Spin Switch

For my innovative switch I created a yarn tassle that triggers a LED strip when spun. The inspiration behind the switch came from my background in figure skating. I imagined this to be used when skaters spin and LEDs in their outfits would be activated.


To start, I looked at Leila’s J-Lo spinning toy and did some experiments with springs to understand how to make a connection with centripetal force. Then I learned how to crochet with Natsuki and worked with her to create templates that made stretchy yarn tubes. To make the switch I crocheted conductive yarn into regular yarn and attached hex nuts to give weight at one end. When pulled the resistance in the yarn tube’s conductivity decreases because the yarn is more tightly held together.

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From there I used the yarn tube as an analog switch to monitor the change in resistance. When pulled the resistance of the switch went from 1000 to under 900. I programmed the change to signal the turning on of an LED. Then I altered the code on a NeoPixels LED strip to create a color swipe.

int ledPin = 9;
int sensorPin = 0;
int threshold = 800;

void setup()

void loop()
if (analogRead(sensorPin) < threshold) {

void rainbow(uint8_t wait) {
uint16_t i, j;

for(j=0; j<256; j++) {
for(i=0; i<strip.numPixels(); i++) {
strip.setPixelColor(i, Wheel((i+j) & 255));
if(analogRead(sensorPin) > threshold) {
// Set all LEDs to black
for(i=0; i<strip.numPixels(); i++) {
strip.setPixelColor(i, 0,0,0);

// delay(wait);

The best part of this process was bringing together the NeoPixels LED strip and the analog stretchy switch. I learned to how for loops work and how to break them so that the LED strip turns off once the switch returns to its original, un-pulled state. Because my main goal for the class is to better understand code, I felt like this part of the process was the most challenging and rewarding.


I also learned to hard wire my wires and switch, but ultimately failed to make the full connections. For the final demo, I ended up using masking tape to hold down all the wires on my breadboard and quickly sewed a pocket belt to encase the parts.

To move forward I’d have to find a way to make this switch wearable and stable so that the centripetal force from the spinner causes the switch to pull. For now, swinging the switch works just fine.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/111701202″>Making Studio: Centripetal Force Switch</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/edenlew”>Eden Lew</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Chelsea and Eden’s Final Project

Inspired by MFA Computer Arts Code Conscious exhibition in the SVA Flatiron Gallery, Chelsea and
have decided to team up to create an interactive digital/physical installation. We stumbled upon Terry Dame and Federico Muelas’s Sonic Graphite 2B exhibit while getting sodas. At first we thought it was a giant collaborative drawing on the wall, but we soon learned that the graphite to graphite contact would output sounds. The installation was fun and collaborative, and we revisited it two more times to figure out its construction.


We started mind-mapping possible inputs and outputs to figure out interesting cause and effects we could produce. Creating a list of verbs helped us think about the overall interaction. Ideas like pulling light or smearing sound could be interesting gestures to experiment with.
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One idea is to use a pulse monitor to read people’s heart rate. When “plugged in” the speed of heart rates will emit different sounds.
Another idea is to create modular connective structures. People have to play around with the connections to discover new sounds.
Our goals for this project are to start small and simple, and focus on creating a well-crafted final product. We think it will be a new challenge for us to output sound rather than lights. We also want our installation to evoke a sense of playfulness and curiosity.
Moving Forward:
For our feasibility tests, Chelsea and I will start building simple circuits with soundboards and different types of sensors. Starting small and learning about the technical considerations will ultimately drive us to understand the possible forms this could take.

Turtles, Basketballs and Ice Skating

So there’s this turtle. And when you flip it over, a tilt switch is activated. The switch powers some motors connected to gears to create the effect of turtle legs wriggling in the air. Why am I making this? To tell kids not to flip turtles.

As much as I would love to make this turtle and be able to explore gear making, I realize that the switch isn’t very interesting. So no turtles for me.


Now you’ve learned that I like turtles. But I also like basketball. Idea 2 is a basketball dribble counter. Coding the counter would be an amazing way to understand computer logic. But you can also just count dribbles in your head. And this isn’t really a switch. So no basketballs for me.


The idea I’ve decided to commit to is a huge challenge. It’s basically Leila’s J-LO spinning toy but in human form. As a figure skater, I like to spin around at high speeds. Figure skating outfits would be a great platform for new technologies to be incorporated into performances. So what if the outfit lit up while you’re spinning?

I’ve discussed structural designs with Becky, Jon, Natsuki and Boris who have all given me great directions. It’s going to be hard and it might involve the testing of springs, knitted conductive fabrics, marbles, weights or string. I’m not sure if I can succeed, but I will start off with dissecting Leila’s teardown toy.

