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E-Textile Meet-Up

Lynne Bruning, friend of SparkFun and E-Textile expert, joins us for a guest post.

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Today we have a guest post from our friend Lynne Bruning, E-Textile master:

Last week I embarked on a hasty trip to Portland to see Rose City Vaudeville, visit a very pregnant girlfriend and size-up the Stump Town geek factor.

Within a couple of hours I found cheap airfare, called my friend and blindly emailed the Portland Dorkbot, home of the Teensy++. They agreed to host a free E-Textile meet-up at the BrainSilo hacker space on Friday night. With only a few days notice, very little planning and a rainy evening, I anticipated a few friends, a six pack of beer and a couple of curious inventors. If I had known it would be standing room only with about 30 artists, hackers and researchers I would have thought twice about speaking. Seriously, ‘this’ was my holiday? Fortunately - they brought PBR, a space heater, great projects and a sense of humor.

I brought samples of conductive fabric and threads, Lilypads and Aniomagic Schemers, shared sewing tricks and talked about e-textiles, adaptive technology and the best blogs to follow the wearable computing trends. Monty asked about the dangers of lithium batteries and we contemplated destroying one. Loki discussed the semantics of ‘eTextiles’, ‘wearable computers’, ‘smart clothing’ and ‘glamtronics’ yet none of us came to a conclusion for accurate terminology.

Shannon Henry brought her Skirt Full of Stars - a Lilypad, accelerometer and fiber optic confection.

Janna from Third Brain Studio shared her physical therapy LED project that motivates a patient to complete their physical therapy through LEDs.

Amy Johnston arrived fashionably late, however she offered up a fresh pomegranate and a project I was super excited to learn more about. Hidden Agendas is a necklace composed of 45 RFID tags that are programmed to display an image, quote, or question that address the topic of tracking, surveillance and identity. The necklace is currently on display at the Science of Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh.

And a special shout out to members of Makers Local 256 from Huntsville, Alabama who took time out of their busy travel schedule to attend the meeting and invite me to their hackerspace for some southern hospitality. I think that means moonshine and a pig roast!

Portland, you impress me with your desire to foster a community of creative thinkers. Your food carts, fashion and brew pubs. And most of all your ability to embrace innovation, especially on short notice. I’ll be back for more, until then please keep the beer cold and the BrainSilo warm.

Comments 10 comments

  • Any chance you could share a few of those websites to keep an eye on, for the soft circuit shenanigans? I know of a few (How To Get What You Want, I Heart Switch, etc. and I've lost the link to Soft Circuit Saturday) but more would be great!

    • Blogs I follow:<br />
      <br />
      Talk2MyShirt<br />
      http://www.talk2myshirt.com/blog/<br />
      <br />
      Fashioning Technology<br />
      http://www.fashioningtech.com/<br />
      <br />
      Computational Textiles<br />
      http://computationaltextiles.blogspot.com/<br />
      <br />
      How To Get What You Want<br />
      http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/<br />
      <br />
      Institute for Unstable Media<br />
      http://www.v2.nl/<br />
      <br />
      Soft Circuit Saturdays - how to projects<br />
      http://softcircuitsaturdays.com/<br />
      <br />
      LillyPond - craft project bb
      Do you have one to add to the list? <br />
      <br />

  • @Bodger I look forward to your power solution!

  • Nice to see E-textiles are getting bigger (or smaller for that matter) & better!

  • As for the dangers of lithium batteries, I've been reading about lithium iron phosphate (AKA LiFeO4) batteries, which are apparently much less dangerous, and offer more charge/discharge cycles. Accordingly, I picked up a couple cells and am now designing a charger around the MCP73827 chip. I plan to make the board design freely available and maybe even sell 'em on Sparkfun.

    • Are you sure that the MCP73827 chip can be used for LiFePO4? LiFeP04 should only be charged up to 3.6V, where as the MCP73827 chip charges up to 4.1 or 4.2V... I've been looking for a cheap LiFePO4 charger chip that isn't too small, with no luck...<br />
      <br />
      - Steve

      • I don't know the details but you generally shouldn't use LiPo charges with LiFePO4 batteries.

        • You cannot charge LiFeO4 batteries with chargers designed for typical metal oxide or spinel cathode batteries. They have different voltages and charge characteristics. If a typical Li-ion battery charger is used the cells will over charged and be damaged/destroyed.

    • aka LiFePO4

      • I have been using the Tenergy Li-Ion RCR123A 3.0V 750mAh LiFePO4 Rechargeable Battery in an application where weight, size and safety were the prime selection criteria. I emphasize safety because 'normal chemistry' LiIon batteries misuse can result in some spectacular fireworks. The user of these batteries is a consumer Vs an engineering type. <br />
        <br />
        I chose these LiFePO4 for their intrinsic safety. I am also using the Tenergy charger recommended. So far everthing is working fine, and I'm not expecting any problems. Another manufactures charger would also work providing it met the RCR123A charge cut off voltage of 3.6V.<br />
        <br />

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