Introduction: Twinkling LED "Bride-to-Be" Bachelorette Tiara

One of my best friends recently got married. Since I'm obsessed with adding twinkles to anything I can customize, I decided to make her a twinkling tiara for her bachelorette party. I needed something that wouldn't be too tacky and too heavy on her hair. I used Adafruit's DIY tiara tutorial as inspiration for how to build and program my tiara. I settled with 3 LEDs in a plastic, pre-made tiara. I also picked these colors as they matched the color theme of the bachelorette party. You can customize the tiara and/or colors however you and the bride-to-be please! (Unless it's a surprise, like mine was. Then she really has no choice but to wear it, haha.)

To ensure that you fully comprehend my vocabulary in this Instructable, this if my definition to all future references to "outside" and "inside" of the tiara:

  • Outside: This refers to the part of the tiara you'd see when you're looking at the front of the wearer's head. In other words, you should be able to read "bride to be" from left to right as if the bride were wearing the tiara.
  • Inside: This refers to the part of the tiara you'd see if you were looking at the back of the wearer's head. You wouldn't be able to read "bride to be" from left to right. (I guess it would say "eb ot edirb", except the letters would be flipped along a vertical line.)

Here are the materials you'll need to duplicate this design:

  1. A "bride-to-be" tiara: I bought this one from Amazon.
  2. A sheet of purple glitteryconstruction paper: I recommend one with a white backside as you will need ot trace on it in Step 3. You can use any color you like. I purchased this one at my local Michaels (this isn't the same color, but it's the same paper).
  3. A sheet of regular white printer paper
  4. Adafruit's Gemma board
  5. Three Flora RGB Neopixels: These come in a pack of 4. For those who want to buy more for later, Adafruit now sells these in packs of 20 for slightly cheaper.
  6. A 3.7v 150mAh Lithium Ion Polymer Battery
  7. A soldering iron
  8. Solder: I don't really have a suggestion for what kind of solder to use, but you'll probably want one that's lead-free.
  9. Stranded-core wire with white wire wrap: I didn't use solid core because it's not flexible at all. I chose white because it blends in with the background of the tiara. In retrospect, I should have probably used a color that would camouflage into the Bachelorette's hair. So keep that in mind when you're choosing a color.
  10. E6000 Glue: You can also substitute hot glue for this. I prefer E6000 for this project because it's a more solid and sturdy connection and it dries clear, whereas hot glue is less reliable and it dries looking foggy.
  11. Tape
  12. Scissors
  13. Exacto knife
  14. Wire cutter

Step 1: Cut Out Template of Tiara's Inner Half-oval

Since I only had one sheet of glittery paper, I had to make sure I didn't waste it through the inevitable trial-and-error of getting the paper cut out perfectly. So I used regular white printer paper to create a template first before I cut the glittery paper.

    a) Slightly roll the white printer paper into a cylindrical shape and place it on the inside of the tiara; ie. when you're looking straight at the tiara from the outside, the white paper should appear behind it (Figure 1).

    b) With the tiara facing you (you can read "bride to be" from left to right), carefully trace the outermost edge of the tiara, excluding the "bride to be" at the top (Figure 2). In this case, the outermost edge became a half-oval shape (Figure 3). You can see that when I reached the letters on the tiara, instead of tracing around them, I simply skipped the letters (see the gaps in the line in Figure 3).

    c) Cut out along the line you drew on the paper (Figure 4). It helps to cut slightly outside of the line in case your hand moved while you were drawing the line. This will be your template.

    Step 2: Adjust Template (if Necessary)

    Before moving on, you need to make sure the template is exactly the same size as the inner half-oval of the tiara.

    a) Place the template as best as possible on the inside of the tiara (Figure 1). The traced line on the paper should be facing outward, since this is how you originally traced the outline. In other words, when looking at the tiara from the outside, you should be able to see the line you traced on the paper.

    b) To make sure the template doesn't move around, tape the edges down onto the inside of the tiara (Figure 2).

    c) In Figure 3, you can see that I cut out too much paper on the top outline of the tiara. The bottom lined up perfectly. If needed, re-trace the outer edges of the tiara to eliminate any extra paper. The template should fit perfectly along the edge of the tiara and not stick out in any way (like it does in Figure 3).

    d) Cut along the new line you traced. Repeat steps 2a-2d as necessary. You should now have a perfect template of the outline of the tiara (Figure 4).

    Step 3: Cut Glitter Paper Using Your Template

    Now we need to cut out the glitter paper.

    a) Place the template onto the back of the glitter paper (Figure 1). My glitter paper had a white side on the back, perfect for tracing over.

    b) Trace a line along the template you created onto the white side of the glitter paper (see result in Figure 2).

    c) Cut the glitter paper along the line you just traced (Figure 3). This will be the part you glue onto the inside of the tiara.

