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Every year since 2013(?), I've modified an Ugly Christmas Sweater to light up, play music, that kind of thing. This year I wanted to create a piece that really spoke to 2020, and I thought of how isolating it can be to be separated from your friends and family, sometimes feeling like you're the only one doing your part to keep everyone safe during the pandemic, and needing to commiserate with other people. It's especially difficult over the holidays! So I created the Hoodie of Community, which allows you to tweet out your emotions and the wearable responds by displaying an appropriate light and music show. I thought at some point between Xmas and New Year's, I'll play games on a livestream on Twitch and invite people to tweet at the hoodie and they can see it light up live - so we can all be together, even if apart.I was inspired by the tweet-able wedding dress posted here https://medium.com/samsung-internet-dev/tweet-my-wedding-dress-e08fb90b097f and how it was intended to make the author's wedding participatory for everyone. I wanted to do the same thing for a holiday sweater.
I followed the wedding dress author's recipe and used an Adafruit Feather Huzzah with Wifi, together with IFTTT and Adafruit IO. I also bought a FeatherWing Music Maker so I could trigger music along with the light animations. I decided on the soft flexible fairy-light-style Neopixels - it's a LOT of neopixels for the money, and they look great on a wearable.
I started out by following the tutorials to set up the Huzzah, and I successfully got it to connect to my wifi and I blinked the light. The neopixels were tricky because I had to problem-solve which end was the input and which wire was which. Check the documentation online and be sure you know which wire is +5V, GND, and DIN. The Music Maker Featherwing worked fantastic, however I ordered speakers that were too tiny for the job and the music was inaudible. I probably should have ordered the music maker with amp, but I didn't think I needed it. Instead of ordering a new music maker, I got a small speaker with its own rechargeable battery, and it's just fine.
I set up accounts on Twitter, IFTTT, and Adafruit IO, and made a feed on Adafruit IO. My hoodie has its own account on Twitter: @apart_not_alone.
In the IFTTT recipe, if a tweet it sent that mentions @apart_not_alone, it sends the text of the tweet to my feed on Adafruit IO. The code on the Huzzah parses the tweet and looks for key phrases, and if it recognizes the key phrases, it plays a light and music animation to match the emotion.
For the code on the Huzzah, I used this example from the Adafruit Learn library and modified it so instead of activating a servo, it plays a track from the music maker and triggers a light animation.
I also thought it would be helpful to have a pushbutton that could trigger a random animation and song, so I could demo it on demand if I ever saw people in public. So I used this tutorial to wire a pushbutton to the whole system.
I soldered female headers to the Huzzah, then male headers to the Featherwing Music Maker and stacked them. The Music Maker has extra solder points - this was helpful so I could then attach the neopixels and the pushbutton and resistors.
Whenever I do a wearable project, I use an inline pushbutton between the device and the battery, and this is SO HELPFUL! I need to purchase a ton of these so I always have them on hand. https://www.digikey.com/en/products/detail/adafruit-industries-llc/3064/6022074?s=N4IgjCBcoLQdIDGUAuAnArgUwDQgPZQDa4ArAEwAcIAugL517nEgDMADAGwAstdQA
Everything is wired up and tested, and it even responds to tweets! Time to sew it onto the hoodie.
I put the Huzzah and Music Maker in a small baggie and 3d printed a little rectangular caddy to hold the battery and other electronics. I put the caddy in the hoodie's pocket when it's being worn, and pin the speaker to the outside.
Before (I bought the hoodie at Target):
It's a big hit when I wear it out Christmas shopping!
Here's the whole project in action!
A few weird caveats! As of this writing, for some reason I can only receive tweets that are 52 characters or less in length. I've been exchanging posts back and forth on the Adafruit IO forum about it and doing a ton of testing. Tweets that are 52 characters or less work fine. Tweets that are between 52 and 85 characters get truncated, tweets longer than 85 characters cause the device to freeze up and I have to reboot it. Very strange. The issue seems to be between Adafruit IO and the Huzzah, and if I find a fix, I'll let you know. Until then, don't send long tweets to this hoodie.Follow my Twitter account @DuPriestMath and the hoodie's account at @apart_not_alone and I'll share there if we do a livestream.Until then, if you're feeling isolated or any of the other emotions associated with doing a socially-distant holiday, know you're not alone, we're all in this together, and 2021 should be a lot more normal at some point. Have a wonderful holiday season and be good to each other out there.