October 2011 Archives

LED biking gloves

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In late August, I took up biking. Prior to that, it had been about eight years since I'd ridden at all. And I had never used a bike as my primary way of getting around. I was a committed pedestrian and public transit user. And then Jack Layton died, which made me have a serious think about where I fit in the city. So I overhauled my bike and started riding.

In the just-over-two months that I've been riding, I've come to understand why cyclists in Toronto are so grumpy. Every day, I ride about five blocks on St. George, a street with a dedicated bike lane. Every day, I find myself having to swerve into car traffic to avoid cars, taxis or delivery trucks parked in the bike lane. I've already had minor accidents caused by misuse of bike lanes. Short of getting a helmet cam or taking up reporting traffic infractions as a hobby, there's not much I can do about that one.

However, there are some issues I can solve for myself. One is the visibility problem. Biking at night or in bad weather, things can get pretty dangerous. After one too many near-doorings, I've decided to make myself into a very bright, moving object. That's where the LED gloves come in. In addition to my front and rear lights, I decided last week that a little extra glow might come in handy. So I spent part of my weekend working on these little beauties.

They're a pretty basic pair of gloves, with a few added electronic goodies. There's a bright, white LED sewn onto each finger, near the lowest knuckle. The LEDs, as well as the conductive thread wiring, are covered in silicone to protect them from the elements.

Power is supplied by a battery pack sewn onto the underside of the wrist, where it doesn't get in the way. .

20111031_005.jpgOn top of the forefinger, I've sewn a patch of conductive fabric.

20111031_008.jpgThe thumb has conductive fabric as well. When they touch, the two patches of conductive fabric close the circuit...

20111031_009.jpgWhich makes the LEDs on the knuckles light up. Because my thumb naturally covers my forefinger when I grip the handlebars, assuming my normal riding posture is enough to turn the LEDs on. Which means that, as long as my batteries are charged up, the gloves light up when I'm riding and turn off when I'm not. All with about six dollars of components, a cheap pair of gloves and some time.


Jack Layton, poster-style

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I've been meaning to draw this since, well, late August. Finally have. It's another one (like Grace Hopper) that can be printed on 11x17 paper. Based on a photo from Wikimedia Commons.