Tag Archives: Becky Stern

Rewind: Oh. My. God. Becky, look at those wearables…

From GPS logging dog harnesses to MIDI drumming gloves, Adafruit’s Director of Wearable Electronics Becky Stern has unveiled some pretty wonderful wearable projects over the past couple of months. So much so that we’ve decided to pay homage to the LED-lovin’, gadget-glowin’ Maker by showcasing several of our favorites.

While the inherent versatility of Atmel’s MCUs have made our silicon a favorite amongst engineers for next-gen smart devices, evident by Becky’s latest designs, they have also increasingly emerged as the go-to choice for Makers creating DIY wearables.

Interior Purse Lights


Never fumble through your purse in the dark again, thanks to this fashionable yet practical innovation. The project makes use of Adafruit’s GEMMA Sequin Starter Pack (ATtiny85), conductive thread and conductive hook and loop tape.

NeoPixel Punk Collar


Punk meets goth in this one-of-a-kind cybergothpunk creation — a leather collar studded with five color-changing NeoPixels. The project is powered by the ATtiny85 based GEMMA platform — which can also be substituted by a Trinket — and will surely make you the life of any party!

Cyberpunk Spikes


As we continue to delve deep into cyberpunk territory, check out these slick 3D-printed spikes! Add these bright spikes — which uses a NeoPixel strip diffused by NinjaFlex 3D printing filament — to any ensemble. This project again employs a GEMMA microcontroller that animates the LEDs.

NeoPixel Ring Bracelet


Sure, you can catch the attention of onlookers with the latest smartwatch or fashionable jewelry, but how about adorning your wrist with an eye-popping bracelet instead? Passerby won’t help but stare at the various light patterns displayed on this nifty DIY bracelet, which boasts set of four NeoPixel rings along with the tiny GEMMA.

Tank Girl Goes Cyberpunk


Whether you’re a fan of the 1995 American sci-fi flick Tank Girl or not, you will surely appreciate Becky’s 3D-printed, LED-embedded Bandolier of Light. Similar to the aforementioned cyberpunk spikes, this unique getup is comprised of NinjaFlex filament, some NeoPixels, and of course, an tinyAVR driven GEMMA.

Laser Dog Goggles


What would a bright night on the town be without an appropriate getup of man’s best companion. Here, Becky transformed once-ordinary Doggles into a paw-some pair of cyberpunk-style glasses with a rotating laser. Using a Trinket 3v MCU (ATtiny85), a set of clear dog goggles and a laser diode as the center of the device, this invention will surely be a hit on the scene.

Light-Activated Pixel Heart


Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve, or in this case, shirt. The embedded GEMMA and light dependent resistor detect when a wearer’s NeoPixel heart is uncovered, and just like that, triggers the heart light on.

Superhero Power Plant


If there’s one thing you should know when it comes to Makers and DIY wearables, it’s that we love Iron Man! Incorporate a Tony Stark-inspired arc reactor into your next Comic Con cosplay costume with an uber-small GEMMA, laser cut acrylic frame, and NeoPixels to round out the handheld power plant.

Firewalker LED Sneakers


Think of it as a DIY version of those old-school LA Lights you wore as kids, only cooler. And, much brighter. Cheaper, too! This project — a collaboration between Becky and the creative Phillip Burgess — shows just how easy it is to mod a pair of high-tops with a NeoPixel strip and FLORA (ATmega32u4 MCU). A velostat step sensor inside each shoe activate a light animation with every step taken in these new DIY kicks.

LED Sparkle Skirt


Add a simple sparkle to your skirt or other piece of attire using a [megaAVR basedFLORA controller and accelerometer, conductive thread, and RGB NeoPixels.

Plushy Game Controller


Throw pillows? That’s boring. An oversize plush pillow that functions as a game controller? Now we’re talking! This idea was brought to life with just some conductive fabric, a FLORA board, and a capacitive touch sensing circuit to round out the electronics.

Wearable GPS Tracker


Make a wearable GPS tracker for you, or even your furry friend. Use an ATmega32U4 powered FLORA main board and GPS to log your distance. Simply integrate it into a backpack, dog harness, or whatever you want to track for that matter.

