New in the Maker Shed: Jimmie Rodger’s Open Heart Kit

Arduino Wearables
New in the Maker Shed: Jimmie Rodger’s Open Heart Kit


If you built a kit in the Maker Shed at Maker Faire Austin, you might have gotten some help from Jimmie Rodgers, the creator of one of the newest additions to the Maker Shed Store, the Open Heart Kit. It’s an array of LEDs that you hook up to an Arduino, and can be programmed to display an animation sequence.

The Open Heart is an LED matrix of individually addressable LEDs. It can be used to create a brooch or bag light with highly customizable animations. It can be configured so that you can temporarily attach it to fabrics with headers that you simply push through, or you can configure it to be sewn into a project using conductive fabric for a more permanent setup. You’ll need an Arduino to complete this project as well as a soldering iron and basic hand tools.

You don’t even have to learn Arduino programming to use it, because Jimmie has created a web application where you can sketch out the animation frames. This application generates the Arduino source code, which you can upload to your Arduino.

It’s not only a beautiful wearable piece, but it’s a great introduction to multiplexing digital outputs. Jimmie’s kit uses a technique called Charlieplexing, in which you can drive multiple LEDs using only a few digital outputs. Jimmie’s kit uses six digital pins on the Arduino to drive 27 LEDs.

Jimmie’s original Open Heart project is featured in the Best of Instructables, and is also available at the Instructables web site. Jimmie is also involved with the Willoughby and Baltic Hackerspace, and he can often be found at Willoughby and Baltic’s First Friday open hacking sessions:

Held on the First Friday of every month, the Open Hack is an opportunity for the public-at-large to use the Hackerspace, and hack with Willoughby and Baltic members. Come on over and bring your gear from 7-whenever.

Age 18+. For more information, visit

Accessible via the Red Line Davis Square Stop.

2 thoughts on “New in the Maker Shed: Jimmie Rodger’s Open Heart Kit

  1. mpechner says:

    Building the minty boost was the first time I ever used a soldering iron.

    I built 4 kits that weekend. All worked. Only one kit had to have resisters swapped.

    The guys around the soldering tables were all really helpful.

    I had such a good time I am organizing a booth for the 2009 San Mateo Maker Faire.

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I'm a tinkerer and finally reached the point where I fix more things than I break. When I'm not tinkering, I'm probably editing a book for Maker Media.

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