Portable Party Toque With Built in Amplifier and Visualization LED




Introduction: Portable Party Toque With Built in Amplifier and Visualization LED

About: Dad, maker, dreamer, hacker, painter.

Make a toque with a built in amplifier and LED organ for keeping warm and heating things up. Get the party started and make yours today!

Let me begin by saying that I live in Canada. The Great White North. I know a thing or two about the cold. The best way to keep warm is to dress warm. Dress in layers, this traps air between the different fabrics and helps to hold in body heat.
Here in Canada, there are days however, when no matter how well dressed you are, it is still cold. 

So how else can we warm up? You have to keep your core temperature up. One way to create heat is by using energy, just as in a car or anything else, work generates heat. So we need to move our bodies. Our body actually knows this without even consulting the brain, this is why we shiver. Our bodies are trying to create some heat by forcing movement, so when our core temperature starts to drop, our meat screams for some hot flowing blood and we start to shiver to keep things moving.

It is a well known fact (or myth) that we lose a good portion of our heat out through our head. We know this up in the Great White North, and this is why we are so partial to our toques. A toque to a Canadian is akin to a towel for a hitchhiker, you don't want to leave home without it.

For those that don't know, a toque is a wooly and warm winter hat. If you are planning on going somewhere cold, get yourselves a decent toque.

Another well known Canadian secret to keeping warm is partying hard. You see, two things happen when we are having a good time. Number one, we are usually moving around in some capacity, especially when fun is being had out of doors. Number two, and perhaps often overlooked, but our tolerance for the cold actually increases. We become less bothered by the fact that we are cold because we are having a good time.

Some-days, it is just too plain cold, and everyone by extension just sort of slows down and shuts off. When this starts to happen, it is usually time to get a party started and get people cheered up and forgetting about how miserably cold it actually is.
What is a fairly universal party starter though?

The one thing that nearly all parties have in common is dancing and music. Another thing that seems to appeal to the human condition and almost universally cheers us up, surprisingly enough, is blinking lights. I imagine it dates back to an earlier epoch when the Gods liked to mess with us more.

With winter here it was time to address this problem, people thinking about how cold they are just look miserable, and miserable looking people get me down. 'Tis the season and all tha,t so I thought it high time we start addressing winter depression in new and creative ways..

Thus was born the Portable Party Toque.

A toque which no-one should be without in the cold of winter.

An amplifier, on which one can play music from a portable media player, to help get people moving.

Last but certainly not least, an LED organ for setting the mood, and getting the party started.

There is also ample room to stash a few other party supplies such as a couple of airline booze bottles, a deck of cards, or a small breadboard and electronic goodies.

The wearer can't help but enjoy themselves. People around them can't help but smile. It look's hot, is comfortable and functional tat the same time. How many garments have all that going for them? The personal touches warm the soul while the scientifically centered sound source makes one feel as though they are the life of the party. With the proper selection of music loaded into your personal media player, it becomes the plaque that makes your booty move, and this triggers the bodies own heating functions. You'll stay warm and maybe even tone up a little in the process!

Anyways, you don't have to take my word for it, we gave one Portable Party Toque and a digital camera to one unsuspecting passerby, and we asked them to make a video telling us how the toque made them feel, and we have to admit, the toque is certainly making them look hot! ;)

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1:

Things that you will need to make this project

A suitable toque
An awesome patch (optional, but it does add street cred.)
A needle and thread

For the amplifier you will need
  • A small 8 ohm speaker (an old computer speaker works well)
  • A tin, to house the speaker (altoids or similar)
  • A protoboard, small
  • A LM386 op amp
  • 100 uF cap
  • 220 uF cap
  • 10 uF cap
  • .01 uFcap
  • .47 uF cap
  • 10 ohm resistor
  • a on/off button
  • hookup wire
  • an old mono earphone connector (stereo is fine too, but attach both signals together as this is a mono amp)
  • A 9 volt battery connector
  • A 9 volt battery
  • a scrap of foam or felt

for the LED organ you will also need
  • an LED
  • TIP120 

  • A soldering iron
  • ability to read a circuit diagram
  • hot glue gun
  • wire clippers

Step 2: Make the Amp

I am assuming that you can read a circuit diagram, and have included one.

