Ring in the holiday season with this festive DIY hat

Can you believe it? It’s already December! And, what better way to kick off the official holiday season than with this slick wearable created by Maker (and hat aficionado) Barbara Eldredge.

Our friends over at Element 14 initially brought her Atmel based Jaunty Fascinator to our attention a couple weeks back after it had been crowned victor of their recent Hats Off Design Contest. For the award-winning project, Eldredge equipped a traditional English fascinator headpiece with Adafruit’s GEMMA platform (ATtiny85) along with an accelerometer to measure a wearer’s movement. Data collected by its embedded sensors prompted a series of NeoPixels within the hat to change color intensity and temperature from blue to green, yellow, orange and red.

As if one piece of headwear was enough for Eldredge, the incredibly innovative Maker has returned. This time with a fantastic fascinator for all holiday festivities!

According to the Maker, her electronic Christmas confection — aptly dubbed the Hot and Cold Christmas Cloche — features a temperature sensor that is responsible for triggering its lights to change colors depending on whether it is hot or cold. Ideally, the FLORA powered (ATtiny85) wearable will emit icy blue when it’s outside and a holiday spirited red and green when it’s inside, or anytime its environment is above 60°F. As she points out, the colors will soon intensify the more extreme the temperature.


If all goes according to plan, aside from its embedded FLORA, Eldredge assumes the hat will be comprised of the following components:

  • 1.3m white NeoPixel strip
  • 1-3x AAA battery pack
  • 3 through-hole 8mm NeoPixels
  • 2 through-hole 5mm NeoPixels
  • Analog temperature sensor
  • Side glow fiber optic
  • A white wool felt hat

As the Maker notes in her recent Element 14 Community post, she began by connecting the 1.5-meter NeoPixel strip to the ATtiny85 based FLORA and alligator clips, before conducting a NeoPixel strip test. Miraculously, she says, it worked on the first attempt!

“I disconnected those alligator clips from the FLORA and placed one of the 5mm through-hole NeoPixels in my breadboard. I cut and placed small bits of wire to correctly power and connect the LED to the FLORA. Then I found the Punk Collar code and changed the pin number to pin 9 and uploaded it to the FLORA. The light changed color beautifully. Then I placed the remaining four through-hole NeoPixels in the breadboard so that each Data-Out pin was column-buddies with the Data-In pin of the following LED, and used more little pieces of wire to connect each to power and ground. I ran the Neopixel Tiara code again and they worked,” Eldredge writes.

She then went on to connect the temp sensor.

“I disconnected the LEDs at the FLORA end and placed my temperature sensor on the opposite side of the breadboard, using more wires to connect it to the FLORA. Then I uploaded the example Simple Thermometer code and opened the serial port to find that the room was a sweltering 138 degrees fahrenheit. That didn’t seem quite right. So I read over the Temp Sensor overview and realized that it was calibrated to receive 5 volts of electricity and I was only giving it 3.3 volts. I changed the calculation to compensate, re-uploaded the code, re-opened the serial port, and all was well. A perfectly reasonable 70 degrees.”

As she puts the finishing touches to her design, you can find a step-by-step breakdown of the build along with its recently-revealed code here.

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