my DIY heated clothing thread.. - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-20-2010, 09:06 PM Thread Starter
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my DIY heated clothing thread..

i need heated clothing. i don't need to spend a pile of money on it.. so this is my thread detailing what i've learned and how i plan to do this.

disclaimer - i might be an engineer, but i take zero responsibility for anything you try on your own.. be careful!

BACKSTORY

it gets kind of cold here in atlanta. sometimes it dips into the teens and even single digits, but we typically have quite a few sub 30* days and many in the 20s, especially in january and early february.

i haven't added anything to my bike yet so i figured heated clothing is a good place to start. it's functional and will hopefully help me get over this "riding season" concept and become a 12 month rider.

seeing that heated jackets cost $200 or so and gloves cost $150 or so i thought there had to be a better way. so i started research.

there's little in this world that's really "new" so i have to give credit to the sites i found via google that have been there before me. i'm not breaking new ground here, rather chronicling my experience of design, material selection and, once it all gets here, the installation and testing of the gear.

ENGINEERING

electrical energy can be used in a few different ways, among them being production of light, work, and heat. we're going for heat, so the idea is pretty darn simple.

heating elements result from a controlled short circuit. if you pass current through anything with resistance (and everything has it short of a superconductor) then heat is a byproduct.

how do we figure out how to make this happen? heat output is typically measured in BTUs. we don't talk in BTUs for this equation, however, because it's easier to do it based on watts. it makes more sense and is easier to compare to the name brand products out there. i'll skip all the BTU stuff and you can google it if you're interested.

watts = volts x amps

since our bikes run on a 12v system, we can calculate how many amps we need to use to produce a certain amount of heat.

amps = volts / resistance (this is called Ohm's law)

using these two equations we can figure out how many feet of heating element we need to put in our clothing to get the desired amount of heat. voltage is constant, so the resistance is the variable we manipulate in order to get the desired amount of output (wattage).

based on what i've read, and on others' successful experiences, i chose 30awg teflon coated stranded copper wire. it's very thin, flexible and the PTFE (teflon) jacketing adds to its durability and heat resistance. basically you aren't going to melt the wire insulation off and stick it to your skin...

the next step is to measure the resistance of the wire you have. MAKE SURE IT IS UNCOILED!!! measuring the resistance of a coil of wire will not give you a true reading due to induction. you need a ACCURATE ohms/ft reading in order to make this work. don't use the published specified ohms/ft the manufacturer gives you.. measure it yourself.

once you determine how many watts of heat you want, do the math. you'll know how many amps you need to draw to accomplish that. then, using the Ohm's law equation, you can figure out how many ohms of resistance you need to make it work. divide that amount by the ohms/ft reading you took and you know how many feet of wire you need to use in your heated gear.

NOTE - i just bought my materials today and am waiting for them to ship. i'll cover this in greater detail in a reply to this post once i have everything and do this myself.

CONTROL OF THE HEAT

the easiest way to accomplish this is an on/off switch. it's the cheapest too, but not by much as you'll see in a little bit.

most of the big companies sell adjustable heat controllers. you can use one of theirs or you can source your own.

the concept of pulse wave modulation is what's used in many industrial applications to control motor speeds. a circuit is used to switch power on and off in rapid fire. by adjusting the duration of these pulses you get the desired outcome - a slower or faster spinning motor, or MORE/LESS heat.

through another DIY site i found a PWM circuit that is rated for 15 amps (WAY more than i need) at 12v. this will give me a knob with 0%-100% adjustment in the heat output. pretty slick.

HOOK IT UP

this is one area where you can't beat the factory stuff. i'll be using a factory made battery harness to hook the power up.

for all the interconnections between the jacket and bike and jacket/gloves i'm using SAE 2 pole flat connectors similar to what gerbings used to employ in their design. they've since gone to size N coaxial DC power plugs but i don't want to go that route.. harder to find parts, more expensive for good stuff, less mad max looking

RESOURCES FOR PURCHASING ALL THIS CRAP

here's what i bought and where i bought it:

30awg PTFE jacketed wire - 100' spool (i dont need this much.. but hey, i can heat some other gear later ) - $31-ish
http://www.newark.com/belden/83000-0...ite/dp/87K2713

vehicle connection (battery whip w/fuse) - warmgear brand - $7.95
http://cozywinters.com/shop/wg-dcjk15amp.html
note - they also sell a trick factory made in line switch if you don't want to do a PWM controller..