Pac-Man Animated Pixel Suspenders


This set of “blinken-braces” boasts 30 NeoPixels, each of which are sewn to these suspenders and controlled by a FLORA board running a dazzling Pac-Man inspired animation.

MIDI Drum Glove


Look like Michael, keep the beat like Iggy. Play your favorite synths by finger drumming! Stitch up four piezos into a glove and use a FLORA to transmit signals to your favorite music-making software.

GPS Jacket


Built around FLORA, this slick, megaAVR powered GPS Jacket reacts to your whereabouts with color-changing, pulsing LED lights around the collar.

FLORA NeoGeo Watch


Based on the wearable FLORA platform and an accompanying GPS module, the NeoGeo Watch can be tastefully paired with Adafruit’s futuristic goggles and GPS Jacket for a full cyberpunk/steampunk wardrobe.

Zipper Switch


Zippin’ awesome! In one of her latest projects, Becky explores yet another innovative way of turning otherwise relatively dull clothing into more fun, interactive attire. Take zippers, for instance. Here, the super talented Maker transformed them into a momentary switch for activating lights, sounds, and more using stainless steel conductive thread. As the zipper pull travels along the teeth, two pads of conductive thread are bridged, momentarily creating an electrical connection. This connection can be sensed by an Atmel based MCU, such as the FLORA or GEMMA, with an activated internal pull-up resistor.

If you’re feeling inspired to make your own project using Adafruit’s FLORA, GEMMA and Trinket wearable electronics platform, explore everything there is to know here.

Tank Girl goes cyberpunk this Halloween

Whether or not you’re a fan of the 1995 American sci-fi flick Tank Girl, you will surely appreciate this 3D-printed, LED-embedded Bandolier of Light design from Adafruit’s Becky Stern. Just in time for Halloween festivities, this cyberpunk ensemble will surely be the life light of the party!


The build is relatively easy, comprised of a meter-long strip of 60 white Adafruit NeoPixels, some wire and sewing supplies, and most importantly, an ATtiny85 based Trinket or GEMMA microcontroller.


The bandolier itself is 3D-printed in white NinjaFlex, enabling it to be comfortable and flexible enough for easy flinging across the shoulder in Rambo-like fashion. After soldering some wires from the NeoPixel strip to the Atmel based MCU, the lights are placed between what Stern calls the “3D-printed bullets of pure love” and a strip of fabric.

Think this costume is for you come October 31st? Find the step-by-step tutorial from our friends at Adafruit here.


Halloween-spiration for some paw-some costumes

Makers, rejoice! One of our favorite holidays is quickly approaching — a celebration full of carving, candy consumption, and of course, DIY costumery. Though, we can adorn our own bodies with tricked-out costumes, what about our furry four-legged friends? These two Atmel powered costumes from Adafruit should provide some Halloween-spiration!

Adafruit’s Becky Stern recently demonstrated how to transform a pair of Doggles into cyberpunk-style glasses with a rotating laser. The Maker figured out that with children and sugar-loaded revelers abundant on Halloween, lighting up a ground-level pooch was a favorable idea. Using a Trinket 3v MCU (ATtiny85), a set of clear dog goggles and a laser diode as the center of the device, this invention will surely be a hit on the scene.


A small servomotor allows the laser to move back and forth, while playfully recreating the scanning beams of our favorite sci-fi heroes. Intrigued? You can acces the entire tutorial here. (Note: Now, while being the ghastliest ghoul on Halloween is one goal, safety is another of paramount of importance. Before assembling this build for your precious pet, make sure you read through Adafruit’s safety guidelines.)

Whether a fan of the smash hit Doctor Who or not, we’ve got another canine costume that will have partygoers oohing and ahhing this October 31st.


Adafruit has also showed off a TARDIS-inspired sweater that utilizes a FLORA wearable processor and an MP3 music player module to emit the iconic sound from the show’s time machine, while NeoPixels are used for the blinking blue light on top to round out the TV prop. With the ATmega32u4 MCU based wearable platform at the center of the creation, the sweater remains lightweight for even the smallest dogs. Need a few minutes of silence on your trick-or-treat route? An infrared receiver is added to mute the sound when you want quiet.


Now, if you combine these two costume ideas into one Maker-approved ensemble, you will have the most haunting hound on All Hallows’ Eve!

