Maui Makers in the News

October 16 and 23 2014: Halloween Costumes and Art of Tinkering–Date Correction

Reminder, we have two upcoming activities that are great for all ages!

Dates corrected. Events are on Thursdays, not Wednesday!!!!

Oct 16, come join us to make Halloween costumes. Limited supplies are available. Bring your own supplies and tools to use or share…or just come and brainstorm ideas.

Oct 23, come join us in rediscovering the Art of Tinkering. Activities are based on hands on activities used by the Exploratorium. See this link for things to bring:

Also bring (preferably repurposed): electronic toys to take apart and repurpose, small DC motors, pipe cleaners, large format paper, yogurt containers (or any other plastic container), plastic cups, markers, tape, rubber bands, etc.

Workshops will be 6 to 9 PM at St Anthony, Jr-Sr High School, in the Maryknoll building, room 21. These activities are free and open to all ages. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

See the map for directions.

Laser Etched Deerskin Moccasin

People ask me what I make – and that can be tough to give a simple answer. This past summer (2013) I worked on a whole lot of different projects… the usual arduino/electronics, satellites, farming, and this one – a pair of moccasins. This project had a long gestation. I initially discovered Teri Edmonds store “If The Shoe Fits” several years ago, and noted that she also offers classes under the “Maui Shoe Academy” name.

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Teri’s store is both a retail and repair center, selling and fixing both men and women’s shoes. Her specialty is out-of-norm sizes, with nice slippahs (aka flip flops for mainlanders) in sizes to fit a badly underserved local community (size 13+). She has her own shoe design too – the Hot Bisket.

Teri teaches four basic classes three times a year… Accessories, Sandal-in-a-Day, Handbag and Moccasin. I wear LLBean Camp Moc almost exclusively, so the moccasin class caught my eye. The moccasins Teri has in her shop (and teaches) are calf high boots rather than quick slip-ons, however they look cool and I am always looking to learn new skills, so I decided to take the class.

Teri and I talked a number of times about Makers, shoe making, etc. but it took a few times to get me into her schedule for moccasin class. And then I had to leave town the 2nd weekend of the class (for a workshop on making satellites.) Fortunately Teri was very understanding and helpful, allowing me to come back a couple times to work in her store to finish the boots.

Usually the class makes moccasins from cow hide, however, I got very lucky and hooked up with a local Maui provider of brain-tanned deer skin. We have a LOT of deer here on Maui (and other islands). These Axis Deer (aka Chital) were introduced on Moloka’i in 1867, Lana’i in 1904 and Maui in 1959. They have no natural predators and have been very damaging to the native forests (along with other feral ungulates like wild pigs and goats)… so much so that parts of these islands have been defoliated. There are ongoing efforts to control the populations. The worst of these used aircraft carrying hunters to shoot them from the sky, leaving the carcasses to rot on the ground. The most common are the local and tourist deer hunters, which usually get turned into delicious venison for locals. The idea of normal family folks, gearing their kids up with gadgets like the best rated rangefinder and a camouflaged vest is a healthy, normal way to live with the situation. On top of it being natural and traditional, it teaches the young ones and the parent many lessons that otherwise, would be missed. The best I’ve seen so far is a new program on Moloka’i with a USDA approved/monitored venison production facility. Unfortunately, most of the hides from all of these sources go unused (often simply buried). It takes a fair bit of time/effort to make buckskin, but the results are quite nice. I’ve been in discussion with my provider to see if we can get some classes in brain tanning here – so we can develop this great local resource. (go read up on the Feral Ungulate issues at Maui Deer Culling).

Since the deer are rather small, I needed two hides to make my moccasins. One was natural colored, the other the rich brown that comes from smoking the hides. Teri suggested we use one hide for the back and the other for the front sides. This worked out quite well. The first day of the class we cut out the pieces from the hides and punched holes where they would be sewn. This took a LOT of time… more than the full day of work even. I had to borrow a hole punch and work on mine while on the road the following week.

Moc Class Day 1 a

When I got back to Maui, I upped the design ante on my moc’s by laser engraving designs into them. I used several designs from previous projects. The toes got a tribal face originally created with Rachel Deboer for body painting. The front got a gecko stencil created by David Fields and used for the SourceMaui CORE effigy at Burning Man 2013. On the back side I put the islands of Maui, with the Maui Makers logo on the heel.

