We're always exploring new directions in etextiles, and we were thinking of some really easy projects that could be done with a tiny button that lights up and flashes with customizable patterns. One result of our explorations - Glam - is a tiny PCB with LED and microcontroller, that connects to a battery and other LEDs. What's unique about this button is that it is designed to be used by itself, and that you can choose from 4 built-in patterns just by touch its built-in touchpad. We'd really like a near-future where we can go to a fabric store and choose light-up buttons that blend seamlessly with regular buttons, and Glam is an evolution in that direction.
I also love this project because it showcases new experiments with a soft battery holder - instead of the traditional plastic or metal, we use two adhesive dots that simultaneously hold the battery to the project, and allows good electrical contact between battery conductive thread. Its thin, tiny, cheap, and more "textile-like". Two disadvantages: it becomes much less sticky when you wash it, and you have to carefully peel off the battery when it comes time to change, so you don't damage it.
- 1 small battery (CR1220)
- conductive thread
- 1 strip of velvet
- 1 felt flower
- 1 cotton ball
- adhesive dot battery holder
Step 1: Electrical Connections
First, arrange Glam in the middle of the velvet strip. Since we're only using glam (no extra LEDs), we won't connect the other holes, just the connections for power.
The way we've oriented it, Glam has its plus terminal on the right side, so this first stitch connects the plus on Glam to the plus on the battery. Pass the thread several times though and over the hole to make a good electrical connection. Leave about 2 inches of thread to coil into the adhesive battery holder.
Then connect the minus on Glam (left side) to the minus on the battery.
Pass the thread several times though and over the hole to make a good electrical connection. Again, leave about 2 inches of thread to coil into the adhesive battery holder.
Step 2: Adhesive-dots Cloth Battery Holder
Much better for the aesthetics of etextiles are these adhesive battery holders. The minus layer is cloth covered on both sides with adhesive backing, with a hole in the middle which the minus thread goes through. The plus layer is has adhesive only on one side.
Normally, the adhesive discs that form the battery holder are round, so we'll trim them to fit the velvet strip.
Pass the minus thread through the hole in the adhesive, and then coil it tightly, so it's smaller than the battery.
Do the same thing with the plus thread, and Glam should start pulsing (the default pattern). You can change it to a slower pulse, twinkle, or some other pattern by pressing the touch pad.
Finally, cover glam with the felt flower. You can attach with double-sided tape, or fabric glue. Stuff a tiny bit of cotton to diffuse the light from the LED. From here, you can accessorize a hat with this pulsing flower, use it as a choker or wristband.
Love how thin and "textile-like" this project is... a regular battery holder would have added so much bulk.
Oh, and Glam sleeps automatically after 30 minutes so no need for a power switch (you can also press the touch pad to make it sleep sooner, or wake up).