Tag Archives: NeoPixel

Channel your inner superhero with The Dazzler bracelet

Maker Michael Barretta was searching for the perfect gift for his girlfriend’s birthday. After some deep thought, he decided to develop a project based on her favorite superhero: The Dazzler. So what happens when the superpowers of the X-Men join forces with the low power of today’s microcontrollers? This DIY Dazzler bracelet.


To best personify the bright lights of the Dazzler’s powers, Barretta worked to incorporate light organs into a wearable bracelet. MAKE Magazine best describes light organs as a simple technology that causes light to pulse in tune with the frequency and intensity of sound.

Much like Marcus Olsson’s Trinket design we featured a few weeks back, this bracelet pulses in reaction to the sound around it. Undoubtedly, these wearables would be a massive hit at any party… or Comic-Con, of course!


Barretta linked an Adafruit GEMMA platform (ATtiny85), a microphone breakout board, NeoPixel RGB LED strips and LiPo battery to establish the dazzling effect. The microphone adapts surrounding music into a sequence of LED flashes. For even further customization and personalization, the Maker 3D printed the bracelet enclosure to perfectly fit his girlfriend’s wrist. The schematics for the bracelet itself can be found here.


If you want to build your own bracelet for that someone special in your life, or just want to channel your inner Dazzler, check out Michael’s tutorial here!

Top this Lady Gaga! A NeoPixel dress made with FLORA

A Maker by the name of Nikko Mamallo recently introduced a NeoPixel dress that will surely stand out at your next social gathering.

Though the dress may have shined in its original form, the Maker thought he’d add a bit more pizazz by including 46 NeoPixels and an ATmega32u4-based FLORA. What’s a party without some tunes? That’s exactly why he decided to incorporate a mic as well, giving the outfit the ability to react to music. The outfit can do 12 different light sequences, with some using random colors to move to sound.


In order to complete the wearable project, the Maker turned to Adafruit’s NeoPixel library, which used some code from their Ampli-tie project. To top it off, what would proper party attire be without some glittery shoes and a disco-ball purse to match? Both powered by Gemma (ATtiny85), the 20 LED sequins embedded into both accessories have the ability to blink and fade. In case you were counting, that’s 66 LEDs in total of fierce!

Nikko described his creation as a “definite show stopper and crowd pleaser,” when it made its public debut at a friend’s 21st birthday party. Thinking you may want to light up your next social function? Learn more about Nikko’s design by checking it out at over at Adafruit.

Pac-Man inspired suspenders brighten your outfit

Known as “FLORA,” Adafruit’s wearable electronics platform is built around Atmel’s Atmega32u4 MCU. The microcontroller boasts built-in USB support, eliminating the need for pesky special cables and extra parts.

Today on Bits & Pieces, we’re covering a vintage arcade game-inspired design by Becky Stern of Adafruit. No stranger to some sweet DIY wearable gadgetry, Becky’s Pac Man Pixel Suspenders will certainly add some pizazz to the way you hold your pants up.


This set of “blinken-braces” boasts 30 NeoPixels, each of which are sewn to these suspenders and powered by a FLORA main board running a dazzling Pac Man-inspired animation, Stern wrote in the project tutorial’s introduction.

Early in the tutorial, Becky breaks down the list of the materials needed for the project:

If you were thinking about embarking on this project yourself, don’t let the sewing intimidate you. Becky knowledgably describes the stitching process, “Use a sewing machine set to a zigzag stitch to affix three strands of conductive thread to the suspenders along one side.”


So your sewing is complete, what’s the next move? Becky recommends that you begin to make all of the required data connections prior to putting away the sewing machine. She states, “When your thread gets short, just interleave it with the threads under the zigzags and cut off the tail.”


Moving forward, once data connections have been checked for shorts, the suspenders must be programmed. Prior to programming, Becky warns that, “If any of your connections are flaky, reinforce them with conductive thread.” After the proper code has been uploaded, you’re ready to wear your work!

