PyDev of the Week: Sophy Wong

This week we welcome Sophy Wong (@sophywong) as our PyDev of the Week! Sophy is a maker who uses Circuit Python for creating wearables. She is also a writer and speaker at Maker events. You can see some of her creations on her Youtube Channel or her website. Let’s take a few moments to get to know her better!

Sophy's LED Manicure

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

I am a designer and maker currently working mostly with wearable electronics projects. My background is in graphic design, and I have also worked in fashion and costumes on my way to wearable electronics. I like to explore the different ways people interact with technology, and much of my work is inspired by sci-fi and pop culture. My projects often combine technology, like microcontrollers and 3D printing, with hand crafts like sculpting, painting, and sewing.

Why did you start using Python?

I discovered Python through Adafruit’s development of Circuit Python. Adafruit’s thorough documentation and huge library of tutorial projects make it easy for me to learn and write code for my projects. I’m primarily a designer, and code is a tool I use to bring my ideas to life. Circuit Python helps me learn programming basics, and is also powerful enough to support more complex projects as I gain more skills.

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

I also use Arduino for some projects, which lets me use the many fantastic Arduino libraries out there, like FastLED. I often use MakeCode when creating a project for a tutorial or educational workshop. As a visual programming tool, MakeCode is intuitive to use and easy to explain with screenshots. It’s still robust enough to support fairly complex projects, and is a great first step before going further with Circuit Python or Arduino.

What projects are you working on now?

I recently completed a project that involved adding Adafruit’s NeoPixel RGB LEDs to a jacket, using 3D printed diffusers printed directly on fabric. I’m working on a project now that expands the technique to a larger, more elaborate garment. I’m also starting to work on another space suit concept, learning how to use a desktop PCB mill, and of course, writing more wearable tech project tutorials!

Which Python libraries are your favorite (core or 3rd party)?

Adafruit makes great Circuit Python libraries for all of their components, and I use their NeoPixel library for Circuit Python in almost every project, because I love making things light up with NeoPixels.

Do you have any advice for people who want to become makers?

Pick a project you’re really excited about and just start. Don’t wait for the perfect materials, or the fanciest tools, get scrappy and figure it out as you go. Sometimes too much planning and preparation can steal all your energy before you ever get going, and make your project feel overwhelming. So fall in love with your idea, and jump in while you’re excited. Trust yourself, and have fun. You can’t fail if you never give up!

What new wearable tech are you excited about?

I’m really excited about VR and the potential for wearables to add to the immersive experience. It’s a technology I remember being amazed by when I was a kid. I really wanted to try it, but the technology was so far out of reach for me, I thought I’d never be able to experience it myself. Now that it’s available as consumer technology, I’m very interested to see makers create their own VR experiences, as well as wearable devices and peripherals for VR.

I’m also very interested in space exploration and space suits. I’ve made my own space suit costume, a conceptual design that is based on sci-fi renderings. With upcoming missions to the Moon and Mars, I’m excited to see innovations in space suit design, and how designers and engineers create new suits for both astronauts and space tourists.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Thank you to everyone who documents their projects and shares their work for others to learn from! Thanks to tutorials and libraries written and published by others, I’m able to bring my ideas to life with programmable electronics. I never thought that studying design would lead me to learning how to code, and writing tutorials to help others get started with programming. Now, writing Circuit Python code for my projects is one of my favorite parts of the process!

Thanks for doing the interview, Sophy!