Tag Archives: Arduino Lilypad

KeKePad is an ATmega32U4-powered wearables platform

KeKePad is a plug-and-play platform that replaces conductive thread with tiny connectors and thin cables.

Like most Makers, Michael Yang enjoyed using the Arduino Lilypad for his wearable and e-textile projects. However, he discovered that conductive thread has a few drawbacks: it is expensive, it has no insulation and its resistance is quite high. Plus, in order to achieve a tight connection, the wires need to be soldered (which means that it becomes rather difficult to remove if there are any mistakes).


So, as any DIY spirited individual would do, he set out to solve this problem. The result? KeKePad, a new modular platform that’s 100% compatible with the Arduino LilyPad USB and can be programmed using the Arduino IDE. The board is based on the ATmega32U4 — the same chip that can be found at the heart of the wildly popular Adafruit FLORA — and features built-in USB support, so it can be easily connected to a PC. Like other wearable MCUs, the controller boasts a familiar round shape (which measures 50mm in diameter) along with 12 tiny three-pin Ke Connectors and 11 sew tab pins.


What really sets the platform apart, though, is its unique wiring and connection method. The KeKePad entails a series of small sewable modules that link together via the Ke Connectors and special cables, or Ke Cables, with crimp terminals. This eliminates the frustration often associated with using conductive thread. With a diameter of only 0.32mm, the wire is extremely flexible, super thin and coated in Teflon.


At the moment, there are approximately 20 different modules to choose from, including sensors for detecting light, UV, sound, barometric pressure, temperature, humidity, and acceleration, as well as actuator modules for things such as LEDs, MP3s, OLED displays and vibrating buzzers.

Intrigued? Head over to KeKePad’s Indiegogo campaign, where Yang and his team are currently seeking $2,000. Delivery is slated for April 2016.

These ballet shoes digitally track and visualize a dancer’s movements

This project is right on pointé!

Designed by Lesia Trubat, Electronic Traces (E-Traces for short) are a pair of embedded pointé shoes that allow ballerinas to recreate their movements into visual sensations using an accompanying mobile app. For those unfamiliar with this particular form of ballet, pointé refers to a style of dance where dancers balance on the tip of their toes using flat fronted shoes.


Equipped with Arduino LilyPad boards (ATmega328) and three force sensitive resistors, E-Trace records the pressure and motion of a ballet dancer’s feet and transmits the signals over Bluetooth to an electronic device. The smartphone app enables the wearer to trace the data graphically, view the movements made in video format, extract images and even print them out for later use. This can certainly come in handy for those ballerinas seeking to improve their choreography and hone their skills in a creative yet elegant way, which is reminiscent of calligraphy.


“Dancers can interpret their own movements and correct them or compare them with the movements of other dancers, as graphs created with motion may be the same or different depending on the type of movements executed and the correction of the steps and body position,” the Maker explains.


While ballet shoes may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the IoT, Trubat has set out to put a modern spin on a rather traditional art form which dates back to 16th century. Although the E-Trace system is merely a prototype at the moment, it could soon be implemented across all disciplines of dance and training.

Intrigued? You can tip-toe on over to the project’s official page here.

Napz is a biohacking device that lets you control your dreams

This wearable mask wants to make lucid dreams accessible to everyone. 

For many of us, getting a full night’s of shut-eye is quite the challenge. Between stress, late nights at the office, the kids or simply finding yourself unable to doze off makes getting the desired six to eight hours of sleep nearly impossible. But what if there was a wearable device that could help you get the most of out your limited time catching z’s?


That’s the idea behind Napz — an electronic, biohacking sleep mask designed to not only help you hit the hay but to induce a state of lucid dreams as well. This is the state where sleepers are aware that they are, in fact, dreaming and can control many elements of what happens during their nocturnal experience.

Developed by COCOLAB robotic engineer Octavio Martinez García, the prototype is meant to measure REM using LED lights that shine through the eyelids to stimulate you and bring you to the brink of consciousness where you can actually become mindful of the actions in your sleep. The wearable itself is comprised of infrared sensors, Adafruit NePixels and an Arduino Lilypad (ATmega328) for its brain.


