Tag Archives: Neopixels

Throw on a pair of #Ravespecs for your next party

Wondering what to wear for that party? Make yourself some LED glasses.

What do you get when you combine basic safety goggles, an laser-cut acrylic frame, some electronics and plenty of RGB LEDs? One electrifying pair of #Ravespecs, that’s what. Throw ‘em on and you surely become the ‘light’ of any party.


Created by Lorenzo Wood, the glasses were originally a last-minute, thrown-together idea for a friend’s party. Initially conceived as a mask, the Maker felt that glasses would be “a bit more social.” He thought about powering the specs through a remote battery tucked away in his pocket and running wire to the glasses; however, Wood realized that it would be much more fun, portable, and of course, aesthetically-pleasing to make them self-contained.

“In spite of the rushed build and the shoddy wiring, they turned out to be quite robust. The reason that there are wires visible on the front is that for speed I wired the power with just two stripped wires, threading them in and out of the LED strips and connecting them with solder. I don’t recommend that.”

The shades are built around an A-Star 32U4 MCU (ATmega32U4), adorned vertically with Adafruit NeoPixels and powered by standard Lithium AAA batteries mounted to the frame itself. Since the LEDs consume quite a bit of power, a wearer can expect anywhere between one to two hours of continuous use before having to replace its batteries.


Beyond that, a wearer can easily change the lighting sequences or down the brightness with a little coding, and even try to create designs that don’t engage all the pixels at once, such as strobing rainbow, chasing or police-like effects.

“Because of time, I only had one go at the frame design. I positioned the slits around a typical inter-pupillary distance of 55mm-65mm. In fact, pretty much anyone can see through them (even small children), because the frame is held quite a long way from your face by the safety goggles. The slits could therefore probably be sightly narrower so you could get even more LEDs on.”

With the party now behind him, the Maker reveals that he has already begun working on improving the #Ravespecs. Enhancements include more complex patterns, adding radios for synchronizing more than one pair and enabling wireless controlling, as well as incorporating different sensors. The glasses will be able react in more expressive ways through sound, motion and hand gestures.

See them in action below! If you liked this project, then you’ll love these programmable LED shades from Garrett Mace as well!

Building a life-size Iron Man Hulkbuster suit

A Maker has designed a Hulkbuster costume in homage of the upcoming Avengers 2: Age of Ultron film. 

With Maker Faire Bay Area just around the corner, there’s nothing like some life-size cosplay to spur a little excitement. While we’ve seen a number of pretty impressive Iron Man suits in the past, James Bruton’s latest creation may take the cake. The UK-based Maker has designed a slick Hulkbuster costume in homage of the upcoming Avengers 2: Age of Ultron film.


“I had planned to build a real life suiting up robot gantry for my Iron Man MKVI build. However, since the suit and its strapping system have progressed, the idea has become less practical. Also, as the Iron Man/Avengers series of films has progressed, Tony Stark has moved away from a special room full of robot arms to do the suit-up, towards suits that put themselves on,” Bruton writes.

With that in mind, the Maker had taken it up himself to create a next-gen getup with Hollywood-like appeal. To complete this task, Burton wanted the suit to not only be self-supporting for when the wearer climbs in and out, but 3D-printed using his Lulzbot TAZ machine and powered by several embedded electronics as well.


In order to make the suit free-standing, Bruton designed a set of stilts with space for a remote locking mechanism for the feet and legs. The stilts, along with portions of the frame, were comprised of plywood pieces coated in silver paint and connected by domestic door hinges at its joints.

The Maker included an end stop to prevent overbalancing, along with 3D-printed bearing blocks hinged around the costume’s thigh section and a locking bolt/pin to keep the joint in an upright position. Meanwhile, the joint between the torso and thighs consist of a bungee cord, a 3D-printed rubber buffer piece and plenty of padding to ensure comfort. Bruton also added some snowboard bindings to serve as locking mechanisms for the feet.


The suit’s 3D-printed hands and forearms even feature Iron Man-esque animatronics, which are powered by an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) in each arm that trigger servos to drive the hand plates. The forearms were designed to have “pop-out weapons” that required various mechanics to hinge backgrounds to point the repulser forward. Another Arduino is embedded within the torso of the suit, and connected by data connectors to activate features located in the body from joysticks in each arm. As for the hand itself, there are three fingers, with the middle one being a bit wider to resemble the suit from the soon-to-be-released flick. These hands are mounted to the suit, and Bruton says cordless screwdriver motors were used to enable the grippers.