PWM controller - quality kits - $18.95
http://store.qkits.com/moreinfo.cfm/MX033

i found the 2 pole SAE flat connectors at my local hardware store for $2.29 each. i bought 5 "jumper" style connectors that i plan to cut up giving me a total of 10 SAE plugs. (planning to make it so I can do gloves only as opposed to requiring use of the jacket to get the toasty fingers..)

misc stuff like heatshrink tubing and solder already exist in my shop. i'll need to source a box and knob for the PWM controller. i'll hit up the local radio nerd store for that. i'll probably add a master on/off disconnect switch in that box as well. maybe a status LED also. we'll see how impatient i get..

what's the next step? i'm waiting on everything to get here so i can get a reading on the wire. then i'll determine the length of cable i need to use, and then i'll be stitching the wire into my jacket and glove liners. once that's complete i'll install everything and test it out.

wish me luck and fire away with any questions. i'll be taking a ton of pictures as i go through the process.

"What doesn't kill me postpones the inevitable"
"Play stupid games, win stupid prizes"
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Last edited by indulf; 12-20-2010 at 09:11 PM.
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-20-2010, 09:33 PM
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Wow indulf that is impressive, the electricians at my work get nervous when i just get my volt meter out of my bag for instructions on how to use properly. What your doing reminds me of a old kiwi guy who set a land speed record on a old indian bike using his own initiative and design,
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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-20-2010, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by kiwi 41 View Post
Wow indulf that is impressive, the electricians at my work get nervous when i just get my volt meter out of my bag for instructions on how to use properly. What your doing reminds me of a old kiwi guy who set a land speed record on a old indian bike using his own initiative and design,
I saw that movie...

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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-20-2010, 10:40 PM
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I absolutely applaud your drive and ingenuity here.

The question I would pose...given the predicates you mention - cost - I ask what your time is worth? I figure you're looking at 5-6 hours, minimum, to get everything dialed in - perhaps more if you're not comfortable with your initial results.

I do not have the skill with wiring that you do - for me, it would be closer to 15-20 hours. At that point, I just feel like it's worth it to me to buy the products than to build myself.

But I have to admit - I wish I had the wherewithal to do what you're doing.

Can't wait to see your results.
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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-20-2010, 10:43 PM
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And it will work great! I still have mine although I have since gone to all Gerbings. My controller consisted of a on/off/on switch and a signal flasher. It could either be on full time, off or on/off through the flasher at a rate of about 50%.

I still wear it occasionally!

Ride em if ya got em!
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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 05:32 AM
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Or you can just do this:
One of those ready-made things.





On a more serious note,
Did I understand correctly that your plan is to run a single wire trough the garment and it will provide all the heat?
Is that how Gerbing and other manufacturers do it?
I always imagined some sort of a wired net woven trough the garment. Something like this.
Is your intention to have a special jacket for this setup or could it be used in any moto-jacket?

Last edited by Ivan V; 12-21-2010 at 05:35 AM.
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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 08:37 AM
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Wow

It sounds like you've got it all in order. Please keep us posted with pics as this progresses. I'm interested to see how you install this into a jacket.

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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 09:14 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivan V View Post
On a more serious note,
Did I understand correctly that your plan is to run a single wire trough the garment and it will provide all the heat?
Is that how Gerbing and other manufacturers do it?
I always imagined some sort of a wired net woven trough the garment. Something like this.
Is your intention to have a special jacket for this setup or could it be used in any moto-jacket?
i plan to run one wire through the entire garment for the heat. trying to KISS.

you can run multiple wires of different lengths, wired in parallel, to adjust how much heat output there is in different portions of the garment.

higher resistance = more heat. longer wire = more resistance. if i was to do it in parallel then i'd run long wires through the front of my coat (top of arms, chest etc - where the wind hits) and shorter lengths in the areas that don't need as much heat (back, shoulders etc - where the wind doesn't hit).

electric blankets typically use a single element strung throughout the blanket. i'm doing the same thing.

though i'm not 100% sure, i think the commercial stuff uses a single heating element throughout the entire garment. i can't find anything to lead me to believe otherwise. they appear to manipulate heat concentration by wiring density - like i said earlier, more wire in a certain area = more heat.

you also introduce more math into the equation as far as wattage calculations when you run the separate wires in parallel for different "heat zones". it's nothing you can't figure out - it just takes more planning.

wiring layout is very important. i hope to get it right the first time but i'l guessing it'll need some adjustment as time goes by and i learn my specific system.

you can use this in any jacket, moto or not. my original plan was to get a cheap starter windbreaker type jacket with a mesh liner from wal-mart. now i think i'm going to install this into the quilted liner that came with my scorpion jacket. the good thing about having all that extra wire is i can do both if i want to

"What doesn't kill me postpones the inevitable"
"Play stupid games, win stupid prizes"
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 09:18 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by killbilly View Post
I absolutely applaud your drive and ingenuity here.

