How to Make an Epic LED Snowboard Jacket #WearableWednesday #wearabletech #DIY #snowboarding

A few years ago a video of a killer ski suit with LEDs was everywhere on social media. This week a video of a simpler DIY version surfaced, thanks to Ruth John (@Rumrya). It is simpler, but it does come with a warning, which I’ll explain later. This project stays on budget with a used jacket from Ebay, five meters of Neopixels, an Espruino and some batteries. Ruth’s blog reveals the decisions made for this project, starting with the layout of the LEDs. She originally wanted to use the strips in patterns on the jacket, but realized that there would not be enough length. Having the tech be removable was also part of the checklist, because she didn’t want any hassles at airports. So, the result was a spiral wrap of LEDs leading from the the collar to the bottom pocket. Notice that the strips are on the outside of the jacket, held in place by clips that have been stitched on at intervals. When it came time to test the jacket on the slopes, there was an unexpected challenge involving Ruth’s chosen model, a snowboard instructor named Keir.

…it wasn’t until he had gone to do a run in the dark did we realise, he couldn’t see. The glare from the LEDs was really strong. Now Keir knew where he was going and was familiar with the landscape, but like I said before please do not try this at home!

Neopixels are bright. I can imagine even if you dial them down in the code that the reflection off the white slope would still make them fierce. So, please do consider this warning if you are contemplating your own LED outfit for a sport. However, with that being said, this project was a success and no batteries were confiscated at the airport. Here’s Ruth’s final thoughts.

Keir does look like a super hero (of sorts) and it was hilarious and loads of fun. Even just editing the video and looking back on it now I’m like, yeah we put LEDs on a snowboard jacket and took it up a mountain and then made a video and that was totally cool.

Congrats to Ruth and Keir for a great project that makes snow even more magical. Maybe it’s time to start putting together outfits for the next Olympics.

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