MIDI drum glove keeps the beat with FLORA

Known as “FLORA,” Adafruit’s wearable electronics platform is built around Atmel’s Atmega32u4 MCU. The microcontroller boasts built-in USB support, eliminating the need for pesky special cables and extra parts.

As Adafruit’s Limor Fried notes, FLORA is extremely “beginner-friendly.” Indeed, the device is difficult to accidentally destroy by connecting a battery backwards, thanks to a polarized connector and protection diodes. Meanwhile, an onboard regulator ensures even connecting a 9V battery won’t result in damage or ruined projects.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, numerous Makers are using FLORA to design a wide range of creations.

Today, we’re going to be taking a closer look at a MIDI drum glove designed by Adafruit’s very own Becky Stern that is powered by the versatile Atmel-based platform. 

Aside from FLORA, key project components include:


4X small piezos
USB mini cable
  • 4X 1M ohm resistors
  • Ribbon wires
  • Glove
  • Scrap fabric

Stern kicks off the MIDI drum glove project by ironing out some fabric to match the glove, cutting four small pieces slightly larger than her fingertips and ironing a small hem on one side.

“Put your glove on and establish what spots make contact with the table, then mark those spots with a pencil. Thread your needle and double the thread over, then tie a knot at the end of the tails,” Stern explains in detailed project tutorial.

“Stitch through one of your pieces of fabric and affix it to the glove fingertip over the pencil mark with a whip stitch. Be careful not to stitch the glove finger closed! Check periodically to be sure your stitches only pierce the intended layer. Stitch halfway around the pocket, tucking the seam allowance in as you go.”

Next? Stick the piezo in the pocket, finish stitching it shut, leaving the wire sticking out towards the back of the hand. Tie off and cut the thread.

“Repeat for the other three piezo pockets, and put your glove on to double check they are tapped when you finger drum,” Stern continues.

“We found the best placement was not necessarily on the pad of the finger, for instance the thumb is around to the side and the pinky is across the first knuckle.”

Next, Stern solders the FLORA circuit, tweaks/uploads the sketch and adds MIDI support to Flora.

“Once your glove is functioning properly, it’s time to tack everything down. Put the glove on and position FLORA so that the wires don’t tug when you make a fist. Tape it down so it stays put before stitching,” she concludes.

“Use plain thread to stitch FLORA’s unused pads to the glove. On the side where all the wires come in, stitch around the wires instead of through the pads. Tack the wires in place with strategic stitches along their lengths. Remove the tape and try on your completed drum glove!”

Interested in learning more? You can check out Becky Stern’s full tutorial on Adafruit here.

Adafruit builds a GPS logging dog harness

Adafruit’s Becky Stern has put together a in-depth tutorial that details how to build a GPS logging dog harness using the Atmel-powered (ATmega32u4 MCU) FLORA platform. The project can be completed with conductive thread, so there is no need to break out the soldering gun.

Aside from the Atmel-based FLORA main board, key project components include:

Stern kicks off the GPS logging dog harness by presenting a circuit diagram that displays the following connections:

  • FLORA 3.3V -> GPS 3.3V
  • GPS BAT -> positive coincell battery terminal
  • GPS GND -> negative coincell battery terminal

Next up? Sew the various components, load the logging program in the Arduino IDE or Codebender and upload, paste logs into LOCUS Parser, copy the KML output into a text file and import with Google maps.

It should be noted that Stern has also created a brooch version of the above-mentioned circuit, adapting the design for fashionable humans who want to track and review their trips around town.

Interested in learning more? You can check Becky Stern’s full tutorial on Adafruit’s Learning System here.

Open Electronics talks Adafruit’s FLORA (ATmega32u4)

Writing about wearable technology for Open Electronics, Alessio Biancalana highlights Adafruit’s FLORA, a popular platform powered by Atmel’s versatile Atmega32u4 microcontroller (MCU).

“Adafruit released more than 100 tutorials and over 25 libraries for the Arduino IDE, so they [ultimately] decided to produce their own wearable platform. The cool aspect about FLORA is that this tiny [platform] is fully compatible with Arduino, so no matter the operating system you will immediately be able to bootstrap your wearable startup,” Alessio explains.

“If you have the Arduino IDE installed on your computer, and if you know how to develop software for the original Arduino – and this is awesome, because as you know in an open ecosystem the knowledge reuse is on of the most important things.”

