Studio Contrechoc

art & textile & technology entries

Je suis – project

From the “Je suis Charlie” quick hack ( after quite a lot of modifications, this post provides some documentation of the “Je suis” project.

The project name has changed from “Je suis Charlie” to “Je suis”. In the idea of defending our “sacred” European civilization by joining in with the public outcry around the events in Paris this Januari there are too many issues – if you think about it.

Engagement is tempting but in the end individuality and doubt get the upper hand. Do we defend our freedom of speech and cartoons by necessarily offending others? On the other hand do some killer madmans – probably with some brain defects – defend their civilization by taking a gun and shooting around? Neither seems likely.


Therefore the essential “Je suis” is retained. This is an enormous shift in meaning!

Not the “I am because I think”, just the “I am”. Whatever that “I” is – whatever “being” is. Thinking closely to a text always dissolves the meaning. Individuality, supposedly developed during what we call the Renaissance is diminished paradoxically by all the “sharing” and copy pasting of the Web 2.0 and “social media” anyway.

Back to the project.

Temporarily showing “Je suis” is funny because this is the way thinking about individuality or the “I” works. Most of the time you just don’t think about it, sometimes it pops up. This voice inside our head, is it the “I”? And even when it is, why does it think it is different from  “the others”. Better? Worse? If the “I” pops up, it is only confusion. You seem to be “a thinker” if you state a blunt theory about this confusion, like “I think therefore I am” or “Sein und Zeit”. But how can just one voice inside a brain superimpose a static local idea on this evolving humanity of milliards of other voices?

The shift in meaning retained the idea of “content”, which is lacking most of the time in wearables. Combining design and interaction is already difficult enough!

So the “Je suis Charlie” flat 3D prints were replaced by “Je suis” 3D prints. In the middle the two hands, reference to the hands of Michelangelo…but in an 8 bit version! Which seems appropriate for our primitive understanding of the “I” and being.

The cord and the clips were discarded. The clips provided weight, needed for getting the plates down again. With just a cord the plates where not pulled down. The solution was to use a string of beads. This necklace is also a “normal” accessoire used in combination with this type of dress.

To pull the plates up, some mechanical problems ad to be solved. The part had to be attached to the dress to give it a rotation point – there was a black slip providing for the necessary frimness under the fragile upper layer of this party dress. And there had to be some distance from the end of the plate that is to be lifted to get an “arm” to work with. This was done with a small part 3D printed:

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The angle to the horizontal and the grip on the beads of the neacklace proved essential for a proper lifting.

At the back the electronic was fitted to an acrylic transarent plate with two holders over the shoulders: (this part will be renewed by a shape done with the lasercutter)

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The electronics remained the same, there is a distance sensor which triggers lift of the plates by a stepper motor at the back. For presentations there is a special button for immediate action.

The beads were making the lifting a big job for the steppermotor, so the voltage for this motor was increased to 7.5V, two lipo’s in series. The AT328 is protected by a 3.3V Voltage regulator.

Most of the wearables hide the electronics. In this project about “je suis” it seems right to show the electronics, although on the back. You can watch the stepper motor pull physically at a cord to reveal the “content”.

A small demo movie sketch can be found here:

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Victory over the Sun – (sketch version)


This wearable is part of a research into energy harvesting, which can be found here: (Slow Raspberry pi server!)

The purpose of this wearable is to compare two sources of energy, not just showing a charging wearable.


The title of this project has changed a few times:

  • 1. Not another solar dress
  • 2. Energy battle dress
  • 3. Victory over the Sun

The first title is indicating that this project is not another mobile phone charging wearable. There is a solar panel, but also a hand crank device in the dress. But it is not about charging anything, because charging from a wearable is anyhow not very efficient.

The second title is indicating that the purpose of this wearable is comparing two sources of energy together in a game. The two source compete against each other. Which one will win? The solar energy or the muscular energy?

The third title is a reference to the oper of the Russian avant garde in the Bauhaus time:

Malevich and El Lissitzky made this oper famous, contributing to the stage design and the graphical displays.

There is some sarcasm in this third title, because it is rather impossible to win from the Sun in this game, only at night you have a chance, the solar panel is even charging slowly in normal daylight without direct sunlight.


Appropriately for the material old discarded jeans are chosen. Thus the material is recycled. The wearable is a simple dress with possibilities to add panels and the hacked Ljusa hand crank.


