Soft Circuit Kit: Salt n' Peanut

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The story
Salt n’ Peanut were inspired by the exuberant display of love
in elephant society between a mother and it’s calf. In elephant social customs,
the mother and its calf always remain in constant touch.

When the trunk of Salt (the mother elephant) and the trunk of Peanut
(the baby elephant) connect, the LED in Peanut’s chest illuminates,
signifying love and joy.

How it works
Salt n’ Peanut are created using a simple LED soft circuit.

Unlike traditional wiring, soft circuits substitute conductive thread
for wire. Similar to wire, conductive thread is capable of carrying
electricity.

Salt acts as the power source to illuminate Peanut’s LED.
When in contact (trunks touching) the LED is on.
When apart, the LED is off.

What you’ll need:
Included in kit:
• 2 wool felt elephants
• 2 wooden ears
• 3 yds of conductive thread
• 1 LED
• 1 bead
• 1 coin cell battery

Tools (not included in kit):
• Sewing needle
• Needle nose pliers
• Scissors
• Marker
• Hot glue gun (optional)

Getting Started

LED Primer
Before you begin crafting soft circuits, there are a few things you need to know
about LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes). LEDs are tiny lights that emit a bright
light while consuming very little power. The reason they’re so cool is that you
can run them off of small batteries.

A typical LED has two leads (legs) one shorter than the other. Just like batteries,
LEDs have a positive and negative side (or lead). The shorter lead is typically the
negative while the longer lead is the positive. In order for the LED to light up,
the positive lead must be connected to the positive side of your battery while
the negative lead to the negative side of the battery. If you reverse it, it simply
won’t work.

Grab your 3V lithium battery and try it out. Touch the longer LED lead to the
positive side of the battery and shorter to the negative side of your battery.
Your LED should light up! It’s really that simple.

Now that you know how a simple LED circuit works, let’s start crafting.

Part One: Sewing the Power Circuit

Salt n' Peanut Soft Circuit
:: Step One
Cut a 2.5 ft piece of conductive thread. Thread the needle using the
bookbinder’s knot technique.

Begin the circuit by looping the thread several times around the top battery slit
to create a good contact point for the battery. This will be the positive
battery contact.

Salt n' Peanut Soft Circuit
:: Step Two
Continuing sewing the path along the edge of the elephant to the upper
lip of its trunk.

Note: Sew the positive path close to the edge of the elephant’s upper trunk, leaving
enough room to sew the negative path along the lower trunk. You do not want the
positive and negative paths to intersect.

Salt n' Peanut Soft Circuit
:: Step Three
Finish the positive path by looping the thread several times around the upper lip.

Neatly knot and cut the conductive thread.

Salt n' Peanut Soft Circuit
:: Step Four
Cut a 3 ft piece of conductive thread and thread the needle. Loop the thread
several times around the bottom battery slit to create a negative contact point
for the battery.

Continuing sewing the path along the edge of the elephant to the lower lip
of the trunk.

Finish the negative path by looping the thread several times around the lower lip.
Neatly knot and cut the conductive thread.

Note: The negative and positive sew paths must NOT intersect
at any point to prevent your battery form shorting.

Part Two: Sewing the LED Circuit

Salt n' Peanut Soft Circuit
:: Step One
Slip the bulb of the LED inside the bead.

Mark the negative LED lead (the shorter one) with a marker to help distinguish the
negative lead from the positive.

Using needle nose pliers, gently bend the leads of the LED in opposite directions.

Note: You can use a dab of hot glue to secure the bead onto the LED.

Salt n' Peanut Soft Circuit
:: Step Two
Using needle nose pliers, curl the negative LED lead into a loop. This will make it
easier for you to sew the LED onto the felt. Repeat for the positive lead.

Position the bead and LED inside the cutout with the positive lead facing the
front of the elephant.

Salt n' Peanut Soft Circuit
:: Step Three
Cut a 1.5 ft piece of conductive thread and thread the needle.

Securely sew the positive lead to the felt, looping the thread around the lead
several times. Continue to sew a path to the top of the elephant’s trunk, looping
the thread several times to create a good contact point.

Neatly knot and cut the conductive thread.

Salt n' Peanut Soft Circuit

Salt n' Peanut Soft Circuit
:: Step Four
Thread the needle using the remaining 2 ft of conductive thread.

Securely sew the negative lead to the felt. Continue to sew a path to the bottom
of the elephant’s trunk, looping the thread several times along the bottom edge
to create a good contact point.

Neatly knot and cut the conductive thread.

Part Three: Final Assembly

Salt n' Peanut Soft Circuit
:: Step One
Remove the film from the wooden ears and slip the ears accordingly
into the notch on each elephant.

Salt n' Peanut Soft Circuit
:: Step Two
Slip the battery into the battery slit with the positive side of the battery
facing up (connecting to the positive contact).

:: Step Three
Connect the trunk of the baby elephant Peanut with the trunk
of the mother elephant Salt. The LED should light up!