Making an e-Vest (electronic vest)
Added Jun 1, 2010
For the second project, I wanted to incorporate a strip of scintillating Light Emitting Diodes or LEDs into one of the side seams of the vest. Although the company I bought the fiber optics cable from also advertises LED strips, I bought mine locally, as these and other micro-electronics components are beginning to proliferate. Shown in the diagram is the strip of LEDs, some small cable elements needed to string the lights together with the controller (the cross-shaped piece and the black wire with two ends), the small white controller box, the controller pad, a banana plug, and one of the two 6-volt, 3 amp batteries I ended up buying to support the project. These LED strips incorporate three-color LEDs at each location and the strip itself includes, therefore, four wires, one for each color and one for ground. The cross-piece allows me to convert a male connector to a female one, as well as allowing several strips to be connected to the same power supply. The controller pad uses infrared to communicate with the white controller box, which in turn plugs into the LED strip itself or into the cross-piece. The LEDs require 12 volts and 2-3 amperes of current (which is quite high as an amperage) - this requires a rather large battery (shown in inset). In actual fact, this battery is a 6 volt battery, and I had to chain two of these in series to get my 12 volt current (meaning I had to connect the positive of one to the negative of the other, and use the two terminals not used by this cross-over linkage to drive the LED strip. Also, although the system worked fine the day I installed it into the vest, the next day the controller pad failed to communicate properly with the white box, so I'm a bit concerned about the overall stability of the system. Costs here are commensurate with the fiber optics - the kit shown cost me about 50$US.