Tag Archives: LEDs

This giant LED thermometer scarf shows the temp outside

With this scarf, you’ll never have to wonder how cold it is when you step outside.

Winter is well underway in some parts of the country, and if you have to head out into the frigid air, you’ll probably want a comfy scarf around your neck. But what about an accessory that not only keeps you warm, but looks and functions as a giant thermometer as well? That’s exactly what Instructables user “caitlinsdad” has created using an Adafruit FLORA (ATmega32U4), humidity and temperature sensor modules to detect the weather conditions, a NeoPixel ring for the bulb, and an LED strip to reveal the temp in both Fahrenheit and Celsius.

This DIY BB-8 will have you at beep

Just in time for The Force Awakens, one Maker has built his own 3D-printed, remote-controlled BB-8.

Although we’re just days away from the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it’s safe to say that BB-8 has already become the breakout star of the film. Since first laying eyes on the soccer ball-sized droid in the trailer, it has seemingly captured the hearts of everyone — whether a fan or not.


Instead of rushing to stores and purchasing a mini BB-8 of their own, several Makers have opted to build their own cute metallic orange ball with a beeping head. Take software engineer Jean-René Bédard, for example. His version is entirely 3D-printed, hand-painted and powered by a simple ATmega328 based, Arduino-compatible robotic platform.

The Maker designed his BB-8 in SketchUp and then spit him out using two Dremel Idea Builder 3D printers — a process that took roughly 50 hours to completed and called for over 650 feet (200 meters) of PLA filament.

Although it may not roll like the one in the Hollywood flick, Bédard’s bot can balance itself on a pair of wheels and be controlled with a basic RF remote. It is equipped with authentic sounds and several Adafruit LEDs to give it the full effect along with its orange and silver nail polish exterior. What’s more, the beeping BB-8’s head moves via a micro servo actuated by the Arduino.

This project will surely awaken your Maker forces. See for yourself below!


Adding more range and LEDs to an electric longboard

This Maker added more battery, more range and LED underlighting to his electric longboard. 

Boosted boards are electric skateboards that when used by Andrew Rossignol got about seven miles of range out of the box. This worked great when he lived in New York City, but after moving to Silicon Valley, Rossignol needed more range to reach his office, now 10 miles away.


Naturally, the Maker didn’t accept this limitation and added 288Wh of high-discharge lithium-ion batteries to the 99Wh of batteries that came with the board. With this extra power, he was able to travel over 13 miles on his first ride, ending with a “fuel gauge” that still read 20%.

This would have been impressive enough, especially given his great explanation of his battery choice and wiring scheme, but he didn’t stop there. Instead, he decided to add LED lighting controlled by an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega328) in the form of programmable strips. These were attached to the sides and front of his board.


For the color, he came up with what he calls “Boosted Orange” to match his board, also known “#FF1900” in more specific terms. For now he only has one animation programmed for the strips, but has plans to make more, and is even considering adding an inertial measurement unit. This would allow the board to sense motion and sync the lighting accordingly. That certainly sounds like an amazing effect, so hopefully he’ll be able to make that modification!


Intrigued? You can check out Rossignol’s project here.

This glowing LED dress is magical

One Maker has created a FLORA-powered, Disney-inspired dress that magically twinkles and changes colors as she twirls.

Like something straight out of a Disney tale, Erin St. Blaine has put together quite the magical fairy ensemble for her community’s recent electric lights parade.


The Maker’s fiber optic Snow Fairy Costume employs Adafruit’s Pixie 3W LEDs, which are around 20 times as bright as a NeoPixel — making them the perfect choice for a nighttime festivities.

The dress itself is equipped with a FLORA (ATmega32U4) for its brain and an accelerometer/compass module for enacting mode changes by spinning. Yes, it even twinkles and changes colors as she twirls, just like Cinderella.

Aside from the five Pixies lighting the fibers, the Maker included two more underneath her hoop skirt for an “underglow” effect. She also modded and connected a 60-LED LumiLabs Crystal Crown to round out the glowrious getup.


“I made a wreath headpiece that fits me out of some holiday floral junk from Michael’s, and then added a second concentric wire ring inside the first, and wired them together at each cardinal point,” St. Blaine explains. “The inner ring sits a couple inches above the main ring. I then took some ribbon and wove the crystal crown to the inner ring, and decorated the whole thing with lots more Michael’s holiday junk.”

