Bare Conductive makes non-toxic, water soluble electronically conductive paint.
Initially I was going to use it to make a paper battery holder to power a small, glove sized heating pad, but the heating pad prefers a wired connection (check out my experiments in wearables at Frankenglove). Things to remember when working with conductive paint: its really gloppy and takes a bit of practice to get a smooth application that isn’t too thick. On the positive side the gloppiness makes a good conductive glue aka cold solder. The open jar photos above indicate that its not a liquid like most paint. Both the LED on my thumb and the LED on paper illustrate its glue-abilities. It also comes in a pen-like dispenser that allows you to draw the circuit or colour in conductive areas.
The paint was used to connect the conductive thread to the LED and as an adhesive to keep the LED in place. The paint for the positive connection overlapped with the negative so I had to scrape some off to separate the two before it would work properly. It looks like a bug when its off, but lit up, at night, one on each finger – its pretty awesome. It can be powered by much more discreet and interesting sources than the simple 9volt battery pictured below (e.g. button cell batteries as buttons or jewelry which light up the LEDs when the threads touch the battery). This is what it look like on:
Using a piece of card stock its easy to create simple circuits.
FRAKENGLOVE: STILL ALIVE! (February 24, 2013)
If you saw my previous post entitled Frankenglove you’ll know this is an update. You will also know I started this glove after attending a Toronto Wearables Meetup. If you don’t know either of these things, scroll down and read Frankenglove: It’s Alive! All the cool kids are doing it. At least that’s what my mom says.
My first glove eventually quit working. I’m not sure why but my theories are: a problem with the way I wired/stitched the negative leads/threads from the battery to the LEDs or the resistance of the thread was too high. Or both. The circuit and lights still worked, as well as the contacts, but not together. I pulled out the stitching, restitched it with a lower resistance thread and changed the negative connection.
Originally I had one lead from the battery negative that connected to all three LED’s. Instead I stitched three separate rows from the battery each leading to a different LED, a little more stitching but it works more consistently. I added another LED and hid the stitching inside the glove as much as possible.
Soon the green LED wouldn’t always light up. The conductive material I am working with is iron on and the material slipped when I burnt my finger while ironing it on. Cuz I was distracted trying to save a baby from crocodiles. Not because I was holding the glove while ironing it. That would be stupid. As a result the material on the middle finger twists a bit around the base of the finger. I had to add more stitching up the finger with conductive thread as the twist was keeping the lower stitches from making contact with the conductive material on the palm. The piece of conductive material further up on the palm by the fingers was also problematic. When the thumb touches it the blue LED should go on but it would only glow slightly or not at all. I stitched into a different part of the material and that made better contact. I think the material had been perforated through a section when I took the original stitches out. As a result, the charge was not able to flow along the whole piece of material.
The battery is still a clunky battery holder and I was hoping to do something with conductive paint and material but haven’t gotten anything to work consistently. So clunky battery case it is.
While it seems obvious, through this process of prototyping it occurred to me that getting something to work is such a small part. Once it works you have to make it work consistently and that can be very time consuming, frustrating and demoralizing. Getting it to work can be very creative and inspiring, making it the best and worst part. Once you are successful, once the idea or project is alive it has to be kept alive, and that takes work.
Next projects include sewing a small box that twinkles when touched using the lillipad twinkler and make my other gloves self heating. The weather gods decided we deserved 15cm of snow. And then thought we could really use 20. I volunteer shoveling as tribute!
FRANKENGLOVE: IT’S ALIVE!!! (posted December 2012)
At the December 2012 Toronto Wearables Meetup (“a monthly lecture series and gathering of people interested in wearable technology, fashion, wearable electronics, soft circuits, electronic textiles, emerging materials, and other creative and innovative approaches to things that live on the body”) attendees were asked to bring a pair of gloves and some simple parts (or not, depending on what one was making) to create either a pair of self warming or light up mittens. As Canada is a Nordic country warmth and light are in short supply for the next few months (I’m looking at you Saskatchewan, how’s that -36 working for ya?). To ensure an adequate supply of both it is prudent to BYOWarmth or BYOLights. The self warming mittens require a small heating pad and the light-ups LEDs. I’m using the pretty but more expensive lilypad LED’s. They are much brighter and the colours more intense than regular LEDs which are gorgeous in their own right so don’t think I’m hating on the old
girls. I haven’t washed either yet but have heard they will survive a machine wash. I’ll let you know.
I wasn’t sure which pair I wanted to make so I brought the supplies for both. Batteries, holders, conductive thread and material as well as technical diagrams and support all graciously provided by the Wearables folks.
Toronto is in Southern Ontario which is one of the warmer parts of Canada and winter here is like lunch with the inlaws: cold but manageable. In about 2 weeks imma need my gloves to be self warming but winter’s darkest days are now.
It’s not too pretty yet, I’m calling it Frankenglove. I tidied up some of the hand stitching (wearables is all about hand stitching) and hid most of the stitches in the fabric. I have to do the same to the palm of the gloves as you can see below. An added advantage to working with gloves or mitts is that you always have a backup if you ruin the first one.
This project was made possible by the generous of support of the Chalmers Family and the fellowship they made possible through the Ontario Arts Council. Keep checking as I post updates and more projects made possible by their fellowship.