Monica’s Halloween Costume WIP

Let It Rain: A wearable vest that emulates a rainy day


Pseudo code

Six LED strips are laid out in parallel, three on each of the front sides of the vest. The LED strips turn and off in a manner that simulates a raindrop falling down. First LED turns on (blue color), a split second later, the second LED turns on, and the first LED turns off. Then the thirds LED turns on and the second turns off, and so on. When the light reaches the final pixel of the strip, it goes back to the top.

This happens on all 6 strips. The only difference is that they don’t all start the loop at the same time, so as the rain to look like it is falling organically.

Extra fun stuff (optional): the rain gets ‘heavier’ or ‘lighter’ with the turning of a sensor (a potentiometer?). Heavier means that the raindrops would fall faster, which in code would mean that the delay between the lighting of each subsequent LED would be less.


Polyfill, black velvet fabric (base), black transluscent fabric (to conceal and protect LEDs) Adafruit GEMMA, Adafruit Soft flexible NeoPixel strip (50 NeoPixels), 1200 mAh battery

Early Circuit Tinkering

Ideally the circuit has 6 independently pinned strips.
Version 1.0

After lots of research, I thought I needed something similar to the ‘simple’ sketch in the Adafruit NeoPixel library. I added a ‘pixels.clear’ function to the end of the code to make it look like rain. However, I then had trouble attaching more NeoPixel strips and having the same code run simultaneously, instead of having only one strip light up at a time. See the Tinkercad circuit here.

Version 2.0

The “Florabella” rain program kind of did the job for the 2-strip set up I had made. Then it completely stopped working when I added 6 strips. See new circuit with 6 strips here.

Monica’s NeoPixel Circuit and Halloween Kickoff

NeoPixel Exercise

Halloween Costume Ideas

Idea 1 – Dancer’s Magic Sleeves

The idea here is that the fairy lights or LED strips hidden underneath a mesh (ballerina-style sleeves) turn on when an accelerometer detects motion.

Shopping list: Accelerometer, sleeves, fairy lights (I already have some, must check that I have enough), TBD with Becky: battery pack needs and resistor needs

Idea 2 – Fairy wings

A similar idea here. A series of fairy lights or LED strips will be sewn onto fairy wings. The lights will light up when they detect light. The photo-sensor will be located on a tubular belt that is attached to the wings and through which any wires run.

Shopping list: Photometer (I already have one, but must test that it works), sleeves, fairy lights (I already have some, must check that I’ve enough), fairy wings, belt and straps. TBD with Becky: check battery pack needs and resistor needs

Idea 3 – Rain vest

Several fairy lights or LED strips will be hanging from the shoulders of a vest. Over the starting points of these lights will be some poly-fill or fluff that looks like clouds.

Shopping list: Black vest, alternatively I can make it myself, fairy lights (I already have some, must check that I’ve enough), poly-fill. TBD with Becky: check battery pack needs and resistor needs

Darkie – Monica’s Plush Night Light

Were you ever scared of the dark?

Chances are that you were. Fear of the dark is specially common in children ages 3-6 when “children are old enough to use their imagination but have not fully developed the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality” 1.

Source: Fear of Darkness Infographic
What if children could see the dark in a new light?

Enter Darkie, a night light plushy in the shape of a cute little monster. When on, Darkie reveals its lit big red heart, aimed at increasing feelings of comfort and trust with children. Darkie will be especially helpful in the early-childhood years when children are transitioning into sleeping independently from their parents.

Darkie loves to be hugged

Darkie can in used in bed with the user, or sit on the night stand and be ready to be grabbed when the child needs to run to the bathroom or a fluffy companion to go to the parents’ room.

While Darkie doesn’t claim to solve or prevent fear of darkness in children, it does aim to act as an approachable, positive and tangible representation of darkness and thus might ease feelings of fear in children.


Diffusion experimentation with single LED
4-LED circuit for Darkie
Soldering and placing the shrink-tube in place
Soldered circuit working!
Cut loofah in the shape of a heart with inserted circuit
Machine-sewn plush body
Filling Darkie up


Toy: Velvet upholstery fabric, mesh, stuffing, goggly eyes, sponge. Electronics: 4 soldered red LEDs with AAA battery pack

My Journey

I began wanting to make a toy in the shape of a person, but early prototyping wasn’t very successful. I decided to keep the idea of the lit heart. After a hard but ultimately successful time soldering the LED circuit, I discovered that I could get great light diffusion and make a heart shape by sticking the LEDs into a loofah. Then the question was how to get the heart into a plushy… I didn’t know what I was going to make.

It was only at the fabric store that I realized what my plush toy would actually be: a little darkness monster with a heart! This seemed like a much better and clear idea than my original.

Takeaways from this project
  • It was hard to get the LED to work, but when they do, it’s really fun!
  • Making, cutting and sew the pattern is not a quick gig. (I thought I would be able to do it in 40 mins but actually took me 2+ hours, at full productivity mode.
  • I realized I should have sewn the ears onto the main body before closing up the main body. That would have made the seam between parts way better.
  • Conveying the darkness int he final photos was hard, and I’m not sure if the choice of background was good.

Monica’s Plush Night Light Proposal

Sewing exercise from class

LED circuit and soldering exercise from class

The Story

A boy called Benjamin is waiting for his parents to come home after a day of work. Ben’s had a bad day at school and is feeling lonely. He is waiting, wondering when they’ll come home, wishing he could count down the minutes to see his loved ones.