“I’m using cordless screwdriver motors to drive the features, these are mounted in pairs on each arm on a 3D-printed bracket with a pulley assembly to pull the finger cords. These parts have to support the arms and allow movement in multiple axis, so I have two spaces for bearings on each axis,” Burton writes. “The elbow hinge will also act as a pulley with another motor to drive the joint, I’ll be springing the arm in the middle of it’s range of motion so that the motor only needs to pull it off centre rather than supporting the whole load around the pivot point. The arm is suspended with a combination of bungee cord and wooden dowel with 3D printed ends. I’m using some larger metal geared motors to drive the elbows — this are Como-Drills 919D motors with an 810:1 gearbox. The bungee and dowels are covered with fake pistons made from PVC pips and 3D printed spacers.”


As for its shoulders, these will also be open to not only allow the helmet to hinge back, but for the “weaponry” to be revealed. This will be made possible through four-bar linkage and some additional frame parts. One end is hinged on the existing M8 studding which the arms are mounted to, while the other runs into a channel. Bruton notes that the lever mechanism is sprung so that it can stay in either position or be activated by cable control.

Beyond that, the back of the suit is completely open to let a wearer easily hop in and out. As the Maker reveals, its rear panels needed to be able to be remotely activated and while the wearer is inside the suit, in addition to having a safety release for a quick exit in the event of power failure.

Like a number of its other parts, a majority of the chest plates were comprised of foam PVC, plastazote foam and 3D-printed components. The main plate is mounted, enabling the opening of panels on each side of the Unibeam to later hold internal detailing. These parts will be driven by an R/C servo so that they can open and close.


And, what would Iron Man be without an Arc Reactor? Designed in collaboration with Adafruit, both the Unibeam and Arc Reactor unit are illuminated by a series of NeoPixel LEDs and driven by a GEMMA microcontroller (ATtiny85).

Overall, this may be one, if not, the most elaborate and truly impressive cosplay projects we’ve seen. We wouldn’t be surprised if a few Hollywood producers call Bruton for prop jobs after this display of creativity. Intrigued? You can find an extremely detailed breakdown of the build here, or simply watch his 29-part video tutorial.

This Arduino-based Light Box grooves to the music

A DIY desk accessory that is ideal for drum pads and DJs.

What can we say? We’re suckers for sound-reactive projects. Recently, Maker Oscar de la Hera created a slick Light Box that responds to music in a rather colorful way. Comprised of oak casing, the device uses an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), an MSGEQ7 chip and two audio jacks to brighten the musical experience via a 6×6 matrix of NeoPixels. These LEDs are hidden under a one-sided mirror, which serves as a reflective piece when the lights are off and a protective shield when the light show comes alive.


The project uses a pair of audio ports to enable the music to flow in and out of the box, and incorporates a sleek LED switch to allow the user to power it on and off. As for the electronics, the components are housed nestled inside the wooden frame and designed in such a way that permits the user to take the box apart and reprogram the Arduino to play different animations.


In the future, de la Hera hopes to incorporate Bluetooth and a rechargable battery to make the lightbox portable. Want to create one of your own? Check out the Maker’s entire project page here. Meanwhile, you can watch it in action below!

Rewind: Oh. My. God. Becky, look at those wearables…

From GPS logging dog harnesses to MIDI drumming gloves, Adafruit’s Director of Wearable Electronics Becky Stern has unveiled some pretty wonderful wearable projects over the past couple of months. So much so that we’ve decided to pay homage to the LED-lovin’, gadget-glowin’ Maker by showcasing several of our favorites.

While the inherent versatility of Atmel’s MCUs have made our silicon a favorite amongst engineers for next-gen smart devices, evident by Becky’s latest designs, they have also increasingly emerged as the go-to choice for Makers creating DIY wearables.

Interior Purse Lights


Never fumble through your purse in the dark again, thanks to this fashionable yet practical innovation. The project makes use of Adafruit’s GEMMA Sequin Starter Pack (ATtiny85), conductive thread and conductive hook and loop tape.

NeoPixel Punk Collar


Punk meets goth in this one-of-a-kind cybergothpunk creation — a leather collar studded with five color-changing NeoPixels. The project is powered by the ATtiny85 based GEMMA platform — which can also be substituted by a Trinket — and will surely make you the life of any party!

Cyberpunk Spikes


As we continue to delve deep into cyberpunk territory, check out these slick 3D-printed spikes! Add these bright spikes — which uses a NeoPixel strip diffused by NinjaFlex 3D printing filament — to any ensemble. This project again employs a GEMMA microcontroller that animates the LEDs.

NeoPixel Ring Bracelet


Sure, you can catch the attention of onlookers with the latest smartwatch or fashionable jewelry, but how about adorning your wrist with an eye-popping bracelet instead? Passerby won’t help but stare at the various light patterns displayed on this nifty DIY bracelet, which boasts set of four NeoPixel rings along with the tiny GEMMA.

