Being a native Texan, I am very well aware of the terrible summers we get. Even though it doesn't snow that often, our winters are not that great either. Because of these two reasons, I decided to build some wearables that combine to regulate my temperature no matter how crazy our state's weather gets. I decided to include green energy generation to increase time between charging periods.
What it does
The ATRS has a central heating pad in the abdominal area to warm up the user's core, a cooling unit in each shoe and six on the back, a kinetic energy generator on the right arm, a 30Ah battery, a 5W solar panel modified into a backpack, and a control circuit made with an Arduino Uno and a DHT22 temp/hum module that activates cooling if the temperature is too hot and activates heating if it is too cool.
How I built it
This suit was designed and built from scratch(not even schematics) at EarthxHack 2018. The heating pad was made from a T-shirt I cut into, 5 feet of nickel chromium wire, and some silver thread to compartmentalize the wires. Sewing this by hand took about five hours and creating the electronic interface took about 30 minutes.
The cooling units are Peltier modules hooked up to different heat sinks.
The kinetic generator is a DC motor, a gear box, and a chopstick lever.
I did not make the battery.
The solar panel was turned into a carry-able by taking the string from a drawstring bag and using it to hoist the panel.
The Arduino is set to loop and check the temperature every two seconds. For demonstration purposes, if the temperature goes above 24 degrees Celsius, the blue LED turns on to signal cooling. If it goes below 24 degrees Celsius, the red LED turns on to signal heating. Ideally, these settings would be configured to suit the user and would not always need to be running; most people are fairly comfortable between 23 and 26 degrees Celsius.
Challenges I ran into
Cutting up a T-shirt and then learning how to sew was an interesting experience. After the five hours of sewing, I decided to make the heating pad smaller because I did not want to have to sew another 5 hours. It ended up being a good decision. After I had finished the first part of the heating pad by securing all of the nickel chromium inside, I needed to sew it shut and attach the belt. My only needle, however, disappeared. I ended up using duct tape. Also with the heating pad, I needed to cut the nichrome wires to connect them to my power supply in parallel instead of the series configuration I had before so that it actually heated up.
With the lower body cooler(only had time for one shoe), I had trouble transferring the heat between the Peltier module and the heat sinks. I also had no thermal paste. I ended up just using pressure on the heat sink side to make sure the components were always in contact.
The Arduino caused trouble only because the Windows version of the IDE was buggy. I ended up using Arduino's web editor to write and upload the code.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I made my first power suit in less than a day and overcame all of the challenges named above, from sewing to software. I am also now cool or warm whenever I need to be.
What I learned
I learned: To sew, and how useful sewing machines really are To make a heating pad using only nichrome and scraps How to know when to quit with Arduino IDE Windows Edition How to improve heat transfer How to design (semi-)fashionable tech-infused clothing How to generate power without harming the environment
What's next for Automatic Thermo-Regulating Suit
I'll just finish what I started by adding that second lower body cooling module and get some USB cords to properly plug everything into my battery.