Display hell

I’ve been working my ass of this weekend to get the displays working for the video shoot. I had to moderate my goals where the coding is concerned. I couldn’t get it to work the advanced way for three displays. So I chose just to light up an equal number of rings for every display, using the same amount of heating time for every three similar sized rings.

Wiring of the three displays
Wiring of the three displays inside the vest

Full of expectation I switched on all the batteries, pressed the demo button and… nothing. Not a thing happened. After some fiddling I got the smallest of one of the displays to heat up. Paul gave me some testing tips so I could test each ring separately. I got the two smallest rings of one display working. No matter what I tried the third or forth ring just wouldn’t light up. As it has become very cramped inside the vest with all the wires I asked my model, Hans, to help me on Sunday with the testing and we would do the video shoot later, when it was fixed.

The cooperation went very well. We tested and re-soldered some of the rings until we had the two smallest rings working for every display. But when it was time for Hans to wear the vest and press the demo button again nothing worked. We went back to just lighting one ring per display and after applying some pressure on the solder points three small rings light up feebly.
By then it was dark and I had to put up a very big lamp to light the room. With the utmost difficulty we got some reasonable shots. But alas the result is very poor.

The innermost ring of the NO2 display lighting up
The innermost ring of the NO2 display lighting up

Conclusion: this is not the way to go with the displays. These are the problems that have become clear:

  • The soldered connection between the hard wire and the soft fabric isn’t stable. Often it doesn’t seem to provide enough power
  • The fabric doesn’t conduct the power evenly. On some parts I can’t measure any current
  • Often I do measure current everywhere but the fabric isn’t heated, *sigh*
  • When turning on more rings the current seems to go the ring that is most conductive leaving the other rings with little or no power
  • The more rings I try to heat the harder it gets to get even one working

Stepping into bed and removing my electric blanket I got a brain wave. Why not use this technology? I already had tips from Syuzi on this forum but I wanted to test my own set-up first.

After doing some research yesterday I’ve discovered there’re quite some producers of heated clothing. Some of the garments even work on 7 volt batteries. So that must be the way to go. Now I just need an electronics wizard to help me make the right choises.

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