From the parts of jeans which were not totally worn out pieces were cut and these pieces were sewn together. An interesting folding problem popped up which will be described in another post.

Picture of the wearable in progress: (The hacked Ljusa, with the white card board and the red crank will be redesigned and more properly inserted into the wearable of course)

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Wearable made of recycled jeans material.


For the hand crank I have chosen the Ljusa of IKEA, which is a toy generating some power. It stores the power too in a 1.5F supercap. The second source of energy is a solar panel. Added to this is also a 1.5F supercap. With a ATtiny85 and 8 big LED’s – 4 LED’s for each energy source – the winning source can be made visible.

The electronics idea was to show the current Voltage for the two sources in two rows of 4 LED’s. The microcontroller which can just be used is a ATtiny85. Two analog PIN’s and two PIN’s for a multiplexer chip. One PIN is left for one other purpose.

Although the sources are generating energy, there has to be another energy source for the microcontroller at the moment. It would be an nice idea to have the sources (solar and muscle) first generate enough energy for the game to start, but this has to be figured out yet.

The third energy source is a rechargeable lipo battery.

Then there has to be a discharge for the game to restart. This is done using a FRT5 DC5 relay.

The number of difficulties in the electronics were plenty: besides the usual stupid mistakes like connected the LED’s the wrong way there were a few real “Zen master” problems (which means you have to learn something besides correcting stupid mistakes).

The ATtiny85 uses USI instead of SPI, code for this was found at:

Then the implementation of the use of the analog PIN’s proved time consuming. In the end the soution was found in connecting the PIN’s to the GND using a 1M Ohm resistor.

Then the coding of the LED’s, in two groups of 4 inside the bigger group of 8 was proving not straightforward. Apparently the number read using the ADC code is not a “normal” INT number and you cannot use all math available, like subtracting 512 from the value read between 0 and 1024.

The final code can be found here:

Testing pictures of the electronics:

Testing is better down as much as possible outside the wearable. In the end the electronics is on the board and the ATtiny85 had to be removed and placed in the programmer breadboard way too often again, I could have better soldered programming the wires to the board right away…

  • testing first the ATtiny85 and multiplexer on a breadboard
  • testing the LED’s on a piece of jeans
  • the PCB with the supercap, multiplexer, relais and ATtiny85

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Remarks about the PCB:

  • One relais too much!
  • At the left side the two energy sources can be connected.
  • The Ljusa has it’s own supercap (storing energy), the solar panel uses the supercap (green thing) on the board.
  • The PCB can be redesigned ore efficiently!

Preparing Knitting Images

Documentation for a workshop “Machine Knitting” at In this workshop we will explore possibilities of tuck, skip, lace, Jackard, and other knitting techniques. In former blog posts is documented how an image is uploaded using my own software together with the board made at a session of in Bruxelles.

With an accessoire it is possible to knit with different colors using the double bed.

2015-03-01 15.25.36 A so called color changer.

The way to knit an image in a double layer, avoiding the loose thread of Nordic Knitting can be seen in this video of the Japanese knitlabo: (Double bed jacquard knitting)

Using the Due to transfer the images and not the img2track (see below) the procedure of sending the right image had to be found.

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After the normal setup of the double bed the settings are:

Main bed slider: both PART buttons,KC(II)

Double bed slider: left PR slider, circular knobs press and turn, bottom lever: center.

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But just sending the image as done in other posts, like the single bed TUCK, slip, lace and Jackard is not possible.

Exploring the patterns stored inside the KH-940 it could be seen that knitting from right to left prepared the pattern at the top side of the needle board (first bed), while going from left to right stayed on this line. The second color did the reverse in color: the “black” in the pattern was at the bottom side of the needle board, and maintained while knitting to the left.

So this meant that the “pixels” of the image should be twice as long (two tours of knittings), but also that the tours (of left and right) had to be alternating in base-color.

The prepareation process can be shown in these images:

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 14.06.54

Normal image, the pixels are two high, which still gives half height as shown below. So multiply again by 2 (Using the setting “Nearest neighbor – preserve hard edges” stting in the scaling menu of Photoshop.)

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 14.07.06

Making the image 4 times the height, 2 x 2 pixels in height.

