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Soft Circuit Blocks

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finished soft circuit block

A few months ago I was introduced by my colleagues in MAKESHOP to the idea of using conductive thread to sew a circuit.  The concept is simple; instead of using electrical wires to connect your components and power sources you use a conductive type of thread.  This allows you to attach your electrical components to fabric.  This is a new way of exploring and understanding circuitry.  A sewn or soft circuit may, in some ways, be a way to introduce certain audiences to the world of electronics.  For me this is a new way of thinking that will lead to new prototype opportunities.  Essentially, soft circuits are an excuse for me to try something new…to make something new.

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Prepared fabric pieces

My first project using this electronic textile technique is to produce a set of “soft” circuit blocks.  I made an attempt to combine our traditional wooden circuit blocks with sewing.  I ended up creating some adorable circuit block pillows.  To connect the blocks together I used strips of fabric with conductive thread sewn from one end to another.  The connection points are held together by magnets sewn into the fabric “wires” and the blocks.

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sewing down wires and attaching conductive thread

These soft circuit blocks were not the easiest things to make.  There were no instructions or order of operations to follow.  I made a lot of mistakes throughout this process.  You essentially encounter all of the problems of sewing a project coupled with all of the problems of an electronics project.

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battery clip attached to fabric

In the end, the blocks worked.  But there are definitely improvements that can still be made.  You can find out more about sewn circuitry or “E-Textiles” by simply searching online.  I would recommend this type of project to anyone who has an interest in both sewing and electronics.  There can be some struggles throughout the way but the experimentation and learning that comes with a project like this is very rewarding.

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spool of conductive thread and power source block in progress

 

-Kevin

Kevin is a teacher by trade. He loves dinosaurs, sloths and magnets.

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