Star Coat

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8

About: Making the most of things by making the most out of things.

I have wanted to play with wearable tech for a while now and this is my first attempt. It combines my interest in hobby electronics with my love of space and shiny things and I would recommend trying this project to anyone who wants some constellation clothing.

My coat shows the constellation Orion and has scientifically accurate star colours and placements. The technology is relatively simple and it was a nice way to pass a few evenings with a needle and conductive thread in hand.

Step 1: What You Need

You will need:

Step 2: Find Your Design

The constellation I chose to use was Orion, famous for the three stars which make up his belt.

I used an overlay from a constellation book to draw out the pattern and work out the correct angles between the stars. I then used a dressmakers pencil to copy this pattern out onto the coat.

Step 3: Sewing the Circuit

Position your board where you want it to go on the coat, I wanted mine to be visible so I added it to the front.

Instead of wires, wearable tech uses conductive thread to make connections between parts. You use this just like regular thread, guiding it through fabric with a needle. Flora boards use holes surrounded with conductive pads as their input and output pins, so a good connection can be made just by passing the thread through the hole a few times and tying it off. Make sure this is nice and tight to ensure a stable connection.

The NeoPixels have 4 connectors, one positive (+), one negative (-), one input (↑) and one output (↓). Negative connects to GND on the Flora, positive to VBATT and the input to whatever pin you are using in your code (mine is D6).

I was concerned about the wires touching on the back when the coat flexes, so I coated the wires with clear nail polish to create a barrier. I also cut the trailing thread very short to minimise contact.

Step 4: Adding More NeoPixels

More NeoPixels are added in one continuous line with one output leading to one input, with all the positive terminals connected on one side and the negatives connected on the other. I continued to add nail polish to the reverse to minimise unwanted connections.

Make sure to test the NeoPixels are working each time you add more, as it is hard to go back without cutting and re-tying thread which looks messy.

Step 5: The Code

The Flora board can be programmed using the Arduino IDE, but it does need a bit of setup.


Detailed instructions can be found here: https://learn.adafruit.com/add-boards-arduino-v16...

The important points are to make sure you install the boards (through the boards manager) and the libraries (through the libraries manager). The code I used can be found in the file attached to this step.

NeoPixels can do lots of exciting tricks which I recommend you play with, but for this project I just wanted them to remain a fixed colour, which was quite simple.

I wanted the coat to be scientifically accurate, so the stars are the correct colour for the type of star they really are. I looked up each star in the constellation to find out what type it is (stars are classified by how big and hot they are) and used this site to translate that into an RGB colour.

I tried the coat with the values I got from here, but found it was dazzlingly bright and they all appeared mostly white. I set all the colours to be about a tenth of the intensity which resulted in much nicer colours at a dim glow.

Step 6: Finished Coat

The coat is powered from a battery pack hidden just inside the bottom corner, for which I sewed on a small black pouch.

As a future project, I want to install a small clap sensor so I can trigger all the lights to briefly flash in rainbow colours and I will call it 'Disco mode'.

Thanks for reading and enjoy sewing your own starry circuits.

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    8 Discussions

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    Gadisha

    6 months ago

    This is a nice project, I want to learn Arduino myself (I recently bought an Arduino Uno board but didn't get around to tinkering with it yet, I suspect it's going to be a slow process). But maybe this would be a nice project to try for me in the future. Do you think it would be possible to power the LED's with solar cells? I would like to sew them on to the shoulders of the coat. I like renewable energy sources and if I do experiment with technology I would like it to be as eco friendly as possible, in fact the interaction between nature and technology is what I am interested in exploring... I would like for them to complement each other instead of Being opposites.

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    beno754

    6 months ago

    This is so pretty!

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    Steve1066

    6 months ago

    Nice project. But wheres the sword with M42 in the middle? Thats the best bit! Ive been thinking for a long time that leds could be match to star colour / colour temperature. using neopixels is a nice touch as you can tune them to correct colour and even add twinkle. For instance for Sirius.

    Stephen
    Herstmonceux Observatory UK.

    2 replies
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    snowbiscuitSteve1066

    Reply 6 months ago

    Thanks! I was tempted to add the club over Orions head, but I was worried it wouldn't be as recognisable. As for the sword, there's always the worry people will mistake it for something else...but it does have the best nebula!
    Canis Major (including Sirius) might be nice on the back, just like it's real place in the night sky following its master.

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    asalvagnoSteve1066

    Reply 6 months ago

    This is a great idea, and could add a deeper talking point about the constellation and astronomy.

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    -Skar-

    7 months ago

    Nice dress - and my favorite star constellation. w
    Well done!