Introduction: Blade Runner Harajuku Light Up Sandals

It's a computing platform - and off world platform shoes. Make some unique shoes to show off at Harajuku and tell everyone this is the latest from Akihabara... well, parts from Adafruit.

This would be a fun project to replicate since Firewalker LED sneakers are canon in the neopixel universe.

Use of small form factor microcontrollers like the Adafruit FLORA or Gemma/Trinket are great for this light up wearable tech application.

Note that this is a "prototype" that you can improve on. Just throwing out ideas for you here.

(Sorry, no soundtrack, synthesize your own Vangelis-y analog moody atmospheric sounds. Left foot and right foot are not synchronized.)

Harajuku - Japanese eclectic fashion scene where all the homeless club kids show off

Akihabara - electronics wonderland in Japan

Step 1: More Parts Than Parts...

It was the end of summer as the liquidator store was clearing out the shelves for holiday decorations, there was this odd pair of thick wedge sandals. So I says to meself, Self, I could probably make something cool from it. It was cheap so I got them. Not for me, mind you, let me make that perfectly clear. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Hmm, I could stack these even further to make a redonkulously high pair of thick soled shoes like those anime/manga characters wear. Make it so.

I went to the dollar store to get three more pairs of flip flops in the same black colored foam. They didn't have enough of the same size so I just got some that were close so I wouldn't have to trim and sand them to be uniform. You can make the layers rainbow or contrasting colors too.

I then got a 25 foot roll of 1/2 inch clear tubing from the home center. This will rim the light emitting layer of the sandals.

I had two Adafruit Floras which I have used in various projects(click on the username to get to my profile listing of instructables). Try to always get two of everything, one to use - one for backup and testing.

I had the remnants of my original order of 2 meters of Adafruit neopixel strips - 60 LEDs/m density. I have sliced and diced those so many times for many different instructables too.

You can also use a small microcontroller like the Adafruit Gemma or Trinket which can drive the neopixel strips.

I had one of those keychain digital photo viewers laying around. I'm surprised that the onboard USB drivers were recognized and loaded up on my PC. I captured a few frames of the Blade Runner geisha advertising sign to play back on that photo viewer. It has a slideshow mode to cycle through the images.

Although this is a wearable, no sewing is involved in this project.

CAUTION: Learn how to solder safely and use a hot glue gun carefully.

Step 2: Heart and Sole of the Project...

From the stock of soylent sandals, harvest the soles.

I suppose you could mill this from a solid block of EVA foam or possibly 3D print a stackable structure, but this is old school crafting.

Cut off the plastic toe loopy things and use them in something else or discard responsibly. The resulting holes lets us route the wires through the layers without the need to drill them.

Use hot glue to rim the edge of the sole blank with the clear tubing..

Note that you will have to hold the pieces together for a longer time in order for the hot glue to cool and set completely.

Be extra careful because the thick blob of hot glue takes a longer time to cool and will ooze out. You might get accidentally napalmed so wear an ov-glove while working this detail.

When you get close to completing the loop around the sole, you can cut the end to a point or slit it and fold in so you can stuff that into the first end of the tube to form a continuous loop.

You can put a hot glue fillet to fill up the gaps if desired.

Stack them up so you can see how they will look.

The rim of the clear tubing seems to provide enough support to actually stand and walk in these shoes but some filler pieces may be necessary to prevent the electronic components in the cavities from getting damaged.

Step 3: Das Blinkenlights...

This part is better served by you looking up the tutorials on the Adafruit Learning System.

What is the secret to all the blinking lights here?

It is just an Adafruit Flora with 3 neopixel strips connected in parallel to the same data pin running the Strandtest neopixel diagnostic sketch.

For each shoe I had a strips of 10, 30, and 30 neopixels.

The +, GND and DATA IN wires from each strip were routed through holes in each layer and connected to the microcontroller and battery pack in the topmost layer. I used a battery pack with 3 AAA alkaline cells. You could also use a lithium polymer battery pack to make it smaller and lighter.

The neopixel strips were connected in parallel meaning that only one data pin on the Flora is connected to all three DATA IN on the neopixels strips and would drive all the neopixel strips simultaneously. Depending on how you lay the looped strips into the shoe layer, it can look like that strip is running in the opposite direction of the others when it displays the blinking "theatre chase" mode.

Step 4: The Future Is So Bright...

Neopixels are very bright LED elements. They have a little chip in each on that makes neopixels individually addressable with programming.

I wanted to soften the look of the individual neopixel points of light so I put in a strip of fiberfill batting to diffuse the lights.

Position the neopixel strips behind the fiberfill batting/clear tubing and tack in place with hot glue if necessary. Pack all of the wires and electronics neatly inside.

You can then start sandwiching the layers. Apply glue on top of the clear tubing. Hold the layers together until the hot glue sets. Be careful, the hot glue is hot.

I didn't have an external power switch wired so I left the back end of the topmost layer open so I could reach the slide switch on the Flora. It was sealed up with electrical tape.

Attach the small digital photo viewer to the thong part of the sandal. You can use hot glue or some kind of double sided tape.

Step 5: Replicants of Your Own...

These shoes are made for... I dunno.

Anything you want.

Go and make a pair.

Add microswitches to click your heels and change display modes.

Add a foot pressure activated sensor with velostat, tilt ball switches, vibration sensors or 9 DOF(degree of freedom) accelerometer position sensors to trigger light patterns.

Add electret microphone amp module to make it sound volume reactive. Use FFT(fast Fourier transform) algorithm for frequency analysis to break down the display bars on the VU meter.

Add Bluetooth or wireless to have your shoes light up for incoming messages.

Add other OLED or LCD alphanumeric displays for graphic displays.

Embed a GPS module and datalog your travels.

Add a sound FX board to make Spongebob Squidward sounds as you walk.

Add EL wire or fiber optic trim details.

Add what you think needs adding.


Wearable Tech Contest

Second Prize in the
Wearable Tech Contest

Make It Glow! Contest

Participated in the
Make It Glow! Contest