Rain Poncho Makes Tunes #WearableWednesday

Rainy days are singing a different tune with this DIY musical rain poncho by Liana Kong. Liana is a student at Carnegie Mellon, and was faced with a special challenge for her Experimental Form class — make a radio with an Arduino interaction. She had a few ideas, like a Pac-Man looking plush device that would operate when putting your hand inside, or a radio that would operate based on your breath — blow to turn on and smother to shut off.  However, she wasn’t really in love with either of them.

I was sitting in a computer lab with my friend drawing and brainstorming on a whiteboard when, in defeat, I doodled a funny person in a poncho. I jokingly said, “what if I made a radio poncho?” But then, it actually became a real thing and I just ran with it.

If you’ve designed your own project before, you know how exciting it is to make a sketch, and then see that sketch become a real object.  Look how closely the sketch resembles the finished product.


Parts included in this fun project include an Arduino Uno, an FM tuner and a flexible speaker. The poncho can control the radio in the following ways:  Hood up/down – power, colorful snaps – different station presets, and hood strings – volume. Although we have seen hoodies with MP3 players, Liana really has incorporated all facets of the poncho and put them to good use. Her favorite part of the project is people’s reactions.

Most of my classmates made radios out of wood or plastic, something that sits on a table. When I told everyone that the colorful pile of fabric was my radio, they had to second guess themselves. A lot of my past projects have been pretty practical, so it was refreshing that people were getting excited about my poncho. Also, seeing their faces brighten into a smile when they put the poncho on was really fulfilling.

So, maybe you aren’t keen on a radio in your wearables, but you do have an interest in an MP3 player. Well, you need to take a look at our tutorial on Wave Shields. Add one to your Arduino and start making sound bytes of everything you’ve always wanted — including R2D2 beeps. Happy sampling.

Wave Shield


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