Leather Etched

Once I got the parts prepared, the sewing started. Lots of sewing. Very glad we pre-punched the holes, as it would have been very tiring to push that needle through two layers for that many holes. First the front, back and tongue were sewn together, which gave us a good idea of how awesome these would look…
CalfBoot-inProcessFront

Teri glued the insoles to the soles with her special paste…
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I sat out in the back yard and sewed for a good long while. The results, while still not finished were good enough to be worn out for a few events…
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The last step was adding the real sole. Teri, being a cobbler, had a good selection and chose some nice Vibram material.

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We cut the basic shape, glued it and then Teri used her talents and cool tools to finish the sole. Gotta love and respect a woman who owns and knows how to use tools like these!

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The final result was quite spectacular…
IMGP0363IMGP0364IMGP0366

Maui Google Maps and Earth Workshop Flyer

Introduction to Google Maps and Earth Workshop: Visualize and Share Your Conservation Story

Maui Google Maps and Earth Workshop Flyer

Introduction to Google Maps and Earth Workshop is a Free Event Presented by The Hawai‘i Conservation Alliance & Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

Location: National Marine Sanctuary-Kihei
Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary
726 S. Kihei Road, Kihei, Maui, HI
@ 1:00-4:00pm

The objective of the Google Maps & Earth workshop is to introduce students, professionals, and community members to telling their conservation story through map making.  Furthermore, the workshop aims to empower participants to learn about and build the necessary skill sets to enable them to become leaders in Hawaii conservation.

The Talk Story event aims to bring together students, professionals, and community members by introducing them to professionals in the field and introduce them to current and relevant conservation work and applications in Hawaii.

Workshop open to 25 participants.
Please RSVP with your email address @ http://doodle.com/6ga55nkszsk6suyy or call Marion at 808-398-6520.

E-Textiles – Sewing with Electronics Jan 3rd, and 4th AfterAction

Event was Jan3-4th 2013 and was AWESOME!!

After Action Review: Theo arrived about 430pm at airport.  We grabbed some food and got to the space about 545.  We had a whole lotta new folks and several we had not seen in awhile, as well as regulars.  Thurs night turned into a lot of overview of e-textiles and talk – along with a 1/2 doz other things happening around the space.  Theo couch surf’d at Makers East (my home in Haiku) and after breakfast at Market Fresh Bistro (my fav food) we were back at makerspace by 1130am (yeah a bit late but we’re on maui time.).  There were 3-5 people who returned to learn programming and more details of the Lilypad/Arduino.  Lots of inspiration and sharing. (class material and more on Lilypad is at the Learn.Sparkfun.com site)  We have decided to have an Arduino Corner at our Thursday Meetings for people to share experiences and learn more.  This may evolve into its own night and/or weekend daytime meetup.  We shall see.  Here are some pics of the event…

Original Post…

Sewing Microcontrollers and Electronics? Yes!!!
Maui Makers is pleased to host a vacationing elf from Sparkfun Electronics who is bringing several ProtoSnap LilyPad Developer Kits to give away at our Thursday Jan 3rd public night 6-9pm in Pu’unene. (The Elf is available Friday Jan 4th daytime to continue if people want to do so)

Sparkfun’s ProtoSnap LilyPad DevKit

Come down and learn how to program a microcontroller, make LEDs blink, motors vibrate, sense light/temperature… and then sew it into your clothing! Event and kits are free. Limited number of LilyPad Dev Kits are available on first come-first receive basis.

For directions, etc. see map etc in right column or the info page on Thursday Night Meetings

About the LilyPad Dev Board…

“The ProtoSnap LilyPad Development Board is designed to get you started in the world of e-textiles. Combining a LilyPad Simple Board with other LilyPad components like a buzzer, a vibration motor, an RGB LED, a button, a switch, five LEDs, a light sensor, and a temperature sensor, the ProtoSnap LilyPad Development Board lets you dive right into wearable electronics. When you’ve learned how to program the LilyPad Arduino Simple Board, break apart the components and explore the power of the LilyPad platform.”