“Napz is a wearable device intended to schedule lucid dreams and thus produce actual rest and better patterns of REM sleep. Its interface allows the programming, design, and analysis of dreams. As everybody is different the device needs to be calibrated to each individual,” Garcia explains.

Dream manipulation is a method commonly used to assist those who suffer insomnia, severe nightmares, PTSD and other sleep disorders. The idea is that, with Napz, users will be able to access controlled dreams much quicker and without the many hours of training typically required.

Napz was recently showcased at V&A’s Digital Design Weekend.

[Images: British Council Creative Economy]

This glove can translate sign language into text and audio 

Maker designs a smart glove that translates sign language from hand gestures into visual text on a screen and audible dialog.

In an effort to improve communication between people with different disabilities, designer Hadeel Ayoub has developed a smart glove capable of converting sign language into readable text and audio.


The aptly named SignLanguageGlove works by using several flex sensors attached to the fingers that record their position, while an accelerometer​ detects which way the glove is oriented. Built around the mighty Arduino, all of the collected data is fed into a computer program that identifies the gestures and displays the correct output.


Ayoub, who is also a student at Goldsmiths, University of London, has gone through a series of prototypes with each version less clunky than the one before. The original model, which looked like a bunch of wires attached to a winter glove, consisted of five flex sensors, an Arduino board and a four digit graphic numerical display. It worked by interpreting the user’s gestures and translating them into visual letters on a screen.


The second iteration was a bit faster, more durable, and featured smaller hardware. The Maker incorporated a LilyPad Arduino (ATmega328) and tinier flex sensors, as well as revamped the software to allow text to scroll on a screen, deleting the old and adding the new.


Her latest piece incorporates a text-to-speech chip with the majority of equipment sewn into the lining of what appears to be a Rawlings batting glove. She is currently working towards integrating a language translation function into the system, too. This way, when finished with her next prototype (dubbed ​Reach All​), a user will be able to connect to a smartphone via an embedded Wi-Fi module. The motions will then be relayed wirelessly and translated in real-time through its accompanying app.

Pretty amazing stuff, right? You can head over to the Maker’s Tumblr page to see the progression of her work.

Felted Terrain is an interactive wool landscape

This installation allows users to interact with kitted fabric in an audible, visual and tactile manner. 

Inspired by the rolling, mossy landscape of Iceland, Felted Terrain translates the shapes of a natural environment through the generation of three-dimensional, interactive textile. When installed as a piece of furniture, surface and sensory outlet, the knitted fabric is able to transcend beyond its familiarity as merely a clothing material, and lets users experience it in ways never before conceived.


The project, which is the brainchild of Maker and recent MIT MArch graduate Yihyun Lim, attempts to subvert the notion of felted textile typically used throughout the handmade craft world by integrating various soft electronics, computational design and alternative means of fabrication.

Lim used a circle packing script to generate a knitting pattern in Rhino3D. Once created, conductive thread was knitted together with wool yarn at the center of each circle to make capacitive sensor tips. Each of these points were stitched back to an Arduino Lilypad (ATmega328), which was loaded with a modified CapSense Arduino code. Meanwhile, an XBee module was employed to wirelessly connect the computer to the textile.


The received serial data was then transferred to a Processing script, so that every time a bump was touched, the circuit connects and translates into a sound and a sine wave graph. The size of each circle corresponds to the pitch of a musical note, which enables a tactile touch to not only be felt, but heard and visualized as well.

The Terrain was knitted using a hand-operated machine in one square meter patches. Completed sections were sewn together and underwent multiple washings as part of its shrinking process to create a tightly-packed felt textile. These pieces were then formed and air dried to retain the shape of bumps.


Intrigued?Head over to the project’s official page here.

This jacket can play electronic music

First, there were wearables. Then, there were hearables. Now, get ready for soundables.

Designed by Ylenia Gortana in collaboration with New York musician Birdmask, Showpiece is a jacket that functions as an actual electronic music interface. The garment, which at first appears to look just like an ordinary winter coat, is comprised of touch-sensivtive tiles that replace its typical down insulation.


