Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

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Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby DustHand » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:19 pm

I wanted to do something like this for 2011, but I ran out of time and funding.

My inspiration was this coat:
http://rgbledcoat.blogspot.com/

There are certainly more intricate ideas floating around in my brain than what I plan to undertake, but I have learned on my first 2 visits to BRC...make things as sturdy as possible, and use as much off-the-shelf stuff as possible.

The more stuff like this you fabricate, the more likely it is to fail in some capacity.

So...my take on the idea:

To get or have made a faux fur coat. Remove the lining, and cut tiny holes the size of the LED in the backing material.

Obtain pre made RGB LED strip lights.

Hot glue gun the LED to the back of the fur at each LED location. These are spaced 1.3" apart.

Once I get the coat, I will be able to determine how many strips I need. Each strip is 5 meters long with 150 RGB LEDs on it. The MAXIMUM number of strips I can use is 5, so I will have to space them accordingly. Beyond 5, I will exeed the wattage of the...

LED Controller. 12 volts, up to 120 watts.

I am not sure yet about how long the batteries will last. I have worked out cost vs recharge time vs weight vs discharge time.

Looks like I am going with some small lead-acid cells. They don't recharge as fast, but they are CHEAP compared to NiMH, Li-Ion, or NiCd. I have one on order to begin testing how many I will need per night.

So most of this is still in the planning stages, but I do have the controller and one strip of lights. I wanted to test the audio sensitivity before I went too far. I like the results I achieved. Here is a short video of my test.


I will update here as I do more work...
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby Zhust » Fri Jan 27, 2012 8:13 am

DustHand wrote:The more stuff like this you fabricate, the more likely it is to fail in some capacity.


Alternatively, if something you made fails, you know how to fix it. Manufacturer's promises are lies (unless they use concrete units/standards, and those are backed by independent testing.) "Waterproof" means nothing unless it's "waterproof to 3m", or better, an Ingress Protection Rating (IP-code) that's been verified.

Consider also that things like connectors and switches can be prone to failure from dust. Sliding connectors (e.g. RJ-45 or PowerPole) are better than pin connectors (DB-9, etc.) and pressure connectors (e.g. Apple laptop magnetic power coupler).

But good luck with that decision.

DustHand wrote:To get or have made a faux fur coat. Remove the lining, and cut tiny holes the size of the LED in the backing material.


I made a similar, also fake-fur LED coat. I cut the lining at the bottom all the way around and slid the electronics up inside. I have a string of custom boards with RGB LED's on short leads off them (5 LED's per board; 10 boards). The LED's use 0.050"-spaced ribbon cable that matches the pin spacing on the LED's; I trimmed the LED leads short, soldered the ribbon cable on, then bent the cable at 90° and potted the connection with JB Weld. The boards are interconnected with waterproof Category 5 cable, and the individual boards were assembled, all tested, then sprayed with "conformal coating" (a.k.a. clear acrylic coating) and potted with silicone caulk.

The boards are sewn to the inside of the coat with fishing line (nylon string, 5 pound capacity) like you'd sew on buttons. I cut small slits to pop the LED's through then held them in place with hot glue.

I learned that although the boards are thin, I can still feel them inside the coat, and it makes for lumps on the outside. Not too bad, and also considering the coat is a little small for me.

For batteries, I have an 8-pack of AA batteries for a total capacity of about 24 watt-hours (2500mAH * 1.2V * 8 batteries). The controller uses a 7805 linear regulator for the logic control and an adjustable switching regulator for the LED power. I tuned the switching regulator to the minimum voltage that would still produce a consistent white (too little, and the blue and green LED's aren't as bright, particularly at the end of the string.) When I run all 50 LED's at full white (e.g. 150 LED emitters at 20mA each = 3 amps) the power draw at the battery is only around 1 amp or so. Most patterns I run average around 200mA from the battery for about a 10-15 hour run time.

DustHand wrote:Looks like I am going with some small lead-acid cells. They don't recharge as fast, but they are CHEAP compared to NiMH, Li-Ion, or NiCd. I have one on order to begin testing how many I will need per night.


Don't forget to consider primary batteries. If you're going to use this a LOT, then rechargeables are the way to go, but if they're only getting used for Burning Man, then a pack of D-cells may suit you well. Alkaline D-cells have a 10 amp-hour capacity although you can only discharge them up to about 1 amp. I don't think you'll be able to get to 120 watts with any battery pack — a 8AH 12V sealed lead-acid battery would be completely flat in less than 30 minutes and that weighs 6 pounds.
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby DustHand » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:06 pm

Thanks for the comments, jaycerochester. I think I am going to end up with 6v lantern batteries, screw terminals, 2 in series. Inexpensive-ish, and don't need to remember to recharge.
Always will have spare switches, a spare controller, spare LEDs, etc. It wouldn't be the first time I had to solder on playa if something goes wrong.