Inspired by Disneyland’s Electric Light Parade fairies, the Maker ordered a cheap antenna book light that she wove into the crown with the two book lights pointing right down at her face. St. Blaine says that the battery pack was the perfect size to wedge between the two concentric circles of wire to hold them apart.


But why stop there? She went on to add little more magic to her costume, and by magic we mean a connector, so that the crown can change modes seamlessly along with the dress.

“I am still planning on adding some fiber optic lights to the wings as well,” she writes. “I’m thinking fiber optics are the answer here too, but I am a little unsure how to proceed without tearing the wings all apart and then re-covering them.”

So was it a hit? Umm… obviously! According to St. Blaine, “It was really well received. I couldn’t go more than a few steps without being stopped for photo ops and little girl hugs.” The Maker has provided a step-by-step tutorial of her build over on Adafruit, and shared a video of the fiber optic outfit in action below!


EasyJet staff to sport new smart LED-laden uniforms

Wearable tech, you are now ready for takeoff.

To celebrate its 20th year in operation, European airline EasyJet recently unveiled a first-of-its kind uniform for both cabin crew and aircraft engineers. Not only does the new getup boast a futuristic look, it incorporates wearable technology to enhance communication and passenger safety procedures. (Bet now you’ll pay attention!)

easyJet wearable tech 2 (photo Nathan Gallagher 2)

Unlike other airlines who simply continue to adapt to the latest trends in fashion, EasyJet has decided to take it up a notch. The next-gen uniforms, which were designed in collaboration with London-based fashion house CuteCircuit, are equipped with several LEDs for increased visibility and built-in microphones so that engineers, crew and pilots can all talk to one another.

easyJet wearable tech 3 (photo Nathan Gallagher 3)

The cabin crew outfits feature LEDs on the shoulders and hems to provide additional lighting in the event of an emergency, and on the jacket lapels to display important information like flight numbers and destinations (in case you forget where you’re going?).

Meanwhile, the engineers’ jackets will come with light-up hoods and sleeves that illuminate work areas and keep both hands free for aircraft inspections and maintenance, along with reflective laser-cut decorations to aid visibility on the air field and built-in video cameras for remote diagnose of technical issues. Aside from that, the garment will be embedded with an air quality sensor and barometer to help monitor work environments and create a map of air quality in different cities.


If CuteCircuit sounds familiar, that’s because you may recall the wearable tech pioneers from some of their previous work which includes LED-laden dresses for celebs like Katy Perry and Nicole Scherzinger as well as tshirtOS — the world’s first programmable t-shirt.

EasyJet will begin a pilot (no pun intend) of the uniforms early next year.

TinyGlo+ is an Arduino-compatible board for custom light projects

This ATtiny167-powered lighting solution lets your imagination run wild with three programmable, full-color LEDs.

Watching fireflies certainly stands out as one of the more memorable summertime experiences as a child. Inspired by this natural phenomenon, engineer John Kicklighter decided that he’d create a simple solution that could emulate the dancing of fireflies all year round. This led to the development of TinyGlo, a tiny board with an integrated sensor that could detect when it was nighttime to trigger a blinking light show.


Following its initial success, Kicklighter has come up with an improved iteration of the board. For the next generation, he has included a larger microprocessor, more lights and colors, expandable battery capability, and additional expansion pins for external applications.

TinyGlo+ is a custom lighting controller that can be implemented for a wide range of projects. Aside from all of its original features, like ambient ight sensing, the latest unit packs three programmable, full-color LEDs that encourages Makers to let their imaginations run wild. With an optional LiPo battery and an incredibly compact form factor (1” x 1.5”), TinyGlo+ is perfect for wearable gadgetry or when tinkering on-the-go.


“Add on a microphone to make dancing lights or be the star of the rave with a custom bright LED solution,” Kicklighter explains. “With a low cost, leave TinyGlo+ in your project or combine many of them for a dramatic custom lighting feature.”

Based on the ATtiny167, TinyGlo+ is Arduino-compatible and super easy to program via USB. As Kicklighter mentions, it will prove to be an ideal platform for Makers just starting out to learn and looking to explore electronics. You can even build upon its functionality by adding on external components with the standard SPI, I2C, analog, digital and serial interfaces.