The entire piece was built using various conductive e-textiles, which are arranged in a matrix of 52 handmade push sensors. Each one responds to a wearer’s touch by emitting a preset sound. These tiles consist of a layer of copper and silver thread, separated by velostatic foil. This enables the sensors to transmit a range of signals, and ultimately, gives each jacket square an on/off switch. Meanwhile, a pair of Arduino Lilypad boards (ATmega328) connect the tiles to a Bluetooth signal module that converts the data from touches into MIDI sound signals.


“The concept of Soundable Fashion [was] developed from the starting point of questioning myself if I can come up with alternative ways of presenting fashion than on a common catwalk. So I came up with the idea to combine music and fashion, which belong together in many occasions anyway, in one object,” Gortana writes.

Intrigued? Be sure to watch it in action below.

Which Arduino board is right for you?

Picking an Arduino is as easy as Uno, Due, Tre! 

Thinking about starting a project? See which Arduino board is right for the job.

Arduino Uno

This popular board — based on the ATmega328 MCU — features 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 6 analog inputs, a 16 MHz ceramic resonator, USB connection, power jack, an ICSP header and a reset button.


The Uno does not use the FTDI USB-to-serial driver chip. Instead, it features the ATmega16U2 (ATmega8U2 up to version R2) programmed as a USB-to-serial converter.

In addition, Revision 3 of the Uno offers the following new features:

1.0 pinout: added SDA and SCL pins that are near to the AREF pin and two other new pins placed near to the RESET pin, the IOREF that allow the shields to adapt to the voltage provided from the board. Note: The second is not a connected pin.
Stronger RESET circuit.
  • ATmega16U2 replace the 8U2.

Arduino Leonardo

The Arduino Leonardo is built around the versatile ATmega32U4. This board offers 20 digital input/output pins (of which 7 can be used as PWM outputs and 12 as analog inputs), a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, microUSB connection, power jack, an ICSP header and a reset button.


The Leonardo contains everything needed to support the microcontroller; simply connect it to a computer with a USB cable or power it with a AC-to-DC adapter or battery to get started. Plus, the ATmega32U4 offers built-in USB communication, eliminating the need for a secondary processor. This allows it to appear as a mouse and keyboard, in addition to being recognized as a virtual (CDC) serial / COM port.

Arduino Due

The Arduino Due is an MCU board based on the Atmel | SMART SAM3X8E ARM Cortex-M3 CPU.


As the first Arduino built on a 32-bit ARM core microcontroller, Due boasts 54 digital input/output pins (of which 12 can be used as PWM outputs), 12 analog inputs, 4 UARTs (hardware serial ports), an 84 MHz clock, USB OTG capable connection, 2 DAC (digital to analog), 2 TWI, a power jack, an SPI header, a JTAG header, a reset button and an erase button.

Unlike other Arduino boards, the Due runs at 3.3V. The maximum voltage that the I/O pins can tolerate is 3.3V. Providing higher voltages, like 5V to an I/O pin, could damage the board.

Arduino Yún

The Arduino Yún features an ATmega32U4, along with an Atheros AR9331 that supports a Linux distribution based on OpenWRT known as Linino.


The Yún has built-in Ethernet and Wi-Fi support, a USB-A port, a microSD card slot, 20 digital input/output pins (of which 7 can be used as PWM outputs and 12 as analog inputs), a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, microUSB connection, an ICSP header and 3 reset buttons. The Yún is also capable of communicating with the Linux distribution onboard, offering a powerful networked computer with the ease of Arduino.

In addition to Linux commands like cURL, Makers and engineers can write their own shell and python scripts for robust interactions. The Yún is similar to the Leonardo in that the ATmega32U4 offers USB communication, eliminating the need for a secondary processor. This enables the Yún to appear as a mouse and keyboard, in addition to being recognized as a virtual (CDC) serial?COM port.

Arduino Micro

Developed in conjunction with Adafruit, the Arduino Micro is powered by ATmega32U4.

The board is equipped 20 digital input/output pins (of which 7 can be used as PWM outputs and 12 as analog inputs), a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, microUSB connection, a ICSP header and a reset button. The Micro includes everything needed to support the microcontroller; simply connect it to a computer with a microUSB cable to get started. The Micro even has a form factor that lets the device be easily placed on a breadboard.

Arduino Robot

The Arduino Robot is the very first official Arduino on wheels. The robot is equipped with two processors — one for each of its two boards.


