Friday, February 7, 2014

Chameleon Scarf

A few months back I was nosing around the tutorials on Adafruit and I saw one for a "Chameleon Scarf." This is a scarf with LEDs in it and a color sensor. You point the color sensor at practically anything and the LEDs turn that color. I thought it would make a cute Christmas present for my daughter Mary, so I made one.

Here are some pictures of the finished item. I apologize for the low quality of the photos, but I haven't figured out how to take pictures of LEDs. I hope you kind of get the idea.

I used a ruffled fabric that I scored at Hobby Lobby.

The way it works, embedded in the scarf, is a little computer, called a Flora, and a color sensor. Here is a picture. The computer is on the left and it is about two inches across. As you can see the color sensor, on the right, is about one-third that size.
There is a piece of bias tape (fabric tape that is used in sewing for finishing the edge of fabric, binding seems and stuff like that) that runs the length of the scarf. Along the tape I hand-sewed two pieces of stainless steel conductive thread. This is a very nice material. I used the 3-ply because I was going to hand-sew it, and because it's thicker and can carry more electricity. But, they have a 2-ply that can be used on the bobbin of a sewing machine. This conductive thread takes the place of wires in projects like this.

Among the modifications I made to the original design. I cut into ping pong balls and put one around each LED to diffuse the light. Incidentally, below my right hand, on the bias tape, you can see one of the LEDs, a dark circle with a white center. They are about 3/4 inch across. They are actually three LEDs in one, a red one, a blue one, and a green one. By controlling how bright each of the three LEDs is the Flora computer can make any one of thousands of colors.

Finally, here I am sewing the scarf together using Peg's antique Singer sewing machine. I must mention here that Peg gave me an enormous amount of guidance as I went through this project and it came out very much the better for her help.