by hoeken, published
This was inspired by a cool project I saw a long time ago on the hypernets: engadget.com/2008/04/23/keyboard-infused-pants-make-it-okay-to-grab-your-crotch/
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I saw these on a YouTube channel called Vsause. But the company who announced this never followed through with selling them. I wish someone sold these! Oh, and could you possibly re-upload the video of you playing tetris? I would like to see these in action.
The internal circuitry is some sort of silkscreened conductive ink on a flexible plastic layer which is separated by a thin die-cut plastic sheet. The problem is that the traces were very close together, and any attempt to solder to them would melt the underlying plastic layer.
I tried to use conductive thread, but the needle was too big for the traces and would either bridge or short or destroy the trace. There were about 15-20 traces to connect as well.
Basically my skills and patience were not up to the task. To do this properly, you'd have to design a new keyboard
that was split, or possibly use wire glue.
Once I had cut them in half, I inspected the circuit to see just how hard it would be to solder the traces back together. Unfortunately it was impossible to solder traces on, and it was equally hard to use conductive thread to join the traces. After a bit of fussing, I abandoned the idea of having a fully functional keyboard and just went for style points. Interestingly enough, the left side of the keyboard still works (its attached to the USB cord still)
My basic process for making these was simple:
1. Scan the keyboards in on a desktop scanner.
2. Import the images into Inkscape and trace vectors around all the keys.
3. Open the SVG into Corel Draw for lasercutting. (power to 85, speed to 70)
4. Lasercut the jeans with a piece of wood between the layers so it only cut the front.
5. Sew around the edges of the keyboard to attach them to the jeans. The edges were just silicone which was really easy to sew through.
6. Sew a patch behind the keyboard so that its not silicone directly on your skin (gets a bit sweaty)
It was a fun afternoon build process, and I really enjoyed combining hacking and clothing (and fashion?). Sewing was actually pretty fun, but so is everything else that involves dangerous objects. I also really enjoyed the physical object -> digital design -> physical object from using the scanner as the initial data input.
Oh, and even though the keyboard just barely functions, here's a video of me kicked back playing Tetris on them:
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