Whether for awe-inspiring high fashion, functional wearables, or costuming and cosplay: many DIY designers and makers are integrating LED lights into their garments.But for someone who is new to electronics, it can be confusing to know where to start.
For the absolute beginner, here’s a primer demystifying using LED lightings for wearable tech.LED stands for “light emitting diode”. LEDs are perfect for wearables, since they’re small, inexpensive, and easy to work with once you know the basics.The most basic LEDs, and the best place for beginners to start, are two pin LEDs. These LEDs have two pins, or wires. The longer wire is the positive side, known as the anode, and the other is the negative, or the cathode.
Currents in LEDs only go one direction, from the positive to the negative. This is important to remember when working with LEDs, since LEDs with wires in the wrong direction won’t work.Some LEDs have more than 2 pins. These are multicolored RGB LEDs, or addressable LEDs.These LEDs can be controlled for a variety of functions, including lighting up and changing colors in a pattern or sequence written in code, or responding to sensors.
LED strips can also be used in wearables. These are convenient to work with since they are already wired together and can be cut into the length you need for your project.The lights on analog LED strips all act as one, and digital strips allow each LED to be addressed individually.As DIY wearables have increased in popularity, LEDs designed specifically for sewing are now available. The Adafruit Sequin and LilyPad LEDs are both designed with small holes for conductive thread, and are even washable.While these can be slightly more expensive than standard LEDs, they can be a great starting point for beginners.
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