Thursday, November 4, 2010

Finished Lightsuit

As some of my cryptic Twitter updates have hinted at, I've been working on a el-wire suit. Only 10 months early for Burning Man 2011!

At its core is an Arduino Mega, a Memsic 2125 dual axis accelerometer, and 24 channels of independent el-wire control. All this is mounted on a faux-military jumpsuit. It has multiple modes of operation, including a motion-reactive setting which turns the entire thing into a bar graph showing the local acceleration.

The el-wire control is based on the circuit described here. I etched 3 circuit boards, each with 8 channels of control. I've posted the SVG file for the boards here, should you want to use it. It uses the same components as in the link above.

And what does it look like? Something like this:

The battery held up for 5+ hours without any problems. A couple strands went dead, but I kind of expected that, given how delicate el-wire joints are. I'm hoping the failure rate will drop with time as the weak ones are replaced. It was reasonably comfortable to wear, though the el-wire attachment has to be improved. They were too loose and one on the ankle broke its stitching. I need to improve the programming on the accelerometer mode, adding some smoothing and non-linear scaling to the values. But not bad!


  1. I thought the effect was really cool, particularly from a little more of a distance (where it becomes a gestalt effect).

  2. I've seen a number of commercial t-shirts which have an embedded sound level display, but afaik they're all one-channel, despite being styled as equalizers. I'd love to see one that actually had frequency separation.