A Larson Scanner can best be described as a set of red LEDs that scan back and forth, recreating the left and right blinking motion of those formidable Cylon ships and Knight Rider’s AI KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand). The scanner is named after Glen A. Larson, the man responsible for producing both the original Battlestar Galactica and Knight Rider television shows.
An example of the popular Larson Scanner was recently featured on Bits & Pieces when we talked about a scanner powered by an Atmel-based Arduino Uno that surfaced on TronixStuff. And today we will be taking a closer look at a pair of Adafruit Larson Scanner shades built around the Atmel-powered Trinket (or Gemma).
“Larson scanners were traditionally red (or yellow in KARR’s case), but thanks to the magic of NeoPixels you can change the software to use any colors you like,” Adafruit’s Phillip Burgess explained.
“This is a soldering project, albeit a small one. You will need the common soldering paraphernalia of a soldering iron, solder, wire (20 to 26 gauge, either stranded or solid) and tools for cutting and stripping wire. You’ll also need some method of securing the electronics inside the glasses. Hot-melt glue (with a glue gun) works well for this – [so] watch your fingers!”
Aside from the Atmel-powered Trinket/Gemma, key components for Adafruit’s Larson Scanner glasses include:
- Visor-style sunglasses – The 1980’s style with a single “unibrow” rather than separate lenses.
- NeoPixel RGB LED flex strip – 144, 60 or 30 LEDs/meter depending on budget and desired look. This project only requires a short section, one can either make several pairs of glasses from the strip or use the leftovers for other projects.
- Adafruit Trinket – Either the 3.3V or 5V version will work the same for this project. A Gemmaboard can also be used.
- 3.7V 150mAh Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery.
- LiPo battery charger.
- JST Battery Extension Cable (not required if using Gemma).
As noted above, Makers can also use a Gemma for the project, meaning, an extra JST cable for the LiPo battery won’t be required.
“The board is a bit wider and might be more challenging to fit, but one option is to show it off rather than conceal it, mounting the board on the outside of the glasses near one temple. Geek pride!” Burgess added.
Interested in learning more about building Adafruit’s Atmel-powered Larson Scanner shades? You can check out Phillip’s detailed tutorial on the official Adafruit website.