Ambient Temperature Tapestry




Introduction: Ambient Temperature Tapestry

Should you wear a scarf today? Hang this piece of tapestry on a (drafty) window, and the embedded lights will tell you at a glance what the temperatures could feel like. The piece contains 6 lights: 2 red, 2 green, and 2 white. A smart temperature sensing module turns on the appropriate lights without any extra programming. I really think Grandma could get into this :-)

For the temperature range we chose (early Fall), the green lights stay on around 60 degrees, the red ones are lit when it's warm outside, and the white ones flash when it gets cold.

You set the temperature range by pressing a "calibrate" switch (sewn to the underside), and the flashing pattern with a mimeolight, shown in this previous instructable:

You can get the higher resolutions pictures in this zip file (19MB):

We're experimenting with some cute 3V lithium battery holders too: yes, the butterfly :-)

If we were to do this project all over again, we' d find a way to set it up so the temperature sensor could be outside, while all the lights would stay inside. It works pretty well as it is though.

Disclaimer: we make and sell some of the components on Aniomagic's website http:/// We hope you find the instructions useful as you can make your own interactive fabrics.

Step 1: Ingredients

For this tapestry, you'll need:

- temperature learning sensor
- mimeolight
- 6 lightboards: ruby, emerald, diamond
- push switch
- velcro switch
- conductive thread
- large 3-volt battery
- large, soft battery holder
- a piece of fabric to work on

You'll also need:
- a needle
- fabric paint (for insulation)
- fabric glue (to prevent thread unravelling)
- a pair of scissors

You can get the smart modules from
Conductive velcro, thread fabric from LessEMF or Aniomagic
Fabric, paint, glue from any local craft store. We got ours at JoAnn's.
There are many other places to get your components online too.

Step 2: Design

This was the most fun part after getting the fabric: where to put the lights. If only the thread itself lit up at different points! Maybe someone will invent that. Anyhoo, LEDs do just as well...

Place your components on the fabric, and decide how to sew them together. You might choose to attach some components to the other side of the fabric too.

Note that different stitches of conductive thread should not touch each other, so arrange your pieces to minimize the number of thread crossings. You can safely cross by sewing one underneath the cloth, and the other above. (I messed this up several times and had to redo some stitches, so it's certainly worth paying attention to).

Step 3: Wiring

Here is a sketch of the design:
- black for ground (-)
- orange for ruby lightboards
- green for emerald lightboards
- dark gray for power to the mimeolight
- gray for diamond lightboards
- purple for the calibration switch
- red for power (+)

And this is a summary of the sewing steps (we'll expand in the next pages):
1. Sew the ground connections of every component together.
2. Sew the ruby lights to the learning sensor.
3. Attach the emerald lights.
4. Connect the mimeolight's power to the learning sensor.
5. Sew the diamond lights to the mimeolight.
6. Attach the push switch to the learning sensor.
7. Connect battery power (+) to the velcro switch.
8. Sew the other side to the learning sensor.

Step 4: Ground Connection to Lightboards (black Wire)

With a double-threaded stitch, secure the ground connections to all the lightboards. Make several passes with the thread at each lightboard before moving to the next.

Step 5: Ground to All Other Components.

Do the same with the battery holder, learning sensor, mimeolight, and push switch.
Tie a knot and cut the thread after connecting all 10 components.

Step 6: Ruby Lightboards (orange Wire), and Emerald Lightboards (green Wire)

With a new piece of thread, connect (+) on the two ruby lightboards, and stitch towards the temperature sensor.

Just before reaching the sensor, test your lights by touching the needle to the (+) on the battery holder. If they light up, connect the thread to the "H" on the temperature sensor.

Repeat the process for the emerald lightboards. Always cut your thread after each pair of lights is connected. Remember to double-thread your stitches, and keep them as short as possible.

If any light is dimmer than the others, there might be too much resistance. You might need to make another identical stitch to reduce it.

Step 7: Mimeolight (dark Gray Wire), Diamond Lightboards (gray)

Now connect the (+) on the mimeolight to the "L" on the learning sensor.

Again, before completing the circuit, power the mimeolight by touching the thread to the (+) on the battery holder. It should flash. You can change the flashing pattern now if you like, or later.

Connect the diamond lightboards to the "O" hole on the mimelight. Test them with the battery as before, to make sure your connections are still alright.

Step 8: Calibrate Switch (purple Wire)

Sew the other end of the black push switch to the "C" hole on the learning sensor. This is what you press to set the ambient temperature for the tapestry.

Now is a good time to apply some fabric glue to keep your thread from unravelling at the ends. It takes about an hour for the glue to stop being tacky, and about 24 hours to fully cure.

Step 9: Velcro Switch (red Wire)

Finally, sew one end of the velcro switch to the (+) of the battery holder, and the other to the (+) of the learning sensor. This is your power on/off switch: use the accompanying velcro top to complete the circuit.

Step 10: Testing and Finishing

Insert the battery back in the holder, and push the calibrate switch to set the median temperature range. All lights should blink in sequence.

- When you let go of the switch, the emerald lightboards should stay lit.

- When the temperature gets hot, the ruby lightboards come on (try breathing on the sensor to test it).

- When it gets cold, the diamond lightboards flash (touch the sensor with a cold spoon, or take it outside).

That's it! No programming needed :-)

Dab some more fabric glue to keep the knots from unraveling, and apply puffy fabric paint to insulate all your stitches.

We're working on a better power solution for these kinds of installations. Perhaps a rechargeable battery connected to a solar panel. We'd love to hear your feedback and suggestions. Good luck!

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    2 Discussions


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Fabulous idea :D I am amazed about the creative use of the Aniomagic modules and the butterfly battery older is amazing.