This plush night light represents a person (a loved one) and has LEDs that draw the shape of a heart. The LEDs turn on and off in such a way that it reminds of a loading screen, or a loading animation. It means to signify that the love is coming.

Early Sketches


Parts and Materials

diffussion Exploration


Materials to use

  • Cosy fabric (main body)
  • Translucent fabric (to go above LEDs)
  • Thread
  • LED circuit with battery pack

Circuit Diagram

Tinkercad link here

Treadmill Monitor Teardown


The victim of my teardown is a treadmill monitor. It has push buttons and an LCD panel on the front side. On the backside, it has a metal piece to hook onto a treadmill and a lidded slot for two AA batteries.

The Teardown

The outer carcass of the monitor is held together by a small handful of screws that are easily visible on the backside. Though rusty, these were easy to remove.

On the inside, a large circuit board with myriad parts is firmly attached to the bottom of the carcass with small screws. These took effort to remove. The push buttons however, popped right off.

It was surprising that the screen was taped onto the carcass with mere tape! You could definitely tell how old this item was from that yellowed color….

A- Always B-be K-Knolling (if you don’t get it see this)

The Parts

The circuit boardtechnically a Printed circuit board (PCB), is made of a series non-conductive material layers (like fiberglass) that conceal copper circuits that run along the board. Most copper circuits are protected by a thin green laminate (which can easily be scratched off!) that superficially illustrates where the copper wires lie. Some copper circuits however, are revealed, like in the case of the push-buttons and the LCD screen. Here is a cool PCB breakdown by layers graphic that I found.

The six golden squares and rectangle on the right hand side are areas of revealed copper circuitry.

PCB boards are manufactured in factories by a series of cutting machines, drilling robots, edge-polishing machines, plating the with boards copper, printing the circuit diagrams on the boards, and so on and so forth. This video shows the complete process.

LDC screen – is made of liquid crystal material, which I don’t really know what it means, but it looks like it is made of a series of glass and other very thin sheets of polarized film and films with electrodes.

The encasing – the rigid plastic enclosure that protects and keeps in place all the electronic parts of the monitor, as well as the buttons and batteries. Likely injection-molded in a factory.

The buttons – made out of hard plastic and rubber, the buttons are injection molded, then the inscriptions on them are (probably) UV printed by machines.

Back To the Board

On the monitor’s PCB board are the following:

  • One TC4069UB Hex Inverter, which is responsible of inverting the signal received (if IN is LOW, then OUT is HIGH; of if IN is TRUE then OUT is FALSE)
  • One LM324N operational amplifier which responds to a small input signal and produces a larger output with the same characteristics as the input.
  • Plenty of resistors (R) of different line colors. Resistors are used to reduce current flow.
  • Several 104 round ceramic capacitors (C), as well as larger cylindrical capacitors. Capacitors store electrical energy.
  • Diodes (D). Diodes act as one-way-switches for current, meaning that it enables a current to flow in one direction, but prevents it to flow in the other.
  • Connector Jacks (J). Connector jacks are used to connect sub-sections of a circuit together.
  • Transistors (Q). Which look like short cylinders out of which a slice has been taken off. Transistors are responsible for regulating current, of for amplifying a signal into an even greater signal.
  • Switches (S) (apparently, though they don’t look like it). Switches are responsible
  • Meters (M). Meters measure the currents and voltages in a circuit without changing them.

Other terminology that I looked up:

  • Blowers/motors (B)
  • Terminals (E)

List of Tools and Techniques for Teardown

-Large screw driver star bit to detach the monitor mount from the monitor

-Medium screw driver star bit to open the monitor encasing

-Small screw driver star bit to internally dismount the circuit board from the monitor’s encasing.

-Snippets to cut the wires joining the circuit to the speaker.

My Favorite Design Elements

  1. The revealed copper circuitry int he areas where the buttons and LCD screen are touching the circuit board. It is elegant and I like the bit of reveal.
  2. The push-buttons, starting with the fact that the markings on them are still intact. This means the designers really considered the fact that users would be sweating, and selected the most lasting printing method.

Questions for Becky:

On the board, there are some components that look like one thing, but the markings label them as another thing. For example, I see what looks like a transistors that is marked as E B C on the board. I’m confused about why that is.

Hey, I’m Monica

Me working at Noble Plateware

I was born in Bogota, Colombia, and came to New York to pursue a BFA in Studio Art at NYU. I came in as a painter and left as a sculptor with a newfound passion and interest in ceramics. After graduating, I worked at Noble Plateware, a boutique pottery studio in Gowanus. I was in charge of casting all the mugs and glazing most of their dinnerware. I had a great time listening to podcasts, the Brian Lehrer Show and all the Harry Potter books with the small team at the studio.

For the past year and half I’ve been working as a freelance graphic designer and also dabbled into starting my own little handmade pottery business.

When I’m not working I like to partner dance, eat cake and anything sweet, and watch any good show or movie in German. I thrive when I’m around people and movement, which you can see on my personal insta.

I look forward to getting more techy in this course and and apprehensive about the inevitable coding frustrations.

Ps. I’m working on moving my old WordPress website into my new website. In the meantime you can check my older artwork and writing, go here.

See you in class!