Tag Archives: DIY Wearables

Bring your wildest wearable projects to life with Fiat Lux

The Fiat Lux controller is an Arduino-compatible board specifically designed for DIY wearable projects.

Sisters and entreprenuers Lavanya and Melissa Jawaharlal have already successfully run a pair of Kickstarter campaigns. You may recall the AVR powered Pi-Bot from last year? Hoping three’s a charm, the co-founders of Southern California startup STEM Center have now introduced Fiat Lux — a wearable electronics kit for students, teachers, Makers and hobbyists alike.


Fiat Lux — which appropriately means “let there be light” in Latin — is based around an Arduino-compatible, compact board specifically designed for wearable projects, ranging from rudimentary circuits to more complex gadgetry. For your convenience, the ATmega32U4 driven controller comes equipped with everything a Maker could possibly need in bringing their idea to life: RGB LEDs, a photocell, a buzzer and a pushbutton.

To add a little more pizazz to any project, Fiat Lux includes a variety of LED options: basic LED shines, a smart tri-color pixellite and even a 17-pixellite ring for more advanced creations. And that’s not all. The kit also packs a light sensor, a LiPo battery and charger, conductive thread and Aida cloth. Not only bounded by the supplies provided, those wishing to broaden their creativity canvas can do so by transforming any ordinary object, like a T-shirt or safety vest, into a flashy accessory or nighttime garment. A special friendship bracelet. A light-up tie. A dangling pair of earrings. An LED-laden bike jacket. The possibilities are truly endless!


“Wearable electronics are becoming extremely popular — smart watches, wearable fitness trackers, virtual reality glasses, and more! Now imagine creating your own wearable electronics,” the Jawaharlals explain. “Real learning happens by doing. By designing, creating, and programming their own wearable tech, students build their confidence and have a higher chance of pursuing a tech career. DIY wearables are not just for students — it’s for everyone!”

For the younger generation or the novices starting out, STEM Center USA offers two separate dialed-back kits that will help users work their way up to the more comprehensive set. The Fiat Lux will be complemented by a user manual, an assortment of suggested projects and video tutorials, so that beginners can familiarize themselves with electronics and other requisite DIY skills.


But what’s hardware without software? Makers with a little experience will be able to code their Fiat Lux in the C language using Arduino. According to the Jawaharlal sisters, they have also developed a first-of-its-kind, easy-to-use graphical programming interface for young students that’ll automatically generate the corresponding C code right there on the computer screen, making the process as seamless as possible!

Intrigued? Head over to Fiat Lux’s Kickstarter campaign, where STEM Center USA is currently seeking $30,000. Delivery is slated for March 2016. On another note, the duo recently appeared on the ABC hit series Shark Tank, drawing interest from several of the sharks and eventually scoring a $200,000 investment from QVC’s Lori Greiner. Safe to say, the Maker Movement has gone mainstream!


Create a color-changing sweatshirt with a potentiometer and GEMMA

Stay warm while looking cool! 

While we’ve covered a number of Becky Stern’s slick wearable creations in recent months, the timeliness of this one couldn’t be better for our friends in the Northeast as they battle these bitter cold months. Thanks to her latest tutorial, Makers can now easily create their own color-changing NeoPixel hoodie using a soft potentiometer, conductive thread, some tiny LEDs and an Adafruit GEMMA (ATtiny85).


Conductive thread is used to connect the potentiometer to the wearable platform board, which is sewn to the zipper on the front of the sweatshirt. This allows for the use of the drawstring to perform a sliding action. The sensor’s ribbon was divided in half, leaving two pieces: one for the pull tab, the other to slide along.


“The yarn in the sensor has a high resistance that GEMMA can measure with its analog input. The charm moves along its length, changing the amount of yarn connected to the input,” Stern explains.

Stern notes that a Maker could also couple a temperature control action of zipping/unzipping the hoodie with the LED color-changing effect. However, for simplicity sake of the demonstration, she decided to keep them separate.


With a simple Arduino sketch and stitching of the NeoPixels tasked with altering colors, you’re just about ready to go. The code uses the changing value of the slide sensor to adjust the blinking speed of GEMMA’s onboard LED. Slide the sensor and watch the LED blink faster or slower.

Before completing the project, a Maker must cut a small hole in the upper inside edge of the hoodie’s front pocket, and thread through a JST extension wire for the AAA battery pack. Store the batteries inside the pocket, and run the extension cable up through the front facing to plug into GEMMA’s JST port. And, voila!


Ready to give your hoodie some special effects for a cold winter night? You can find an entire step-by-step breakdown of the build here. Meanwhile, you can also check out some of Stern’s most wow-worthy wearables 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.

The Nerd Watch is powered by an ATtiny85

This DIY watch displays time in flashing LED binary with the push of a button.

