Studio Contrechoc

design & textile & technology entries

Monthly Archives: April 2011

The power of the sun

Having another vest under construction and being very much in the spring sun, two solar tulips were tested to serve as a source for an ATMEGA328 with LED matrix.

These tulips are very cheap (1.50 euro) and have a small solar panel, a rechargeable battery and a LED. When the solar panel doesn’t receive any light a small chip cuts of the charging and steers the current through the LED.
You see these LED’s in all gardens nowadays, tulips, illuminated Buddha’s, whatever.

The vest will be about space, “the final frontier”, and it seems appropriate that it has it’s own power source, even if this is tiny and even if in my country the sun is an exception.

I am using a ATMEGA238 in the most reduced way possible, without oscillator, and all the PINS are used to drive a small 8×8 LED matrix and a RF12 transceiver.

The question was if two rechargeable tulips were sufficient to drive this chip and LED’s to make nice running texts, receiving and sending.

Each rechargeable battery should be able to be a source of 1.2 Volt, and I have the ATMEGA’s running below 3 VOLTS nowadays (the ARDUINO uses 5 Volt, and of course you don’t get the highest speed at 2.4 VOLT). Anyway the two rechargeable batteries are needed in series.

tulip1 a rare spring sun illuminates the experiment….

In the full sun the power generated by the two tulips were sufficient. The test will go on at night to see how long the batteries will sustain the LED matrix.

tulip2the inner secrets of a tulip!

Extra solar panels are easily added, charging more rapidly and needing less sun, and the capacity of the cells can be extended using both more batteries and turning of the running text while listening for text to be received by the RF12.

tulip3transceiver and a very bare bones ATMEGA!


The art of saying “no” in a friendly way

Clothes are meant to protect you, to take care of you, to save you from the environment…

Smart textiles are extending these possibilities. These smart tissues will accompany you, comforting, coaching, telling you when to stop working (hopefully!).

These smart and soft textiles also provide new ways of performing “difficult” tasks.
For instance telling our friends that sometimes you cannot help them at the moment! Friends are sometimes so impatient. They won’t accept “no” from you. Maybe they can accept a temporarily no from soft clothing?

How to do the refusing in a not-too-rude way is very, very difficult, because good friends are rare and saying no to good friends is “not done”.


But sometimes we get an overload of requests, and maybe they could solve their problems themselves, or even try first??


This headgear might provide a solution for this cumbersome obligation of protecting yourself against a landslide of friendly questions for help.


First of all it provides my interface (o sorry, my face) with a soft protective layer, and secondly this layer brings over a clear message “… x no x … “, in a gentle way.


It is headgear, but not a mask – a mask could frighten my friends away, the tissue is soft so the message it brings over should be as velvet as possible. The softly blinking LED’s in a 5×5 grid make the answer to the request for help clear. And again the rude message is civilized, the LED’s are blinking “no” as friendly as possible in a subtle red light reflected on the cloth. In daylight the message is communicated almost unconsciously, because the light of the LED’s is not really visible.

The headgear is shown here on “the life jacket” (see another post). It has a resemblance in some of the pictures in the blog to the caricatures of alien robotic very bad dictators of SF movies, but the textile gives it such a warmth and pliable nature!

My friends can be at ease, I’ll help them whenever I can!!!


Only sometimes I ask my clothes for helping me against being suffocated.