What’s more, TinyGlo+ includes a user programmable push button, an on/off slide switch, an N-Channel MOSFET for driving external applications, a 16Mhz precision crystal for reliable USB operation, and V-USB for programming.

Have a bright idea for TinyGlo+ ? Head over its Kickstarter campaign, where Kicklighter and the JACK Enterprises team are currently seeking $5,000. Delivery is slated for April 2016.

This smart punching bag lets you fight cancer, jab by jab

With this interactive punching bag, everyone can step in the ring and join the fight against cancer.

When a loved one is battling cancer, it’s easy to feel powerless as if you are nothing but a helpless bystander. This inspired the idea for a recent project from Thijs Biersteker. The creative designer, in collaboration with digital production company MediaMonks, teamed up with Dutch nonprofit organization Fight Cancer to create the world’s first punchable computer as an interactive way to raise funds for cancer research. The hope is that the smart punching bag will travel from gym to gym across the Netherlands, enabling everyone to step into the ring and join their loved ones in the fight.


The first-of-its-kind installation is made of a punchable screen embedded with motion sensors, shock detectors and over four thousand LEDs. Accelerometers detect the strength of each blow, gyroscopes record the trajectory, and impact sensors register the location of every strike. This information is then processed and pushed to the bag’s display, while direct audio feedback is emitted through a built-in speaker. What’s more, the piezo network is controlled by an ATmega328.

On its exterior, multi-colored lights serve as a representation of “cancer cells.” After you punch in (no pun intended) a few basic facts about yourself, such as sex, age and lifestyle (from healthy to unhealthy), the bag loads up a customized game that correlates to your own risk of cancer. It’s then your job to give them the good ol’ KO.


When force is applied, the punching bag illuminates a heatmap visualizing the impact of your jab or uppercut. Through interactive animations, the unit symbolically reveals the rate at which cancer can grow, while allowing people to do something by donating directly to Fight Cancer’s cause, punch by punch.

“I’m not a doctor or a scientific genius, so when a loved one becomes ill, I feel like a bystander. With this interactive punching bag you can really join them in their fight by stepping in the ring and punch cancer in the cells, raising funds for cancer research punch by punch,” creator Thijs Biersteker explains.

This is another prime example how the DIY community, smart technology and a little ingenuity can ‘make’ a difference. Inspired? Head over to the project’s official page here.


Creating the ultimate Arduino-lovers Halloween costume

Happy Halloween Hallowuino!

Two years ago, mechanical engineer and cartoonist Angela Melick (who goes by the nickname Jam) developed a pretty neat Halloween costume based on her favorite prototype development board: the Arduino. And that’s not all. Not only does it look like an Uno, it’s actually powered by one as well.


“It’s hard to tell in the first photo but the outfit is covered in puff-paint traces — all up and down the arms and over the back. It was a lot of work but it looks really cool,” Jam explained in her blog post.

The costume is equipped with a series of LEDs that go down her side and blink to a preprogrammed pattern, handled by an Arduino around her neck. Aside from that, a few glow stocks were used in place of “wires,” which as Maker jokingly notes, “represent the tangled mess that any Arduino project is in its first stages.” And we can’t help but notice the ATmega328 at the heart of this ensemble, which appears to be made of styrofoam.


However, Jam’s favorite part of the entire costume? The matching fascinator which features a second Arduino and a few more flashing lights, of course!

“This was my first time soldering ‘free’ wires and 8/8 of the LEDs worked, which I’m very proud of because the wires go all the way down the side and alllll the way back up the shirt,” the Maker added.


Feeling inspired to go make your own costume? Better hurry up, as we’re just days away from Halloween! In the meantime, you can check out Jam’s entire build here.

moodLight is a smart box that displays real-time emotion

moodLight is a Wi-Fi-connected desk lamp that illustrates the mood of the online world with beautiful twists of color.

It’s safe to say that social media has not only revolutionized the journalistic landscape, but the way in which we gather news, events, gossip and other share-worthy content. However, wouldn’t it be cool if you could actually see how the world responded to such information? That is exactly what Connor Nishijima set out to accomplish with moodLight — a three-inch tall, USB-powered smart lamp that beautifully shines a spectrum of colors based on the emotion of Twitter users.


