Make Turn Signals on your Biking Jacket with Arduino Lilypad

  • calendar_today  Feb, 01 2019
  • visibility  1,434

In this project, we’re going to show you how you can make turn signals on your wear-able during cycling, biking or especially when you are a skateboard. In this stunning project, some threads and sew-able electronics are used. Don’t worry; you’ll be able to wash your wear-able along with these sew-able electronics. So let’s start. Our first step is to collect the components that we’re going to use in this project. 

Components you need:

  1. Lilypad Arduino Main Board
  2. FTDI Basic Breakout - 3.3V
  3. Mini USB Cable
  4. Lilypad Power Supply
  5. 16 Lilypad LED’s
  6. 2 Push Button Switches (One for the right hand and one for the left hand)
  7. Conductive Thread
  8. A Continuity Tester (Must have beep function)
  9. A piece of fabric
  10. Fabric Marker
  11. A needle
  12. A bottle of Fabric Glue
  13. A ruler
  14. A scissor
  15. Sewing Machine
  16. And a double-sided tape. (voluntary)


Our second step is the design. This is the main step. In this step, you’ll decide where you are going to sew your Arduino Lilypad and how you are going to sew all the components together properly. For doing this, you have to draw a sketch that will show you to go according to your decided plan. We’ve shown some pictures above in which the red color is showing power (+). The black is showing ground (-) and the switch inputs in purple.

Note to Remember

Whenever you make projects like these, you’ve to place both lilypad power supply and Lilypad Arduino main board close to one another otherwise, they will not work properly. For understanding this hidden concept, let’s explore the treasure behind this scene.

So, the question is WHY? Basically, the 4 ply conductive thread is about 14 ohms/foot. It means it has non-trivial resistance. It also relies on what type of module you’re using in building your project. Normally, lilypad can formulate 0.5 Amps or 50 milliamps of current. According to the Ohm’s law, current through conductor between two points is directly proportional to the voltage across the two points means the voltage which is dropping across the conductor, the quantity of voltage which you are losing as current is going across the material, is identical or uniform to the resistance of the conductor times the quantity of electricity is passing through it.

Let’s assume that your Arduino Lilypad is about one foot away from your lilypad power supply. Here, the total resistance of your conductive material will be 28 Ohms. How? Because one 14 ohms conductive material (thread) is fixing the positive terminals together and the other 14 ohms is piloting from negative terminal of the power supply to the negative petal which is on the Lilypad Arduino. It means the drop age of the total voltage is 1.4 volts which are equal to 28 ohms * 0.5 amps. And lilypad is only getting 3.6 volts.  (5 volts that are coming from the power supply – 1.4 volts drop voltage). Don’t confuse these technical statements. In short, just design your Arduino Lilypad nearer to the lilypad power supply.

Apply the Design on your wearable

Now, it’s time to transfer your art on your wearable. Use the ruler for accurate measurement from up and down, left and right for making sure that each and everything is going right. Now attach your lilypad Arduino and Arduino power supply with the double-sided tape, which will stick your lilypad and power supply at one place. This will help you in making sewing easier.   

Trimming on the back of the lilypad power supply

Trim the small metal parts on the back of lilypad power supply with a scissor or any small clipper. Second best option in this project is to glue everything properly. Sometimes, the things are sewed properly but they can’t stay at their place properly.

Sew the positive petal lilypad power supply on your wearable. Now start sewing from a battery to the Arduino Lilypad. After this sew the + petal of your lilypad and complete the connection. And when the sewing ends, put some glue on the knots.

Quantify the resistance of your switching

For this step, get the continuity tester (Multi-meter). Start the measuring from power supply + to lilypad + to the power supply – to lilypad. If you’re getting the measurement of the resistance of the elements more than 10 Ohms, tight your stitching by adding some more conductive thread. If you’re not getting to the point, then kindly follow this guide.

Now place a AAA battery into a power supply and twist the power supply switch for “On-position”. The red color light on the power supply must turn-on. If it is not turning on then fastly discard the power supply and take a glance at + and – stitches. You can check the problem between + and  – by utilizing the continuity tester on your multimeter. If you don’t know how to use the continuity tester, follow this guide. 