Now that you know how to make a pair of your own, the question is, are you bold enough to rock these with your next outfit? We know someone who is…


Interested in checking out some other slick FLORA projects? Search through our entire Adafruit archive here.

Becky Stern builds a NeoPixel ‘punk collar

We’ve covered a number of cyberpunk inspired ensembles in recent months here on Bits & Pieces, including Mell Ell’s cos-play outfit, the NeoGeo watch, Kaleidoscope Eyes and the Flora-powered GPS jacket. Today, we’re going to be taking a closer look at a NeoPixel punk collar designed by Adafruit’s Becky Stern that is powered by an Atmel-based GEMMA (ATtiny85 MCU).

“Get your cybergoth on with five color-changing NeoPixels studded onto a leather collar,” Stern wrote in the tutorial’s introduction.

“The tiny GEMMA microcontroller can display endless animations on this fun funky accessory that’s easy to make with a little soldering. The GEMMA and battery live on the outside of the collar, [while] the NeoPixels pierce through the collar to be wired on the inside.”

Becky recommends that Makers kick of the project by connecting all pixels power pins to GEMMA’s Vout, ground to GND and the first data input to GEMMA D1. The data out from each pixel is wired to the data in on the next – and hobbyists can easily add five more pixels for a total of ten.

Next up? Installing the NeoPixel library, connect the NeoPixels to a solderless breadboard, using alligator clips to attach to GEMMA.

“You’ll need to change a few lines in the code regarding the data pin (1), type of pixels (RGB vs GRB), and number of pixels (5). From the Tools→Board menu, select Adafruit Gemma 8MHz or Adafruit Trinket 8 MHz as appropriate,” Stern noted. “Connect the USB cable between the computer and Trinket, press the reset button on the board, then click the upload button (right arrow icon) in the Arduino IDE. When the battery is connected, you should get a light show from the LEDs.”

If all the pixels are working, Makers can proceed to the next step: building the collar.

“While the collar is pretty durable, use caution in heavy rainstorms or really sweaty dance parties- remove and power down the collar if the circuit is going to get wet. Store your collar in the round, and don’t shove it in your bag or it might get twisted or crushed, which could break the circuit,” added Stern.

Interested in learning more about building a NeoPixel ‘punk collar? You can check out Adafruit’s full 
tutorial here.

A tinyAVR USB volume knob

A Maker by the name of Rupert has designed a tinyAVR-powered USB volume knob based on Adafruit’s popular Trinket (Atmel ATtiny85) platform.

“After purchasing a Trinket to experiment with and Adafruit having a great mentality for Open Source Hardware, I decided to modify my own ATtiny85 volume control PCB to make it compatible with the Trinket’s 5Volt firmware (flash_me_hv_5volt.hex)! (which is Arduino compatible),” Rupert explained in a recent blog post. “This gives access to direct programming without the need for a separate programmer from the Arduino IDE. Its also nice to support the hard work done at Adafruit by purchasing one of their Trinkets.”

As the HackADay crew notes, an awesome looking RGB LED ring powered by Adafruit’s Neopixel was ultimately added to the design, albeit at the expense of a “mute” control.

“The PCB Rupert fabbed is pretty well suited for being manufactured one-sided,” wrote HackADay’s Brian Benchoff. “If you’ve ever wanted an awesome volume knob for your computer, all the files are available from Rupert‘s blog here.”

In addition to creating the above-mentioned tinyAVR USB volume knob, Rupert is reportedly working to load Adafruit’s Trinket bootloader on Atmel’s ATtiny84, an MCU with a total of 8 analog pins.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Adafruit’s popular Trinket can best be described as a tiny microcontroller board built around Atmel’s versatile ATtiny85.

“We wanted to design a microcontroller board that was small enough to fit into any project – and low cost enough to use without hesitation,” Adafruit’s Limor Fried (aka LadyAda) explained.