The next step is making the lines alternating in base color. I used for this a second layer with black lines of 2 pixels high. These pixels were selected and with the selection the alternating horizontal lines of 2 pixels were inverted:

This resulted in a real “encoding”, the text cannot be read anymore:

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 14.07.53

Using this in the Processingg sketch and sending it to the KH-940: (horizontal direction inversed)

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 14.11.15

This result was knitted: (the knitting is one layer thick, front side has the image, back side the stripes.

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The reason to mutliply by 4 and not 2 is because the setting is the PART mode, with one tour knitting, you knit only half. If you multiply just by 2, you get a diminished height:

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As can be seen, the bind off isn’t really perfect. The trick for binding of is to switch to another color, knit this color further in round knitting, getting the knitting of the machine and crochet the stitches together of the last row of the knitting. Then get rid of the last color. In the references is the video.


one bit images

around the Jacquard:

double jacquard:

Software: i use my own program (Procesing sketch and Arduino Due code), and having this fun of discovering the image encoding, but you could also use img2track, like in the video, this uses the adafruit hack to transfer images, free for max 100 needles.

Binding off:

Solar Wind: script and testing hardware

Specs hardware:

Ventilator motors: 5  – 3 phase motors, running (just) on 5V, also on a fully charged lipo.

Microcontroller: atmega328P


  • DHT11 temperature and humidity sensor
  • LDR, light value sensor
  • push button

Battery: lipo 14oo mA

Lipo Charger included.

On off switch, between lipo+charger and the microcontroller.

Script: made in arduino environment

The 3 phase motors are driven by making the PIN’s go HIGH LOW like this:

the voltage of 4-5V and the current provided by the PIN’s seems to be enough so no ULN is needed in between the PIN’s and the motors.

Microcontroller PIN‘s:

  • 2,3, — 17 —,  ventilator 1
  • 5,6,7,   ventilator 2
  • 8,9,10,   ventilator 3
  • 11,12,13,   ventilator 4
  • 14,15,16,   ventilator 5
  • 4, DHT11 PIN
  • 18, pushbutton PIN: to control the modes of the script.

Executing Modes:

  1.  always on: 5 ventilators are running alternating thr direction
  2.  LDR mode: ventilators run when low light value
  3.  Temperature mode: ventilators run when the temparature is above 21 degrees Celsius.

The modes are mode for presenting and testing. With the pushbutton the different modes can be selected. The LDR mode is nice to show an emmediate effect.

Script testing:

On a fully charged 1400 mA lipo (3.7V) the script can run in mode 1 (always 5 rotating ventilators ):

more than 7 hours, after 8 hours the rotating is visibly slower, but still moving…

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Social Wind: development of the yellow motor holder

The 3D printer allows to make a nice connecting shape between the textile and the electronic hardware. For “Social Wind” i have chosen  3 phase motors:

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The problem (in the old days) was how to sew the motors inside the jacket. Nowadays this is not really easy using the 3D printer, because you have to print quite a lot of tests, but you arrive at a nice holder of the same color as the fabric – or the color you need.

The cooling effect comes from ventilators, not for example Peltier elements. The ventilators provide a gentle cooling effect and are at the same time a nice moving shape. The Peltier elements would be inserted in the fabric and not even visible. This leaves absolute freedom for the design, but hides the functioning.

The development of the shapes to hold the motor in this jacket can be seen in this picture of all the shapes printed for these 5 motors which will be sewn in the jacket:

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First I tried to print the whole ventilator as one piece. No doubt with an expensive 3D printer this could be done, but with my terrible ROBO printer a better option was to print the axis and the blades seperately.

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Because the five ventilators will be running close to each other, the ventilators rotate against each other. This has to be tested first:

Later on the axis were made higher and lower, so the ventilators could run close together.

All the five attached to the microcontroller:

The motors run at 5V which is probably too low. So the power of the motors is big enough for small blades, but these blades are to big if you start right away at a fairly high speed. The solution was to start slowly and build ip momentum. Then the motor can rotate these 5 blades without a problem.

The STL files will be available soon.













Social Wind – first sketch

First images of the Social Wind Design. The idea came from the Warming Dress, see former post

This design called “Social Wind” in a (humorous and friendly) discourse with Warming Dress will become a cooling jacket. The material used for the jacket is fleece, color bright yellow. The basic building shape of the jacket is a trapezoid. Five are used for the conic shape under the middle connection and 5 are used for the top shape. Completing the 3D shape of the jacket are the two shoulder pieces, on top of this jacket shape are two long collors, which run along the neck to the middle, providing stiffness and at the same time pockets for the batteries. The sleeves (inspired by the sleeves used in the Middle Ages which were also used as pockets) are made of two half circles folded open. Theses sleeves fall open to the front and provide space for the small microcontroller (the arduino used for testing the motors will be replaced by a bare bone atmega328 or 5 attiny85 and a central unit with a RF12 transceiver) and the interface for the wearer.