To test this off-ice, I could spin around in a rolly chair or ship my off-ice skate spinner training tool up from Texas to spin around in the VFL among the saws and blades.


Please let me know if you have any ideas on how to build this thing!!!

Impact Helmet by Eden

As a native Texan I’m supposed to be interested or at least aware of football. But I guess I’m just a bad Texan for not being into football culture. However I’ve always been interested in brains and guts, and after reading some articles about football players and head trauma, I was inspired to make this plush night light.

For those who don’t know, many football players suffer from CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy. When the player gets knocked around in the head, the brain tissue starts to degenerate and an accumulation of tau proteins start to form. These proteins cause long term symptoms such as aggression, depression, dementia and more.

My impact helmet could be an educational tool for people to visually experience the effects of hitting someone in the head. Perhaps for parents, can monitor the amount of times their kids are creating force on their developing brains. If many kids are wearing them during a game, they may be able to see the effects of hitting others in the head.

During the process of prototyping the helmet, I learned a lot about sewing rounded, headpieces. The craft isn’t quite there yet, and with some practice I’d like to try and perfect it. Soldering and learning the circuitry was entirely new to me and I would like to find better ways of creating a more stable impact switch in my helmet.




Eden’s 3 Plush Night Light Ideas

Here are my three ideas:


1. Soft Power Tools: When I first learned how to use woodshop tools I was terrified. But soon after learning the machines, they became my best friends. I would like to share the happiness of power tools with others with the concept of hard, scary objects turned soft. Now children can play with power tools. In a softer safer way.

2. Breathing Guts: I want to make plush guts that are wearable. You can see the lungs breath, the bacteria in your stomach move and your heart beat. I was born with weak lungs and have a history of pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma. My stomach is also pretty messed up from the bottles of antibiotics I would have to down and the unhealthy foods I consume.

3. Wearable lights: I’m afraid of the dark because I’ve been scarred as a child from The Shining. I’ve done my best to block the movie from my memory, but I always get chills when I’m alone or in hotel hallways or empty play grounds…etc. Thinking of ways to wear long loops of light might help that fear go away.

Sword Tear Down by Eden Lew

[Images have been fixed]

On my way to Toys R Us, I found a Chinese toy wholesale shop. It was cheap-toy heaven. Long story short: I never made it to Toys R Us and got this rad sword for $5.


It lights up and has 3 rotations of slashing and fighting noises.

Time to tear!

First I had to use a tiny screwdriver. Thankfully I had one lying around.



I had to remove 10 tiny screws before I could open the plastic “handle case.” Then I popped open the case and pulled out 3 batteries. They are T&E brand batteries, made in China, and contain 0.00% Hg (Probably stands for mercury?) according to the packaging.


After that, everything easily fell out. Unfortunately, nothing was labeled very well, so I took a guess at all the parts. First, there was a green electronic looking chip. I’m thinking this is the motherboard or brains of the toy because all the wires are soldered to it. A string of 4 clear LEDs, two larger clear LEDs, and a blue push button/toggle switch connects to the left side of the chip. The right side has connections to a circular sound speaker with the label “TWM .023 Ohms”, and two metal parts of the battery holder. I’m thinking that the push button (when pushed) sends power to the chip which sets off both the LEDs and the speaker. I do not believe that the lights and sound correlate.


I also pulled out two plastic bulbs that held the larger LEDs. Although I don’t have a background in manufacturing methods, I can tell that these bulbs were made in halves and then stuck together like a puzzle. The exterior is a smooth and spherical-like, while the interior has geometric facets.


To create the colored lights, 4 colored straws were taped together and shoved into a hollow plastic blade. I’m not sure why they decided to use straws instead of colored LEDs. I could tell that these straws were hand-taped, which led me to wonder about the working conditions in this factory.


I decided to dissect the plastic, hollow blade by running my OLFA knife along the seam of the plastic. This blade was probably stamped or vacuum formed in two parts and then seals together with heat to make a hollow interior.



The two design elements that intrigued me the most would have to be in the details. I was not impressed by the designer’s solution of cramming all the electronic parts into a shell. Although it may be clever, I’m not a fan of cheap straws taped together to make long rows of colored lights. My interest is in the small details that they decided to create in such a cheap toy. The light bulb’s interior faceting is an elegant little touch that turns a regular light into a fake crystal. The designs pressed into the blade didn’t need to exist, but it adds a level of decoration to this cheap wholesale toy. These details make me feel like some thought was put into the making of this sword.