The motor board drives the motors, while the control board is tasked with reading sensors and determining how to operate. Each of the ATmega32u4 based units are fully-programmable using the Arduino IDE. More specifically, configuring the robot is similar to the process with the Arduino Leonardo, as both MCUs offer built-in USB communication, effectively eliminating the need for a secondary processor. This enables the Robot to appear to a connected computer as a virtual (CDC) serial?COM port.

Arduino Esplora

The Arduino Esplora is an ATmega32u4 powered microcontroller board derived from the Arduino Leonardo. It’s designed for Makers and DIY hobbyists who want to get up and running with Arduino without having to learn about the electronics first.

The Esplora features onboard sound and light outputs, along with several input sensors, including a joystick, slider, temperature sensor, accelerometer, microphone and a light sensor. It also has the potential to expand its capabilities with two Tinkerkit input and output connectors, along with a socket for a color TFT LCD screen.

Arduino Mega (2560)

The Arduino Mega features an ATmega2560 at its heart.

It is packed with 54 digital input/output pins (of which 15 can be used as PWM outputs), 16 analog inputs, 4 UARTs (hardware serial ports), a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, USB connection, a power jack, an ICSP header and a reset button. Simply connect it to a computer with a USB cable or power it with a AC-to-DC adapter or battery to get started. The Mega is compatible with most shields designed for the Arduino Duemilanove or Diecimila.

Arduino Mini

Originally based on the ATmega168, and now equipped with the ATmega328, the Arduino Mini is intended for use on breadboards and projects where space is at a premium.


The board is loaded with 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 8 analog inputs and a 16 MHz crystal oscillator. It can be programmed with the USB Serial adapter, the other USB, or the RS232 to TTL serial adapter.

Arduino LilyPad

The LilyPad Arduino is designed specifically for wearables and e-textiles. It can be sewn to fabric and similarly mounted power supplies, sensors and actuators with conductive thread.

The board is based on the ATmega168V (the low-power version of the ATmega168) or the ATmega328V. The LilyPad Arduino was designed and developed by Leah Buechley and SparkFun Electronics. Readers may also want to check out the LilyPad Simple, LilyPad USB and the LilyPad SimpleSnap.

Arduino Nano

The Arduino Nano is a tiny, complete and breadboard-friendly board based on the ATmega328 (Arduino Nano 3.x) or ATmega168 (Arduino Nano 2.x).

The Nano has more or less the same functionality of the Arduino Duemilanove, but in a different package. It lacks only a DC power jack and works with a Mini-B USB cable instead of a standard one. The board is designed and produced by Gravitech.

Arduino Pro Mini

Powered by an ATmega328, the Arduino Pro Mini is equipped with 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 8 analog inputs, an on-board resonator, a reset button and some holes for mounting pin headers.


A 6-pin header can be connected to an FTDI cable or Sparkfun breakout board to provide USB power and communication to the board. Note: See also Arduino Pro.

Arduino Fio

The Arduino Fio (V3) is a microcontroller board based on Atmel’s ATmega32U4. It has 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 8 analog inputs, an on-board resonator, a reset button and holes for mounting pin headers. It also offers connections for a lithium polymer battery and includes a charge circuit over USB. An XBee socket is available on the bottom of the board.

The Arduino Fio is intended for wireless applications. The user can upload sketches with an a FTDI cable or Sparkfun breakout board. Additionally, by using a modified USB-to-XBee adaptor such as XBee Explorer USB, the user can upload sketches wirelessly. The board comes without pre-mounted headers, facilitating the use of various types of connectors or direct soldering of wires. The Arduino Fio was designed by Shigeru Kobayashi and SparkFun Electronics.

Arduino Zero

Last year, the tandem of Atmel and Arduino debuted the Zero development board – a simple, elegant and powerful 32-bit extension of the platform. The Arduino Zero board packs an Atmel | SMART SAM D21 MCU, which features an ARM Cortex M0+ core. Additional key hardware specs include 256KB of Flash, 32KB SRAM in a TQFP package and compatibility with 3.3V shields that conform to the Arduino R3 layout.


