Switch Project: The Hat Switch

30 January 2017

Assignment 1

Creative Switch: The Hat Switch

In this project, we had to come up with a circuit with a switch that was creative and, most importantly, hands-free! Before thinking about what kind of a switch I wanted to make, I decided that I had to first fully understand what a switch was and how it worked. I had a vague idea of what it was, and some leftover high school terminology was floating around in my head, but I had to read the ITP document on switches to really understand how I could make one of my own. It made the rest of the project a lot easier.

Inspired by the mustache switch, I decided that I wanted to make things light up based on the movement of my head. So I decided to create a hat switch: when I swung right, the yellow light lit up, and when I swung left, the blue one lit up. Here’s the hat I used:

When I started making this, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get my head movements to coincide with the lighting of a bulb. But I looked at a couple of other examples of uncommon switches, and realized that all I had to do was make my head movements get two pieces of wire to touch or not touch, and thus, create a switch.

I made two separate circuits for each LED light, and connected one wire from each circuit to the bottles that brought the wires up to my head. The other wires were harder, because they had to be long enough to move from one deodorant bottle to the other while still attached to the hat. It turns out, however, that the wires in the Sparkfun kit are quite flexible:

After toying around with the wires and taping them at different heights to see which one was easiest for me to move around with, the circuits looked something like this:

And here’s what the project ended up looking like:

This was my first time creating something involving wires and electricity from scratch, and it was a lot of fun and a really great, rewarding experience.

Even though the project started as a fun idea for me to experiment with, on further thought it also can be adapted to solve various practical problems. Bike helmets, for example,  could benefit from something like this so that bike riders wouldn’t have to use their hands to signal what direction they were going to turn in. It would also fit great into somebody’s futuristic home, where one could turn on the lights with a simple nod.