Tuesday, October 28, 2014

JJ 100 'Dirt Nap Gaucho'

Good Ole' Atomic Number 15.  For those who love science you have to appreciate an element that makes things glow; Phosphor.  Add some super basic electrical concepts to it and whala, you have ElWire in all it's fragile glory.

Ive used El before but in very small projects and always on something somewhat stationary.  Add to the confusion and problems of not just wearable electronics but stretchy fabric that you intend to be very active in over a consistently long period of time.  The intelligent short attention span person would smartly step away.. Uhmm, maybe run away from such a task.  At least you would if everything had to be done by hand and you had zero helper hands.  Somehow in my alternate reality state (think, Steve Jobs) I could only envision how super awesome it would be and what kind of reception it would get from others if I could pull it off.

In comes my vision of what you already saw in my first post, the painting of running tights and top to try and make a "Day of the Dead" themed costume.  The painting came out fine and to make it even cooler I layered all the bone structure with a glow in the dark textile paint.  The effect of that is way better than I had expected.  I just finished the running top with the wiring and what a pain in the ass it was to figure out how to make El work with stretchable fabrics.  After trying a couple of different things I finally landed on what I think is an excellent solution.  I sliced tiny 1/4" segments of a 3/8 clear pond pump vinyl tubing.  Let me back-up, sewing El straight to fabric was just fine until I tried to put on the tights and "stretched" all the stitches out and broke some El connections in the process.  I needed a free floating solution while still trying to outline the bones.  Originally I wanted to outline the full bone on each body part but later determined one line of El is plenty due to cost and time constraints.  For those who've used El before you can appreciate that I had to strip, find, solder, sand, and connect more than 85 segments of El for just a mere 29ft of wire.

Picture on right better explains my method.  Best part is it not only can account for the stretch of the fabric without putting strain on the delicate El Wire but as segments break I can just cut it out and re-insert a new piece without having to sew :) YAY because my fingers are trashed from all the needle threading and trying to strip and solder all those dam angel hair connectors around the copper wire.

Just the top of shirt took about 22 hours of labor and thankfully the pants will be so so much easier as they have only 1/8 of the connections.  To help keep the wires in place a bit I just used a dab of hot glue for a spot-weld, works GREAT.  Though most of the costume is still yet to be finished (and I only have about six hours to do it) I consider the short to be by far the most difficulty and pain staking, but it came out so well I'm confident the rest will come together with ease.. even if I just have to slap it all together with safety pins.

I have gone through running motions with wire attached and did have to make a change to where the joints are.  For those areas I used 26gauge stranded wire for it's very nice flexibility and to prevent any "breaks" in the phosphor coating.  I'm pretty confident everything will hold up relatively well and best case scenario is I'll try to wear this for 55 or more of my 100 consecutive miles being run.  I'll get some video posted to better show the "Tron" aspects my self proclaimed "Dirt Nap Gaucho" costume, but here's a couple pics with lights on and off.  BTW - get it.. Dirt Nap as in Dead, as in Muertos.  Gaucho because I should have some hand sewn accoutrement's to depict the old style of Spanish Cowboy.


Norm said...

Saw you out there pre-race. Phenomenal outfit! The hard work was well worth it. Hope you had a good race!!

Joey Bryan said...

Thanks Norm. The comments and appreciation from fellow runners (especially at night) made everything worth it without question.