The Arduino Zero boasts flexible peripherals along with Atmel’s Embedded Debugger (EDBG) – facilitating a full debug interface on the SAMD21 without the need for supplemental hardware. Beyond that, EDBG supports a virtual COM port that can be used for device programming and traditional Arduino bootloader functionality. This highly-anticipated board will be available for purchase from the Arduino Store in the U.S. on Monday June 15th.

Arduino AtHeart

The Arduino AtHeart program was specifically launched for Makers and companies with products based on the open-source board that would like to be clearly identified as supporters of the versatile platform. The program is available for any device that includes a processor that is currently supported by the Arduino IDE, including the following Atmel MCUs:

Participants in the program include startups like:

EarthMake – ArLCD

The touchscreen ArLCD combines the ezLCD SmartLCD GPU with the Arduino Uno.


Bare Conductive Touch Board

The ATmega32U4 based Touch Board can turn nearly any material or surface into a sensor by connecting it to one of its 12 electrodes, using conductive paint or anything conductive.


Blend Micro

The RedBearLab integrated dev platform “blends” the powers of Arduino with Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy into a single board. It is targeted for Makers looking to develop low-power IoT projects in a quick, easy and efficient manner. The MCU is driven by an ATmega32U4 and a Nordic nRF8001 BLE chip.


littleBits Arduino Module

The fan-favorite Arduino module, which happens to also be based on an ATmega32U4, lets users easily write programs in the Arduino IDE to read sensors and control lights and motors within the littleBits system.


Smart Citizen Kit

An Arduino-compatible motherboard with sensors that measure air composition (CO and NO2), temperature, light intensity, sound levels, and humidity. Once configured, the Smart Citizen Kit is capable of streaming data collected by the sensors over Wi-Fi.


This sweatshirt is changing the way you listen to music

Headphones are so last year.

Musical Hoodie is an interactive social experience-based technology that allows users to display their music onto a wearable canvas with LED lights that match the beat.


Designed by Wellesley College seniors Athena Kihara, Sasha Levy and Kelsey Reiman, this project creates a playful interface that spurs engagement between the user and their surrounding audience. According to its creators, the Musical Hoodie is aimed for anyone of all ages who loves listening to music, particularly those who use headphones.

This wearable system was conceived as a way to not only eradicate the stigma of people being anti-social because they’re sporting earphone, but enable users to share their music with others via built-in speakers in their pockets.

“While wearing earphones is perceived as wanting to be alone, in many cases it doesn’t necessarily mean so. Sometimes people just want to listen to their music without the intentions of shutting off the outside world. Even if earphone wearers want to share the music they are listening to, the surrounding people may ignore them,” the Makers write. 

Initially, the students looked to embed earbuds into a hood, therefore eliminating the need to carry a pair, as well as to include a series of lights in both the pocket and along the sleeves. However, after some tinkering, they decided to stick with a simple Hanes sweatshirt and move their lights up around the collar and shoulders. Reason being, “They [would be] more visible [and] create a nice visual design reminiscent of the embellished collar trend.”


Following some prototyping on an Arduino Uno, the Makers turned to an Arduino Lilypad (ATmega328V). With a little coding to enable the LEDs to flash in unison with the beat of the music, the team was well on its way to creating the ultimate social sweatshirt. The Makers sewed lights in horizontal lines based on color to help ensure that the conductive thread wouldn’t cross itself, but that multiple lights could be sewn to one output of the Lilypad.

What’s more, the team decided to add a temperature sensor to one shoulder of the pullover to enhance its interactivity. This way, when someone  touched the sensor, the LEDs would illuminate. “We wanted to invoke the idea of a shoulder pad or brand label that’s often placed on the shoulder, as well as continue with the idea of inviting others to interact with the sweatshirt,” the explained.

While merely a working prototype, the Wellesley College students look to implement a number of new features in its next iteration. These improvements include the ability to play music from a mobile media player, speakers and earphone jacks in the pockets, elbow stretch sensors that will dim or brighten the LEDs, as well as a peer-to-peer interaction between multiple sweatshirts.

Interested in learning more? You can find their project log here.


Building a Star Wars Chewbacca coat with Arduino Lilypad

Pop it like it’s Hoth! 

If you haven’t noticed by now, we Makers love Star Wars. And, just when we thought we’ve seen it all — from hacking 3D printers to play the Imperial March theme to Jedi-like drones racing through the forest to DIY cross guard lightsabers — another project has emerged from a galaxy far, far away.


