Hello! It's cool that this forum is here! My name is Wiley.
I'm working on a series of Hoodies with BlinkM powered eyes on the hoods. My prototype had 3 AA batteries in a plusea-design soft battery pack in a pocket, and a very simple circuit that was continuously connected across the zipper once zipped.
My main problems with the prototype:
1 The batteries were bulky in the pocket. I used so many to cope with the resistance of the conductive thread, which had to travel all the way up the jacket to the hood. Is anyone making prefab soft battery packs that put out 5v for two blinkM's?
2 The zipper switch had conductive thread tied between the teeth of the zipper, which ended up shredding after a lot of use. The new jackets that I am using have plastic teeth, so now I am using two pads of conductive tape on one side that are momentarily connected by the zip itself, which has had its paint sanded off so that the metal is exposed- (as in the TV B Gone Hoodie http://www.instructables.com/id/TV_B_Gone_Hoodie/ ). So, now I need to modify my circuit so that it will work with a momentary switch, and I need help. It's a simple design- two blinkm's in series with each other and a momentary switch that I would like to turn the lights on or off. Will I need to add a lilypad arduino to accomplish this, or is there a way to do it with only the BlinkM's?
For a battery pack that puts out 5V, this little deal from Sparkfun might work for you. It takes a single AA and outputs 5V. It's very efficient and will suck the most out of the battery. And you can use rechargeable AAs with it too. There's some similar, cheaper things available from DealExtreme, but they're harder to wire up. You can also run a BlinkM off a coin cell, but it won't be very bright, the colors will be off, and it will drain the coin cell pretty quickly.
For connecting BlinkMs, you might want to get a 4-position section of female header socket. This is so you can plug and unplug the BlinkM from your hoodie if you want to reprogram them. Use a dab of hot glue to secure the BlinkM to the header socket.
As for turning a momentary switch into a power on/off for the BlinkMs, perhaps the easiest would be to add a Lilypad and do it in logic. The BlinkMs you have don't have switch input capability. There will be a firmware update for BlinkMs to allow this though. If you or anyone else wants to be a beta tester of this new functionality, let me know.
I was afraid you'd say that I'd need a lilypad. That'll drive the price of each jacket up a bit... Also if I'm going to have a separate microcontroller in the jacket, I feel like it's a waste to have it just turn the lights on and off. How hard would it be to have a sketch that maybe cycles through different blinkM programs when you press a lilypad button in the sleeve? Either that or maybe I could include a sensor and some reactivity... like a microphone or something.
you can use an e-textile switch (conductive velcro, snaps, the sipper switch etc) as a momentary switch to connect/disconnect the circuit to the power source. you really don't need a lilypad if you don't want to spend the $$.
Well, the switch mechanism itself isn't the problem here- I have a zipper that will momentarily connect two conductive tape pads for that. The issue was that the blinkM isn't geared towards a momentary switch for off and on, it would just turn on and off instantly rather than toggling on and off. Todd wrote me off the board and said that he has an idea for a circuit that uses a cheap timer chip instead of an arduino to give me my on and off effect. I'll post it when he gives me the details.
As for the female headers, I suppose it will be good to be able to disconnect the eyes, but I'll still have to solder the ends of the female headers to some wire loops or something to stitch to the conductive thread.