Basically an Arduino board with sensors/effectors built into board, that you can later snap apart and sew back together on clothing… conductive thread included!!!

What can you do with e-textiles?   Well check out the examples this new article just posted by MAKE magazine

Many more examples abound on the web..  start here (http://www.lbruning.com/etextiles) or here  (http://www.adafruit.com/blog/category/wearables)

How do you sew electronics with conductive thread? Check out the post I did earlier this year on our class at the Hawaii Stem Conference.

Check the Soft Circuits category over on the right column for other related posts here.

Arduino Starter Kit Review

There are microcontrollers embedded in almost everything these days.  However the developer tools for many of these have been priced out of the realm of hobbyists and students.  How are people to learn to develop applications if they cant afford  the developer tools?

Official Arduino Boards

A design school in Italy faced this issue and came up with a roaring success… The Arduino Platform – An open source hardware and software design, with widely shared how-to resources.   It has become a central tool to much of the Maker movement.  Sure there are more powerful, faster, etc microcontrollers out there, but the Arduino makes it pretty easy for the beginner to get up and running quickly.  It also makes it easy for experts to throw something together quickly with wide selection of pre-built libraries and hardware modules and online how-to tutorials.

There are a lot of beginner kits out there now supporting the beginner. Most share the same basic examples based on the Oomlaut ARDX Arduino Experimenter .  Different vendors add some variations after the first couple experiments, and package up all the sensor, effector, leds, motors, resistors, etc into one nice package.

Recently the Arduino developers decided to release their own Starter Kit along with a series of video tutorials hosted by Arduino co-founder Massimo Banzi (links to his TED talk).  I was sent one of the kits for review…

Arduino Starter Kit box… nice design as you expect from company.

First thing that impressed me was the nicely designed box, and then opening it the nice hefty printed manual. Under the manual were neatly packed boxes of components and under those a piece of laser cut wood and some various paper parts.

Book and box

Neatly packaged components

Wood cut for mounting arduino and breadboard, assorted paper extras for projects.

So far things are looking pretty neat and clean – not sure what all those parts in the bottom are for or just what components are in the boxes but  nice packaging.

Then I start reading the manual (huh, what programmer starts by reading the manual? well this was a review so I thought I start by examining the parts as I got to them.  First thing that struck me about the manual was the font selection.  It is mostly written in a very thin light font that I find very difficult to read, especially on some of the colored backgrounds.  Getting beyond that, I found the manual fairly useful. Most Arduino documentation is online at the Arduino.cc site.  Unfortunately this site is blocked by the high school web filters were I help the Robotics club… teaching some arduino experiments using the Sparkfun Inventors Kit (a nice older packaging with the ARDX tutorials).   The new Arduino Starter Kit manual was able to offer up the right clues to a question asked by one of the students.  Down side was there is no index and not much of a table of contents, so finding the info I needed required a bit of fast skimming.

I have not had a chance to run through any of the experiments myself.  I was hoping to build the Zeotrope (Project 10), which uses some of the preprinted cardboard to show animated pictures. However, time is passing quickly and I have other larger projects to build for other reasons, so I will have to update when I get it done (or delegate build to someone.)

Looking over the manual’s layout for a project, I do like the way they lay it out.  First is a quick reference (time to build, pre-requisite builds), then a discussion of the build, then the wiring diagrams and notes, followed by software and its notes.  Hardware layout is shows a stylized picture of the circuit with arduino and breadboard, as well as the conventional schematic diagram. The former helps the beginner see where and how to plug things together.  The latter gives the reference needed to understand function.

I really like the way the book lays out the software discussion in columns. left most is sort of margin notes, center on left hand page is a prose description of a code block , while right page holds the code blocks and more margin notes.  Code is broken into blocks on highlighted background… grouped in functional blocks (constants, variables, etc). It would be a great layout if the fonts were better.

Back to the hardware in the box…

The laser cut wood in there is to hold the Arduino Uno and small breadboard.  It is a nice little bit of engineering. Four feet pop out of the board and press fit into slots to become feet.  The arduino screws down with three bolts (and nuts… manual neglects to mention using nuts on these.  Guess it assumes you know.) The breadboard has double stick tape on back, so peel and stick.  Result is a rather nice little experimenters setup. I like it better than the plastic setup included with the old version of the Sparkfun Inventors Kit. I understand they have changed that a bit lately.  The Adafruit starter kits come with an acrylic plate for breadboard and card, which works well too.

