Wearable Electronics Resources

Yesterday I posted about using the LilyMini Protosnap.  I’m still working on it. I broke some of the board apart (more than I intended) and started programming up 3 sets of LEDs. At the moment the project isn’t in a movable state (there’s a huge risk of short circuits). I need to decide how I’m going to turn it into a wearable project (possibly a light reactive shawl). After I took this picture I put some tape over some of the wire ends, to keep things a little more under control.

Half board, half wires. Shows a partial LilyMini Protosnap board with wires to complete a circuit. LEDs are partially on.

Is it just me, or does the coin battery holder have a passing resemblance to a Cyberman?

Last night I spent sometime exploring the internet, so I thought I’d compile a list of useful sources (both book and internet based). This list is not exhaustive!  Links are generally the book/source titles (poor affordance there!):

LilyPad Sewable Electronics Kit Guide

Sparkfun produce a kit (though very, very, expensive in the UK, if you can get it) which includes all the materials and electronics (including a LilyMini Protosnap board) to complete 4 projects. This is a PDF of the project book. A hard-copy can still be bought from anywhere selling LilyPad devices.

Textile Messages

This is a series of essays edited by Leah Buechley (creator of the LilyPad devices) grouped into topics that explore wearable electronics from developement to uses. It is not insructions. I’ve linked to Goodreads for a description of the book and reviews. It is currently listed at a very high priced on Amazon – although it was a fraction of that when I bought it last year.

Sew Electric

This is a book of projects by Leah Buechley and Kanjun Qiu. It is currently out of print. However, the projects appear in full on the book’s website.

How To Get What You Want by Kobakant

This has an extensive range of information including links to further information.  It includes example projects, DIY sensors (like a knitted accelerometer), even bought and made materials (e.g. spinning sensor yarn).  This Breadboard Pincushion is exactly what I need to avoid the prototyping problem I’m currently having.


For completeness, here’s a link to the information on programming the LilyMini.  The US sales site for the LilyMini Protoboard does say that this isn’t programmable and to do so at our own risk.  I didn’t read that until yesterday – so too late now!  There is also a LilyPad Resource Centre.  And a search in their tutorials finds lots more information.

Wearable Tech Projects from HackSpace

This book includes a range of different types of projects utilising a wide variety of skills.  It’s available to buy (as of July 2022) or as a PDF download (which is free or a donation given for it).

I also ordered a book last night.  If it’s any good (and I remember) I’ll update the list to include it!

Wearable Electronics

Sometime ago I decided that I’d like to play with wearable electronics.  (I’m a software engineer – so it was going to happen eventually).  I bought some equipment, then everything got in the way.  Last night I finally got the electronics out and started to play.

One of the things I bought was a “LilyMini Protosnap”.  This is a mini circuit all ready to be programmed.  I ran into problems initially, and spent a lot of time trying to get it to work.  However, after re-reading the instructions I noticed that I needed to install an older version of one of the libraries.  So I tried again, but I still didn’t have any luck (I now had it complaining about missing files during compilation).

In the end I uninstalled both libraries and Arduino, then re-installed from scratch.  When it came to the libraries I installed the versions shown in the instruction screenshots (Arduino SAMD Boards v 1.6.14 and SparkFun SAMD Boards v 1.4.0).  This worked!  So if you’ve bought a LilyMini at some stage and it doesn’t work, then this is worth trying.

I’ve managed to load each of the 4 example programs onto the LilyMini and have had a play creating my own program.  I now need to think about how I want to use this in a project (probably with more sequin LEDs and no button).

Unfortunately, the LilyMini ProtoSnap appears to have been discontinued (that’s a shame – it’s a neat concept – and solves the prototyping problem for wearables for beginners).  However, if you do look at the LilyPad electronics, prices are very variable.  I’ve just seen the LilyPad LilyMini Protosnap for over £40 (although there are not many around).  When I bought mine last year it was just £10+VAT – which was a slight reduction from their original asking price of £12+VAT.

The Protosnap running some code:

LilyPad LilyMini Protosnap running some code. 2 of the 4 LEDs are brightly lit.

Some code (in C/C++):

Image of C/C++ code in the Arduino  Development Environment

Now I need to break the board apart so I can experiment with more sequin/LEDs and think about how I’m going to use this in a project (glittery shawl?)

I think the back of the board looks very pretty:

Photo showing the back of the LilyMini Protosnap board - 2 of the elements look like flowers.