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How To Rugged-ize Wearable Electronics #WearableWednesday

We hope you’re enjoying the summer and getting your wearable electronics out into the elements. Whether you’re making dance costumes or headed to Burning Man, here are some tips for helping them survive!

Construction:

  • Plan ahead where your circuit boards and other components will go in your garment/costume. Position circuit boards in places on the body that don’t bend or twist a bunch, like the sides of shoes, a jacket lapel, or in the brim of a hat.
  • Provide strain relief to wires using glue, zip ties, or stitching.
  • Select LED strips and pixels with weatherproof silicone sheathing, and use silicone adhesive to seal everything up.
  • If your circuit might experience dust or body humidity, you may want to use thin, flexible silicone-coated wire instead of conductive thread. Soldered connections are less likely to get gunked up than sewn ones.

Coatings:

  • Sand and salt air can corrode your circuit board, and there are many ways to seal them off from the elements. Conformal coating, plasti-dip, castable plastics and resins permanently coat your circuit to keep out moisture and buffer abrasions.
  • Not all coatings are durable. Some break down under UV exposure. Follow the safety instructions to protect your skin, eyes, and lungs.
  • If you need to get in there to repair anything, you might want to go with something more temporary, or use a reworkable covering.

Coverings:

All DIY wearables require some care and maintenance at some point, but we hope these tips will keep you up and blinking for as long as possible in rough conditions.

We’ve got tutorials for everything you see above! Projects appearing in the video:


Flora breadboard is Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA. Be sure to post up your wearables projects in the forums or send us a link and you might be featured here on Wearable Wednesday!


Make a robot friend with Adafruit’s CRICKIT – A Creative Robotics & Interactive Construction Kit. It’s an add-on to our popular Circuit Playground Express, FEATHER and other platforms to make and program robots with CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. Start controlling motors, servos, solenoids. You also get signal pins, capacitive touch sensors, a NeoPixel driver and amplified speaker output. It complements & extends your boards so you can still use all the goodies on the microcontroller, now you have a robotics playground as well.

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