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Unusual electronics project

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by amaze, Oct 30, 2014.

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  1. amaze


    Oct 30, 2014
    My 5 yr old daughter wants a tee shirt with a certain cartoon character, that lights up.
    Now instead of trying to buy such a tee shirt, I was wondering if I can make a simple electronics project out of it. Assuming, that I have the said cartoon character printed on her shirt, can I use a bunch of LEDs to light up the face and eyes. How do I power it, 9v ballery good enough? Can I also get the LEDs to flicker?
    Please advise and try to be as descriptive as possible. My knowledge of electronics is very limited.

  2. Gryd3


    Jun 25, 2014
    Depending on the shape, and the amount of light you want there are a couple options:
    This is a power hungry way to light things up, and depending on the LEDs chosen, can be a little invasive. If you are good working with small things, you could use surfacemount LEDs and some thing sewable wire to help make the shirt feel a little more comfortable. LED leads sticking through will be uncomfortable. Depending on the wire you use, this option could be washable. You should invest in rechargeable batteries, as multiple LEDs will use quite a bit of power.

    This is less power hungry, but can be attached to the shirt in 'sheets' to light up an area, or in strands as an outline. They require bring lit by a special driver, but will last longer than LEDs on a single battery. This option is not washable, and will not be as bright. This also has the downside of aging quicker than LEDs. (UV light will accelerate this, meaning that EL will become less bright as time goes by at a quicker rate than LED)

    Regardless of the lighting method you use. You can either directly attach the lighting to the shirt, or you could build the lights and picture into a 'panel' that velcos or snaps on to the shirt. This will allow you to remove the panel, wash the shirt, and reattach it. It also gives you a little more flexibility in wiring choice.
  3. Anon_LG


    Jun 24, 2014
    You can buy LED's with a pre-built flicker function, this would probably be a preferable option due to size limitations. I agree with Gryd3's suggestion of mounting the electronics onto a velcro "panel", safer not to get any electronics wet.
  4. Gryd3


    Jun 25, 2014
    Thanks for covering that... I forgot to address the flickering.
    As Lavaguava mentioned, you can buy LEDs that flicker by themselves.
    If this does not suit your fancy, you can buy small microcontrollers and program them to control your LED or EL lighting is any way you want.

    If you feel so inclined, do a search on the adafruit website for wearable electronics. They offer conductive thread and some breakout boards for LEDs and microcontrollers that can be sown into/onto fabric. This option is a little pricey, but at the very least will give you ideas on building your own system. There is nothing wrong with using regular thread and fastening wire to the surface of a fabric to keep it in place.
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