La moda del PVC |


This is a small post that tells you the story of making pvc garments for RF sensors.

PVC sheet are awesome. Flexible. Strong. Semitransparent, and cheap. Ideally, we are not supposed to laser cut them, but because fablabBCN is awesome, so we can.  Set the power to (15~20) and the speed to 75 on the Epilog laser and go ahead.   It should be fast and not so powerful otherwise the sheets are deformed or become very curled that you can’t work with them.


Screenshot from 2013-06-26 00:21:04

Those wearables’ shapes are inspired by plane surfaces generated from volumes created by antenna fields. Well, the field shapes change according to antenna design and frequency, but those prototypes are only inspired, it is not accurate or parametric, which is something that could be investigated in a further iteration.

Below is a step by step documentation on how the process takes place and how the material looks like through the different phases. The idea, initially was to make use of how interestingly the material diffuses the light, and use it to reflect the sensor readings, but the plan didn’t run exactly as imagined, at least, so far.


 Smelling burning PVC isn’t fun, so it better to keep away from the machine while working. The material itself keeps an unpleasant smell for a few days or a few hours, depending on the size. Don’t wash it or treat it, it just looses the smell gradually by itself.

The item, separately, is quite interesting, I guess and is appealing for guys and girls (Thanks to Blanca Duarte and Gerard Rubio for modelling!)
Now, lets see, how to integrate the sensor within. In the early stages of this project, I had trials for finding ways to make the lightest circuit possible, I tried conductive ink (which was incredibly impossible with smd components) and tried copper sheets, which was fine for most components, except for the very small RF log piece.

DSC00139DSC00126 It gets really challenging trying to be creative while using smd components! DSC00168 So finally I gave up and decided to just mill a normal pcb board because the above ones didn’t work! DSC00104
Then trying to go creative with the antenna, that was even more challenging:

For instance,this is a pcb milled fractal antenna, that didn’t mill correctly.
DSC00110Weaved wires are incredibly attractive to work with..but
DSC00172Performance wise,it just doesn’t work!DSC00153 I even tried weaving fractals, but that was completely insane! IMG797IMG800That wasn’t a bad trial using copper sticker on cardboard, but the thickness and the properties of the cardboard affects its performance, also not being rigid enough, doesn’t help.DSC00108
So I just used normal 1.5mm laminated copper wire loop and biquad antennas, and they worked. It is challenging to combine creative crafting with antenna that needs considerations with orientations, ground connections, alignment..etc. I used online javascript calculators to get dimensions and specifications.

So initially the circuit was that bigdiagram Then replacing the arduino with those cute attiny84 pieces:DSC00170 We end up in a much accommodate circuitCiruict which is rough on a prefboard, and demonstrates my horrific soldering talents, yet it works, just plug in 2 CR2032 3V batteries. I made a necklace that goes with the pvc piece above, the integration isn’t great, but ..instagramedvivid Even Raquel likes it! DSC00050The good things is that it works nicely with measurements,as illustrated in the video below, it just deserves a second chance for fabrication and integration.

This item is one of a small collection of two. I tell you more about the other piece in a separate post. In case you are wondering what is the purpose of this garment anyway, or what can we do with it, then kindly check the previous post.

Hasta luego.

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