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Circuits and Code Wireless

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  • Beaded Multi-wire
  • Body to Breadboard Bracelet
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  • Hard/Soft Connections
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    Content by Mika Satomi and Hannah Perner-Wilson
    E-Textile Tailor Shop by KOBAKANT
    The following institutions have funded our research and supported our work:

    Since 2020, Hannah is guest professor of the Spiel&&Objekt Master's program at the University of Performing Arts Ernst Busch in Berlin

    From 2013-2015 Mika was a guest professor at the eLab at Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weissensee

    From July - December 2013 Hannah was a researcher at the UdK's Design Research Lab

    From 2010-2012 Mika was a guest researcher in the Smart Textiles Design Lab at The Swedish School of Textiles

    From 2009 - 2011 Hannah was a graduate student in the MIT Media Lab's High-Low Tech research group led by Leah Buechley

    In 2009 Hannah and Mika were both research fellows at the Distance Lab

    Between 2003 - 2009 Hannah and Mika were both students at Interface Cultures
    We support the Open Source Hardware movement. All our own designs published on this website are released under the Free Cultural Works definition

    Hard/Soft Connections

    There are a range of different possibilities to connect conductive materials. One of the hardest and at this point very relevant one in textile electronics is the hard/soft connection between conductive textiles and traditional components and circuit boards. Most connections are a combination of permanent and plugable (de- and re- attachable) connections. Here we try to list some of the permanent connections that we frequently use in our own work.



    Machine-sewable Hard/Soft Connections

    Using fusible interfacing to connect conductive fabric strips to perforated circuit board. Sewing with top conductive thread to fabric breakouts and soldering wires to perfboard.

    Using zigzag stitch on sewing machine to sew top conductive thread over stripped ribbon cable wires.

    Sewing to Plug and Wear’s knit breadboard fabric (right: with top thread conductive, left: with bottom thread conductive) and then soldering wires to the breadboard traces which are very thin wires.

    Sewing down solderable conductive thread with a zig-zag stitch and then soldering LED lights to it (add hot-glue for strain relief):

    Crimp Beads

    Crimp beads are solderable, squishable and sewable, making them great hard/soft connectors.
    Crimping crimp beads to conductive thread to then solder them to a copper tape circuit:

    Leah Buechley solderes crimp beads to surface mount LEDs to then sew them into soft circuits:
    >> http://web.media.mit.edu/~leah/grad_work/diy/diy_tank.html

    Jie Qi crimps crimp beads to nition shape memory wire to then solder it to copper tape circuitry:
    >> http://hlt.media.mit.edu/?p=1448

    Perfboard/Conductive thread

    This is definitely one of the most reliable hard/soft connections i have found, but it is is very time intensive to sew. After sewing the connections it is good to isolate and protect the threads with a stretchy glue or silicone.

    Metal machine popper/Conductive fabric

    Pierce through conductive fabric tab. If working with conductive thread, sew with thread to this tab, otherwise continue with conductive fabric. Enforce fabric behind poppers, so that popper does not tear hole.

    Hand sewable metal popper/Conductive thread

    Wire/Conductive fabric (soldering)

    Solderability tests >> http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=1718

    Wire/Conductive thread (soldering)

    Solderability tests >> http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=1720

    Wire loop/Conductive thread

    Wire loop/Conductive fabric

    Header/Conductive thread

    LilyPad Arduino/Conductive thread

    Use some squishy material underneath the LilyPad to help improve the electrical contact between soft thread and hard circuit board.

    Magnet clasp/Conductive thread

    IDC connector/Thin flexible wire

    Tiny IDC connectors >> http://www.newark.com/jsp/Interconnect++Products,+Wire+&+Cable/Connectors/AVX/009175002001006/displayProduct.jsp?sku=40M7660&_requestid=199267

    Perfboard/Conductive tape with conductive adhesive

    TITV Greiz

    There is a nice PDF from Dr. U. Möhring of the The Institute of Special Textiles and Flexible Materials at the TITV Greiz that contains some photos of hard/soft connections.
    >> http://www.textile.dk/files/medlemsservice/kurser%20og%20arrangementer/2008/nest-konference0605/TITV_3NEST_Herning.pdf
    >> http://www.titv-greiz.de/index.php?id=textile-mikrosystemtechnik&L=0


    With the difficulty that comes with hard/soft connections, sometimes it can be nice to simply solder things together.


    Wire/Popper (clamped)

    Wire/Popper (soldered)

    Coming soon…

    Wire/IDC connector

    Tiny IDC connectors >> http://www.newark.com/jsp/Interconnect++Products,+Wire+&+Cable/Connectors/AVX/009175002001006/displayProduct.jsp?sku=40M7660&_requestid=199267


    Coming soon…


    Coming soon…


    There are lots of nice permanent soft/soft connections available for use in soft circuitry. Many of these use conductive fabric, conductive thread and conductive Velcro. Some are more durable, washable or strainable than others.

    Conductive fabric/Conductive thread

    Sewing machine or hand sewn.

    Conductive fabric/Conductive fabric (overlap with fusible interfacing)

    Overlapping conductive fabric traces with fusible interfacing in between, conductive connection goes through fusible interfacing.

    Conductive thread/Conductive thread (knot)

    It is good to use some glue or anti-fray on top of conductive thread knots as they really like to come undone.

    Conductive fabric/Conductive paint

    Conductive thread/Conductive paint

    Conductive Velcro/Conductive thread


    Most plugable connections require some soft of permanent connection that connect to the actual plugable part.


    Conductive Velcro/Conductive Velcro

    Conductive thread/Conductive thread (bow)


    Headers to lasercut fabric circuit


    Crocodile clip on conductive fabric tab

    Photos coming soon…

    Wire soldered to header, loop on header sewn to fabric with conductive thread

    Wire clamped between male and female metal poppers



    Wire/Metal popper

    Female header/Male header

    Wire or header/Breadboard

    Single female header/Single male header

    Suzyi Pakhchyan uses this method in her Smart Mobile project, featured on page 191 of her book Fashioning Technology.

    Magnet snap/Magnet snap


    Screw fastener

    Phone Jack

    4-6 connections. Nice because of stretchiness of the cable. Cheap because most 99cent stores carry phone cables and sockets. Although cheap sockets tend to be buggy.

    How to connect conductive thread ribbon cable with Flexible Flat Cable (FFC) connectors

    By Haeyon:
    >> http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-connect-conductive-thread-ribbon-cable-with/?ALLSTEPS


    >> http://www.hirose-connectors.com/

    4 Comments so far

    1. guest on July 1st, 2009

      I miss pictures from hook to loop > IDC connectors. Images contribute a lot to this database! Makes it easy to understand and takes away any hesitations that non-tech people might have.

      Grtz, Piem

    2. […] This image is from How to Get What you Want. Here are some very good ideas for pluggable connections: http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=1272 […]

    3. […] image is from How to Get What you Want. Here are some very good ideas for pluggable connections: http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=1272Some other interesting components: – Solderable soft perfboard: […]

    4. LiTex on June 8th, 2012

      This is too complicated. The attachment is the facebook of our idea to let LED and Fabric combine together in Taiwan. (http://www.facebook.com/litexled)

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