Starter Kit breadboard and Arduino Uno mounted on laser cut base.

The components come packaged in several boxes. However they are in non-reseal bags inside the boxes… open those bags and you got lots of little parts to scatter.  I was glad to have a collection of small zip-close bags on hand to repack the parts.

They include several parts beyond the usual Arduino inventor/experimenter beginner kit … like the LCD display panel and larger DC motor.

Overall it looks like a very nice starter package.  The experiments go further than the old ARDX and the extra paper pieces used along the way are nice inclusion.  The paper box doesnt hold up well to travel abuse, but hey its cardstock.

(Video Tutorials!!)

Another aspect of this kit is the series of video tutorials hosted by Arduino co-founder Massimo Banzi. I found the pretty decent.  Nothing Amazing – just good walk through of building projects and some science background.

I like this kit – although it has its faults (fonts in the manual, light cardboard box, lack of bags for parts, etc).  The projects look pretty good, and somewhat more functional than the basics in ARDX.  However, I am not the intended audience – the beginner.  So I think I am going to pass this kit off to one of our young makers and see if they can learn using it- with a bit of help of course.   Check back later and hopefully we’ll update with their experience.

Our First Learn To Solder Class (afterwards)

After Event Review 

We had six (6) people attending,  four signed up before and two walk ins.  Four of the kit makers were under 12 years and all the kits worked (sorta). Two of the attendees (one adult, one kid) were completely new to Makers – finding us via the Maui News and Maui Time advertisements.  (MauiNews was a quick post to their Calendar.  Maui Time was a small display ad – that appeared next to Eh Brah. Mahalo to Tommy & Jen.  Advertising works!) All had a great time and were happy with their kits.  The new kid’s mom bought him a 2nd kit to work on at home.

I was worried going in that we wouldnt have enough turnout. I think what we got was great… and easily generated enough effort for a first time teaching. I was also worried about the youth – but they did a great job… most were pretty much doing it on their own with minimal help.

There were few major lessons on the kits and equipment …
1)  the Elenco kits come with lead free solder, which I have not used before. It does not work like any I’m used too. I switched them over to leaded solder and joints improved dramatically.
2) The stock tips on the Weller stations we got via the GGHC2011 are way too big and fat for the circuit board work. Fortunately, they also gave us some smaller tips, which worked well.
3) Elenco kits are not that easy to work with. They include a LOT of instructions and illustrations of details, but the step by step leave something to be desired.  The pads are very large, with large holes that are NOT plated through, so it takes more to solder them than the EMSL kits we also had.

(See links below for kits.)

Original Post …

Electronics Soldering is an essential Maker Skill.  Building an electronics kit on a board or making solid wire connections, it is widely used, and fairly easy to learn.

Signups for our first “Learn To Solder” Class has gone live on Eventbrite.Class will be on Saturday Dec 8, 2-5pm. I dont expect it to take 3 hours to build one of these kits, but with teaching and talking, it might.  PLEASE SIGNUP ON EVENTBRITE so we know how many people are coming.  If there are several signed up, we will hold the class and people can come that day – you get what kits are left at $30/person flat rate.

There are 3 types of kits and two price levels (member and non-member). If you are a paid member, you get a 1/2 price discount on the non-kit costs.

Focus will be on first time soldering but it will also be good practice for novice solderers. We have three kits available to learn with – one comes with its own soldering iron. We also have soldering stations for people to use during class. Class size is limited by the number of kits and soldering stations.

Kits available are:

Class will be held at our Pu’unene location(see web site for map and directions). Basically about 1/2 mile behind the Sugar Mill, where Maui Friends of Library and Community Work Day are located. (Lat/Lon: 20.862902, -156.448027) Cost is Kit + $10 for non-member. Member price is Kit + $5.

CAVEAT – There does not appear to be a way to easily correlate quantity/tickets for member/non-members. I distributed most to non-members. If your choice is sold out, email me and I will see what we can do.