As Biancalana points out, FLORA boasts an on-board regulator, making the platform extremely beginner friendly.

“[It also] has four LEDs: power good, digital signal LED for bootloader feedback, data rx/tx. If we are power users, we can reprogram it all thanks to a ICSP controller; we have 14 sewing tap pads for electrical connections and attachments,” he says.

“[Makers] can expand [the] board to create even more powerful wearables, or maintain easy access to the controller so [it] can be hacked in many ways, growing a strong community around [the] hardware.”

Interested in learning more about Adafruit’s Atmel-powered FLORA? You can check out the platform’s official page on Adafruit here, read about Becky Stern’s “Make: Getting Started with Adafruit FLORA” here and browse our FLORA project archives here.

Becky Stern builds a NeoPixel ‘punk collar

We’ve covered a number of cyberpunk inspired ensembles in recent months here on Bits & Pieces, including Mell Ell’s cos-play outfit, the NeoGeo watch, Kaleidoscope Eyes and the Flora-powered GPS jacket. Today, we’re going to be taking a closer look at a NeoPixel punk collar designed by Adafruit’s Becky Stern that is powered by an Atmel-based GEMMA (ATtiny85 MCU).

“Get your cybergoth on with five color-changing NeoPixels studded onto a leather collar,” Stern wrote in the tutorial’s introduction.

“The tiny GEMMA microcontroller can display endless animations on this fun funky accessory that’s easy to make with a little soldering. The GEMMA and battery live on the outside of the collar, [while] the NeoPixels pierce through the collar to be wired on the inside.”

Becky recommends that Makers kick of the project by connecting all pixels power pins to GEMMA’s Vout, ground to GND and the first data input to GEMMA D1. The data out from each pixel is wired to the data in on the next – and hobbyists can easily add five more pixels for a total of ten.

Next up? Installing the NeoPixel library, connect the NeoPixels to a solderless breadboard, using alligator clips to attach to GEMMA.

“You’ll need to change a few lines in the code regarding the data pin (1), type of pixels (RGB vs GRB), and number of pixels (5). From the Tools→Board menu, select Adafruit Gemma 8MHz or Adafruit Trinket 8 MHz as appropriate,” Stern noted. “Connect the USB cable between the computer and Trinket, press the reset button on the board, then click the upload button (right arrow icon) in the Arduino IDE. When the battery is connected, you should get a light show from the LEDs.”

If all the pixels are working, Makers can proceed to the next step: building the collar.

“While the collar is pretty durable, use caution in heavy rainstorms or really sweaty dance parties- remove and power down the collar if the circuit is going to get wet. Store your collar in the round, and don’t shove it in your bag or it might get twisted or crushed, which could break the circuit,” added Stern.

Interested in learning more about building a NeoPixel ‘punk collar? You can check out Adafruit’s full 
tutorial here.

Getting started with Adafruit’s Atmel-powered FLORA

Adafruit’s Becky Stern and Tyler Cooper have penned a new book about the company’s popular Atmel-powered FLORA platform.

Titled “Make: Getting Started with Adafruit FLORA,” the upcoming book details various wearable electronics projects that can be designed and built using the device.

Indeed, FLORA weighs in at 4.4 grams and measures only 1.75 inches in diameter. Featuring Arduino compatibility, the platform is one of the most beginner-friendly way to create wearable projects.

“This book shows you how to plan your wearable circuits, sew with electronics and write programs that run on the FLORA to control the electronics,” Stern explained in a recent blog post.

“The FLORA family includes an assortment of sensors, as well as RGB LEDs that let you add lighting to your wearable projects.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Adafruit’s wearable electronics platform is built around Atmel’s versatile Atmega32u4 microcontroller (MCU).

The microcontroller boasts built-in USB support, eliminating the need for pesky special cables and extra parts.

According to Adafruit’s Limor Fried, FLORA is extremely “beginner-friendly.” Indeed, the device is difficult to accidentally destroy by connecting a battery backwards, thanks to a polarized connector and protection diodes.

Meanwhile, an onboard regulator ensures even connecting a 9V battery won’t result in damage.

Interested in learning more about Adafruit’s Atmel-powered FLORA? You can check out the platform’s official page on Adafruit here and sign up for book updates here.

