So I bought a zippered hoodie sweatshirt from a
thrift store and turned it into a wearable TV silencer.
For the switch, I sewed paths of conductive thread
to 2 little pads that are bridged by the metal zipper
slider when it passes by, so all I have to do is zip the
sweatshirt up or down to activate the TV turning-off
action. It works great, and you can just unsnap the
circuitry to convert it back into a normal sweatshirt
for washing — or for avoiding trouble.
Whenever I bring my TV-B-Gone (a little wireless gadget that shuts
off any TV) out to restaurants, I look
suspicious using it. Mitch Altman, the
device’s creator, concealed his by putting it inside a hat (see MAKE Volume
13, page 169), but I rarely wear hats
and I wanted a subtle solution.
Build Your TV-B-Gone
Time: 3 Hours Complexity: Moderate
1. Mount the circuit board onto
the fabric swatch.
Assemble your TV-B-Gone according to the kit
instructions, but omit the push-button switch, and
mount the 4 infrared LEDs perpendicular to the
printed circuit board.
Solder short wires to 2 of the 4 holes for the switch
in the PCB. Pick the 2 that are visibly connected to
the rest of the circuit. Strip the other ends and solder
each to one half of a sewable snap. In the same way,
attach 2 short wires to the board’s power connections and snap halves; these will connect to the
The fabric swatch will sandwich the circuit board
to the hoodie and protect your skin from any pokey
metal bits. Position the PCB in the middle of the
swatch and use regular thread to stitch the 4 wired
snaps along the swatch’s corners and edge (Figure B).
Also stitch the wires and the board itself onto the
swatch; I looped thread around component leads
and through holes in the board, and reinforced the
68 Make: Volume 22
Covertly turn off
the tug of a zipper.
BY BECKY STERN
LED leads with hot glue.
Finally, stitch 2 more snap halves onto the 2 empty
corners, just for holding the other side of the swatch.
Check that your TV-B-Gone still works properly by
bridging the switch snaps with a piece of wire.
2. Attach the swatch and
stitch the traces.
Position the TV-B-Gone swatch under the sweatshirt
and use an awl to poke holes through the fabric for
the 4 infrared LEDs (Figure C). Mark the positions of
the 6 snaps on the inside of the sweatshirt.
Referring to the project schematic (Figure A), stitch
conductive thread traces from the 2 switch snap positions to the edge of the zipper, making sure they never
cross. Leave long tails of conductive thread at each
end for hand-sewing the snaps and switch.
Insulated wire works better and is safer than
conductive thread for supplying power, so solder
2 stranded wires to extend the length of the battery
holder leads, and insulate the joints with heat-shrink tubing. Place the battery holder in the pocket
(Figure D) and run the wires up to the power snap
locations (Figure E). Tack the wires in place with
Use the conductive thread to sew the 2 remaining
switch snap halves in position inside the sweatshirt,
matching their positions on the swatch (Figure E).
Solder the 2 remaining power snap halves to the
battery wires, then use regular thread to sew them
into the sweatshirt.
Photography by Becky Stern