LED Sneakers




Introduction: LED Sneakers

Hello, Instructables! I was assigned to do an Arduino project this semester, so this is what I came up with. Blinky shoes. Many of us have had pairs of these during our childhoods, but what about as adults? I, for one, have found light-up shoes to be incredibly difficult to find. Even worse, the pairs you CAN find are usually sold at outrageous prices. I've seen a pair go for as high as $800 USD. Really. The feeling of obnoxiously bright lights being lit with your every step is absolutely amazing, but not $800 USD amazing. So, I decided to make my own for a fraction of the price.

Admittedly, the project is not yet at the stage I want it to be as it is not truly wearable/portable yet, but I hope this Instructable will be a useful starting point for anyone who’s interested in doing anything similar! I plan on working on it some more next month with the intention of finally completing it, so if anyone has any tips or suggestions please let me know in the comments!

Step 1: Materials

  • Shoes. Preferably with flat, thick soles.
  • Electrical tape and/or duct tape
  • Gorilla glue / superglue that works on rubber
  • Arduino UNO + USB ($15-25)
  • 9V battery + battery clip
  • Solderless breadboard
  • Jumper wires
  • 3 x MOSFETS
  • 1 Megaohm resistor ($1.49 for a pack of 5 at Radioshack)
  • 1 Piezo disc element ($1-2 each)
  • (Waterproof) RGB LED strips ($15-20)
  • Soldering iron + solder

Remember: this is only a demo, so these materials are only enough for one shoe. You will need 2 Megaohm resistors, 2 Piezo discs, 2 Arduinos, etc. for a functioning pair.

Step 2: Attach LED Strip to Shoe

After you’ve selected your shoes, clean the soles with soap and warm water to make sure you get any dirt or grime off of it. It’s a lot easier to glue to a clean shoe, trust me.

Use a measuring tape to measure all the way around the sole of the shoe. You’ll want to start at either the inside middle of the shoe (think halfway at the curve between your big toe and heel) because that side of the shoe doesn't get as much trauma as the others.

Cut the LED strips to the necessary length. I recommend only cutting LED strips on the given line between the copper dots. You can use scissors for this or an X-ACTO knife.

Remove the LED strip paper backing. It doesn't matter if there's already adhesive on it, because it won't be strong enough anyway. You won't need it.

Apply a drop of gorilla glue/superglue to the shoe about once every inch, pressing and holding the LED strip in place for about 10 seconds each time. It’s best to work in small increments to make sure you can get the LED strip to wrap properly around the shoe the way you want it to. You can use rubber bands to keep the LED strip in place as you work your way along the shoe.

Step 3: If Necessary, Solder Shorter LED Strips Together

If you’re like me and have LED strips of varying length lying around that you want to use for this project, this section is for you! You’re going to have to solder the strips together by connecting the R, G, B, and power lines. Make sure you have your strips oriented correctly where R connects to R, G connects to G, and so on. If one of the strips is upside-down then it won’t work.

Use an X-ACTO knife to cut the waterproof casing of the LED strip that's covering the copper points. Be careful not to cut the LED strip itself. Make sure you remove the LED strip backing.

Then, apply solder to each of the copper points. Cut the wires to the desired length and solder them to the LED strips. Shorter is better if you want to have as many LEDs as possible on your shoes.

Secure the wires to the LED strips even further by wrapping them in electric tape. You can also use Heatshrink for this. I didn’t have any, so I went with electric tape. They’re both fine. I went a step further and taped duct tape over the electric tape for extra security and because the coloring was less distracting on my white shoe.

Glue the LED strips onto the show as instructed in the previous section.

Step 4: Programming and Attaching LED Strip + Piezo

I soldered wire to the pre-existing wire that came with the Piezo element to elongate it so I could have it in the heel of the shoe and attached to the Arduino at the same time. The Piezo was fixed with electrical tape.

* The black, blue, green, and red wires extending to the top of the diagram attach to the wires from the LED strips. I was unable to show it in the diagram, but I hope it's clear.

* In the code, I have only the green and blue LEDs activated, which makes the LEDs glow a turquoise color. You can turn on the red LEDs in the line above by removing the comment '//' to make the LEDs white, or mix and match options as you choose to get different colors.

The code reads the vibrations picked up by the Piezo element, which turns the LEDs on and off.

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    5 years ago

    Do you think a pair of converse would work well?


    6 years ago

    Where do you hide the battery for led and the battery for the arduino ?


    6 years ago

    I've never made anything. So I don't have a soldering iron + solder. Is it possible to make them without one?


    Reply 6 years ago

    For sure. Use glue or tape ; )


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Good Job, these look really cool! I do think they might be a little annoying sometimes.