The single coat has become twin coats...I am now making two. My friend in San Diego, who I will be attending with again, will have virtually the same coat.

It has been kind of slow on progress...attended a masquerade ball and used some of the LEDs and a smaller controller as a test for the party. A video of it in progress is here:

Ended up with black turkey feathers just above the LEDs...I will try and get another image of it completed.
And I imagine the mask will make it on the list for BM.

A good friend of mine has agreed to take on the coat-making as a commission. She does amazing work as a costume designer, and is relocating to New Orleans very soon.
I'm not spamming for her...I just think her work is amazing...
http://mermaidworkshop.com/

Finalizing the choices on fur, hope to order it this week.

More to come!
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby DustHand » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:19 pm

Turns out I had a VERY short video from the Masquerade Ball of the completed mask...



It may make some a bit ill....
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby 5280MeV » Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:12 am

Very cool mask!

I think that theoretically a pair of 6V lantern batteries in series will not give you 120W. I looked at the data sheet on an Ever-Ready and the internal resistance was about 1 Ohm. When you put batteries in series, you add their internal resistances, which means the two lantern batteries in series will have 2 ohms of resistance, and when shorted, put out a maximum of 6 amps of current. You will be dissipating 60W of power in the form of heating the batteries. Based on experience - I used to nearly short lantern batteries to do magnetism demonstrations - I don't think that the battery will catastrophically overheat - but I could be wrong.

So if you wired the 2 batteries in series to a 12V/120W device, with a resistance of 1 Ohm, what you would actually get is a current of 4 amps. However, the voltage across the battery terminals will be reduced to 4 volts, which means that your device will only be able to use 16W of power. 32W of power will be wasted just warming the batteries. At this heavy load, the batteries (with a capacity of ~12 A-hr) would really start to get fatigued after just and hour and a half or so, and your voltage start dropping further.

If you want more current draw from the batteries, make a bank with several 2-battery pairs in parallel. If you can get the current draw on each battery down to 0.1 amps, then the bank would last 30 hours before the terminal voltage would drop from 6 to 5.2.


I am not sure what would actually happen with the LED strips, since LEDs are very non-Ohmic, their resistance changes drastically depending on how much voltage you put across them. I imagine that they would turn on to some degree, but you would see very weird effects like them appearing brighter when a single color was activated, and certainly a pulse of brightness and then fade if they have been turned off for a bit.


Are you using 25m of LED strips just to get a relatively smooth look, or to be brighter than the sun? (both admirable goals)

I haven't ordered a roll of those strips yet, but I hear that they are insanely bright. You might be able to cut down on power consumption by an order of magnitude if you can somehow wire in a PWM dimmer to cut the lights to 10% brightness.
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby junglesmacks » Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:17 am

If you use the included driver that comes with the strips, you can also lower the overall brightness.

Remember too that the A rating is a maximum.. meaning when the strip is at full brightness and shining pure white (all RGB channels on). In practice, you'll most likely only be using a fraction of no more than 2 channels at a time.. and when further dimmed.. your consumption will be far less than the rated max.
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby VultureChow » Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:39 am

This is fun to learn about and research. I see SMD 3528 uses less amps than SMD 5050, though they are obviously not as bright. On the darkness of the Playa do you really need the higher luminosity?
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby junglesmacks » Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:42 am

No. It amplifies everything.
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby axel » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:06 am

Fur....love it. I made one last year, for less pain in the butt don't worry about removing your lining or cutting holes. Cutting holes will weaken the leather and it might look like rat bites. I found super long strings of LED chrisymas tree lights with battery packs, and then hand stitched them to the front of the fur, stitching down the cables underneath the fur to disguise the wires. Chances are if the fur is long enough the cables won't show, besides you'll be show casing it at night and nobody's going to see your handiwork. Its also an excellent beakon for keeping a group of people together as it can be seen from quite a distance.

Christmas lights were bright enough to find, unless you want a piece that's gonna last you 10 years go cheap its going to get ruined anyway.

Tons of used furs on shopgoodwill.com!

Good luck!
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby DustHand » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:47 pm

OK, haven't posted much, but a lot of progress has been made, and lots of testing too. The outer shells of both coats are complete, with some rough edges that will get finished when the lining is inserted.
The layout of the LED strips has been determined, (4.6 rolls of LEDs...should be close to 650 RGB LEDs!!) and all LED parts have been ordered. Here are some photos of tests with the lights and scraps of faux fur, plus a shot of the one strip I have laying under the fur. No holes will be needed, the lights diffuse amazingly well when just glued to the underside of the fur. Hot glue sticks exceptionally well to the inside fabric, and the lights shine through better that I ever could have imagined.

I am getting really excited!

