This project stemmed from a very personal problem. An issue amongst individuals that are housed in environments with proportionately few bathrooms my relate. Sometimes there’s someone in the bathroom when you really need to be in there. And sometimes, they don’t come out for a very long time. So, I came up with a nifty solution to avoid this problem.
I installed a button that triggers an alarm in the bathroom that can only be turned off by opening the door.
The first idea is another variant on the Stalaglite. Instead of a blanket, it’s a single unit, with a strap to hang it from the ceiling, if desired. The Stalaglite unit has been scaled up to turn the room into a cave, instead of just the blanket. This version would be semi-plush, with a robust core to keep electronics in place.
Idea two relates to neck posture. There are safe and unsafe neck postures, which depend on the angle of the neck from a neutral position. Computer postures are iffy, laptop postures border on dangerous, and tablets/phones are the worst of the bunch. The idea is there would be a wearable sensor that detects neck angle, and alerts you when you’re neck angle is in the “dangerous” realm.
Idea three arouse out of necessity. There’s only one bathroom in my apartment, which is usually fine, but there have been several occasions where the bathroom was occupied for an extended period of time, which coincided with when I desperately needed access to a potty. In any case, I’ve come up with an ingeneous solution to have an emergency potty button, which triggers a flashing red light and alarm inside the bathroom, and can only be turned off once the door is opened (the alarm would turn off automatically).
I wanted to continue with my Stalaglite Cave Blanket, so for this project, I decided to turn one of the stalaglites into a control switch for the entire blanket. For the purposes of this assignment, I scaled down the blanket into 3 stalaglites and a control switch.
I started by making a conductive pompom using some special, conductive roving and yarn. After some experimenting, I realized I needed to limit the amount of conductive space, so I made a little shell for the pompom out of felt.
The arduino is wired using the arrangement for a photoresistor, but in place of the light sensor, the pompom is attached to alligator clips, which act as the resistor in the circuit.
I velcroed the second alligator clip to the felt shell to keep it in place. When pressure is applied to the alligator clip, it comes in contact with the conductive pompom, completing the circuit. This mechanism acts as the switch to turn on and off the stalaglites.
LED wiring and Pompom squeeze!
After testing the switch, I placed it inside the stuffed stalaglite cone, and added an indicator for where to press. Once everything was in place, I sewed a base piece to the stalaglite to keep parts from shifting.
I made two versions of the code. During wiring and experimentation, I set my code so that the staglites are on only while the switch is being pressed. In the final code, the switch acts as an on/off button.
Lexi likes to play cave explorer when she’s supposed to be asleep. She flips her blankets over her head and grabs a small flashlight she keeps on her nightstand. She crawls through the cave, searching for poor lost Hammy Hamster McPlushmaster. But something about her flashlight keeps Hammy Hamster McPlushmaster in hiding. Now she can leave the flashlight on the nightstand when she drapes her Stalaglite blanket over her bed. Now she can find Hammy again. Her blanket cave experience will never be the same.
Pattern making and testing on scrap fabric
Tracing patterns onto fabric (below)
Cutting out patterns
Sewing into cones (below)
Cut holes in blanket
Insert cones into blanket holes
Whipstitch cones to blanket
Make dat circuit
What to do Differently
The scale of the project was ambitious considering the time frame and my sewing abilities. I probably should have done it on a washcloth and put about 4 stalaglites on it. That would’ve made more sense. I think the stalaglites could be a bit smaller, and the blanket would benefit from greater diversity in stalaglite sizes.
Ideally, the blanket would use string lights and there would be lights in each of the stalaglites.
This is the same model of the cell phone I used in middle school. I wish I could say I had fond memories, but this was the one cell phone I completely destroyed, even before this project. That being said, prying it apart was way more difficult than I anticipated…
Nothing too drastic.
The cool little silver bubbles [right photo] are actually the buttons(?!)
The back looks really complicated. I have no idea what’s going on.
This is where the struggle got real. So real.
Popped out the screen.
Front flip display (left), main display (right). They’re a single entity.