Neopixel Light Up Falling Meteor Scarf

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Introduction: Neopixel Light Up Falling Meteor Scarf

About: This author has not updated their profile. They might or might not get around to it sometime. If the kid wants a unicorn... Dangit, we're gonna make that happen. What little I know is dangerous, the rest I...

With the renewed interest in space travel, it was time to make a space-themed scarf. With light up Neopixels, of course.

This scarf depicts random falling meteors, with the potential to show that fiery red meteor which will trigger Armageddon on this planet. I hear the weather might be cold on Mars and ain't the kind of place to raise your kids. Make your own meteor scarf to get ready.

Just added: Ghostbusters Ecto Scarf

Hmm, anyone need this in a full bodysuit for a Star Trek or alien transporter effect?

Step 1: Underwire Support...

The electronics in this scarf is composed of an Adafruit Flora Arduino microcontroller board and 8 strips of Neopixels. I am reusing the setup I had for my Neopixel Light Up Fire and Ice Wings which had all the Neopixel strips wired up to the Flora. Because of memory limitations and processing power on an Arduino restricts it from driving a lot of Neopixels, the strips are wired up to the data pins in pairs, with one data pin having 2 pairs of strips. I have one strip that glows with a tinge of red when it should be lighting white. I'll have to replace the wires that go to my distribution bus board or it is an indication that there is not enough power or interference from too many neopixels wired up to the same pin in parallel. I did clip off the first Neopixel in that strip and moved the wiring to the next and tested that the strip was working normally. The strips are interspersed and laid out in the scarf to give a more random look. The meteors or lights will randomly rain from the 3 separate "channels" (for each side of the scarf - 1 only, 2 only, 3 only, 1 and 3, or all 3).

Programming an Arduino to control Neopixels requires the standard Adafruit Neopixel library or the FastLED library. I found a great writeup on using Neopixels with the different libraries at https://www.tweaking4all.com/hardware/arduino/adru...

It was recently updated with a new example and demo of Meteor Rain, a falling meteor light effect or animation. This was inspiration to make something, hence this scarf.

I modded the sketch to use just the Neopixel drivers because I was more familiar with its use and the demo sketch called a FastLED function which did not compile probably because it was from a newer version of the library that I did not have installed. I added randomization to the variables which change how fast the meteor trails and the dimming or particles it leaves in its wake. I also put in the random chance that the meteors will rain down in a glowing fireball red. You can adjust the probability of that or change the color depending on what you want your meteor to be composed of. May the odds be ever in your favor. Arduino Meteor Scarf Sketch here You can even figure out to reverse the direction of the meteor to get a shooting star effect. Aduino Ecto Scarf Sketch here.

This is also an exercise in free form sewing. A scarf is essentially a fabric tube that is flattened out. You can also take smaller pieces or scraps of fabric to join into bigger pieces, a kind of patchwork quilt method. This scarf is constructed from a few strips of fabric. The only consideration is to try to make the end product functional and contain our electronics for a wearable tech product.

Since this is electronics with a lot of wires and Neopixel strips flailing about, Always Be Knolling.

Start out with a strip of muslin or non stretch material for your base. I wanted to make a piece that holds the strips in the proper orientation facing out and all lined up side by side. Laid out, the Neopixels would fit in a harness with each side about 6 inches wide and 30 inches long. Use a piece of felt or microfleece as the cover piece. It helps to diffuse the Neopixels too. I used my serger to seal the sides and then my sewing machine to stitch lines down the length to create channels to fit the Neopixel strips in the light panel.

Step 2: A Stitch in Time...

Cut two strips of fabric about 2 meters long for the body of the scarf. You will create a fabric tube by sewing it and then turning everything inside out to get finished seams. The back piece was cut in half to create an opening for the electronics to be stuffed in later on.

Since I was working with white fleece for the outside of the scarf and black fleece for the back I figured I could cut some material to make the roll pattern found on rockets. Before they had computers and advanced communication with the rocket, ground control could watch the rocket launch through telescopes and binoculars and look at the pattern to determine how the rocket was flying. You may have better patchwork skills than me to create the checkerboard-like pattern.

Where the light panels would eventually end up in the scarf, I added an additional layer of flat fiberfill batting to further diffuse the lights. It was easy to add that other layer to the bundle of fabric going through the serger to seam the long edge.

After all the sewing is done, reach into the center opening and flip everything inside out.

Step 3: Nose Cone Fairing...

The main part of the scarf with the embedded electronics just drapes around the neck like a stole. Hey, for all you students graduating, make a light up stole to go with that gown instead of modding your mortarboard cap. Use an Adafruit Circuit Playground board to make use of its onboard sensors such as the microphone or accelerometer to add sound or motion reactive light animations. How about updating the Giant Neopixel Thermometer Scarf?

For real weather, you need a front part or the rest of the scarf that covers the rest of the neck area. Make a mini-scarf or portion where one end is fixed to the center of the scarf in the back. When worn, you just take that part and swing it over the shoulder to cover the front. No need to get tangled in the scarf to wrap around the neck and knot up to secure.

The scarf was still missing something that all spacewear usually has - patches. I was going to NASArize it in some way. I cut out the NASA logo - the one known with the worm logo font - out of red felt and just glued that on. You can also design and embroider your own or get one that is pre-made and sew that on. Design your own mission patch. If you are not making a scarf, make a giant model rocket.

Once all the sewing is done, you can stuff in the electronics into the sections of the scarf.

3, 2, 1, Ignition...

All systems are go!

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    8 Discussions

    Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids, in fact it's cold as hell.

    And there's no one there to raise them if you did

    4 replies

    There aren't many occasions to use that line, but if you can it's just beyond this galaxy...

    You saw all those guys in the theater? They're all in my head and everyone's got something to say!

    This is Ground Control to Major Tom... You've really made the grade... And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear... Now it's time to leave the capsule if you dare ;)

    This is an awesome idea! I'm not really one to wear scarves but this seems right up my alley!

    1 reply

    Thanks. It's all fun with playing around using Neopixels.