final project post




The first iteration of the M-Shirt is done. The shirt has 4 EL panels that light up at different sound volumes, which makes the shirt respond directly to music. Sound is read in at a microphone at the right shoulder and a microprocessor reads the live data and determines which EL panel should light up. The panels however blend in with the screen printed and patched patter of the shirt so when the electronics are turned on the shirt still looks stylish. Also the electronics are all tucked away the gap between the two layers of the shirt, so no electronics touch the wearers skin. The battery and EL sequencer (the board with the microprocessor on it) are tucked away in an inside pocket, so the lithium-ion battery can easily be changed.

Although the project had its ups and downs, and especially towards the due date we were tight on time, the overall project came out great. The electronics work very well, and the components that are supposed to be hidden are hidden; although since the components are a little bulky their outlines can slightly seen when wearing the shirt. Th shirt was put together very nice, and all the seams look professional.
The project did exceed the original goals. We were able to screen print the pattern on and even add depth by sewing on screen printed squares to give a layered effect. The fact that the shirt is two full layers also exceeded the first goals; when we were still brainstorming it was only a possibility. However an optional functionality that was going to be implemented if there was enough time was to have the shirt respond to music from an ipod/mp3 player. Even though this was not in the original plan, we were close to implementing it but the circuit’s microphone did not work and the aux input circuit that would connect to an ipod needed an amplifier circuit, and we were all ready delayed at that point. Sadly we had to scrap the ipod input idea. The goal of the project was to have a commercial grade t-shirt that would respond to music, we have the functionality done, but the integration of the electronics needs to be better before it is considered commercial grade.

The largest hurdle was probably communication. We tried to divide up tasks so that we could complete milestones in parallel, but the project had to take a more linear approach. The electronics had to be done before certain part of the shirts could be made, and pocket had to be made before wiring all the components just to name a few of the tasks. It wasn’t until after Spring break that we noticed the projects tasks had to be completed linearly which once we did we start to communicate a lot more. I think this issue was just because we had different experience. Sam having the background of a computer engineer was more comfortable work in parallel like when different teams only collaborate at the beginning of the project to assign tasks, and then at the end everyone comes together and interfaces all the different components. But when it comes to designing and fabricating clothing, this workflow is not possible to an extent.

If we had more time we would definitely add a the ipod/mp3 player capabilities. I do not think it would be that hard to make a circuit for it, as we did have a prototype of one, but it just needed a bit more tweaking. We would also like to incorporate EL wire in the sleeves’ cuffs and maybe the bottom seam, for an added effect. Overall we would perhaps make a second iteration of the M-Shirt and keep refining it, so that it could be commercial grade.