It is a pretty straightforward circuit, very similar to any of the $5 amplifier circuits out there.

It revolves around the very useful 386 op amp. This is a great little IC with a few decent uses. There are virtually hundreds of amplifier circuits out there that can be built around one of these. Some of the better thought out circuits give surprisingly robust and clear sound.

I was going for a simple circuit, that delivered good sound, and this version does a fair job of that, so long as you keep the signal volume low (I.e the volume from your iPod or similar). Any sound system is only going to be as good as the speaker anyways, and with this type of speaker...well, not much better can be done.

The sound is decent considering the speaker, and the volume can be very high, however the speaker can't handle the output and crackles and distorts at high volume. A better speaker would certainly improve it and allow for a higher volume. 

I honestly find that the volume is sufficiently loud even with the lower signal volume. A pot could be added across pins 1-8 to give control over the gain, with the 10uF capacitor, gain is set to the maximum. We tweak the sound a little on the way out to the speaker first with the R/C combination as a filter, and then smoothed with the final cap before the speaker. This last one doesn't make much difference if you are not planning on adding the LED Organ, but really improves the sound with the organ running off the output.

Solder yours up. Yours will probably be neater than mine.

Drill  few holes in your speaker housing to let sound out and glue your speaker into the enclosure.
You could simply glue the speaker into the hat, but a box around a speaker helps immensely, even if the dimensions aren't engineered.

Step 3: Add the LED Organ

Find a little free spot on your proto-board, and put in the LED organ. Don't forget to give yourself a bit of a lead for the LED as you
may want to place it specifically as I did.

I tried to place mine near the mouth of the Instructables Robot, so he'd look sort of like he is singing along with the music.

This circuit is super simple and adds some fun flair to the whole project. You could just use this circuit as a stand alone as a visualizer for any number of outputs. That is why I have included it as a separate step.

If you find that your sound has become distorted when you hook the LED organ up, you can try putting a small cap across the ground and input pins to smooth the signal.

Here it is in action.

Step 4: Hack Your Toque

Time to open up that Toque.

A decent toque usually has a form of a liner in it. We want to find the seam for this liner and gently unstitch it from the main body of the toque. Just find the thread and gently cut it a little bit at a time until you have exposed about half of the toque's inside. That should be more than enough room to work, and if you take the whole thing out it will be trickier to line it back up later when we sew it back together.

If you are planning on sewing on a patch, this is the time, the amp and speaker mounted to the back will make it difficult later.

Positioning the speaker and the amp will be largely up to you. I suggest keeping the speaker centered for the best personal sound balance, but you might want to do it differently. 

Once you have selected a position, just hot glue it into place, toque wool is pretty thick, and once it is sewed back up it won't have all that much room to move anyways. 

I used my patch to get a rough idea where to put things, I could have positioned the button better, but it works fine, so I guess it will do.

Just glue in your components, leaving your battery wire and your media connection wire unglued, as we will be passing these back through the wool so we can access them from the outside of the hat. Glue a small piece of foam over the circuit board, we don't want any little nibs of solder or wire poking us through the fabric liner.

In my case, I was able to stretch the weave of the wool enough to pass my media connector through, but I had to cut a small hole to get the battery connector through. You want to try and position these on opposite sides to help balance the weight. It is not very heavy anyways, but you might notice if it were all to one side. 

Before sewing things back up, it is a good idea to make a test. There was a request to see the Instructables Robot`s LED singing visualization enhancement, so here is a video of my test. The button works fine, you can distinctly hear it click once I find it. I was fumbling, watching my own hand in the camera LCD. 

Step 5: Sew It Back Together

Now you will want to carefully sew your liner back into the toque. Just follow the line around and sew it up. Nothing complicated here, just try and keep a straight line.

Once you have it sewed back together flip it back to right side out. Plug in a battery and an iPod (or similiar) and test it out. I like to try things along the way.That way I won't find out that it is time to go back a step two steps later. If your test goes well you can start making some compartments. I actually left mine playing while I finished up the sewing. It was already warming me in new ways.