The back has an open strip. Over this strip holders will be attached for 5 small motors that are printed of yellow PLA. The 5 rotors blades on the axis of each motor are leave like.

The motors are so called 3 pahase motors, that means that they can be driven using 3 wires. The script for the motors is fairly simple, the schema presented in this post:

was used. The 5V from the Arduino (in test setup) is probably a little bit too low for these motors, so the script uses a slow start up. For small ventilator blades starting at higher rotation speed wasn’t a problem, but with the bigger blades apparently the moment of inertia was too big. Starting with a slow rotation solved this problem. All the electronics will be gathered in a speical pocket which can be easily removed after discarding the jacket.

Printing the parts between the electronics and the fabric was another detailed process, besides the sewing of the jacket.

The rotor blades are printed as parts, not as a whole shape. The 3D printer used didn’t produce a nice shape if this ventilator was printed as one form. Making 5 blades and sticking these blades in a central axis is more efficient. More details about these 3D prints will be given in another post.


The yellow color of the PLA exactly matched the color of the fleece fabric, the camera is unable to show the exact bright, nearly fluorescent color of the fleece and PLA>

Many details still have to be solved, like the buttons, closing the jacket in front, wiring, designing the interface. There will be 5 ventilators at the back. The ventilator structure in front has to be designed.

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Video’s of Social Wind working:




Spine Warming Dress Poster in Textile Museum, Tilburg

During an expert meeting in the Textile Museum Tilburg, there was a presentation of CRISP.

One of the posters was about the Spine warming Dress. Marina Toeters designed this dress and Contrechoc did the circuitry.

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Je suis Charlie

Of course! (You thought e-textiles is not political?)

Just a “quick” hack: (well in the end it will be 2-3 days of work anyway…)

From a discarded party dress, some steppermotor and a distance sensor, together with some flimsy 3D prints with the simple text “Je suis Charlie”. This experimental e-textile group joins in.

The dress from a friend in Bremen is having horizontal strips of fabric. Ideal for the purpose of this idea because these strips can be lifted. If the strips are lifted the backside of the strip is shown, and the text appears.

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The hardware to do the lifting is a stepper motor, which is attached to the back. It has to be sturdy to lift all this fabric. A distance sensor is driving the interaction.

First the text on the 3D prints consisting of up to 3 layers of PLA: (they will be all bright yellow in the end result)

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The top of the dress is made more smooth for the wire to run over it by a plastic covering, the yellow band is at the moment holding the motor at the back, will be replaced… (lot’s of details even in a quick hack).

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All very simple, but for a few details…

The hardware is just hardware, it is not concerned about the world and won’t cooperate. Otherwise stated: if you have an idea thought out, and it has a nice purpose, this doesn’t mean that you (yourself) make the right decisions about the hardware and programming.

So although being politically involved we had to debug. Do you mention the debugging in this kind of posts?

———Skip this part if you are in politics only!————->

The setup was working when hooked up to the laptop for uploading the script. But running from an adaptor the distance sensor got mad and always fired the steppermotor.

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Measuring voltage and current a strange thing was noticed: the current consumed by the motor was 0.1A when running, but after stopping it consumed .25A. So the stepper.h (default arduino script)  had to be mended:

after “a step” in the function void Stepper::step(int steps_to_move) of the normal Arduino script “Stepper.h“, all the PIN’s must be set to LOW:

digitalWrite(motor_pin_1, LOW);
digitalWrite(motor_pin_2, LOW);
digitalWrite(motor_pin_3, LOW);
digitalWrite(motor_pin_4, LOW);

to reduce the current to normal levels after stopping. That this is not done in the scrit is surprising. It means that some of the coils in the steppermotor are left with a voltage, and since the coils have a low reistance, the current is high – and waisted!

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But mending this first feature didn’t fix the weird behavior of the sensor. So we tried a capacitor over the Voltage from the adaptor. A capacitor of 470 microF solved the problem. Apparently this adaptor (see pictures) is not very stable.


