Do It Yourself Switches and Buttons for e-textiles #passthescopeEDU #ecg2016 #edcampvoxer

For those who don’t know about e-textiles, start with this little explanation:


If you missed the post about series circuitry, check out:

Those tiny white hairs on the blue felt belong to Nina, in case you’re wondering:


Today’s post continues the use of the LilyPad Design Kit from Sparkfun Electronics.  The difference here is that the switches and buttons are improvised, as you’ll see.  Hence the title, DIY or do-it-yourself.

DIY Button:

The idea here is that, sure, you can purchase a button.  In fact, LilyPad Design Kit comes with a few.  So do the protosnap sets that I’ll post about down the line.  But you don’t have to use the manufactured buttons.  If you chose to do-it-yourself, you might even learn something.  Like, how a button works. Not a button that goes up your shirt; a button that completes an electronic circuit.  Here is what a big, felt DIY button looks like when it’s done:

DIIY button.JPG

My process was thus:

I did not try to figure it out before I started.  I just started following the directions for gathering the materials.  I love having materials in my hand.  It’s reassuring somehow.  I look at the pictures and see if I can imagine what is going on.

Now, sometimes this gets me no where fast.  Most of the time, though, it gets me intrigued.  It’s a challenge, to overuse a popular buzzword.  I’m not challenged to prove to anyone, least of all to myself, that I can solve the puzzle. What I’m talking about is more of an entertainment. Play with a purpose. An example might be playing solitaire with a deck of cards, or, perhaps, mountain biking by yourself. No one is seeing you, judging you, keeping score, or praising you. The challenge absorbs you until you are either tired or bored.  While it lasts, you just ride it out for the sheer interest of it.


Okay, no more small talk.

Keep in mind that the shiny metallic-looking fabric inside the button is capacitive, just like the thread. Watch the video:


Here you see the inner workings of a button.  No one actually uses a button such as this. It’s for play. In other words, it’s impovisational in a make-believe way.  Did you ever play house when you were little?  Did you ever have an easy-bake oven? Making a button like this is simply a way to play electrician without getting electrocuted or starting a fire.  You can wash it, by the way, but take the battery out first.

good vibes


On to the completion of doing-it-myself:


Time for a Pop Quiz (a thing that never happens in the world of making, by the way):

Why is it not such a good idea to use conductive thread to sew around the edges of the button?

That’s right: Because it isn’t necessary since it doesn’t need to carry a charge and may end up short circuiting the thread that does need to carry a charge.

well played

Think about tasks that challenge you without the accompanying sense of competition or seeking of approval.

What is it about a task that gives you a sense of accomplishment without anyone noticing whether you succeeded or not?

What does that tell you about yourself?

Next post: DIY Switch

Keep in touch!



















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