The question I would pose...given the predicates you mention - cost - I ask what your time is worth? I figure you're looking at 5-6 hours, minimum, to get everything dialed in - perhaps more if you're not comfortable with your initial results.

I do not have the skill with wiring that you do - for me, it would be closer to 15-20 hours. At that point, I just feel like it's worth it to me to buy the products than to build myself.

But I have to admit - I wish I had the wherewithal to do what you're doing.

Can't wait to see your results.
i'm guessing it will take me 2 or 3 hours once i have all the parts lined up on the floor in my living room. my wife is skilled with the sewing needle (her mom is a custom seamstress) and she'll be a big help. the actual wiring/soldering should go off quickly.

regarding the time investment, i look at it a couple of ways. first, it will involve my wife and will probably interest the kids enough to get them to sit around with me while i do it. installing the stuff on the bike will definitely get the kids interested and they'll be with me. it's good, quality family time second, stuff like this is therapeutic for me. i spend all day engineering and installing systems for someone else. when i get a chance to do something like this for myself it makes me feel pretty good about my skills. i'm a "maker" at heart and it's just plain fun

case/point - i bought yet another wrecked jeep just yesterday to either rebuild or rob parts from for my current jeep. i'm hooked on repair/rebuild/doing it my way. warranties sure are nice though...

"What doesn't kill me postpones the inevitable"
"Play stupid games, win stupid prizes"
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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 09:26 AM Thread Starter
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fwiw, if this works out well then i'll probably be building a set for my dad to use in his Jeep CJ-5 when we're off road in the winter. hopefully it works out!

"What doesn't kill me postpones the inevitable"
"Play stupid games, win stupid prizes"
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post #11 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 11:59 AM
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Higher resistance = less heat as it reduces the current (amps). Also, in your calculations be sure to use 14.5 volts which is the output of the charging system. Measuring resistance on coiled wire is ok with a vom as it uses dc as a voltage source, thus no inductive effect.
Good luck with the project!!
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post #12 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 01:20 PM
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Good points jcctx, you beat me to the punch.
Questions for indulf:
Where did you find a chart of ohms per foot for different copper stranded wire gauges?
Did you determine that you need 30 gauge by first determining how many feet of wire you wanted in your jacket and then determining wire gauge?
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post #13 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 11:05 PM
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Haven't looked her up lately, but a gal known as "Fast Cat" had/ has a site where she details making heated vests using wire from an old electric blanket. I had one for several years till a wire broke and I bought a Tourmaster setup. Worked OK too.

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post #14 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 10:07 AM
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There are a couple of threads over on ADVRider. Very interesting stuff. I thought long and hard about going this route, however, I felt that my time/cost of materials didn't equal the ease and warranty of buying premade clothing.

I just bought a Tourmaster vest and Oxford grip wraps. Wiring them up was therapeutic, and I spent some quality time with my Dad. They work quite well, and though everyone says to get the full liner, I felt the vest was all I needed. I heat up quickly, so I didn't want to get all sweaty on the way to the office.

I've ridden in the low 20's for an hour at a time, and have only had the vest on Med. Didn't even think about the high setting.

The grip wraps work great with the elephant ears. The actually get really hot...nice as the fingertips get really cold. Too many years working outside as a carpenter.

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post #15 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 01:22 PM
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I applaud your effort and ingenuity indulf . There are some things that are worth doing yourself, based upon self-satisfaction and time spent with others, regardless of difficulty. I'm able to apply this perspective to many woodworking/home improvement projects. However, I'm a dunce and a scaredee cat when it comes to electricity. Good luck.


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post #16 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 07:51 PM
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I bought a slightly used heated vest on Craigslist for $15.00. On/ Off switch included.
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post #17 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 08:04 PM
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$15. WOW, great deal! I guess diligence pays off. Or just getting lucky.

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post #18 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 08:57 PM
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$15. WOW, great deal! I guess diligence pays off. Or just getting lucky.
It was luck. I was looking at motorcycles and the ad was among them. Near the end of summer. The brand is Eclipse, has a tall collar, its warm without switching it on.
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post #19 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 11:23 PM
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first pic's of his test ride ...... i think he forgot a inline fuse
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post #20 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 11:28 PM
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