Amulet for Peter and the Starcatcher

Indiana University 2017

I created a mock up of the amulet with felt, conductive thread, Lilypad LEDs, and a Lilypad board. Once this prototype was created the designer and I sat down and had a secondary discussion while looking at this mock up. As we discussed the mock up and she changed her mind on how she was envisioning the amulet to light up. The designer was concerned with the detail of the star being lost on the large stage the play was being produced on. She feared that it would appear to be randomly placed lights instead of precisely placed lights at each point of star. We decided that the final product would be three-dimensionally printed and hopefully be able to contain all the electrical components needed to power the amulet.

For the second prototype the designer and I decided to purchase a power shape. A power shape is a plastic sheet that contains a phosphorus (Fos-For-us) layer and lights up with a neon-like glow, to make the amulet appear to glow rather than twinkle. Power shapes take a lot of voltage to power because they require an alternating current instead of a direct current that batteries provide. This required us to use a small AC to DC converter that would also produce a high pitch ringing. I worked with a few different ways to light the power shape using the least amount of space. In the end I took apart a per-existing EL Sequencer pack and rigged it into my circuits. All of these components would need over an inch of space to fit inside the amulet which was not part of the desired effect that the designer was looking for.

To eliminate some of the amulet’s foot print, we started experimenting with neopixel rings. These can be programmed to create any color in the rainbow as well as control many other factors such as brightness and how the light functions when powered on. I was able to get the size requirement for all the components which included two neopixel ring one size 24 and one size 16, a programming board, a battery, a button, and some wires, to be 5/8 of an inch. This created more of the desired thickness the designer was looking to achieve. I then began coding the button component to click on with one press and stay on until clicked again. With my limited coding knowledge, finding the correct coding sequence took quite a bit more time than I had initially expected. I was ecstatic when I was finally able to achieve the result I was looking for.

Proto typing and steps to creating the amulet

I was then able to finish design for the back of the amulet. We tried a few different ways to achieve this back closure of the amulet. We first talked about having a post and hole locking system. After printing this and testing it out the locking system we found that the posts were too delicate and broke too quickly. We then talked about a few other ways to open and close the back. We settled on a large square hole that the battery and boards could be easily be put in and pulled out. This would make it easy to charge as well as make any coding changes that we would want. The one down side to this design is once the two rings are set in there the only way to remove them would be to break the amulet because the back was permanently affixed to the front.