I am a 3rd generation geek. Grandpa worked with IBM systems in the early 1960’s. Mom still teaches classes on productivity applications. I have been using UNIX since 1993 (15 years old). Now with all that history you might think I’m a brilliant programmer, or even some sort of amazing chip designer. Sadly I am not even close to either. Around the turn of the millenium I begin getting frustrated knowing so little about the underlying hardware, and how to program in lower level languages.
Beginning in the year 2000 I started playing with electronics. At this point I’ve become pretty good at making lights blink. My focus had been on learning how to program PIC microcontrollers in assembly language. It took me quite a while to even get a computer and Operating System functional enough to talk to the PICs. The slow start was mostly due to my stubborness towards using Microsoft Windows products for this sort of development. All of my work to date has been done using Apple’s MAC OS/X. The software I use predominately is pulled down via “fink” and is almost entirely under Open Source licensing. See my Tools link for full details of my setup.
I’ve learned how to make a decent Printed Circuit Board on fiberglass in my kitchen. This process is acceptable for simple boards, but somewhat limited as I drive towards my real goal. The real goal being to make electronic clothing with very little wires, or fiberglass present. I read a paper (recently) that IBM published based on MIT Media labs research on E-broidery in May of 2000. A way of stitching conductive thread into fabrics and making FCB’s or “Fabric Circuit Boards” all out of flexible textiles. This seems to imply that the circuit itself can be crumpled up and dry cleaned. A very exciting concept to stumble upon in my case. Having tried to unite electronics and clothing on previous projects left me soarly disapointed by the lack of comfort, and mobility of the end result, this paper seemed to be a holy grail for electronic clothing designers.