Introduction: Sleepy Weepy Pillow

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It’s the 13th of February and your prospects are not looking good. You alternate between hating the holiday and signing up for a new free online dating service between bouts of sobbing. Let the tears fall down and wash away the pain, but don’t wallow in them.

Let the Sleepy Weepy Pillow lift your spirits and rock you gently to sleep. With its moisture sensor, it knows when you’ve been weeping. It does more than acknowledge your sadness, though, it will even buoy your spirits with the song or inspirational message of your choice. Using a recordable greeting card you can include your own soothing message or music, sure to make you feel a little better.

So buck up, buttercup. Choke down that last sob and warm up your soldering iron, it’s time to take matters into your own hands to make yourself feel better. It's time to make a pillow that knows when you're sad!

Step 1: Tools + Materials

  • soldering iron
  • fabric iron
  • scissors
  • ironing board
  • sewing
  • machine/needle+thread
  • multimeter

  • 1 x BC547 transistor
  • 1 x LED (optional)
  • 1 x 5V relay
  • 1 x 7805 voltage regulator
  • 1 x 50k-100k potentiometer
  • 1 x 47ohm resistor 
  • 1 x 9v battery (and holder)
  • 1 x recordable greeting card
  • pillow fabric
  • scrap fabric
  • pillow batting
  • fine wire mesh / conductive fabric
  • fusible bonding matrix for fabric (Wonder Under/Stitch Witchery)
Remove the electronics from the greeting cards, but keep the stiff card back they are glued onto.

Step 2: Moisture Sensor Curcuit

This pillow works by sensing moisture and sending a signal to the electronic greeting card. I started this card working from this simple moisture circuit, but then went for an alternative route as designed by Jayefuu (credit for his schematic).

After wiring all the components into a stripboard, leads were attached from the terminals of the greeting card to the relay and the stripboard circuit was attached to the back of the electronic greeting card. 

Want the basics on electronics? Check out the Introduction to Electronics, specifically step #17-circuits.

Step 3: Moisture Sensing Matrix

To start, cut your pillow fabric into your pillow shape. I used a long rectangular shape which, when folded in half, would create a square pillow. For now leave the pillow unsewn, we'll close it up later.

For the inside of the pillow I wanted to create a matrix under the surface that would allow the circuit to be completed when moisture was present, but be unobstructive at all other times. For this, I cut my fine wire mesh fabric into long strips and sewed them into spaced rows. Make sure to cut your mesh fabric on the bias so that the edges don't fray. Alternating rows were connected together using the same mesh fabric. Your moisture matrix can be as large as you like, and even on both sides of your pillow. For this design I chose half the pillow's area on one side only.

Keep your multimeter on hand and test for conductivity. You do not want any frayed edges to complete the circuit without moisture. When your matrix is sewn in successfully another layer of fusible bonding matrix was added on top to keep the mesh fabric in place and prevent any false connectivity once the wiring is complete. Another scrap piece of cotton fabric was iron onto the fusible bonding matrix after. A small gap was left to allow the circuit wires to be hooked up to the moisture sensing matrix. Conductive fabric leads were covered in heat-shrink tubing and sewn from each side of the matrix. These leads will be joined with the moisture sensing probes on the circuit.

Step 4: Make Letters + Pillow

You could leave your pillow as is, but I wanted my pillow to share a message with whomever was crying. I decided to write the message "cry me a river" on the side with the moisture sensing matrix, with the idea that after a good cry the pillow could be flipped over and the words "go back to sleep" would sooth the saddened into a sleepy slumber (maybe). I used scrap fabric that had some neat patterns to create my letters. 

Scraps were laid out on fusible bonding matrix and ironed. Next the scraps were cut into the individual letters and then ironed onto the outer face of the pillow. Turn your pillow inside out and sew the pillow case, leaving a small opening. to allow you to turn the pillow right-side out again.

Step 5: Stuff

With your pillow right-side out, stuff with pillow batting. Locate your leads sewn into the moisture sensing matrix and join them with the probes from the moisture sensing circuit. I made a small pouch for my circuit and greeting card.

After the pillow has been stuffed and the circuit hooked up, place the circuit pouch inside and sew the pillow closed.

Step 6: Time to Cry (or Not)

The world can be a sad place. Rather than risk drowning in a pool of your own tears, use the awesome power of SENSORS to ensure a comfortable and dry night’s sleep.

Did you make your own Sleepy Weepy Pillow, or a project based on this design? Share a picture in the comments below.

Happy making :)

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