arduino IDE
Make sure that your Arduino IDE is the latest version and has Curie PME library. I'd recommend using the Arduino Web Editor.
The code will give you information on how the board is programmed. After you flash the code, train the neurons first so they learn which patterns are there.
This is using the Curie PME to control LEDs. It's basically a combination of the Draw in the Air PME code and the Adafruit NeoPixel example code. This code is not exactly what I used (which is a bit complex) as I doubt you'll make the exact same kind of constellation arrangement. Rather, here is a generic code which you can modify to personalize your need, e.g. you can change how to distribute the pins for different LED strips. I may update it with an improved code later.