To bring this to reality, the Maker collates a sampling of experimental social data from all over the globe and displays that deep connection in the form of nine LEDs. The gadget works by sifting through millions of tweets each day and checking them for several dozen keywords tied to one of six emotions: love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness and fear. These emotions are graphed in real-time, placed on a server, downloaded by the moodLight and then translated into colors that are shown in the form of RGB LEDs inside a laser-cut box.

“For example, ‘I am so proud of my son for getting his degree! I’m going to miss him at home,’” Nishijima explains. “This tweet contains the word ‘proud’ (Joy > Pride > ‘proud’) and the phrase ‘miss him’ (Sadness > Loss > ‘miss him/her/you/them’) making it a bittersweet tweet of both joy and sadness. These emotions would result in a twist of goldenrod and cyan in your lamp.”


The system keeps a weighted moving average of each emotion’s tweet count per minute and uses this to build a sort of baseline average for each feeling. From there, it compares the most recent minute’s data to the average to deliver a percentage value.

In terms of hardware, moodLight is equipped with an ATmega328P at its core along with WS2812B LEDs and an ESP8266 Wi-Fi module that the lamp uses to make GET requests to the moodLighting website every second. While the VPS backend running the service consumes many gigabytes of data per day, it shrinks this content down into 25-byte summaries that the lamp consumes in one-second intervals. Impressively, this amounts to only 2.16MB of data consumed daily — which ends up being smaller than the size of an MP3.

The tabletop lamp can also be integrated with IFTTT, thereby opening up endless possibilities from serving as a basic notification portal to turning on a WeMo bulb or dialing your Nest thermostat to different temperatures based on a particular social media status update. For instance, you can define various combinations of colors for various alerts: flash red twice for an incoming email, blink brown and fade to blue for a UPS package delivery, or emit green if a Fitbit goal is achieved.


What’s more, each moodLight is controllable over UDP packets, making it easy to set your own color combinations. By sending packets very similar to the mood summaries above, you can change the hue of one or more of the nine pixels, set a global brightness level, put the lamp to sleep or wake it up, or stream color data at 30+ FPS, to name just a few. As its creators note, this essentially gives you the functionality of a Philips Hue or LiFX smart bulb.

Looking for new way to stay connected with news? Head over to the moodLight’s Kickstarter campaign, where Nishijima has blown past his $935 goal. Delivery is slated for early next year.

This artist turns celebrity tweets into psychedelic art

With the help of Arduino and LEDs, this Maker combines analog and digital tech to convert tweets into vibrant light shows. 

Today, it seems like just about every celebrity has a Twitter account. Whenever big names like Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus send out a post, not only do they receive thousands of retweets, they become an instant trending topic. Interestingly enough, artist Lori Hepner has taken their updates one step further by photographing them. Wait, what? You heard that correctly, she transforms their 140-character rants into psychedelic images.

@KimKardashian 4:06 PM - 1 Sep 2015 September Selfie Cover of @interviewmag #InterviewGang

@KimKardashian 4:06 PM – 1 Sep 2015
September Selfie Cover of @interviewmag #InterviewGang

As part of a series she calls Status Symbols, the Maker combines analog and digital tech to convert the tweets into an actual physical object, which she then photographs to create vibrant, circular shapes. Hepner’s Twitter portraits can best be described as a visual manifestation of celebrities’ fragmented thoughts — an exploration that recognizes the online musings of cultural icons and ultimately studies identity in the era of social media.

The idea for such an eccentric project came about nearly six years ago, after obtaining her first Arduino board and programming it to make eight spinning LEDs flash based on the binary code within a tweet. According to WIRED, a hashtag is red, the @ symbol is orange and quotes are purple. Every word becomes a random color in the light show. From there, Hepner uses a medium format camera to capture long exposures.

“I wanted to leave some of it to chance, but the patterns of language and the inherent patterns of the binary code come through. In my brain, I saw them as circular and presented in a way that you can’t undo the code, you can’t extract it,” the artist tells the magazine.

Intrigued? You can browse through her entire portfolio of Twitter portraits here. You’d be surprised. Even some of the most mundane, accidental pocket tweets translate into beautiful imagery… Right, Lady Gaga?

[h/t WIRED]