A Maker by the name of “Malarky” recently developed a Chewbacca coat that emits the infamous Star Wars theme when its collar is flipped up and turns off when put back down. The wearable piece is based on an Arduino Lilypad (ATmega328) along with a light sensor, a small LiPo battery, a few feet of conductive thread and a LilyPad buzzer that serves as its speaker.

“As you can see, the circuit is pretty simple, just find where you will place the components on your sweater. Make sure the light sensor will be completely covered when the collar is flipped down, and sufficiently exposed when flipped up,” Malarky advises. “This is what triggers the music.”


How it works is super simple: If the light sensed is bright enough, the music plays. When the collar is flipped down and covers the light sensor, the tune stops. The buzzer can be embedded anywhere, however Malarky chose to keep it close to the main board so it was easier to sew.

The Maker then went on to code the incredibly popular song and light sensor. “You will need to download both the Arduino sketch and the pitches .h file, and load that pitches file into your sketch so that it can reference the code,” he explains. “Make sure and update all of the pins to use the ones you actually use in your Arduino. You may also need to adjust the light sensor sensitivity increasing or decreasing the “sensorValue” value, increase it to make it less sensitive, or decrease it to make it more sensitive.”


Perhaps, you would prefer a Jedi robe, a Stormtrooper suit or a Luke Skywalker tunic. Luckily, the Maker reveals that the platform can be embedded on any garment that features a collar and programmed to play any song using the AVR based board. With May 4th quickly approaching, this could be the perfect outfit to rock throughout the office or classroom. May the Maker force be with you!

Head over the project’s official Instructables page for a step-by-step breakdown of the build.

This DIY EEG hat can turn brainwaves into light

You can now make a beanie with lights that change color and intensity in response to your level of attention and relaxation.

Have you ever wanted to visualize your brain activity in real-time? How about move an object on a screen with just your mind? A Maker by the name of “wavelet_spaghetti” recently devised what she calls Illumino — a recreational EEG hat capable of turning brainwaves into light.


According to the Maker, she wanted her “simple toy EEG device” to be flexible enough to use the data yet inconspicuous to everyone else. In order to bring this mind-blowing creation to life, wavelet_spaghetti employed an everyday winter hat along with an Arduino and Neurosky’s ThinkGear ASIC module.

“The Neurosky chip is connected to an [Atmel based] Arduino microcontroller, which contains the software of Illumino. A USB adapter is attached to the Arduino, to allow easy access to the software from a computer.”


The Maker advises that any tiny ‘duino can be used as long as it features an on-board USB slot, such as the Arduino LilyPad (ATmega168V). To make the wearable device both artistically creative and interactive, she equipped the hat’s white pom-pom with Adafruit NeoPixel LEDs, thereby enabling the wearer to visualize their brainwaves in real-time as an array of colorful light. As the Maker points out, each of the electronic components were discretely embedded “so it looks and feels as though you’re just wearing a comfy beanie.”


The megaAVR powered board (whose software is accessible via a USB slot) converts real-time brain activity into light through the LEDs, which illuminate in various colors and intensities based on the mental state of the wearer, e.g. excitement and relaxation. The variation in colors and brightness of the RGBs can be manually adjusted via a small switch.

In case you were wondering, the brain-reading beanie also works simply as an EEG device without the decorative light show. If you rather not sport the cliché winter pom-pom, you can always place the NeoPixels elsewhere in the hat.


The Maker notes that one option for making beautiful “brain art” with Illumino is through the programming language called Processing, which will allow a creator to write scripts that create unique visualizations and music.

“Simply import the live brain activity data from the hat by connecting the USB cable to the pom-pom (or wireless if you make the hat with Bluetooth). Then customize your Processing sketches so that the levels of ‘attention,’ ‘meditation’ or different brainwave types control the changes in the visualizations (color, opacity, movement, coordinates, rotation speed, etc),” wavelet_spaghetti writes.

What else can be done with this magical hat? The possibilities are endless when it comes to the Illumino, ranging from writing words to controlling moving blobs. See it in action below!

Looking for that perfect winter accessory? Here it is! You can find the Maker’s step-by-step tutorial on the project’s official Instructables page.