Let me know if there are issues viewing these photos.

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Me when the coat was delivered. My friend Jenny did an amazing job!!

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Side view of 3 LEDs under the fur.

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Long strip sort of draped under the coat, just to get a general diffusing idea.

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8 LEDs laying directly under fur, no holes.

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Me and my friend, coats before LEDs. There may have been some drinks involved in this photo, so apologies for the lack of focus.

And here is a youtube video of the 3 LEDs glued to the fur, the center LED is through a hole, the rest are just glued to the backing fabric. It IS a little bit brighter, but not worth the loss of integrity and the huge amount of time to cut almost 650 holes! (I know the video is vertical and shouldn't be...)
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby Ratty » Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:13 am

You did a beautiful job on the coats, (with or without the lights). They are gorgeous!! Mine is all matted, burned, stained and well..........I guess I still love it like an old teddy bear.
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby junglesmacks » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:28 am

My biggest concern on this is the hot glue method of attaching the strips. At very least, make sure that your strips are accessible to fix in the morning and make extra sure to bring the hot glue and plenty of spare glue sticks with you!
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby DustHand » Tue Jun 19, 2012 2:38 pm

junglesmacks wrote:My biggest concern on this is the hot glue method of attaching the strips. At very least, make sure that your strips are accessible to fix in the morning and make extra sure to bring the hot glue and plenty of spare glue sticks with you!


Yes, the bottom of the lining will be Velcro, so the inside can be easily reached. If a section of LEDs are damaged, I can replace them in 3 LED segments. I have tested a small segment of LEDs on some scrap fur...the hot glue adheres very well to the fabric, and a small bead extending over the back of the strip really keeps it in place, but a firm pull away from the fur and it will separate if needed. And it is still very flexible.

Bringing lots of extra LEDs, a spare controller, plenty of hookup wire, hot glue gun, lots of sticks!
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby DustHand » Tue Jun 26, 2012 9:43 am

Quick update on the progress of the coats.

Coat #1 has all of the (planned) LED strips attached. Wired up the left front and the outline of the lapel. Hope to finish wiring it tonight. This is VERY time consuming!
What follows are a bunch of photos of the build, and a short video of the coat lying on the dining room table with the left front and lapel flashing random colors.

I am really pleased with how the coat moves with all of the strips inside. Once the lining is in, it will hardly be noticeable.

Once the coat is entirely lit, I will go back and run a second bead of glue along the edges and covering most of the back of the strip. This really makes it stick to the fur in my tests, and will hopefully reduce the chances of issues on playa.

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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby wh..sh » Tue Jun 26, 2012 3:00 pm

Holy #$%#!! That looks great.
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby DustHand » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:55 pm

Progress!! Coat #1 was, I thought, completely lit and wired last night, but alas, there was an area at the top/back of each sleeve that was too dark. So, tonight I added one to each sleeve...and I think it's done. Now I can start some battery duration tests, make a pocket on the sleeve out of clear vinyl for the remote control, hardwire the remote, and then (I think) it's off to my friend Jenny to have the lining put in.

Oh...I still have another one to build.

But it should go much faster, since I know exactly how it goes together now.

Anyway, here are a few more photos and 2 videos...one before I added the additional lights to the sleeves and one after.

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Assembly where a sleeve meets the front of the coat. Seams have been the hardest thing to deal with.

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Final strips are wired...time to turn it inside out and see!

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The coat draped over a chair.

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Same placement of coat, but with LEDs off and room lights on.

Here are the YouTube videos. I KNOW they are vertical videos...my case won't stand up on it's side, but stands very easily on it's end. Suppose I could take it OUT of the case...
Anyway...


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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby AntiM » Thu Jun 28, 2012 7:05 am

Wow. Bravo!
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby junglesmacks » Thu Jun 28, 2012 7:16 am

Awesome! Congrats!


Welcome to the hiiiiiiiiighly addicting world of LEDs. Can't wait to see what next year brings. It's always the second year that gets ya.. :wink:


One thing you're definitely fighting here is the crazy battery drain with something like that. That's a LOT of LEDs to be lighting at one time.. not to mention the current requirements of everything. How many meters is that? Do you have everything hooked up as one long continuous string?

Something you might think about doing for next year is sequencing things somehow. That way, you're getting all the lights.. but not illuminating them all at one time. For my clothing project, I'm using 2,240 LEDs.. but at one time only 280 are lit up. This allows me to use a much smaller/lightweight battery pack.. 12 X AA batteries.. and they last multiple nights. If you're curious, here's the link.. viewtopic.php?t=56014&p=845570
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby DustHand » Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:38 am

Thanks junglesmacks.

This is my first completely wearable led project. Last year I added a programmable led ground effects kit to my bike...it was very simple but very effective. Lots of positive comments.

