Awesome Jacket

Added EL wire, sound, and a "kill switch" to a replica WW II "Ike coat" as a special gift for a great leader.

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The customer lead on a project I've worked on for years was being posted, so we decided to create a special gift that reflected his personality, especially his favourite Dilbert saying "There is no kill switch on awesome". The idea evolved from a simple "awesome jacket" to one that was tricked out with EL, sound, and a kill switch.

The whole project kind of evolved from the initial idea of making something "awesome". A main catalyst were some favourite sayings of the intended recipient. In addition to the "no kill switch on awesome", he was fond of "Me want cookie" (to counter-act sleepiness in review meetings), "Next slide", and "2013 is the year of the bow tie!".

No one really needs an excuse to add EL wire to a project, and putting things on the jacket to reflect that project we were working on was a no-brainer.

I split the project into two parts, hardware and software, with a partner (Nick Wells) taking care of the software. He actually used the sound and EL sequencer systems to trick out a gingerbread house at Christmas as part of a family contest they have every year, so it made sense for him to carry on with that part of things.

It probably took 20 hours total, but mostly because we worked only sporadically on it.

Sorry there are no schematics, but it's all very simple except the LM386, and there is the National (TI) app note for that in its datasheet. Just be sure to plan out what Arduino IO is used for what and try and keep connections close to the IO pins needed. For example, it's no fun running a wire from one end of the prototyping shield to the DIN connector. A BOM is included in the links section, except for the jacket, which was sourced on eBay from Hong Kong.

Pretty easy project in terms of programming and assembly, though labour intensive in terms of sewing.

  • 1 × Sparkfun wish list with most components
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  • 1 × Motorola Handsfree Rescued from a dumpster. Pretty old school, reminding me of a police handset.
  • 1 × Ike Jacket Sourced from eBay. Very nice quality with heavy wool that didn't tear if little holes are poked through.
  • 1 × Jacket liner An old pillow case :-)

  • 1
    Step 1

    Started by sewing the EL wire design onto the jacket. The wool was easy to poke a hole into and pass the wire through. The holes did not tear, which is very nice. I tacked the wire into place with a couple of loops of thread. To make square corners (see the radio on the back of the jacket, for example), I found it best to pass the wire through a hole and then make a single loop inside the jacket so that when the wire was passed back out the same hole it was pointed in the desired direction.

    The front of the jacket had in white EL the letters CNR and in red EL the letter E (CNRE is the project we worked on together). The back of the jacket has a radio outlined in green EL, a blue EL antenna, and yellow EL "radio waves".

  • 2
    Step 2

    To be safe, I sewed a liner into the jacket. That plus the heavy wool makes it a very, very warm thing to wear.

  • 3
    Step 3

    The pockets in the front of the jacket are lined and a convenient place for the electronics. The EL sequencer and inverter plus battery pack fits in one and the Arduino-based sound system and battery pack fit in the other.

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