Intro: EKitty: Your Virtual Cat
eKitty is a cat cushion with an LCD photo frame built into its head. The LCD screen cycles through six different faces at 15 second intervals. We originally built eKitty to see the reaction of people when shown a simple cute toy with changing emotions. In this case smile, smirk, wink, sleep, and happy.
My kids are fascinated by the changing faces of the eKitty, you can give it big cuddles as well.
The small 2.4in LCD photo frame is build into the head of the ekitty, and two small buttons on the side of the head allow access for charging the battery. A fabric switch is built into eKitties ear and connected to the main PCB of the LCD photo frame. This switch turns the unit on and off.
This is a basic project, it requires some simple soldering and sewing skills. The parts required should be available at most electronics and sewing stores.
I hope it will make a great Mothers day present.
Enjoy the eKitty, and look out for one in my Etsy shop some time soon.
Step 1: What You Will Need
- Fabric for Head, body and ears (I used blue for body and the head and yellow for the ears)
- LCD photo frame, mine was a 2.4inch with no brand name
- Ribbon cable about (~15cm)
- Felt squares
- Multi strand wire (~15 cm)
- Cotton (I used blue and yellow)
- Glue for hot glue gun
- Cushion filling.
- Small clips (for access to the usb port)
- Paper and pencil
- Soldering iron and solder
- Glue gun
- Sewing needle
- Wire cutters
- Screw driver (small phillips)
Step 2: Make the Fabric Switch
Credit goes to Leah Buechley for the fabric switch design.
- Cut three layers of felt the correct size fit into your ekitties ear.
- Cut a diamond onto one of the pieces of felt.
- Place the felt with the diamond cut-out onto each to the other pieces and make a pen mark were the diamond cut is.
- Take a piece of multi strand wire and remove one strand out of it, you will need about 15cm.
- Take a sewing needle and thread one of the wire strands onto it.
- Take one of the felt pieces without the diamond cut-out , and thread the wire back and forth in the area where the diamond has been drawn. Leave a 3cm fly lead on the end of the felt. Repeat for the other piece of felt.
- With the hot glue gun, glue the three pieces of felt together, with the two felt pieces with the wire in them on the outside. Keep glue away from the area were the wire has been sewn into the felt.
Step 3: Solder Wires Onto Lcd Photo Frame
I hooked three switched up the mine so I could change the photos as I like, but if you auto increment the photos it seems to work better and you only need one switch.
- Remove the screws from the back of the LCD photo frame and remove the back cover.
- Find the switch that turns the photo frame on and off.
- Solder one wire of the ribbon cable to each side of the on/off switch so that when the two wires are put together the LCD photo frame will turn on.
- Repeat the last step if you want to add more switches, I added three in total but you only need one.
- Find a way for the wire the exit to the case of your LCD photo frame, I cut out a little piece of the plastic.
- With the hot glue gun neatly place the wires so they don't move around.
- Refit the case and screw the LCD photo frame together.
Step 4: Fit the Fabric Switch to LCD Photo Frame
Remember the photos show 3 switches but you only need one to turn the LCD photo frame on and off.
By adding an extra switch I enabled the eKitties face to change when he gets a hug.
- Solder the wire from the LCD photo frame onto the fly leads on each side of the fabric switch.
- Use a dob of glue from the hot glue gun to support wires where they attach to the fabric switch.
- Download the cat faces below and upload them to your LCD photo frame.
- Test by squeezing the fabric switch.
- If you have more then one switch repeat the steps above.
Step 5: Make the Cat Templates
Be creative in this step, make your eKitty a nice and cuddly shape.
You need to make 4 templates:
- Main body
- 2 ears
- Hint: Make sure you allow for the size difference when you sew your eKitty. Thats why my eKitties tail is all thin like a rats tail.
Step 6: Cut Out the Fabric
I pinned the templates to the material and cut around the template. You need to have two layers of fabric for the body and head, as you need a back and front. You only need one layer of fabric for the ears.
- Cut out the fabric for the front and back of the body. (I used blue)
- Cut out the fabric for the front and back of the head. (I used blue)
- Cut out the fabric for the two ears. (I used yellow)
Step 7: Sew the Head
- Cut out a square in the head for the LCD Photo frame.
- Sew in the whiskers( I used yellow tread to match the LCD photo frame pictures.
- Sew the two ears to the to the ears on the outside of the front of the head.
- Locate which side of LCD photo frame the USB port is on.
- Sew the front and back of the head together leaving a gap to fit the LCD photo frame, and for the usb cable to go through. I sewed the front and back together with the material back to front so I could turn the whole thing inside out.
Step 8: Fit the LCD Photo Frame
- Fit the fabric switch in the ear of the head and use a dab of glue to keep it in place.
- Slid the LCD photo frame onto the head and glue into place.
- Tuck any excess wire in behind the frame, out of the way.
- I sewed two clips into the opening of the head so you can get later access for charging and uploading photos on the unit.
- Put cushion filling into the head to made it nice and puffy.
Step 9: Sew the Body
- Sew the front and back of the body together but leave an area open to fit the filling. I sewed the front and back together with the material back to front so I could turn the whole thing inside out.
- Fit the filling and sew up the opening.
Step 10: Glue the Head to the Body
- Find a spot on the body that looks good for the head to go.
- Glue the body to the head with a hot glue gun.
Step 11: Have Fun
Enjoy the eKitty and remember these instructions are only a basic starting point for this project. Why not build on my ideas, a more interactive interface, an eFish or eDog perhaps. Hack away!!!