If you are experienced with electronics soldering and would like to help, please send me an email. I would very much like assistants.

Couple extra links:

Sewing Electronics at Hawaii STEM Conference

The Hawaii STEM Conference was held March 30/31st at the Marriott Hotel in Wailea, Maui HI. This is an annual gathering hosted by MEDB’s Women in Technology (link) to bring together students and teachers from Hawaii middle and high schools for classes and sharing various STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) topics.

This year Maui Makers was invited to repeat the Sewing Electronics class taught at the February “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” event also sponsored by MEDB’s WIT. The 2 hour class was listed as “Creative Innovation”, promising:

The way things are invented is changing rapidly. Technology is now available to create innovative products on deemed, locally at low cost. Shared equipment workshops known as Makerspaces and FabLabs are popping up around the world, giving people access tanned training in this technology. Join the Maui Makers group as they help you explore various technologies from laser cutting and 3D Printing to sewing electronics into clothing.

That translated into a short (~15 minute) presentation and ~45 min of sewing color cycling RGB LEDs onto a felt bracelet, with a Makerbot Thing-0-matic running on a side table. I was assisted in this class by Makers Evelyn Z (also a teacher at Kihei Charter School), Dina M., Lynn F., Kimberly D. and my son Brian. There were about 25 kids in the class, with a couple friends of mine (Lotus and Josh) from King Kekaulike High School Robotics Club coming in later after they finished presenting their school’s STEMWorks projects.

LED Bracelet by Dina M.

Presentation Overview
The presentation itself was pretty simple. I called it “21st Century Innovation and Hands-on Sewing Electronics”. I have split it into two parts for PDF uploads. The first half is on 21st Century Innovation Spaces and the 2nd half is the Hands-on Sewing Electronics portion.

First I talked about the history of making (hand crafting -> industrial manufacturing -> 21st century print-on-demand). Then on into ’21st Century Innovation Spaces” – namely FabLabs, TechShop and Makerspaces. I talked about CNC and Desktop Fabrication (additive and subtractive) with example pictures. I touched on Electronics and Physical Computing then moved on to Soft Circuits (aka e-Textiles). I finished up with a quick review of how to do 3d printing on a Makerbot – as Evelyn Z fired up the Thing-o-matic.

Teaching a room of middle/high school kids is fairly new to me. There were a few points were I tossed out some terms (eg. Fabrication) that probably were new to many of the kids. Fortunately, Evelyn was there to help me – interjecting questions to the students for these teaching moments.

I had a surprise for the kids when I got to the e-Textile slide. Under my shirt, I was wearing my LED T-Shirt. This is a plain white T with an 8×10 array of individually addressable RGB LEDs sewn in. I fired it up mid-slide and WOW! kids lit up brighter than the shirt. More on this shirt further down this post.

LED T-Shirt

LED Bracelet

The later half of the presentation was instructions on sewing the LED bracelet. I gave a quick overview of the project and then started the kids working on the steps. As we worked through the steps, I advanced the slides. Printouts of the main steps had been distributed to the tables, along with components before the class started.

Presentation overview slide for hands on portion

The bracelet was pretty straight forward – black felt, conductive thread, battery holder & battery, two LEDs on LilyPad PC boards, and metal snaps. The basic idea was to sew from one snap to – side of battery holder; from + side of battery to + sides of both LEDs; from – sides of both LEDs to the other snap. Closing the snaps around the wrist would complete the circuit and light the LEDS.

This was a step up from the “Intro a Girl to Engr.” class, that lacked the battery holder and snaps. I figured with 2 hours (vs 1) we would have time for other components. Another big change from the last class was better visual aids. The presentation/handouts had pictures of what was expected, and Kimberly brought in a terrific multi-color blackboard/chalk drawing. Dina and Evelyn made a few quick additions before class started. It was a big help to some of the kids. Having the assistants was absolutely essential. Kimberly and Dina had been over to the makerspace on Tuesday for a trial run, which was big help. Evelyn and Lynn had helped me at the Intro A Girl class. Brian, well, he was friends with many of the kids.

One big area that helped was having LOTS of the needle threaders. Conductive thread is rather large and very difficult to fit through eye of needles – especially when needles need to be small enough to fit through holes in battery holders, etc. Last class we ran out as they broke, etc. This time I had 250 on hand.

