Introduction: Pimp Zombie With Glowing Eyes

About: Husband, father of two girls. Home automation enthusiast.

Learn how to add LEDs with a glowing eyes effect to an existing figure. In my case I used a zombie figure for Halloween. This is pretty easy to do and does not require any advanced skills.

Step 1: Get the Parts

You will need:

  • Arduino Nano
  • Screw shield for Arduino nano
  • RGB LEDs with WS2811 control
  • Some cables and isolation
  • Hot glue pistol
  • USB cable for Arduino Nano
  • USB Power pack

Some notes for caution:

The Arduino Nano powers the LEDs easily. I had problems when trying the same setup with an Wemos D1 mini (ESP8266). The voltage regulator was not able to deliver enough power and overheated .. bricking the Wemos D1.

Another issue are the power packs. I have good experiences with the small round power packs like the one in the picture. I also tried a larger power pack but it did not work. When attaching the Arduino it switched off after a few seconds. It seems the larger power packs somehow measure the current and only work for devices that draw enough power.

Step 2: Prepare Arduino and Attach LEDs

Cut off two LEDs from the chain so the two are still connected.
Attach wires to the input side of the first LED. When attaching the green wire make sure you use the correct one. These LEDs are chained together. The information on the green wire only flows in one direction through the LED chain. In my case the LED had an arrow printed on one side of the board. This was the correct cable to connect to. If you use the other side it will not work.

  • Put Arduino into screw shield
  • Attach Red wire of LED to 5V
  • Attach Black wire of LED to gnd
  • Attach Green wire of LED to D3 (control)

The LED cables are too short to go from the Arduino to the eye positions in the zombie. Use your additional cables and isolated band to make the cables as long as needed.

Step 3: Programm Arduino and Test Effect

Open Arduino IDE and make sure board and port are correctly set.

Add WS2811 library "NeoPixelBus by Makuna" using Manage libraries.

Use the attached code and upload it to your Arduino.

Step 4: Prepare the Zombie

Drill into the eye holes with a diameter that is just a little larger than the leds you want to put in.

On the base drill and saw an opening large enough so you can get the LEDs and the Arduino in place later.

Step 5: Assemble LEDs and Arduino Into Zombie

Put one LED at a time into the hole in the eye from inside, then use the Hot glue Pistol to glue the LED to the eye hole. After the LEDs are in place connect the battery pack to the Arduino and stash all inside the figure if possible.

You now should have a standalone Zombie figure with glowing eyes. Normally the battery pack can power this for about a day. So this should work fine for Halloween.

If you tried this please let me know using the "I made it" button.