A long time ago I acquired a hat. Some time after that, still a long time ago, I added a blue LED strip to the band. Later again I replaced the silver ribbon with a black ribbon, removed the original hat band (cutting the glue off the hat), hot-glued a felt pocket to the inside to hold the battery, and cut a slit so the wires could pass through.

But single colour LEDs? Running off a 9 volt battery? Not good enough nowadays. Enamoured with potentiometers of late, I got the idea of doing a red-green-blue plus brightness mixing board. (Bonus points for not using radio, meaning it would remain functional at maker/hacker meetups where radio frequencies are often saturated.) I found myself in Makevember so I did up a quick breadboard prototype.

images )

But once I had that done I wanted to add extra modes, controllable by pressing the push button a number of times. The first one I added was Rainbow Cycle (I'm using the Adafruit Neopixel library rather than FastLED here).

Rainbow pattern
Photo by chebegeek

Videos )

Adafruit Mini Skinny NeoPixel Digital RGB LED Strip, 60 LED/m
Adafruit Flora
Bakelite Perfboard
10K ohm resistor
Momentary push button
Various jump leads
LiPo battery
Unexplained cold spots? Feeling of being watched? Could you have misbehaving tech, or ghosts? Let's build a cute little ghost detector you can leave all around you for ambient observance.

First you'll need a simple near-field tester for electromagnetic compatibility. I cut the battery holders off the back and started prodding around the circuit with a multimeter and crocodile clips.

Explore )

I wanted the unit to be as small and neat as possible so I tried to squeeze everything in behind the LED board.

Wire up circuit into a neat package
Photo by chebegeek

Build )

That's it. Now all you need to do is leave it where it will encounter electromagnetic disturbance.

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I wanted to try out a few techniques on a smaller scale;

1. feasibility of the neopixel circuit layout,
2. using conductive thread as traces,
3. light transmission through different fabrics.

And so I ended up with the slightly silly light-up bujo cover/ portable night light.

Steps )

Much more impressive in a dark room. Coded using FastLED library, OceanColors_p palette, taken from this tutorial.

Cover, front, in dark room
Photo by chebegeek

1. The circuit layout does work well. But, there is still a looseness to the attachment points (on the boards) that could be improved.
2. I didn't treat the edges of the conductive fabric, and although it frayed very little it did still fray. Treating the edges of the strips would help. I don't think using the conductive fabric over conductive thread was any faster, but it was less fiddly.
3. Diffusion of the neopixels is best achieved through distance from the LEDs and the covering fabric, so designs enforcing this distance would be better.
Umm... I posted this on twitter three years ago, so it's at least that old. I'm really surprised I haven't posted about it here already.

Anyway, it was a very simple project. Hanging around the hackerspace someone was giving away laser cut extras. I nabbed one, painted it in a mostly transparent metallic green. Then I took twelve RGB auto-changing LEDs, bent the legs, and perched them on each of the branch tips. I connected them all by way of conductive paint traces. My paint was quite old, a bit dry, and rather difficult to work with. I've since gone over the traces with wire glue (that you can get most places that sell soldering and pc repair gear), and that went much more smoothly. Many of the LEDs don't want to cooperate and in some cases I've had to hot glue them in place, repeatedly. I've also hot glued some wires onto the conductive paint traces at the roots to attach power. The power is unevenly distributed, but it's still pretty to look at.

Tree of Lights; RBG LEDs connected by conductive paint
Photo by chebegeek

Choly Knight has a free plush Cthulhu pattern on their website that is totally adorable. (Actually, many cute plushies!) But, maybe, could be a little more terrifying? LEDs, yes, LEDs for eyes!

Also, I want to play with the Gemma M0, which is much like the previous Gemma, but it comes set up with CircuitPython, a derivative of MicroPython. So instead of installing the Arduino IDE and installing all the boards and libraries, it mounts as a USB flash drive, and you just write your python script in any text editor. Save it, unplug, and it will start running it. (Caveat; space is limited so not all libraries are on the Gemma M0. You'll have to copy over a library if it isn't there. Luckily there's lots of documentation. (And the NeoPixel library is already there.))

Labour for the Great Old Ones! )

All hail
Photo by chebegeek

You know the story; you go into Maplins for solder, and you walk out with an LED Cube Shield. (It can't be just me.) Anyway, building one of these yokes seems to have become a kind of rite of passage for the makery sort. So, I made one!

Couple of photos )

Not so straight LED Cube, completed
Photo by chebe

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Three *years* ago I started this project. At a Christmas Jumper Make Night for charity. It seemed like a simple idea; sew up some LEDs with some conductive thread. The first year I only got most of the felt snowflake done. The second year I got the SewIO board wired up. It wasn't until the third year that I managed to complete the circuit. And there are problems, but we'll get to that.

Details )

All in all, except for the faintness of the LEDs, I am happy to declare this project finished.

It was pointed out that most light-up jumpers are so bright that it can hurt to look at the person wearing them, so dimmer, softer, LEDs aren't actually a bad thing. Especially as this kind of jumper is typically worn in winter, in dark pubs. That is a very good point. I just wish it was intentional.

Winter Jumper, modeled
Photo by chebe

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I love the Adafruit Learn site, particularly the wearables section, there are some really fun ideas in there. And when I saw the NeoPixel Tiara I knew I needed one. I had almost everything already, except the 3d-printed band.

To TOG! We downloaded the thingiverse file (tiaraHolesClose.stl), converted to gcode, and watched the LulzBot Taz print for 50 minutes. *cue montage music* It was a pretty good print, given how fine some of the detailing is, but our process needs tuning as there are artifacts, and the strands are coming apart as I touch them. Still, usable!

LulzBot Taz 3D Printer part way through printing the tiara

Robot minion making me a crown. Finally.
Photo by chebe

On to the assembly! Process details await )

Tiara on top of my head, looking nicely symmetrical, with centre NeoPixel lit up

Finally, my royal position secured
Photo by chebe

And, because the tutorial code has a nice sparkle effect to it, here's a short video.

I am going to wear this everywhere.
A time not so long ago, in this very land you're standing, some people were known to hang seaweed out to dry. Whenever the moisture in the air reached a certain level the seaweed would rehydrate; warning those around of rain.

Ruling out wearing seaweed around your neck, how can we use this knowledge to help us avoid getting wet? Thusly was the kelp neckpiece born!

Mannequin wearing black tshirt with white Dublin Maker logo, and a green felted kelp piece

Kelp neckpiece at Dublin Maker
Photo by chebe

I have already talked about parts of this project; in getting many LEDs to light up, and then getting the humidity sensor working. But to recap/elaborate;

Wonderful details )

There you have it; a felt neckpiece that warns you it might be about the rain. I began trying to leverage the extra information (temperature and pressure) from the sensor, and fit it onto local historical weather data to more accurately predict rain, but was pulled away from such indulgent pursuits by the need to complete the other pieces.
If you follow me on twitter you may have noticed that I have been playing with getting the maximum number of LEDs for the minimum amount of microcontroller that I can. Here's a short summary.

Pictures! Video! Text! )

I have to thank Rob for being very patient in answering all my questions. And also to note that although I'm using the Adafruit wearables, Rob has been using the LilyPad boards (including the Tiny!) with the SewIOs quite successfully. Yay for interoperability! And finally, that they don't have to be regular LEDs, you can connect anything you could normally. I think RGB pixels, and smile.
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