Report: Wearables to drive significant battery revenue

Analysts at IHS say the global market for batteries used in wearable electronics will increase more than tenfold in just four short years, propelled by new devices suitable for active sports and fitness lifestyles. 

Indeed, worldwide revenue for wearable electronics batteries is projected to reach $77 million by 2018, up considerably from a mere $6 million by year-end in 2014.

In addition, industry revenue will have grown nearly 120 percent from 2014 levels.

“Wearable electronics will be the key to sustaining the current very-high-growth levels of battery revenue in consumer electronics,” explained Thomas McAlpine, power supply and storage component analyst for IHS.

“The tremendous expansion in store will come thanks to an increase in the shipments of smartwatch products, wearable health monitoring devices and smart glasses—products geared toward an active lifestyle combining advanced technological trends in miniature computing with newly smart consumer imperatives in fitness and fashion.”

In addition, annual shipments for wearable electronic devices will reach an estimated 56 million units by 2018, fueling continued demand for the batteries that power these products.

“Of the total number of batteries expected to be installed in wearable electronics by 2018, lithium polymer batteries will take the predominant share, accounting for 73 percent of total wearable electronics battery revenue,” said McAlpine. 

”Lithium polymer batteries are typically the preferred choice as they are lighter in weight and can be manufactured into a wider range of shapes and sizes, compared to traditional lithium-ion batteries.”

Smartphone and tablet PC demand will continue to drive the majority of revenue growth in the lithium battery market for portable electronics over the next couple of years, with the combined shipments of these devices projected to grow 46 percent from 2013 to 2015. 

However, shipments will decrease from 2015 onward, and coupled with projected erosion in the average selling prices of lithium battery cells, growth will decelerate for the overall lithium battery market for portable consumer electronics.

“This means the emergence of new applications in the market is critical. Lithium batteries will remain an integral component for innovation in consumer electronics,” McAlpine added. “To achieve sustained market growth, new wearable electronics and other devices need to be introduced and adopted by the mass market, similar to what is occurring now in recently emerging product categories.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel is right in the middle of the wearable tech revolution, with the the soft electronics DIY Maker community adapting various Atmel-powered platforms specifically for wearables, including the Arduino Lilypad (ATmega328V) (developed by MIT Media Lab professor Leah Buechley), along with Adafruit’s very own Gemma (Atmel ATtiny85) and Flora (ATmega32u4), the latter of which can be easily daisy chained with various sensors for GPS, motion and light.

In addition, Atmel’s microcotrollers are found in a number of smartwatches and wearable medical devices.

Interested in learning more about wearables? You can check out our extensive article archive on the subject here.

Soft electronics with Atmel MCUs

In a recent ReadWrite article, Lauren Orsini notes that soft electronics rocked the spotlight during Tech In Motion’s Wearable Technology Fashion Show, with models showing off accessories and clothing that lit up, matched moods and collected or displayed personal data.

As Orsini points out, a lot of wearable activity is centered around companies like Arduino and Adafruit. Both offer wearable electronic platforms powered by versatile Atmel microcontrollers (MCUs).

“Building electronics with your hands is certainly a fun brain exercise, but adding crafting into the mix really stretches your creativity,” says Becky Stern, Adafruit’s director of wearable electronics.

“Sewing is fun and relaxing, and adorning a plush toy, prom dress, or hat with a circuit of tiny parts can make you feel like you’re some kind of futuristic fashion designer. Playing with sensors and conductive textiles breaks electronics out of their hard shells and makes them more relatable.”

Indeed, just like their IoT DIY Maker counterparts, the soft electronics community has adapted various Atmel-powered platforms specifically for wearables, including the Arduino Lilypad (ATmega328V) (developed by MIT Media Lab professor Leah Buechley) and Adafruit’s very own Flora (ATmega32u4), which can be easily daisy chained with various sensors for GPS, motion and light.

“There aren’t any hard numbers on the DIY wearables community, but it’s clear from browsing members’ projects on Instructables that this group is far broader than your typical collection of electrical engineers,” concludes Orsini. 

”Stern also noted that there are 10,000 copies of Flora in the wild, [with] the company shipping them worldwide. According to Stern, it’s simple. Make electronics touchable and watch them take off.”