Using a needle threader

The best laid plans of mice and teachers … it was amazing how many creative ways simple instructions can go wrong. The assistants were quite busy helping kids out – and kids were helping each other too. Several kids ran out of thread and needed more – generally due to some sewing mistake that needed to be backed out. We had some super perfectionists who took a lot longer than others. Their work was great, it just took longer. Overall the kids were successful. I think all the bracelets worked. I saw several of the kids wearing theirs later in the day. Then again there were some who gave me back their finished projects, not really wanting to take it home.

Classic mistakes were:

  • sewing wrong polarity of battery/LEDs (quite easy to do)
  • crossed stitching or loose ends shorting out
  • thread looping around sides rather than thru material
  • loosely attached parts – threads not pulled tight

The LillyPad PC boards come in two varieties – pre-populated with SMD LEDs, and bare boards with thru-hole plating. I used the later as they are much less expensive (including bay purchased leds), the holes are bigger and I can get ing 5mm LEDs while the SMD boards are single color. I soldered up about 30 of each type a day or three before the class. These are fairly easy to do, although a bit of a pain as they don’t lie down well for sewing. If I do this class again, I might consider making a jig to hold a bunch of them in position for soldering.  An alternative to using the PC boards is to roll the LED legs and sew through the loops.

Color Changing LED soldered to LilyPad PC board.

LED mounted by sewing thru rolled leads

Sources of materials
You could buy most of the materials at local stores, except maybe the LEDs and battery holders. However small quantities can be very expensive. I was able to get significantly better prices buying from E-bay in quantity. Sparkfun.com was my source for the LilyPad PC boards, conductive thread, and battery holders.

SparkFun.com Products:

LEDs -E-bay vendor JeledHK  I bought both slow and fast change and gave kids one of each:

Batteries – CR 2032 (to match Battery Holder) look around carefully. You can buy singles and 3 packs from lots of sources. I found a vendor that sold 100 for less than the price of buying a few retail single packs.

Needle Threaders – buy lots of these. The ones I got are pretty cheap – in both senses of the word. Having lots of them meant it was no big deal if they break…. and they will break. I’m not sure the higher quality ones are worth the premium price – but I haven’t tried many.

Snaps and Felt: Local Fabric Store. I was able to find quite decent 12 packs of metal snaps for a decent price. Felt may or may not be best choice for bracelets. It worked for me as a strong, simple material. Some instructables (LINK) and advice from friends suggested using the material with cover/backing material. This would add extra sewing which would be fine for personal or semi-commercial projects, but part of my consideration for the class was keeping it simple and fast.

Beads – Dina M. added some small metal beads to her example bracelet, along with doing some artistic patterns with the thread. These made the finished project look MUCH better (her professional level sewing skills helped too.). We made beads available to kids as an option.

LED T-Shirt

The LED T-Shirt was something that I threw together in the week before the class. Syuzi P posted about a CuteCircuit’s really amazing Aurora Dress  with hundreds of LEDS created for an opera. When I commented on wanting that on a shirt on Facebook, Suyzi challenged me by saying ‘you could make one’. I had a bunch of LED Strip lying around, and Adafruit had published some interesting tutorials/forum posts about creating arrays, so I took up the challenge.

The result is a fairly simple array using 8 strips of 10 LEDs, using the older HL1606 controller based strips that Adafruit sold in 2010. They upgraded the RGB strips in 2011 (?) to use LDP8806 controllers, so if you buy now you will get the new (better) ones. I had about 10meters of the tape lying around gathering dust. I used 3 of it for Logo Glowego (LINK) but still had lots left over. The 80 LEDs works out to just under 3 meters (32 lights/meter), which at $30+/meter is still pretty expensive. I could probably have used discrete LEDs and saved a lot of money, at the trade off of a LOT of sewing and programming. Having the strips on hand made this a no-brainer. I also had an extra PJRC Teensy 2.0 which is a great form factor for small projects.  A LilyPad or AdaFruit’s new Flora platform would be better alternative, but I had Teensy on hand.