Tank Girl Goes Cyberpunk


Whether you’re a fan of the 1995 American sci-fi flick Tank Girl or not, you will surely appreciate Becky’s 3D-printed, LED-embedded Bandolier of Light. Similar to the aforementioned cyberpunk spikes, this unique getup is comprised of NinjaFlex filament, some NeoPixels, and of course, an tinyAVR driven GEMMA.

Laser Dog Goggles


What would a bright night on the town be without an appropriate getup of man’s best companion. Here, Becky transformed once-ordinary Doggles into a paw-some pair of cyberpunk-style glasses with a rotating laser. Using a Trinket 3v MCU (ATtiny85), a set of clear dog goggles and a laser diode as the center of the device, this invention will surely be a hit on the scene.

Light-Activated Pixel Heart


Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve, or in this case, shirt. The embedded GEMMA and light dependent resistor detect when a wearer’s NeoPixel heart is uncovered, and just like that, triggers the heart light on.

Superhero Power Plant


If there’s one thing you should know when it comes to Makers and DIY wearables, it’s that we love Iron Man! Incorporate a Tony Stark-inspired arc reactor into your next Comic Con cosplay costume with an uber-small GEMMA, laser cut acrylic frame, and NeoPixels to round out the handheld power plant.

Firewalker LED Sneakers


Think of it as a DIY version of those old-school LA Lights you wore as kids, only cooler. And, much brighter. Cheaper, too! This project — a collaboration between Becky and the creative Phillip Burgess — shows just how easy it is to mod a pair of high-tops with a NeoPixel strip and FLORA (ATmega32u4 MCU). A velostat step sensor inside each shoe activate a light animation with every step taken in these new DIY kicks.

LED Sparkle Skirt


Add a simple sparkle to your skirt or other piece of attire using a [megaAVR basedFLORA controller and accelerometer, conductive thread, and RGB NeoPixels.

Plushy Game Controller


Throw pillows? That’s boring. An oversize plush pillow that functions as a game controller? Now we’re talking! This idea was brought to life with just some conductive fabric, a FLORA board, and a capacitive touch sensing circuit to round out the electronics.

Wearable GPS Tracker


Make a wearable GPS tracker for you, or even your furry friend. Use an ATmega32U4 powered FLORA main board and GPS to log your distance. Simply integrate it into a backpack, dog harness, or whatever you want to track for that matter.

Pac-Man Animated Pixel Suspenders


This set of “blinken-braces” boasts 30 NeoPixels, each of which are sewn to these suspenders and controlled by a FLORA board running a dazzling Pac-Man inspired animation.

MIDI Drum Glove


Look like Michael, keep the beat like Iggy. Play your favorite synths by finger drumming! Stitch up four piezos into a glove and use a FLORA to transmit signals to your favorite music-making software.

GPS Jacket


Built around FLORA, this slick, megaAVR powered GPS Jacket reacts to your whereabouts with color-changing, pulsing LED lights around the collar.

FLORA NeoGeo Watch


Based on the wearable FLORA platform and an accompanying GPS module, the NeoGeo Watch can be tastefully paired with Adafruit’s futuristic goggles and GPS Jacket for a full cyberpunk/steampunk wardrobe.

Zipper Switch


Zippin’ awesome! In one of her latest projects, Becky explores yet another innovative way of turning otherwise relatively dull clothing into more fun, interactive attire. Take zippers, for instance. Here, the super talented Maker transformed them into a momentary switch for activating lights, sounds, and more using stainless steel conductive thread. As the zipper pull travels along the teeth, two pads of conductive thread are bridged, momentarily creating an electrical connection. This connection can be sensed by an Atmel based MCU, such as the FLORA or GEMMA, with an activated internal pull-up resistor.

If you’re feeling inspired to make your own project using Adafruit’s FLORA, GEMMA and Trinket wearable electronics platform, explore everything there is to know here.

Tank Girl goes cyberpunk this Halloween

Whether or not you’re a fan of the 1995 American sci-fi flick Tank Girl, you will surely appreciate this 3D-printed, LED-embedded Bandolier of Light design from Adafruit’s Becky Stern. Just in time for Halloween festivities, this cyberpunk ensemble will surely be the life light of the party!


The build is relatively easy, comprised of a meter-long strip of 60 white Adafruit NeoPixels, some wire and sewing supplies, and most importantly, an ATtiny85 based Trinket or GEMMA microcontroller.


