This is a copy of the 1-Bit Textile swatch that Irene Posch and Ebru Kurbak submitted to the 2015 E-Textile Swatch Exchange. This example was made for the Adapting Swatches workshop held at Kunsthochschule Weissensee’s E-Lab in Berlin on December 11-12th 2015 as a part of Soft Technology 1 course. The example explains the construction of a fabric flip dot and documents the process step-by-step.
Materials and Tools
Materials: cotton fabric, cotton thread, neodymium magnet (5mm diameter, 2mm high, axially magnetized), enameled copper wire (0.1mm diameter), copper , , crochet yarn, polymorph, solder
Tools: sewing needle, scissors, crochet hook (gauge 1.5) lighter, sandpaper, iron, water cooker, soldering iron
Make a coil. Wind the magnet wire (thin copper wire enamel coated to isolate). I used a pen which is about 1cm diameter and wind 80 times each. Use tape to hold them together when finished winding.
Then crochet around the coil so it stays in shape. Make sure to leave the end of the coil long enough for connection. If you do not know how to crochet the ring, there are many tutorial videos on how to crochet online.
Then fix the crochet coil on the base fabric. As I wanted to make this as a part of swatchbook, I made my base fabric as 10cm x 10cm piece. Place the coil on the center and use normal cotton thread and needle to stitch onto the base. Then thread each end of the coil wire to the needle and pull it down to the back side of the fabric.
Cut small pieces of copper fabric with fusible interface on the back, and fix it to the base fabric by ironing it on. This will serve as a connection point to the power source.
The magnet wire has enamel coating in order to isolate. We need to take out this isolation layer on the ends to make an electrical connection to the conductive fabric we added. For this, use lighter to burn the coating and scrape it off with fine gauge sand paper. Check with multimeter if the isolation layer is taken out properly.
The copper conductive fabric is solder-able. Heat up the fabric with soldering iron short time and add the solder to it. The solder will stick to the fabric like a paint. Then place the end of the coil wire on the applied solder and melt them together.
Picture from the both side of the fabric.
Now it is the time to make the “dot”. The original swatch from Ebru and Irene uses magnetic beads which has hole in the middle, but as we do not have this material, we will make our own “dot”.
I used polymorph with the tiny magnet to make the shape. Soften the polymorph with hot water. Place a thread on a magnet, and cover with the softened polymorph. Shape the polymorph to the round shape. make sure that the thread comes out from the ball in the middle.
Place the finished “dot” on the coil, and thread the two end of the thread coming out of the dot to the back of the fabric. Make sure to give some extra length on the thread so there are a space to flip for the dot.
After placing the dot, apply electricity to see if you can flip the dot. In this example, I am applying 2-3V from bench power supply. You can also use 2xAA battery or lipo battery. When you change the polarity of the electricity (+ and -), the dot flips. When this is confirmed, power in one direction and color the top half in color using nail colors.
I have also tried 3 dot version as it starts to show more like a display. At the moment, it is all connected to one power supply resulting to have same behavior, but it will be the next step to connect them individually and control their polarity (black/white state) individually.