Hey people! After 10+ years of making wearable LED and sound projects, I finally found a forum of my people
The latest project has shown me the limitations I’m running into, and I’d love to get knowledge and ideas from you all on how to do this better.
The jumpsuit has 50 dotstar LEDs on each arm, three rows of 10 up top, and then one row of 20 down the arm. I hand sew the leds with the silicone sleeve into place, and then use hot glue and wire to connect the end points. These then get connected to an esp32 feather in the top pocket, and down in a leg pocket I have my power bank that connects to the LEDs and controller (each has a dedicated usb line to the battery).
This had a few issues that I’d love to figure out how to do better:
- The connection points at each end of the strips was very brittle and not reliable (one arm only half worked most of the time)
- Sewing the led strips into the fabric is time consuming and makes it difficult to replace leds or strips that break
- I would like the leds to move organically without wires going everywhere, and ideally it looks halfway decent in the light (not something that looks like I’m wearing a homemade bomb).
My thoughts on how to make this more reliable, easier to build, and more fun to program would be to start 3d printing “pucks” or small pieces similar to motocross armor that have indents for the led strips, and a second 3d printed top piece that I can snap or glue on top to lock the leds in place. If I use a material like ninjaflex, then the parts can move and flex, but still keep the end of the strips well secured. I could then add small holes at the edges to use and sew onto clothing. I have 0 experience with 3d printing, so this would be a bit of a time and money investment, but I think it could work really well.
The part that I am still struggling to figure out, is how to make the ends of each strip segment more robust. One would be to solder and then use silicone end caps or the 3d printed segment with just 3 wire holes to keep things from bending or moving too much. The down side here is that if a connection breaks, it’s then hard to fix, but it can be relatively slim compared to a screwed in option.
Excited to play around with the pixel blaze controller and build some fun projects this year!