Illuminated Armbands

Posted in culture on April 24th, 2012 by Samuel Kenyon

I felt like building something physical on Saturday. Since I was going to be at a military fetish dance party later that night, I decided to make some chevron arm bands.

The goal was to have them stay on my bare upper arms. And illuminate.

glowing chevrons

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Post-Apocalyptic Costume v2.0

Posted in culture on March 13th, 2011 by Samuel Kenyon

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TRONtastic New Year’s Eve and Human Factors of Crotch Access

Posted in interaction design, making and hacking on January 1st, 2011 by Samuel Kenyon

I improved my TRON:Legacy-esque illuminated vest and added some illuminated leg cladding. Here is a photo of me from last night (New Year’s Eve):

Me at GALACTICA: A TOGETHER NEW YEAR'S EVE @ Think Tank, Cambridge MA

What Worked

This time the vest front and back worked without fail for several hours.  The overall design worked—everybody either understood the TRON reference or thought it was cool even if they had not heard of TRON (yes, there are many people who have no clue what TRON is despite all the advertising).

The leg cladding looked really cool, but it only worked for a few minutes.

leg cladding

What Failed

One point in the EL wire on my left leg right before the knee failed before I even got to the destination.  After a while the EL wire next to that one also broke.  Since the leg cladding was one long wire, this caused my entire trousers to be conspicuously not shining.

partially illuminated left upper leg plate

partially illuminated upper leg plate

So I had to walk around and dance with a bunch of cardboard strapped to my legs for no reason.

the broken connections

Human factors of crotch access: Another problem with the cyber trousers ensemble is due to rushing at the last minute I used just one long wire for both legs instead of two.  This resulted in an illuminated wire going straight across my fly, a clear violation of human factors.  After all, I would be drinking and that will inevitably result in needing to urinate, and hence needing to open my fly. Also if I wanted to illuminate my crotch I could come up with a much more attractive scheme than a wire going straight across.  So my quick fix was to cover it with a black wire shroud and push it against my belt, but that in turn probably made the strain on the EL wire much worse.

The arm band: I figured the tiny connector and wires on my arm band would probably fail, and sure enough they did.  I had added some tape as strain relief but it wasn’t enough:

broken wires (pulled out from the heat shrink)

Lessons Learned

Having dealt with lots of wires and connectors in the past on robotics and wearable computers, I knew that the connectors and wires should be robustified, however I ran out of time before the event.  Also, EL wire really does not handle flexing and pulling very well, so I will pay special attention to that.  Also, a more robust solution than having one long EL wire for both legs would be to have separate EL wires so that if one fails the other will stay illuminated (it’s somewhat annoying though to solder EL wire because you have to scrape the phosphorous off the center lead).

Also, making the cardboard attachments for my legs forced me to figure out how to make crude patterns.  Interesting, but certainly not something I’d want to do all the time!

So, next time we will see what else I can come up with to improve this getup before I get completely bored with it.

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Cybervest Beta 2

Posted in making and hacking on December 14th, 2010 by Samuel Kenyon

The next iteration of my Tron-esque human cladding:

Ready to wear

The glove light

The back

Action!

I wore this to XMortis (completely against the sub-theme, but whatever), however the inverter that I built was overheating and stopped working eventually.  I had two inverters, so only part of the costume (the back) was working after that.  And yes I could have all hooked it to one inverter but there’s still more EL wire to add.  Next time I will have a more robust solution…

See also post on my Science 2.0 blog.

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