The "Other" PS1

In art circles, "PS1" is a center for contemporary art in NYC. Here in the Chi-town maker community, "PS1" is short for Pumping Station: One, Chicago's oldest and largest makerspace. I've been an active member of this "other" PS1 for several years now, and I've been working on ways to both encourage and harness the community spirit that it nurtures. So I'm creating work that draws on the community model of the quilting bee, updated for an electronic age.

My circuit-knit "quilt" project started with a stack of my freshly knit circuit boards and a solder party armed with wire cutters and hot chisel tips. Afterwards, though, there was still much work to be done, and that's when a few PS1 volunteers stepped up for the long haul.

Motivated by an interest in electronics, the community of a group project, a desire to support the arts, or just straight-up generosity, Jay Hopkins, Peter, and Bandit put in some crazy hours soldering and troubleshooting the 896 LEDs, resistors, transistors, capacitors, and jumper wires that drive the piece. (For the tech curious, it's 56 flip flop circuits wired in parallel, aka blinking lights.)

PS1's vice president (and resident photographer), Everett Wilson, captured one of our late-night solder sessions. Was this the night we stayed til 4am? I can't even remember.

The finished work, Electronic Damask, is stretched on a 6'x3' frame custom built by another PS1 member and volunteer, Ray Doeksen. It's in the show No-Fi, which opens at Chicago Artists Coalition tonight, October 24, 6-9pm.

Solder Party

The past month has really been a whirlwind! I turned in my application for tenure, got the semester rolling, and pulled together my show for Chicago Artist Coalition. I'm showing a circuit-knit work that was made with the group efforts of members of Pumping Station: One. I'll post photos of the finished work soon. Here are pictures from the first step of the soldering process, the solder party I held at PS1 to get the circuit boards tinned and ready for component assembly.

(photos: Everett C. Wilson)

Work in Progress: knitted sphere

I've been busy with starting the new semester and finishing my tenure application. Getting back into the studio is a real treat! My current project: making a spherical shape from multiple segments.

With one more of these segments, I can link them all together to create a ball. I did the one on the left last night (there's the start of a repeat, but then I ran out of wire and dropped stitches, and decided to call it a night). The right one I did last week.

For this one, I started with about 40 stitches, and then started adding more once the pattern got wider.
I've noticed tension issues with the end wire stitches. To get around this, I add wire stitches on the outside of the pattern. These stitches will simply be cut off once I start soldering. (Knitted with 1 strand 36 AWG and 1 strand 34 AWG bus wire, T8)

For this one, I started with a *very* narrow swatch and just added stitches the whole way. A little tedious-- I think starting with a wider swatch may be worth the extra wire wasted. However... it worked fine. (Knitted with 2 strands 36 AWG bus wire, T8)

Also on this one (visible in the first photo) I "cast off" the wire stitches at the top, once the pattern started getting narrow. No need to knit the whole width when I only need what's inside the borders of the grey yarn.

Here's the back. I'm looking forward to finishing the third segment, getting out the soldering iron, and trimming off all that excess wire!

Knitted Circuit Diagrams

I've been working on the best method to diagram knitted circuits. So far I've been able to use the PCB view in Fritzing to create this image, based on the circuit diagram below.

The circuit can be built on a knitted circuit board made with this pattern.

And if you've got a knitting machine, this file loaded on the machine will knit the pattern.

I'm working on an instructable that goes into the details of this design. Plus I'll be posting it on Hack A Day as part of my entry for the Hack A Day prize.

Grand Prize Winner on Instructables!

Angeleah Daidone recently sent me this photo of the bracelet she made in my Circuit Building Workshop.

When I posted my knitted circuit instructable last month, I also entered it into Instructables' Battery Powered contest.
And... it took the grand prize! How cool is that???

I was, needless to say, thrilled for the recognition (and winning a new camera, tablet, and power tools ain't bad either!). I've posted two more instructables this month:

How to make your own e-textile Arduino 

And today, how to solder stainless steel thread.

Linen, Electronics and Diodes

Lauren Singer of Houston, Texas (Ravelry ID: AuntieAnty) contacted me recently through Ravelry, to share Linen, Electronics and Diodes, a circuit-knit project she made with Glenn Manuel (Ravelry ID: Glennman), based on my knitted circuit design.

I'm thrilled to see people picking up the project and experimenting with new approaches. Lauren used 28AWG bus wire and a 50/50 cotton/linen blend. As far as I know, this is the first hand-knit version of the design (since I machine-knit mine). Very cool! I hope more will follow!

Damask Circuitry

I got the idea for this pattern from the wee blinky, an astable multivibrator that flashes a pair of LEDs.

To create a knitted circuit pattern, I tried to minimize the number of places where traces cross over each other and require jumpers. 

It was fun to plan, and after I got one working, I started multiplying it to create a pattern reminiscent of damask.

(I'm having a strong urge to reupholster the couch in this pattern, now.)