I decided to call this chapter circuit wizardry because it takes magic and a little luck to make it happen. The LED strips have three copper pads on the end, yet I needed to mount five wires on each one so I could keep the majority of the wiring close to the hub and out of sight. So, that would be two wires attached to the ground, two wires for power and one for the communication line for each strip. That's a lot of wires! I finally had to take my whole project to my hackerspace and clear out a table to do the work. In about five hours, I finally had everything soldered. The hardest part was taking off the wires that originally came on one of the LED strips. Factory solder is like Kryptonite! Another takeaway -- desoldering is a lot harder than soldering. I decided to remove the wires because I got picky about the cool color tones I had chosen for my wire -- why not have good looking circuits?. I used Adafruit's 22 gauge solid core; I probably should have used stranded, but to be honest, I was too scared about fitting the wire on the pads and the solid core seemed slimmer. Anyway, here's what it looks like.
The next step was to get things inside the umbrella. I had to carefully bundle all of my strips together, kind of like grabbing a large ponytail. I managed to carefully lay them in a large plastic bag in order to tote them back home. Once there, I put everything on the dining room table again. I set the umbrella up and snipped each of the threads connecting the liner to the spokes. Then I worked to slide each LED strip under its correct spoke, being careful to keep the wires arranged in their star pattern. The strips were really sloppy, and at one point I actually used one of my large hair clamps to clip the strips out of the way while I wrangled them into place. My husband gave a snicker about that, but it did work well. Once all was in place, I worked on securing things with cable ties. Then the umbrella liner had to be re-attached with thread on all the spokes. If I had to name the most tedious part of this project thus far, it would be doing the thread. It was just so hard to reach underneath each strip and attach them through the small plastic seam. However, it is an important step because the added strips place stress on the plastic and want to shift, while the thread helps to keep them aligned. It looks quite tidy now, so I'm off to the next challenge -- building "hammocks" for the FLORA microcontroller and the LiPo battery. For that, I decided to use clear vinyl.
I've got some Be-Dazzler type small rivets that I'll place on the edges of these pieces so I can use thread to lash them to the inner spokes. Then I will actually stitch onto the hammock or create a pocket so the mechanics are barely visible to someone walking by. I'm crossing my fingers that the umbrella can still be collapsible when all this is in place. Testing with paper cutouts is different from using the real material! Anyway, that's where I am now. Still to go -- mounting the handle, soldering the button and still figuring out how to join two programs together without using "Void Loop" twice. Not easy, and I'm expecting sleepless nights with Pandora's Buddha Bar and Chiptunes playing. Anyway, this is my last post until the unveiling, so wish me luck!