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How To: Make A Kraftwerk-Inspired LED Tie

Highly-influential German electronic group Kraftwerk is know for their catchy melodies, minimalistic electronic instrumentation and of course, the blinking LED ties they wore in their 1977 video for “The Robots.”


The Kraftwerk tie has nine red LEDs that run in a vertical row and blink in a simple yet chic descending pattern. To be the best dressed (ie. flashiest) couple at the next party you go to, we recommend pairing this statement piece with Becky Stern’s LED shoe clips, which you can read more about here.

Some of the materials and tools you’ll need to make the tie are scissors, a soldering iron, angle clippers, wire strippers, a black necktie, a CR2032 coin cell, a small binder clip, a few safety pins and the Larson Scanner kit developed by DIY open source hardware company Evil Mad Scientist.

First, assemble and solder the Larson Scanner kit, letting the LEDs sit about 1/4 inch above the circuit board. Solder a wire jumper between the two holes of location “opt. 2” on the circuit board, which will switch the configuration from Larson Scanner mode into “robot tie” mode.

Remove the batteries from the holder and cut the wires. Strip and solder-coat the wire leads leaving between 1/4-1/2 inch exposed.

Stick the coin cell right into the small black binder clip, connecting the red wire to the positive side and the black wire to the negative side.

Tie the tie and figure out where you to position the top LED. Using scissors or a seam ripper, cut through the back seam of the tie and cut holes through the front of the tie so the LEDs can shine through.

Insert the modified Larson Scanner, pop the LEDs through the fabric, use safety pins to close up the back of the tie and you’re ready to wear!

Visit the Evil Mad Scientist How-To for further instruction, more detailed photographs, and tips on where to buy materials.

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