For the final project, I have created a turn-signal sweater/jacket. This jacket is designed for bikers to use, especially at night. When it is dark outside, it can be dangerous for those who are in bicycle to bike, since they will not be able to signal if they’re going to turn left or right. With this jacket/sweater, they can give a signal to other vehicles on the road. By pressing the button on the respective sleeve of the sweater, the lights on their back will blink, indicating the direction that they are turning.
Before this project, I thought that making this project is going to be difficult and complicated. That is because I have never used the materials that are required to be used, such as washable LED, conductive threat and Adafruit Flora. Since I’m not experienced with coding or have any experience on the board, I had some difficulties getting the code to the circuit. I looked for helped online, visiting the Adafruit website, YouTube and other tutorial websites, but I still could not get my circuit to work. Fortunately, after seeking help from the Fab Lab staff, I was able to figure the code out. I’m certainly proud for figuring out how to set up the circuit. Certainly, I did get a lot of help from Jess, but I did try to sketch out a circuit that I think would work and to my surprise, I got it almost correct!
Overall, I am very satisfied with my sweater! Nevertheless, if I have more time, I would do several things differently. First, I would get a darker jacket. Since the conductive thread is dark grey, I think by using a darker color will hide it, making the sweater even more seamless. Although the flora, conductive thread and the LED lights are washable, I’ve been told that too much wash would erode the conductivity. Thus, to prevent this, I would make an insert that can be taken off and be washed. Alternatively, considering that we’re all college students, moving the circuit to a backpack would be cool too!
Final Design: Video
For this final project, I have the following learning goals:
- I want to challenge myself to create something that is useful to myself and make it usable in everyday life, instead of just a rough concept.
After my project is done, I’m quite satisfied with what I have. Surprisingly, the project that I made is pretty useful in real life! However, I do regret using a pink sweater for the base. Initially, my plan was to use a black zip-up hoodie that the user can take on/off easily. However, I do not have any spare zip-up hoodies, nor do I have a black sweater. Because the sweater is so light in color, the conductive thread became so apparent against the fabric. Nevertheless, I still think that the final project is still useful. With Adafruit Flora, conductive thread, and the washable LED lights, the sweater is waterproof and washable. I have also sewed a piece of fabric on it to create a pocket to store the battery. Thus, the battery won’t be dangling out when the user is wearing it.
- I want to push myself outside of my comfort zone by doing something I’ve never done before, using the Lilypad Arduino/Adafruit Flora and sewable circuits. This means I will have to do research on how they work and how to use them and ask the Fab Lab staff for help.
While I have learned how to use Arduino Uno, I never actually used a different board before. Being a business student, coding is really out of my comfort zone. Based on a tutorial I found online, I was supposed to use the Lilypad Arduino. However, I found out that this was not available at the Fab Lab but an Adafruit Flora would work perfectly as well. I decided to try using the Adafruit Flora and seek the internet for help. However, I found little to no help at all online. I decided to ask around the Fab Lab staff to help me and found out that Jess from the Fab Lab had done similar projects before. Thus, with her help, I was able to work on the code and the circuit.
As I look through my past assignments and my past lab assignment write-ups, I found out that I have certainly stretched my creativity over the past semester. I would never call myself a ‘maker’ before. I have always felt that I am someone who likes to stay in her comfort zone and is someone who would always take the easy way to do stuff. However, the assignments have challenged me to do many things that I have never done before, learning about tools like 3D printing, laser cutting, circuit making and many more! As I learn about these tools, I wonder what other things I can create by using the tools.
As I looked at the things that I made earlier, I noticed how the things I made started out with things that are really simple and ‘safe’ to do. However, as the semester goes, I started to make things that are more interesting. Sure, I did look at the internet for some inspiration, but I did put on my little touch on it to personalize the result. Although my project might not always look as good as the ones that I try to get inspiration from, I am still very proud of the result. I have also become more confident with what I do and am more willing to try. With that, I often go ahead with my gut and see if it works out. Often when it doesn’t, I would trace back what I did and try again. This is especially true with the pom-pom bot assignment. With this final project, I was also able to show resilience. There were many times during this project where I felt that the project was too difficult and wanted to give up to do something easier. Nevertheless, I managed to push my way through and complete the project.
There are certainly other makers out there who are making life-changing innovations or something that no one has seen before. Me, on the other hand, is an amateur who only know how to operate the tools in the most basic way. With that in mind, I often think to myself, “does this make me be a maker?” This is still a debate that I often I have with myself. Evidently, often my ideas are not that original. Considering that I am a business major, I also often think, are any of the things I learned in this class going to be useful? However, just like Seymour Papert suggested, the most significant learning is a) hands-on and b) personally meaningful. In that case, I have learned a lot. It is true that what I’ve learned in this class will not be as beneficial as my other business classes when I enter the corporate world. Nevertheless, throughout the class, I have constantly challenged myself to do things that are outside my comfort zone and things that I never do before. These soft skills are certainly important not only professionally, but personally as well. I also like the fact that being able to create new things, I was able to express myself in the things that I create.