Tag Archives: Adafruit NeoPixels

Get tomorrow’s forecast with this weather icon display

This Maker built a neat wall-mounted weather display that gets the current conditions and forecast from the Internet, and then reveals it as colorful icons.

While we’ve seen plenty of word clocks in recent months, Jason Rolfe decided to do something a little different. Taking inspiration from these nifty projects, the Wyoming-based Maker has created a neat wall-mounted display that doesn’t reveal the time, but the two-day forecast instead.


Similar to how word clocks spell out the hour and minutes, this installation works by illuminating the high and low temperatures, the likelihood of precipitation and even the projected snowfall, along with a corresponding weather image. An Arduino Yún (ATmega32U4) pulls data from the Weather Underground API while a sketch displays an icon (such as a sun or a cloud) based on the conditions. The unit shifts between forecasts for today, now, tomorrow and tonight at 15 second intervals.


Rolfe implemented a 10×10 grid of 100 addressable LEDs, which shine through the device’s laser-cut acrylic faceplate. The electronics are all housed inside a handmade wooden frame with a colonial style moulding.

So how does it work exactly? In the example below, the weather for today would be a high of 45°F with a 60% chance of snow. If any significant accumulation was expected, it would be indicated by either trace, 2″-3″, 4″-6” or 6+”. Who needs the Weather Channel, right? Check out the Maker’s entire project here.


Creating a dual-mode compass with Arduino and NeoPixels

With the push of a button on this DIY compass, a user can select between north tracking and heading indicator modes.

After coming across a video of fellow Maker David Ratliff’s NeoPixel compass project on YouTube, Philo Mech had wanted to create a dual-mode one of his own for quite some time.


The compass is comprised of a 12-LED NeoPixel ring (which will be swapped out for 16-LED in the next iteration) along with an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega328) that drives an accelerometer/magnetometer breakout board, and a momentary pushbutton tasked with shifting between both modes. Meanwhile, the device supports 5V voltage regulation circuitry for managing the Pro Mini and NeoPixel ring.


This current version boasts two very useful modes: one to track the whereabouts of north, the other to determine the direction that the user is heading. When in the first mode, north is indicated by a red LED sandwiched between two yellow lights. As the Maker demonstrates in his video, it should match up fairly well to a standard compass arrow. While the range of degrees is not yet perfect, Philo Mech admits, it is still fairly close. The latter mode, which perhaps is a bit more helpful, reveals a different splash background with a red light denoting the cardinal direction that the user is going.

As the Maker reveals, future models will not only employ a 16-pixel ring but will also provide finer degrees of directional change and better compensate for tilting. In the meantime, you can see it in action below.

Playing larger-than-life Pong on a NYC storefront

Play Array takes gaming out of the computer and into the real world.

New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) has collaborated with design agency Urban Matter Inc. to develop an interactive storefront based on the retro arcade game Pong. The project was initially conceived as a way to make retail windows a bit more engaging, all while creating a more fun, vibrant city in general.


The aptly dubbed Play Array enables those passing by to interact with a larger-than-life, 6 x 8 pixel grid display comprised of 18.5” bulbs illuminated by ultra-bright NeoPixel rings. Upon approaching the store, each player is prompted to connect to the domain Playpong.me and assigned either an LED-lit green or purple paddle, which they control by tilting their smartphone almost in race car-like fashion. After five misses, however, the game ends.


Every horizontal row is driven by a brain pixel that is responsible for handling the LEDs in itself and the other seven pixels within its line. The brain pixel is powered by an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega328), which receives its instructions via an Ethernet module and commands its set of LEDs. Meanwhile, the game server is built upon Node.js software and communicates with the controller pixels using customized Open Sound Control.

The Power Suit is an Arduino-powered costume

Just in time for Halloween, a Maker by the name of Michael Teeuw has created a slick costume entitled The Power Suit. Though the ATmega168 MCU powered suit originated as just a fun idea to win a theme night competition with a couple of friends, the end result was actually quite stunning!


“Every once in a while you are looking for a nonsense reason to build something completely useless but absolutely awesome. This year’s trip to the Belgian Ardennes is the number one reason to achieve my childhood dream,” Teeuw prefaced.


The Maker aspired to create a suit which was equipped with built-in sound effects and voiceover, full-color LEDs, real-time audio and manually controlled lighting, independently powered wings, Bluetooth connectivity, and to round out the Tony Stark getup, a mobile app to act as his J.A.R.V.I.S.


