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Topic: suggestions for a suit project (Read 1 time) previous topic - next topic

KdogLA

Hey there everyone.  Im wanting to build an animated suit for haloween next year and wanted to get somebadvice on hardware.  I did some programming years ago and am looking forward to getting back into it.  Im wanting to be able to control different patterns while out and about.  I have an idea about what im goingbto do cosmetic wise but how to control it is my challenge.  After reading different sites about microcontrollers this one seems to be the best selection for my requirements.  My main questions are which arduino would be best to use.  The UNO readily available but i know there are other types.  Second question is whats a good rescource for programming?  I have a year to experiment and figure it out. Hahaha

Thanks for any suggestions. 

MichaelMeissner

#1
Oct 31, 2012, 05:46 pm Last Edit: Oct 31, 2012, 05:55 pm by MichaelMeissner Reason: 1
It depends on what you want to do with the costume.  For wearable costumes, the Lilypad (http://arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoBoardLilyPad) might be the ticket since it was designed to be small, and sewn into fabric.

If you don't need that many pins, there are various small Arduino boards that can be soldered onto small boards.  For example, when it was a kickstarter project, I bought 3 digisparks, that I'm hoping will come before January (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/digistump/digispark-the-tiny-arduino-enabled-usb-dev-board).  After they satisfy all of the kickstarter backers, I imagine they will sell them retail.  There is also the Teensy boards (http://www.pjrc.com/teensy/index.html), including the Arm based Teensy 3.0 that was just shipped to kickstarter backers (I have this also).

If you need a lot of pins to control various things, there is the Mega and the new Due.

I would say, given you have a year, don't make the decision on the final form factor now.  Buy a development board like the Uno/Mega/Due now, and iterate on what you want.  When you know exactly what you want, and how many pins/memory/etc. it has, you can look for a board with a smaller footprint.

In terms of power, you should obviously test what you have well in advance and make sure you have more than enough power with a margin in your batteries.  For my Uno, I prefer to use a battery like the EZOPower 5000maH battery with 2 5volt/1amp outputs.  I let my Uno run for a 3-4 days straight running blink before the unit ran out of power: http://www.amazon.com/EZOPower-External-Portable-Rechargeable-Emergency/dp/B0043622O4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1351701776&sr=8-2&keywords=ezo+power+charger

You want to make sure all connections are secure, since costumes can endure a lot of movement.  I still tend to have at least one thing fall off everytime I go out with my steampunk camera setup, and I have only done some minor stuff with the Arduino.

If you are going outside, you need to think about weather sealing.

Far-seeker


You want to make sure all connections are secure, since costumes can endure a lot of movement.


As far as secure connections, you can sometimes get away with using modular connectors, i.e. the connectors used for telephone and network cabling.  They are cheap and widely available, but can still be pulled loose under some circumstances.  Free hanging JST type connectors normally hold better and can be found various pin counts.  In-line banana plugs and jacks are also possible, but can be rather bulky.  The most secure option (and usually water resistant as well) would be to use circular connectors with an interlocking threaded shroud like this, but not only is it more expensive once you get above a few pins per connector they become awkward to use on most garments/costumes.  Finally, if you are using conductive thread in a larger section of fabric it's possible to use clothing snaps as a secure connector.

MichaelMeissner

I was having my electrical panel reworked during Hurricane Sandy to allow more of the house to be powered via generator (last year when we lost power during Irene, we discovered the thermostat wasn't powered, so we had no heat, even though the boiler/water pump were powered).

Anyway, the electrician got a call from one of his other clients, and mentioned something about a military grade RJ-45 setup (RJ-45 is the cat 5/6 cables used for ethernet cables).  I asked him what was a military grade RJ-45, and he said you could pick up your whole computer while it was dangling on the RJ-45 cable.  I would imagine that is secure.

Far-seeker

#4
Oct 31, 2012, 06:47 pm Last Edit: Oct 31, 2012, 07:07 pm by Far-seeker Reason: 1

Anyway, the electrician got a call from one of his other clients, and mentioned something about a military grade RJ-45 setup (RJ-45 is the cat 5/6 cables used for ethernet cables).  I asked him what was a military grade RJ-45, and he said you could pick up your whole computer while it was dangling on the RJ-45 cable.  I would imagine that is secure.


Of course, I meant the type of RJ series connectors you could pick-up at your local store (Radio Shack, hardware store, etc...). :P  I can believe that the military-grade connectors of any type are more robust and physically secure, but I doubt they'd be as hobbyist budget-friendly as other connectors I mentioned.  Unless you happen to be lucky enough to find some at a surplus store...

Edit: I don't think this is quite what your electrician was referring to, but here's the datasheet for Amphenol's "Ethernet Connection System for Harsh Environment".  It's a set of accessories to harden the ends of an existing standard RJ-45 cable, but you could easily get a couple hundred sets of normal RJ-45 connectors for the price of a mated pair of the most inexpensive options in this product line. :) 

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