Roll the lip back to it's original position and tack it into position. I tacked mine on either side of the patch to start, as I wanted to make sure that it was lined up there.

Here's a little trick to make a knot when you are tacking something. Do one loop with your needle, and then wrap the thread around the protruding needle a few times before pulling it through.

Once you have that done you can start by sewing up around your battery, creating a little pocket for it. Do the same for your media player.  Stretch the fabrib of the toque a litlle when adding the pouch for the media player, just enough to add some extra hold.

There is still some room for some more pockets, I added two. If you decide not to add more, I would still suggest tacking around the back in one or two locations, just to keep the lip rolled up and secure.

Once you have finished sewing your pockets, load it up with a battery and an iPod and start heating up the night with your new and awesome Portable Party Toque!

"This thing is awesome!!" is the general conclusion around here. I am really pleased with this build. I wore it nearly all day today. 'Nuff said.
If I were to do it all over, I might try a smaller speaker, not for the weight, but just for a more streamlined appearance. That aside, I don't think I would do it very different. One of the extra awsome features that is a sort of byproduct is that iPods are warm when they are playing. Not very warm, but today was cold, and I could defiantly feel warmth from the iPod. Nice and unintentional.

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable, and I hope I have inspired you to get to making something zany.

If you make a Portable Party Toque, please post a picture of it. 

Share and enjoy.

Make It Glow Challenge

Participated in the
Make It Glow Challenge

ShopBot Challenge

Participated in the
ShopBot Challenge

Be the First to Share


    • LED Strip Speed Challenge

      LED Strip Speed Challenge
    • Sculpting Challenge

      Sculpting Challenge
    • Clocks Contest

      Clocks Contest

    12 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    That's hilarious. I love it. As a fellow Canadian, I know a good toque!


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Cheers! I am bummed, I released this at virtually the same time as muff-fones, and they got featured...I guess I was missing something.....sigh.
    Well, thanks for the compliment, from a fellow Canadian, it means a lot! I got some partying to attend to, it's freezing!

    The Green Gentleman
    The Green Gentleman

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Granted, I'm from the Northern U.S., not Canada, but I always thougt it was tuque not toque. Did Bob and Doug lead me astray?


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    french canadian here.

    its Tuque, it came from the first colon that came to quebec. the form they got from the indian that lived here. only english canadian call it toque, its because they cant prononce "tuque" without getting funny looks all around.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I think that both are acceptable eh. I thought tuque was the french spelling.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    The answer, according to the awesome mikeasaurus, is that toque, tuque, and touque are all acceptable spellings and that it depends where you are from. I will be honest and say that I let spellcheck confirm that the spelling that I chose was good, and went with that.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    forgot to ask, did you record your video in front of a mirror?
    would have been nice to get a better look at your LED... you mention that it makes the bot look like its singing, but you can't tell from the picture or the video. (I don't mean to sound critical, just making an observation).

    The end result is still great. - Cheers!


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I did not have time to film a new one (working hard on my advent calendar submission), but I found one I took during the build, and I added it to step 4. I think it shows what you wanted to see, never mind my talking in the background, I have thirteen hamsters in my head, and this wasn't meant to air.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Well maybe sing is an over statement. It just flickers with the music and is mounted behind the patch near the mouth.
    You can see the general performance of the lamp in step 3, but it is a dark video and you don't see what you were hoping to any better.
    I will try and take a better video and update tonight.
    Glad you enjoyed it. (and yes it is me in the mirror, pretty sad I know, but I did not trust my two year old to film me)


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    lol... well you never know with a 2 year old, but even Steven Spielberg had to start somewhere.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    No you were not led astray. (lol)
    Funny enough there are 3 acceptable ways to spell it...

    Toque, Tuque and Touque

    I'm not sure of their exact origins, but there are many words that have an 'English' form, French-Canadian form and also Canadian-English form.

    A good example is the word neighbor - this is the English-U.S. version, in Canada, we spell it neighbour. (A real pain with spell-check if it's not set to Canadian-English).