Tuesday, May 30, 2017

7C-10 SHACHIHOKO - a sewable LED shirt

ONCE UPON A TIME, there was a shirt named Shachihoko. Shachihoko lived in a mailbox and got energy and life from the small battery sewed into the light blue fabric. This, dear readers, was our Maker Faire project. Using Lilypad electronics, we sewed LEDs into a shirt in the shape of letters; when you turn on the circuit, light-up letters spell "Shachihoko." 

Our inspiration for this enlightening endeavor was Shachihoko, which in turn references to Chihoko, who is… well, let’s just call him Don’t Ask. Don't ask. All you need to know is Shachihoko is a golden fish often found on rooftops in Japan. We have empathy for you. 

Okay, here goes with the design process: our main difficulty was making a circuit. As you may or may not know, a circuit is necessary for a light to light up. We slaved away for about five hours straight trying to make a single LED light up. We overcame this difficulty by actually reading some instructions and prototyping it with alligator clips, which someone told us to do, we agreed to do, and then forgot. Once we figured out how to make a circuit, our path was a lot easier. Or so we thought. Then came the next monstrous terror: the Knot In The Conductive Thread. The first time we sewed a letter, when we looked at the back of the shirt, it was a matted tangle of knots. The thread had tangled as we sewed, bunching up on the other side without our knowledge. Due to this, our circuit was short-circuiting with no mercy, and in a moment of weakness, we chopped off the knot with scissors. This only made things worse. We ended up having to re-sew the entire thing. 

Moving on from that shamefulness, some things we learned from the process were how to sew, how to make a circuit with the Lilypad electronics, and how to deal with stressful situations in a way that prevents brain explosions. To sum it up, this Maker Faire was a difficult and enlightening experience for us, filled with knots and frustration, but the knowledge we gained at the sense of accomplishment at the end was worth it.

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