Remember, check the resistance between + and – stitching. If the resistance between the + and – is less than 10K ohms, then check carefully that is there any small piece of conductive thread exist that is making contact between both + and – Stitches.  Find the small piece of conductive thread and remove it.

Now, the next step is to check the power supply. If it is turned on, then move your eyes towards the Lilypad Arduino. It is must that it blink each n every time whenever you press the lilypad arduino’s switch. Be sure these connections are working fine. If yes, then kindly turn off the power supply and remove the battery.

Shield your ground stitching and Power supply.

For more security, it is must that all of your uninsulated elements should be insulated. So put the fabric paint on it. Otherwise, they will short out.

Stitch the LED for turn signals.

First of all, attach all the + petals of the Left turn signals LEDs with each other and attach with a + petal on the lilypad and attach all of the + petals of the right turn signals LEDs with each other and attach with a + petal on the lilypad. Now attach all of the – petals of the left turn signals LEDs with each other and attach them with – petal on the lilypad and attach all of the – petals of the right signals LEDs with each other and attach them with the – petals on the lilypad. Don’t be confused. It’s easy.

It is must to cover each and every knot with the glue and cut the little piece of thread on the knot. Because it can cause problems when they touch with the conductive threads. And check also all the traces that do not touch with each other. Nor + to +, + to -, - to +, nor – to -.

Test the turn signals

Upload your test program on your Arduino Lilypad that is the brain of the project and will help you in a blinking of left and right turn LEDs.

If you’re a beginner in how to program on Arduino Lilypad, then kindly follow this tutorial.

Try this Test Program

int ledPin = 13; // the LED on the LilyPad
 int leftSignal = 9; // my left turn signal is attached to petal 9
 int rightSignal = 11; // my right turn signal is attached to petal 11
 int signalLow = 10; // the - sides of my signals are attached to petal 10
 void setup()
 pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT); // sets the ledPin to be an output
 pinMode(leftSignal, OUTPUT); // sets the leftSignal petal to be an output
 pinMode(rightSignal, OUTPUT); // sets the rightSignal petal to be an output
 pinMode(signalLow, OUTPUT); // sets the signalLow petal to be an output
 digitalWrite(signalLow, LOW); // sets the signalLOW petal to LOW (-)
 void loop() // run over and over again
 delay(1000); // wait for 1 second
 digitalWrite(leftSignal, LOW); // turn the left signal off
 delay(1000); // wait for 1 second
 digitalWrite(rightSignal, HIGH); // turn the right signal on
 delay(1000); // wait for 1 second
 digitalWrite(rightSignal, LOW); // turn the right signal off
 delay(1000); // wait for 1 second

Copy and paste this program in your Arduino IDE. If your turn lights are not working perfectly, then take the multi-meter and check again all the connections in a very careful manner. 

Control switches stitching

Find the best place near your cuffs where you can easily press the control buttons or switches when you are biking, cycling, or skating or anything. Well, according to us, the best place for mounting the control button is on the wrists. As mentioned in photos. Now, as you’ve decided to mount the control buttons, so take the buttons and push the pins of the buttons out and pass the button via pins across the wrists. Now, hook the pins of the button inside the wrists side fabric. Now place a little bit glue on the stitching of switches so that they will stay in their place for a long time. 

Indicator light Stitching

Stitch these indicator lights near your visible spot. Stitch the +ve petal of the LED with +ve petal lilypad petal and – petal of each LED with the –ve petal of Lilypad petal. For this, first, draw the design for all this procedure. Utilize the petal 5 for the + of the right LED and petal 3 for the + of the left LED. 

Note: Remember, put glue on each and every knot and don’t forget to trim them.

Plug your battery and see if it works. And go for the ride. If you want to wash your jacket, then gently remove the battery and wash your jacket. The conductive threads will gradually lose their performance and increase in their resistance with the passage of time. So you have to place fabric paint on them.