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September 7, 2016 AT 1:00 am

The Wearable Tech You Need to Make for Exciting Climbs #WearableWednesday #Arduino #Wearabletech

Climbing Jacket

It’s great when a maker is inspired to do a project with a personal tie. That’s why I like this jacket made for climbing by Martijn that I discovered over on Hackaday. He was inspired by a glow-in-the-dark party at his climbing gym (which sounds awesome) and wanted something a little more than just a glow. In this case, the jacket’s WS2812 LEDs respond to different heights of a climb. I thought this would be an easy task using a barometric pressure (altimeter) sensor. However, Martijn outlines the challenges.

The pressure sensor is used to calculate the altitude. This is quite sensitive, so I also created a base station to transmit the reference pressure at ground level. The jacket calculates my current height above the base station and adjusts the color of the jacket accordingly.

Jacket Arduino

The base station use an Arduino Uno and a NRF24L01 for communication. You can see he is using the Arduino Pro Mini for the jacket, which is compact and allows just enough room for the barometric pressure sensor. Velcro allows easy removal so he can re-program easily. I should mention that the jacket was hand-made and Martijn mentions the challenge of using stretch fabric with electronics. Fabric that moves for a physical activity like climbing makes sense, and had he used conductive thread to attach his LEDs there is a good chance it would have broken or puckered the fabric. Instead, he chose to do wire and smartly used longer lengths in wavy patterns that he attached periodically with thread. The extra wire provides just enough give to allow for good reach during climbs.

Wiring Allows Motion

This is a great use of LEDs and sensing, so make sure you check out Martijn’s project write-up. However, I’m still curious if the altimeter portion of this could have been easier. We have a solid learning guide on our BMP280 Barometric Pressure/Temperature Sensor and I know that the 280 is supposed to be an upgrade to the previous 085, 180 and 183. Maybe the accuracy would be better here. Anyway, this sensor certainly has my mind spinning with possibilities for uses. What would you like to make?

Barometric Pressure Sensor


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