I also had a Darth Vader helmet to which I added rings of LEDs around the eyes. Looked cool, but completely unwearable for more than 15 minutes at a time.

The first year (this will be my third trip) was mostly just battery powered led lights strung to the spokes of the bike wheels and lots of cheap blinky shit from china.

I have some really powerful battery belt packs for TV cameras in the field. They have a charger built in and contain 24 D size NiCad batteries. One needs to be re-celled for sure, but if it runs all night it will be worth it. They are rapid chargers...usually a full charge in ~2 hours. I also have a sealed lead acid gel cell to see how that lasts, and a pair of 6 volt lantern batteries to test as well.

The setting in the video is a fade function. The lights are on all the time in some varying level of rgb. The setting I intend to use mostly is an audio sensing function. With no audio, they are off. They pulse with the music and randomly shift colors. The current draw on this setting is much lower than the fade setting in the videos, and IMHO, much more dramatic.

The total number of meters of led strips is about 23. There are three feeds directly from the controller, which is rated for about 28 meters of lights. The load is pretty even among the different runs.

I ran it last night on the lead acid that hadn't been charged fully for 3 months and has been used for testing a lot. It ran for 3 hours and got down to about 9.5 volts. Everything still worked...it got dimmer, but stayed lit. Going to give it a proper charge and see how it does. Running a lead acid to zero is bad, but I think the controller will shut down around 9 volts. I plan to test this as well.

I am very happy with the durability of the coat...the initial adhesion with the hot glue is great for the layout and wiring, and where I have gone back over the back of the strips, solder joints and hookup wire, essentially potting all of the connections and wire. I did a bunch of testing with another strip of LEDs and scrap fur...it seems to be quite durable. And with the glue on the front, back and all connections, the only electronics exposed is the controller, and that just has a few holes for the ir remote and the built in mic. Since that controller will end up in an inside pocket, and I have a spare, I think it should be ok.
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby junglesmacks » Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:07 am

Wait.. even though the controller is rated for 28 meters, IRC those strips aren't rated for that much current...??? That's sucking 23 meters of current through that first strips.. which will be getting hammered.. and may fry the traces. You may want to look into having multiple sources of power feed instead of one long chain. Also, if something happens to the first part.. the whole thing goes out.. like a Christmas tree light string..
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby DustHand » Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:41 am

3 home runs to controller. Strips are rated at 10 meter runs. Mine are all less.
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby junglesmacks » Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:50 pm

Ok cool.. you're golden then. Only main issue left is battery life/drain.
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby DustHand » Thu Jun 28, 2012 7:07 pm

junglesmacks wrote:Ok cool.. you're golden then. Only main issue left is battery life/drain.


I get the feeling we come from similar walks of life.
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby junglesmacks » Fri Jun 29, 2012 1:03 pm

DustHand wrote:
junglesmacks wrote:Ok cool.. you're golden then. Only main issue left is battery life/drain.


I get the feeling we come from similar walks of life.


:lol:

Which walk of life would that be? Curious.
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby DustHand » Sun Jul 01, 2012 5:25 am

I'm the Chief Engineer for a radio group. Lots of electronics, component level troubleshooting, etc. Saw your bench in the photos of your post...looks like you may do something similar.
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby junglesmacks » Sun Jul 01, 2012 7:13 am

Ah.. that.

Actually, I fell in love so much with these blinky things that after the 2011 burn my mind went nuts with them and I'm in the process of starting an entire company and filing patent applications. Digital lighting and the possibilities that lie within fascinate me. Such pure color out of these things.. it's so beautiful.

I like to make stuff, too. :D
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby inthecolumbiagorge » Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:47 am

Dusthand...you have inspired my whole camp and we are now working on our own LED setups for clothing, MV and much more. Thanks for the photos which put it more in perspective and encourage us that it really is not rocket science to manage this:-)
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby kiss-o-matic » Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:09 pm

junglesmacks wrote:Ah.. that.

Actually, I fell in love so much with these blinky things that after the 2011 burn my mind went nuts with them and I'm in the process of starting an entire company and filing patent applications. Digital lighting and the possibilities that lie within fascinate me. Such pure color out of these things.. it's so beautiful.

I like to make stuff, too. :D


I just busted my cherry w/ the Adafruit LED belt kit last week. Bad idea... I'm already thinking of ways to light up my bicycle, and that's just for means of transportation.... nothing to do w/ the Playa. One more thing to blow money and time on. :|
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby junglesmacks » Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:14 pm

You're telling me. I did the math today and between my light suit and project gifts for 3 other people, I've officially hand soldered 4,550 LEDs and 910 resistors in the last 2 months.
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Re: Building an LED / Faux Fur Coat

Postby International Incident » Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:22 pm

Hey DustHand, I'm sorry if you have already posted this but can tell me where you got the LED strips?

Many thanks
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