Wraithguard

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or what was supposed to be Wraithguard

This is my final project for the wearable technology class this semester. I really wanted to focus on something more frivolous than some of the other projects I made in the past three years. Thus the concept ended up being rooted in media that I enjoy.

At first I really wanted to create a version of Wraithguard from Morrowind. I am still struggling to finish up a post about Morrowind which would explain my desire to bother with this. After looking over the possibilities for duplicating or mimicking this design I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t a plausible way for me to make it look pleasing. Adjusting my influences I looked at some other fan projects I could undertake.

Once I tinkered a bit things starting to look very much like a Cyberpunk garment. I realized that this could be an object not built by professionals or for mass production but rather in an environment where people would scramble to create something out of the junk they had lying around. A tool that would be wasteful, suboptimal, dangerous to use but one that would complete the required task.

Here is the initial glove work:

Beyond aesthetics I wanted to tackle the technical challenge of running a large amount of EL material in a purely wearable project (aka no cord to the wall.) Here began some heavier challenges, at first I didn’t think a 12v inverter would be a good idea. So I decided to pick up some 2AA volt battery + inverter packs. After hooking one up to the wire I noticed that it was horribly dim. Realizing that the inverter is taking in 3 volts I decided to test it with a 3.7 volt lipo battery. That didn’t go over well, the inverter lit the wire for a second then promptly burned up.

After some testing I decided to just go for as much voltage as I could muster, hoping to counteract the inevitable bulkiness by driving more EL material and having a more stunning final effect.

I picked up two 7.4 volt LiPo batteries, hooked them up together and powered a Leonardo with an EL Escudo Duo shield. This let me run an EL panel, tape and wire at a much brighter than even a 12 volt wall power supply did during testing.

I was really happy with just how bright the EL materials got, but had a new issue to deal with. This was getting quite heavy quite fast, the solution was to separate all the circuitry from the hand and move it to the upper arm. I crated a sturdy cord, wrapped it a few times in leftover EL wire and the outcome didn’t look too bad. All the components were strapped to a very wide Velcro strap:

Once all that came together I wanted to add some interactivity. Going back to my inspirations I realized that the constantly on EL materials made it look very clean and too functional. To randomize and add believable electrical flicker I attached a 3 axis accelerometer to the hand. This gave me three distinct movement values to work with in my code. I used them to adjust the pattern and delay between flickers of each individual piece of EL.

Accelerometer WIP:

And here are some shots of the final result:

Also Kate and Michael wearing it at the critique today:

Overall I am very happy with the outcome, it isn’t the Wraithguard I hoped for but I think that it has a really cool effect to it. I am also attaching the short three slide PDF I used to present this earlier. [Wearables 1 2013 Final]

Technical Details

The code is available in this gist. I tried to make it readable, most of it was done by slightly adjusting the values. These few lines comprise the the chunk that ended up controlling flicker timings.

While this dealt with some randomization of the sensor data.

The circuit itself was fairly basic. The accelerometer is connected straight to the Arduino pins via a cable, and the only other modification was adding a connector for the batteries that also contained a switch to turn everything on and off.

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