Introduction: Helm Lit

About: in love with robotics and programming. Electrical and Software Engineering Undergrad, McGill University

In this instructables I'll be showing you how to build headgear with an integrated 8x8 LED display, a.k.a. one of the most lit thing you've seen yet.
Let's dive into it!

Step 1: Supplies!

x1 Safety Helmet (can be broken)

x1 arduino nano (I got mine on amazon here)

x1 8x8 LED display (I got mine also on amazon here, was a bit cheaper and it was able to bend)

x1-x2 9v Batteries and their connectors

(optional) x1 Switch

(optional) Velcro and/or Hot Glue

Soldering machine (if possible),


and a computer

Step 2: Step 1: Soddering

You can manage without but it's much cleaner if you have access to a soldering machine.
Start off by de-soldering connection 1 (in the picture) from the 8x8 LED display. You can also de-solder connection 2 but it is not recommended (see why later).
Keep the cable and connection from 1 and solder it to your Arduino Nano (cable colour may differ, check Silk screen):
Red -> 5V

Green -> GND

White -> Pin 6

This enables you to connect and de-connect your Arduino from the LCD Display whenever you want.

Then Solder your 9V connector to the Arduino, make sure to put your switch in between the (+) of the battery and the Vin of the Arduino

Red -> Switch ->Vin

Black -> GND

Step 3: Step 2: Assembly

Get your drill and locate where to pierce the hole on the helmet so that the cable from the LED screen can enter it. Drill a hole on top of the helmet to fit in your switch. Fit the cable in and look where you are going to position it all.

(Optional: use your drill to pierce two holes on both sides of the helmet to fit in your cup/can holders)

Step 4: Step 3: Binding

Velcro or hot glue everything to the helmet. Use duct tape to hold the battery since you will have to switch it from time to time.
Note: I used Nuts and bolts to attach my cup holders, was thinking of replacing them with metal or plastic holders.

Step 5: Step 4: Making It Work

Get your computer out and make sure you have the Arduino IDE installed (you can find it here). Now download the latest version of the Adafruit NeoPixel library and add it to the Arduino IDE (Sketch -> Include Library -> Add .ZIP Library).

Connect everything together (if you keep your Arduino connected to your computer you won't have to connect the 9V battery), download, compile and upload testHelmlit.ino (attached in this instructable) to your Arduino.
Watch in amazement as your helmet becomes L.I.T.

You can add tubes to your cup holders if you're feeling extra adventurous ;)


In Step 1, you can notice the 5V power input that is requested from the LED screen, some models of the screen do not have it (i.e. the Adafruit model). If you do not connect this 5V power source to the screen your project will still work properly but only for around 10-15 mins. This is because the 9V battery connected to the arduino has to power at the same time the Arduino and the LED screen which is very current hungry, your 9V battery will discharge a lot faster than normal and at around 60% will only be able to provide enough current for the Arduino and a few of the LEDs.

A solution to this is to use a higher capacity battery (with an operating voltage of less than or equal to 12v) or to connect a second power source to the screen, make sure that the voltage delivered is around 5V. For this you can use a voltage divider (comment if you need any help for that setup).

I am currently working on a website where you can upload images and text and it gives you the code to run. I'll update the instructable once it's up


Arduino Contest 2017

Participated in the
Arduino Contest 2017