TUTORIAL: Piano-Shirt

I've conducted the following Piano-Shirt workshop at a Nerd Rider event in February. I am also going to incorporate it in a Soft Synth workshop in September at the Victoria and Albert Museum London, which I'm gonna be leading together with my beloved Emilie Giles!

 Below is a short step-by-step tutorial explaining how to make your own piano-shirt. You will need:

- LilyPad SimpleSnap with lithium battery
- Speaker  8 Ohm
- sewable LED
- conductive thread
- conductive fabric
- normal thread
- metal poppers with holes, 9mm
- double-sided Bondaweb (Ger: B├╝gelvlieseline)
- t-shirt
- felt or other fabric for decoration
- soldering iron and solder

First, sketch your circuit on a piece of paper: position your lilypad, led, speaker, design your keys and draw the connections to pins. You should ground your led and speaker, and none of your connections should intersect. Mark the numbers of the pins you are going to use for your piano.
 Draw your keys on a piece of bondaweb. Put your bondaweb on a piece of conductive fabric, which should be slightly bigger. Bondaweb should be facing the papery side up! This is important! Iron over the bondaweb gently, to glue both layers together. Cut out your keys.

Put your LilyPad SimpleSnap on a piece of felt and turn it over. Mark the position of the poppers with a pencil through the fabric. Sew the other half of the poppers in place.
Take your conductive fabric and remove the papery layer from bondaweb. Put them the gluey side down on your t-shirt and glue them, until they stick to it. Connect each key to a separate pin with conductive thread.
Take your speaker, remove the cables and solder two poppers (one half of each) to the contacts. Take the other two popper halves and sew them horizontally onto your t-shirt with conductive thread. Connect them to the pins of the LilyPad.
Sew the connection from the positive side of the led to any positive LilyPad pin, and the negative to its ground pin.

To make your piano t-shirt work you need to upload the code to your LilyPad. The workshop is based on a project from the Sew Electric book. It also makes use of its code for capacitive sensing.
Here is what your piano could sound like:

And here are a couple of pictures from the Nerd Rider workshop.


Popular Posts