Introduction: Godzilla Monster Light Up Hand Washing Sign

Use neopixel strips to light up any sign or display.

This is but one example of creating spectacular lighting effects to jazz up what would be an otherwise boring static poster. Need special emphasis or need to call attention to a sign with an important message?

Step 1: Don't Be Shocked...

You need a microcontroller of some sorts to make the neopixel strips light up in fun animations.

There are a variety of boards out there and accompanying programming languages to use for the task.

If you are a beginner with this sort of thing, I always recommend the Adafruit Circuit Playground Express board to start out with. And you can pick the flavor of coding language to use from beginner to advanced. Their website is full of tutorials too.

Soldering is another thing you may want to learn in addition when you start working with electronics. It really is the best way to attach all the wires and components with a solid reliable connection saving you a lot of frustration if the project doesn't work.

I already had my board set up with a strip of neopixels. It was for wearables, more elsewhere...

And I says to myself...what else could I light up? I could add some servos and make a cool display of some sort.

In addition to soldering, the other thing you can get geared up for is making electronics connectors - those small connectors on the servos are Dupont connectors where you use a special crimper to apply metal fittings on the ends of the wire which plug into a matching set of plastic connectors.

For the jacket, the board was coded using Circuit Python. I started out with the example code for Adafruit Fire Horns and then worked in using the HC-SR04 ultrasonic distance sensor. If you are using Arduino, go with the FastLED library drivers and try the Fire example.

For this project, I removed the distance sensor and wired up the servos to the board. I would start out with getting the neopixel strip animated and then get the servos moving. Add one piece at a time so you know what to troubleshoot. I could always add back in the distance sensor so the display activates when a person comes in closer than the distance that was set in code.

While we're at it, you can make this...

Step 2: Go on a Tear...

Design a sign of some sort and lay it out.

I am going with Godzilla shooting flames into a street scene.

I created the artwork using GIMP and images pulled from the internet. Take the time to create art by hand too.

Figure out what parts you want to animate or have motion. I could have the arm, leg or tail move.

Since I was going to have those parts moving, in order to give it a more realistic 3-dimensional look, the artwork needed to be adjusted to remove the limbs from the base picture and have the parts float over it.

In a mockup, I decided the tail and leg could be one unit.

Print out your artwork and glue to your cardboard stand. It can be cardboard, wood, foamboard, whatever you have.

Step 3: Pick Up the Pieces...

Cut slits into the cardboard to mount the servos. You can have the mess of wires taped on the back.

Route the neopixel strips through holes in the cardboard too.

Test every once in a while since flexing, bending and pulling on the wires of a neopixel strip can damage it.

Glue the arm and leg/tail images to thin cardstock to make it rigid. I used double sided tape to mount the arm and leg/tail pieces. It will take some fiddling to attach those pieces in the correct working position so they don't snag each other or get caught on the bottom. The servos had the cross-style arms installed on the driveshafts for a bigger attachment surface. Due to the way servos are controlled, you will find they may not return or move to an accurate single position.

The neopixels strips were covered with some fiberill batting to provide light diffusion and to give it the look of smoke.

And there you go...make your own light up sign.


LED Strip Speed Challenge

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