From the looks of CES 2015, it appears that smartwatches will undoubtedly be a mainstay for the future. While a number of consumers await the Apple Watch to debut in March, Makers have decided to channel their inner DIY spirit and create a wrist-adorned timepiece of their own instead — without having to dig deep into their wallets. In recent months, we’ve seen some rather impressive designs emerge, ranging from the Arduino-compatible Tardis to the steampunk-inspired ChronodeVFD.


Added to that list is now Maker Sam DeRose’s latest binary device, aptly dubbed The Nerd Watch. Initially inspired by his dad’s Maker Faire project, the watch displays the time in hours and minutes by flashing LEDs in sequence to denote two 4-bit binary numbers. The wearable was crafted using an OMC Othermill CNC machine, and is based on a few electronic components — most notably the ATtiny85.


“The [tinyAVR] has a program on it which waits for a button press, and when it senses one it grounds several of its pins so that current can flow from +3-volts through the LEDs, lighting them up. The ATtiny has an internal clock, and so the LEDs are programmed to flash to display the time,” DeRose writes.

Time to create a DIY binary watch of your own? You can find a detailed step-by-step breakdown of the project on its official page here.

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.

The #HashtagGloves are a tweeting wearable — and are #awesome

If you’re like our team, then you are huge fans of late-night television. From the days of Johnny Carson to Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon, we love it all — which is why this recent project from a group of Olin College students certainly caught our attention.

Inspired by The Tonight Show skit featuring Justin Timberlake, the Makers devised a new invention: hashtag gloves. Rather than having to pull out their smartphone and access its mobile app, Twitter users can simply tap their fingers twice using the “hashtag” symbol and speak loudly.

“We were watching Jimmy Fallon and he did this sketch where they said ‘hashtag’ every time they spoke and made this motion with their fingers,” Maker Keenan Zucker told TODAY.com. “It was pretty silly, so that was part of the inspiration for the idea.”

Well, silly or not, we #LOVE #THIS #IDEA.


While wearables have received quite a bit of buzz in recent years, ranging from Google Glass to Apple Watch, analysts are anticipating smart garments (like gloves) to explode in the coming year. Aside from its mainstream applications, innovative DIY projects like these certainly showcase other ways in which the embedded technology can revolutionize the way we interact with our digital world.

The group first piloted their idea for tweeting gloves during a local hacker event at nearby Mount Holyoke College. Evident by their Twitter feed, it was a #SUCCESS.

“This is not a groundbreaking technology,” Maker Patrick Huston explained to TODAY.com. “It’s more a fun project we thought up for a hackathon.”

The gloves are comprised of conductive material on the fingers, while one glove has a current running through it. When fingers from the second glove disrupt that voltage, it knows when to start transcribing a user’s words through voice recognition, thereby formulating a tweet. #PRETTY #COOL #RIGHT?

Moving forward, the team says it is attaching an even smaller microphone and an [Atmel basedArduino board to the gloves and syncing them to the wearer’s phone, which will enable expedited tweeting on-the-go. The challenge is to keep shrinking the parts until they are all small enough to fit on normal-looking gloves.

“We still have a lot of school in front of us,” Zucker added. “We’re going to work on it more, but we don’t know how far it’s going to go.”


Do we sense a Kickstarter campaign in the near future? Or, how about at a Maker Faire near you? All we can say is that it’s a super fun, exciting idea that has certainly garnered a pretty decent amount of attention. The only question is: Will Jimmy Fallon take note?

The team also notes that the concept of tapping gloves or other items of e-texiled clothing to access the web or social media could transcend beyond the novelty territory, and possess tremendous benefits for those with disabilities or even the elderly.

“We don’t necessarily see the gloves as a super-serious invention but maybe more as a jumping off point for some other cool ideas,” Huston concludes.

Have you ever tried to send a tweet from your phone, but your hands are just too darn cold to type? Luckily, #THERES #A #NEW #WEARABLE #FOR #YOU.

With winter just about here, we forecast some hashtag gloves in your future to complement that smart hoodie.

Sole Searching is taking the pedestrian experience a step further

Developed by a group of UC-Berkeley students for their Critical Making course, Sole Searching is a shoe that reacts to the invisible space through which we all move.


Powered by an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4), the next-gen sneaker acts as a wireless detector, picking up the signals that pass through the “hertzian” layer of our environment, while displaying the names of nearby devices.


In what would appear to be something out of a sci-fi flick, the DIY wearable visualizes a multitude of radio waves that surround us, all while keeping us connected to our friends, jobs, and the world at large. The information broadcasted across these waves is typically so undetectable that we often times forget that it even exists in the public domain.

The project — which was recently featured on Hackster.io brings the “invisible” front and center through the use of an LCD screen embedded in the shoe, revealing information specific to that time and place. After all, radio waves are present just about everywhere we go. This ATmega32U4 based concept is a passive yet playful way to interact with the layer of space

Interested? Head on over to the Hackster.io’s step-by-step breakdown and get started on a whole new pedestrian experience.