The bandolier itself is 3D-printed in white NinjaFlex, enabling it to be comfortable and flexible enough for easy flinging across the shoulder in Rambo-like fashion. After soldering some wires from the NeoPixel strip to the Atmel based MCU, the lights are placed between what Stern calls the “3D-printed bullets of pure love” and a strip of fabric.

Think this costume is for you come October 31st? Find the step-by-step tutorial from our friends at Adafruit here.


Halloween-spiration for some paw-some costumes

Makers, rejoice! One of our favorite holidays is quickly approaching — a celebration full of carving, candy consumption, and of course, DIY costumery. Though, we can adorn our own bodies with tricked-out costumes, what about our furry four-legged friends? These two Atmel powered costumes from Adafruit should provide some Halloween-spiration!

Adafruit’s Becky Stern recently demonstrated how to transform a pair of Doggles into cyberpunk-style glasses with a rotating laser. The Maker figured out that with children and sugar-loaded revelers abundant on Halloween, lighting up a ground-level pooch was a favorable idea. Using a Trinket 3v MCU (ATtiny85), a set of clear dog goggles and a laser diode as the center of the device, this invention will surely be a hit on the scene.


A small servomotor allows the laser to move back and forth, while playfully recreating the scanning beams of our favorite sci-fi heroes. Intrigued? You can acces the entire tutorial here. (Note: Now, while being the ghastliest ghoul on Halloween is one goal, safety is another of paramount of importance. Before assembling this build for your precious pet, make sure you read through Adafruit’s safety guidelines.)

Whether a fan of the smash hit Doctor Who or not, we’ve got another canine costume that will have partygoers oohing and ahhing this October 31st.


Adafruit has also showed off a TARDIS-inspired sweater that utilizes a FLORA wearable processor and an MP3 music player module to emit the iconic sound from the show’s time machine, while NeoPixels are used for the blinking blue light on top to round out the TV prop. With the ATmega32u4 MCU based wearable platform at the center of the creation, the sweater remains lightweight for even the smallest dogs. Need a few minutes of silence on your trick-or-treat route? An infrared receiver is added to mute the sound when you want quiet.


Now, if you combine these two costume ideas into one Maker-approved ensemble, you will have the most haunting hound on All Hallows’ Eve!

Reactive drums with Atmel and Adafruit

The Adafruit crew (Noe and Pedro) has designed a slick reactive drum system based on the Atmel-powered Gemma (ATtiny85) and NeoPixels. Essentially, this means musicians and Makers can easily upgrade their drum kits with sound reactive LEDs.

“This build uses a mic amp sensor and Gemma to light up NeoPixels to the beat of your drums. The cost of this build is considerably lower than other kits. It is also compact, rechargable and mobile,” the duo explained in a recently published Adafruit tutorial. “We made a circuit for a snare, mid-tom, hi-tom and a drum kick. Each drum is independent from one another but can also trigger other pieces if stricken loud enough. [Plus], our project cost one third of the price of other led drum kits on the market.”

To kick off the project, Makers may want to prototype their circuits using small alligator clips to connect the components together.

“The pins on the mic sensor are small, so be sure to double check your connections if you’re having trouble getting the circuit to work. It might be easier to solder wires to the mic and then alligator clip to those,” Noe and Pedro noted. “Since drumsets are so loud, the code is set to have a low sensitivity for the mic, so make sure to give a loud sound when testing the NeoPixels audio response. Rubbing the microphone with your finger is a good way to get a reaction.”

More specifically, the NeoPixel strips digital input connects to pin D0 of the Gemma, with the negative connection of the NeoPixel strip going to the ground pin on the Gemma. Meanwhile, the positive power wire of the NeoPixel LED strip connects to the VBat pin of the Gemma (not 3.3V). The out pin on the mic amp goes to pin A1/D2 of the Gemma (an analog input pin), with the positive power breakout pin on the mic amp connecting to the 3.3v pin of the Gemma and the negative ground pin of the mic amp sharing the same ground connection on the Gemma (together with the NeoPixel strip).

Once Makers have the circuit prototype tested and working, they can continue the project by soldering wires to the above-mentioned components for a solid connection.

“Start by measuring lengths of wires needed for connecting the Gemma to the NeoPixels and mic sensor. The wires should be long enough to run through the air hole and inside the drum shell,” the Adafruit crew added.

“The main circuit (which contains the Gemma, battery and switch) will be fitted inside an enclosure and mounted on the side of the drum shell closest to the air hole. To see if your wires are long enough, place the Gemma into position and see if the wire is long enough to connect the NeoPixel strips inside the drum shell. It’s fine to have some extra wire.”

Interested in learning more about building a reactive drum system using the Atmel-powered Gemma and Neopixels? You can check out Adafruit’s full tutorial here.