Introduction: Bright Idea Light Up Lightbulb Hat

Make this fun light up lightbulb to add to a hat, headband or hairpiece.

Step 1: Get Around to It...

While you can dissect a real incandescent or LED lightbulb (Compact fluorescents and the like have nasty chemicals, broken glass hazards, etc.) to make this project, make your own lightbulb.

Form your lightbulb with simple paper mache. We want to make the the glass part or empty shell of the lightbulb.

Wrap plastic wrap a bunch of times or bunch up some paper in the shape of your light bulb. Wrap around a stick or core to make it easy to handle later. The standard technique is to use an inflated balloon here but I did not have any lightbulb shaped balloons handy.

Make the final outside layer one of plastic wrap so it will not stick to the glued paper mache.

Use torn up plain paper towels as the covering material. You may only need two or three layers for good strength.

I just applied pieces with full strength glue and then went over everything saturating with more glue.

It might take a day or two to completely dry and harden.

When dry, remove the insides. You might have to grab at the inside stuffing with a pair of pliers to pick out. You might want to do this when the sides are sufficiently solid enough to handle, that way, the glue can dry from the inside too.

You should now have a hollow light bulb to use.

Step 2: Base of Operations...

Glue up a cardboard ring to form what is the metal base of a light bulb.

I wound a pipe cleaner around the bottom to give dimensionality to the thread that the bulb screws into a socket. You could also use a thick strip of cardboard or just roll up some paper.

Cover the part with aluminum foil duct tape. This is great for giving a real metal look while not needing to do a faux metal metallic paint finish.

Step 3: Let There Be Light...

I added in a wire strut to the lamp base so you could attach it to a hat. It was hot glued in and then the bulb hot glued in to the base. It helps with the illusion of a floating lightbulb above the head.

As always, I had my Adafruit Circuit Playground already set up with a strip of Neopixels attached to it. It is easy to program and experiment with different light animations. To expand on this, you could add a switch or use the sensors to trigger the lights depending on when the head it tilted, moved, etc. With bluetooth or other modes, you can turn this into some kind of IoT device, think cheerlights...

You can use any other microcontroller to light up LEDs, even take apart a flashlight and reuse the electronic components. A COB(circuit on board) LED flashlight is especially bright.

I was able to fit a loosely rolled up strip of 20 Neopixels inside the bulb part. A bit of fiberfill stuffing was wrapped in with the Neopixels to help diffuse the points of light from the LEDs to give an even glow.

To make it truly portable, add a battery. This setup is running off of power from a USB cable.

Make your own light up lightbulb hat.


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