“[It is] perfect for when you don’t want to give up your expensive dev-board and you aren’t willing to take apart the project you worked so hard to design.”

Fried describes the Attiny85 as a “fun processor,” because despite being so small, it boasts 8K of flash and 5 I/O pins – including analog inputs and PWM ‘analog’ outputs.

“We designed a USB bootloader so you can plug it into any computer and reprogram it over a USB port just like an Arduino,” Fried continued. “In fact we even made some simple modifications to the Arduino IDE so that it works like a mini-Arduino board. You can’t stack a big shield on it but for many small and simple projects the Trinket will be your go-to platform.”

There are currently two versions of the Trinket: 3V and 5V. According to LadyAda, both work the same but have different operating logic voltages.

“Use the 3V one to interface with sensors and devices that need 3V logic, or when you want to power it off of a LiPo battery. The 3V version should only run at 8 MHz. Use the 5V one for sensors and components that can use or require 5V logic, [as] the 5V can run at 8 MHz or at 16MHz by setting the software-set clock frequency,” she added.

LED skateboarding with Adafruit and Atmel

Adafruit’s Noé & Pedro have created a tricked-out skateboard using Adafruit’s NeoPixels and the Atmel-powered FLORA (ATmega32u4 MCU). The electronic components are housed in a tastefully designed 3D printed structure equipped with an easy to reach power switch.

“You can grab the STL files on Thingiverse. For this project, we used the low density weatherproof NeoPixel strips and a small LiPo Battery,” the duo explained in a detailed Adafruit tutorial.

“The printed cover snaps onto the power switch. We used double sided foam tape to mount the enclosure. The NeoPixel strip slides into place with the 3D-printed clips.”

Aside from a skateboard, the Atmel-powered FLORA and NeoPixel (low density 30 LED/meter in white or black), key project components include:

  • Lithium Polymer 1200mAh
  • Micro Lipo charger to recharge the battery
  • Tactile on/off switch
  • 8 Neodymium magnets (1/4 x 1/16 inch disc)
  • Superglue/hotglue
  • Wire
  • Foam tape (double-sided)
  • Electrical tape
  • Alligator clips
  • 3D printer and soldering iron (tools)

As noted above, the 3D-printed enclosure is designed to fit the Lithium Polymer battery, FLORA and toggle power switch. The case and cover use neodymium magnets to hold them together, while the case has an opening for the wires. The cover also features a widget that allows Makers to easily snap on the toggle switch.

In terms of testing the circuits, Makers can connect the FLORA to their computer via USB.

“Use Adafruit’s Arduino app to load sketches onto the FLORA (check out the Flora tutorial for all the details). The NeoPixel examplestrandtest is a great demo sketch to test the LED strip,” Noé & Pedro explained. “Now you can attach the LiPo battery to the FLORA. Make sure to switch the onboard power switch to ON before trying to power the strips.”

The next step is testing the NeoPixel strip. Makers can hook up the LED strip to the FLORA micro-controller with alligator clips.

“Wire up a red alligator clip to the 5V pin of the strip to the vbat pin of the FLORA. Next, use a black alligator clip to the ground(GND) pin of the strip to a near by ground(GND) pin on the FLORA. Now use any other colored alligator clip to pin D6 of the FLORA to the DIN pin on the NeoPixel strip,” the two continued.

“Now you can switch on the power to the FLORA to test the NeoPixelStrip. You should see LED glowly goodness, if not, don’t worry! Just double check your alligator clip connections, the leads on the strip are tiny, so make sure the alligator clips DO NOT TOUCH or it wont work! In order to conveniently power the LED Strip from the enclosure, the tactile switch needs to connected to the LiPo battery. You will need to cut the red positive wire of the LiPo battery and solder the toggle switch between the two ends of the cut positive wire like shown in the circuit diagram.”

Interested in learning more about building a tricked-out LED skateboard with Atmel and Adafruit? You can check out Adafruit’s detailed tutorial here.