First step, after ascertaining there was existing code to help me complete the project quickly, was to cut up the strips and wire them up as an array. Since the strip is linearly addressed, you have to connect them in a ZigZag pattern. The Adavision code from Adafruit provides a function to remap an array to linear LED id. The code was for Processing  (eg java code) but it is still basically C, so moving it to Arduino was trivial.

The tricky part of the code was that the Processing code converts the LED id to a pixel array index – which is also a linear vector index. The Processing code effectively has 3 values for each LED – the original pixel image, the mapping value, and the value sent out. This is too much data for a small machine. I wanted a function that would take a pixel index and convert it to an LED index, so applications could set led values directly using this mapping function. Rather than derive a new function that could provide the options of the Processing one, I chose to use its mapping calculations. I wrote these into the mapping vector, then stepped through this array setting corresponding values of the library’s led array with index, then copied the values back to the mapping.. effectively using the leds array as a temporary. I then cleared the led array…


// invert the mapping matrix into leds array
for (i = 0; i < _numLEDs; i++)
{
_leds[_remapMatrix[i]] = i;
}
// copy back to mapping matrix
for (i = 0; i < _numLEDs; i++)
{
_remapMatrix[i] = _leds[i];
}
// clear led array
for (i = 0; i < _numLEDs; i++)
{
_leds[i] = 0;
}

I have not uploaded the code changes for this, as it combines the Java Code (one license) into the HL1606 Adafruit library (different license). Perhaps I can get this straightened out and shared soon.

I chose to make my strips vertical with the power/control coming in at the lower left corner (when viewed from the front.) This allowed me to attach the array only at the top of each column and letting them hang naturally. There was some movement of the strips, but this was a trade of between time and effort. I chose the quick and simple method. It also lets me quickly detach the array to wash the shirt, as the strips are NOT fully water tight sealed.

The wiring required jumping the 3 control lines at alternate ends of columns to create the proper zig-zag, remembering that the left/right pads of each column were reversed (eg column 1 wend gnd A B C NC vcc, while col 2 goes vcc NC C B A gnu) — check this, use real names

Power and ground were connected along the bottom of columns in a daisy chain fashion. Extra care was taken to insure proper connection, remembering the pad reversal each column. Initially I used cables with male/female connectors in the power segment. this left long cumbersome wires, so I replaced them with simple no-connector wiring.

The resulting mesh hangs together pretty well. I used ElementalLED’s silicon sealant to seal the ends of each column. It may be water tight but I have not tested it. I think it needs a second application of silicon before I’m willing to try. (NOTE: do NOT buy the sealant kit or end caps they sell. These are the wrong size. Adafruit has started selling some that are the right size)

The processor used was a PJRC Teensy 2.0. I gained significant comfort using these on the Logo Glowego project. They are a very nice arduino compatible board. I hounded the Teensy on an Adafruit breadboard with standoffs, and put the board inside a Sucrets box. The pins I used to create the socket for Teensy made it a bit too tall to fit into the classic Altoids tin. Fortunately, my parts collection yielded up an old Sucrets lozenge tin that fit quite well.

The LEDs strips draw significant power – about 1amp/meter, at 5vdc. While a LiPo battery would be nice and small, I only had 3.5v LiPos handy. So I opted to use a 4 D Cell battery pack that was in my parts collection. This is pretty hefty but worked well. I used a DC-DC step-down converter (Pololu) to insure the power 5vdc. I used connectors on both input and output ends of the converter making the output one with yellow electrical tape. The mounting screw holes in the dc-dc board were too small fo the scres I had (Spartkfun part link) so I wrapped the entire converter with black tape.

Programming the Teensy beyond the library changes was pretty simple. I used the Basic Patterns example from the Adafruit library with small mods to call the mapping functions. I was going to try using the more advanced PWM version of the library but the examples for that are single effect. I wanted to show off a couple effects.

The setup is quite adaptable. There is expansion room with the Teensy to support sensors to control effects (buttons, body motion, etc.) Adding a blue tooth connection to a desktop or android device would provide more effects.