Pictures of the distance sensor, stepper motor, capacitor which saved my day and the wicked adaptor: (all at the back of the dress on the dummy)

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The script is a combination of a stepper motor example, combined with a “NewPing” distance sensor. If you are interested, you can download the script and play on:

For printing the flimsy 3D prints I was using a setup described here in Dutch:

This way of making relief printing will be described more in detail in another post.





Knitting around a corner

The knitting produces a flat surface in principle, you can make a knitted 3D shape because you can fit shaped parts together in making just like a dress with woven cloth. Knitted surfaces fit more easily because of the stretch property of the knitting.

The 2D knitting surface is just a rectangle of knitting needles and tours, width x height.  Thus 2D property of the surface is just the most basic possibility using B and D positions of the needles. Using the E position of the needle and the H mode of the slider you can vary differentially the number of knitting needles over the surface and create in the surface itself tension. This tension makes 3D shapes inside the knitted surface, which can create pockets or bends. WIth this technique gloves are made, the boxes of the last post.

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The E position in action on the knitting board:

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The threads comes back behind the slider over all needles, but before returning you have to put the thread under the last needle. Slider at far left, will be coming to the right.

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To diminish the needles in E position you have to put this needle in D position. Slider is at far right will be going to the left and put this D needle back in B position.

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Differentially knitted tours, so you have to keep pulling the knitting down, replacing the weights all the time.

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Two examples where you start knitting tricot normally, then put all the needles in E psoition and work your way back needle by needle to the B position. You see the knitting makes a angle, start of this knitting was right side.

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The same with yellow lines indicating 10 tours, this knitting was started at left, for 20 tours then you can follow from the corner middle left upwards to the right.

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This knitting is made making 10 tours of normal tricot, left side, now deformed into an angle. Then put all the needles in E position, but for the center 2 needles. Then every tour putting the needle oposite to the slider in D position. The extra tours are starting small in the middle and growing wider as more needles are knitting again. This shape as shown  in the picture is totally stretched, normally a 3D shape.


Learning to make a thumb-box: 親指ックス手袋の編み方

This title part in Japanese is no doubt totally wrong :-)

I saw this youtube movie: and tried it out, only not for my sock, which is indicated in the title ( 足袋ックスつま先の編み方, means the way (方) to knit (編み) toe (つま先) boxes (袋ックス) for foot (足)). I just made this box thing and it turned out to be one third of a glove. I made the Japanse title up for this knitted thumb box.

Although i am interested in, and aiming at datavisualisation in knitting, the way to improve technical skills is to do simple exercises. It is clear to me that this knitting device is far more than a “mirical knitting printer”, with one button and pushing this button makes a perfect copy.

So for the material of this post no Arduino Due was used at all, the tricks were in using hand and braincells, closely observing seemingly unimportant details, which naturally turned out to be very important…

A few lessons were learnt. First that I started with thread which was too thin. It broke several times:



Not even all the disasters are shown. The good thing of knitting is that you can recycle the thread after a knitting disaster. The idea that you only waste (called learning)  time and not material (eg in 3D printing you cannot put the PLA back) is rewarding, even if the thread costs nearly nothing.

Then that in the H mode ( needles totally sticking out are kept on hold) you have to start with putting the needles in the E position at the other side of the slider, then go back (otherwise your thread is around this bunch of E needles)


Then after a few time with the thin yarn in the end knitting with a thicker thread,


all steps were taken, and although this was just a test, it nearly became a glove…


Some holes at the base are still a bit too big….

Practice again…..


  • Set up a normal tricot , 30 needles, 10 tours
  • from -8 to 8, insert thread to keep track of the start of the box
  • from left, put rest of needles at right in E position
  • after that from right the rest of the needles at left in E position
  • knit middle part 20 tours, carefully hanging a weight in this part
  • now from right, one needle -7 to E, knit, from left thread over this needle, at right needle 7 to E, knit
  • repeat until 4 needles at both side are in E
  • then retreat: from right put needle -3 back again (still winding the thread around the needle you come from), the same from left, till all the needles (-8 – +8)are back in B position.
  • Then from left, pick up at the left side of the box knit stitch number 3 (or 4?), put it back on needle +7, knit, the same at the other side.
  • You are working your way back up, closing the box.
  • If you do everything regularly, you won’t end up with the holes like me :-)
  • Look at the Japanese video for getting the idea.





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