Based on a set of football shoulder pads and chest protector, the Iron Man-inspired suit was brought to life using an Arduino Pro Mini to serve as the brains of the system, a Bluetooth Low Energy shield to enable wireless communication, a series of Adafruit NeoPixels to add the visual effects, a spectrum analyzer to transform audio into usable data for the Arduino, and a step-down power converter to run the electronics.


Using the shoulder pads as its base, Teeuw added a pair of ATmega168 controlled servos under each of its flaps to create wings capable of lifting themselves up.


The Maker then attained 72 Adafruit NeoPixels. The center of the suit was fitted with a 24 pixel ring and two-8 pixel strips along the shoulders, while another two-16 pixel rings were situated around the eyes using Adafruit’s Kaleidoscope Eyes tutorial.


In order to enhance its next-gen appearance, Teeuw used a 300 million megawatt speaker connected to a 18 watt amplifier.


Additionally, in order to control the lighting effects, color and wings, the Maker tasked a Nintendo Wii nunchuck connected to the Arduino.

Rounding out Teeuw’s must-have function list was the suit’s coinciding iPhone app. Besides a futuristic designed interface, the iPhone app has five features:

  • Playing looping background sounds
  • Playing speech sounds with a manual or random trigger
  • Playing sound effects with a manual or random trigger
  • Playing speech sounds based on Bluetooth feedback from the suit
  • Feedback about the current actions and connectivity in a console

Oh, and for those wondering as to whether or not Teeuw won the competition, you bethcha!


Inspired to go make a Power Suit of your own? You can find the detailed breakdown of Teeuw’s build here, and see it in action via the video below.

This Chameleon-like jacket changes colors based on its environment

Designed by Oslo, Norway design firm Drap go Design, the Interacket is an ATmega328 powered jacket that lets a wearer interact with the objects around them by mimicking their color.


The garment uses a built-in sensor on its sleeve to detect nearby objects, adjusting the color of its LED strips to blend in to its surroundings like a chameleon. According to the firm, the jacket is just one of a many new products inspired by animal powers.

“Many animals got cool ‘powers’ but few of these can be translated directly to humans. We are not be able to use a sonar the way the bat does and we can’t see all the colors the shrimp does, it is physically impossible for our eyes to see more then the colors we already do,” the Makers noted on their Hackaday page.

“Our goal was not to replicate the powers of the animals as exact as we could. We wanted to give the users the idea and the concept of the interaction animals have. We would abstract interactions and change input and output based on how we best could interpret powers from the animals and give it to the users.”


In order to enable these interactions, the Interacket is equipped with a pair of Arduino Uno (ATmega328), Adafruit NeoPixel LED strips and Adafruit color sensors, all of which powered by a single 9V battery. The jacket itself is comprised of reflective foil and diffusive fabric to enable the piece of clothing to prominently display the colors picked up by the sensors.

While the Interacket prototype may have limited real-world potential, the next version of this hue-morphing jacket (which is currently in the works) will change that.

Although it may not be effective as camouflage like its lizard inspiration, potential applications could range from enhanced safety during nighttime activities such as biking or walking to a pretty vibrant outfit for the club scene.

The Drap go Design creation can be found on Hackaday, while those interested in having color-changing powers may also take a look at the Makerrific piece of outerwear in the video below.

Designing an NES Power Glove Light Suit

Designed by Grant Goddard and Samuel Cooper Davis for Abrams/Gentile Entertainment and made by Mattel in the United States, the Power Glove was originally released in 1989. The next-gen wearable was equipped with traditional NES controller buttons on the forearm as well as a program button and buttons labeled 0-9. Unfortunately, the gaming device failed to catch on in popularity and was criticized for its imprecise and difficult-to-use controls.


However, a Maker by the name of Greg Sowell decided to transform the obsolete NES Power Glove into a psychedelic light suit using addressable LED strips and an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega168).


The Maker was inspired by a video from one of his favorite bands Hypercrush, which featured a member wearing a Power Glove-like device with lasers coming out of the ends. With a light suit already in his possession, Sowell thought, “Why not control the suit with the Power Glove?” And thus, the project was born.

Additional materials used in his build included:

  • 12 – 10k resistors: Pull down for buttons and voltage divider for bend sensors
  • WS2812 RGB LED strip from Adafruit or Sparkfun: Used 5-meter strips
  • 300 ohm resistor: To protect data pin
  • 1000 uF cap: Just before the light strip to protect the lights
  • 2-USB cables: To power the system
  • 5V 2A USB battery pack
  • 2 – 10mm LEDs
  • 10-foot stranded Cat 5 cable
  • Adafruit’s NeoPixel Library

Interested in learning more? You can find a full breakdown of Sowell’s build on his website here.