I posted a quick note on the shirt to the Adafruit forum and they posted a note on their blog

Inside LED Tshirt

Jerry wearing Shirt

Teaching Arduino and Robotics at KKHS

I (Jerry Isdale, founder MauiMakers) am one of the mentors for the Robotics Club at  at King Kekaulike High School, Makawao, Hawaii.   The club participates in VEX and FIRST robotics competitions. There is a page here about a fundraiser held in early October 2011 for the club.

I started mentoring for them last January for the FIRST competition. It was a LOT of effort and I was very impressed with the work the kids did. The bot suffered a catastrophic failure about an hour before we were to ship it (nearly taking me and one of the students out in the process). However, the team managed to ship off the bot, minus some parts, fix the parts in the month between shipping and competition.  We went to the regional competition on Oahu and had a respectable showing.

Unfortunately, almost all the kids involved last year were seniors. This year we started up in August with almost a completely new crew (including my son Brian).  There were a number of kids interested in building a bot for the Oct 1st VEX Competition, but also about half the club did not feel ready to dive right in. We decided to split the club into two sections. The Competition Group would be our team for the VEX regional competition on Oct 1st at the Maui Fair.  The second would learn some basics.

The Competition Team worked very hard for the month or so we had before competition. We were able to visit Maui High School on a couple weekends before the event and test our bot. We had still had to rebuild our bot several times during the course of the competition day – once when one of the claw motors was determined to be no longer legal (old style VEX), and a couple as the motors or gears failed.  We wound up finishing the qualifications fairly well down the list, but were selected along with Baldwin High School (Maui) by one of the top teams (Kealakehe High School from Kona) for their alliance in the finals. Our alliance went on to win the competition!!  An article from Maui News covered the event and includes some pictures.  Here is my Flickr set from the event…
[slickr-flickr search=”sets” set=”72157627844761298″ descriptions=”on” flickr_link=”on”]

The second group, those not involved in the VEX Competition, needed to come up to speed on robotics, etc. We didnt have enough parts for them to use VEX or other competition robotics. I also feel that while competitions are good, they tend to focus kids on mechanical building within strict limits (parts, etc). I wanted our club to have a broader exposure to robotics and indeed the whole world of Making. I have six of the SparkFun Inventors Kits (SIK) left over from our July 2011 Intro. to Arduino Class. Hmmmm. Easy decision. We started teaching basic Arduino to the 6 club members not doing VEX! One of the kids had some exposure to programming, but most of the rest (all female) were new to electronics and programming. So far we are only a couple weeks into the training but the kids have done VERY well.

With the VEX competition behind us, the club is now working as three groups. Group 1 is the original Arduino class and is continuing on with more advanced projects. Group 2 is just starting Arduino. Group 3 is learning CAD systems (AutoCAD and Inventor), which will help us do some planning for FIRST. I have a whole bunch of arduino parts, shields and alternatives (eg 8 Teensy USB Development boards). The kids are excited about hacking a robotic arm and creating some awesome science/senior projects for this and next year.

This is a learning experience for us all. I have not taught classes like this before, so I’m learning to teach. Mark Ausbeck, one of our makers and fellow mentor, is helping teach the class. I’m looking forward to the experience and hoping we can grow it to other schools in the county. The kids from Molokai HS have already asked us to come over to their island for a workshop. hmmm… need funding! Any arduino experts out there want to come for a makecation and teach?

Intro to Arduino class, July 16 2011

Maui Makers is proud to announce our first Arduino Class and our first Visiting Instructor!
David Stillman, of Spark Fun Electronics, is going to be on island for most of the month of July. He has offered to teach a class using the Spark Fun Inventors Kit (SIK), a nicely packaged Arduino kit. Maui Makers has secured 15 of these kits. We are offering 10 for sale with the class, and will be holding 5 in reserve for teaching the intro to people who cant afford to buy their own kits at present.

For those who don’t know, the Arduino is “an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.” (from Arduino.cc website)

The SIK packages an Arduino Uno, solderless breadboard, 36 page instructional booklet, 12 circuit overlays, LEDs, a servo, a motor, buttons, switches, sensors, buzzer, etc. The class will get you started using the Arduino, working us through a couple experiments. No soldering or programming experience is required. You will need to bring your own laptop (windows, mac or linux) to work through the exercises.

We will be having follow-up meetings for attendees with various levels of experience.

For details and signup, see the class web page.