    Step 4: Align Glitter Paper Onto Tiara

    a) Align and place the glitter paper onto the tiara (glittery part facing outwards). Carefully tape the paper onto the tiara (Figure 1 & 2).

    b) Find the center of each heart on the tiara. Using a needle, or something sharp, poke a small hole into the center of each heart (Figure 3). This will help guide you in the next step.

    Step 5: Trace Outline of LED Onto Glitter Sheet

    Using the poked holes as guidelines, draw out squares around the hole in the exact size of the LEDs. These will be the lines you will use to cut out holes in the glitter sheet so the LEDs can poke through.

    a) The LED itself is measured out to 0.5x0.5cm (Figure 1). The LED pixel board measures to about 1.8x1.8cm (Figure 2). I used the board measurement as a guide to where I should place the pixel itself on the sheet, but you don't need to do this (Figure 3 & 4).

    b) Draw two 0.5cm lines (one vertical and one horizontal) through the center of each hole in each heart (Figure 3, 4, & 5).

    c) Draw a square around the edges of the lines you drew to measure the distance from the center of the hole. This square should end up being 0.5x0.5cm, just the right size for the LED to fit through (Figure 5).

    d) Using an Exacto knife, cut along the 0.5x0.5cm you drew in each heart (Figure 5).

    Step 6: Place LEDs and Gemma Into Place

    Before soldering anything together, place everything onto the sheet to see how it will fit.

    a) Place each LED pixel with the LED facing outward into the holes you cut out on the glitter sheet (Figure 2 & 3). **Each pixel needs to be facing the same direction (Figure 5). You can see the arrows on the pixels themselves if you look closely (Figure 1).

    b) Find the point at which the arrows begin on the pixels. (In my case, looking at the sheet from the inside i.e. the white part, the left-most pixel was the base of the arrows. All the arrows pointed right when looking from the inside.) Place your Gemma on the sheet so that the pin labelled D1 is facing the base of the arrows (Figure 4 & 5). This step is critical for data, vcc, and ground to correctly reach each pixel.

    Step 7: Load Code and Test the Circuit

    You'll want to test the circuit in Figure 1 before permanently soldering anything together. I don't show it in the pictures, but I actually tested this connection first using alligator clips.

    a) Duplicate the circuit in Figure 1 using alligator clips (or other methods of testing/prototyping you might have up your sleeve).

    b) Load up the code onto the Gemma. I used the code from Adafruit's original tutorial. I only changed one line in the code so that instead of 7 pixels, the code flashes colors between 3 pixels. I changed:

    Adafruit_NeoPixel strip = Adafruit_NeoPixel(7, PIN, NEO_GRB + NEO_KHZ800);


    Adafruit_NeoPixel strip = Adafruit_NeoPixel(3, PIN, NEO_GRB + NEO_KHZ800);

    Step 8: It's Soldering Time!

    Now for the fun part! Solder the joints according to Figure 1. I used this method from Adafruit's tiara tutorial for simpler soldering. Please refer this tutorial if anything sounds confusing since, unfortunately, I don't have a lot of pictures for this step.

    a) Use one long wire for each GND and Vout line, i.e. 2 wires. Note that these wires cross over each other, so be sure to use some electrical tape to protect the circuit from shorting out.

    b) Using wire, add a hook to each (-) and (+) connection on each pixel. In other words, each (-) and (+) hole on each pixel will have a "hook" made out of wire that will connect to the main GND and Vout line coming from the Gemma.

    c) Solder the hooks onto each appropriate main wire: (-) gets soldered to GND and (+) gets soldered to Vout (Figure 2).

    d) Plug in the battery and make sure everything works correctly.

    e) Using some hot glue (or E6000), glue the joints of the circuit down to the sheet to hold it tightly in place (Figure 2).

    Step 9: Glue Everything Down

    Now that everything is soldered down and ready to go, it's time to glue it all down to the tiara itself.

    a) Position your battery onto the tiara so that it can get plugged into the Gemma while it's simultaneously hidden when the bride-to-be puts it on (Figure 1). Once you've found this position, glue it down with some E6000. It will slip around a bit. I'll tell you how to fix that in a minute.

    b) Using your E6000 glue, place some glue on the inside of the tiara where the glitter sheet will make contact with it. Place the glitter sheet onto the tiara with the glittery part facing out and the white part facing in (Figure 1). It's ok if some of the glue spills out; it'll dry clear, so it won't be visible once you're done.

    c) Because E6000 takes a good 24 hours to dry, you'll need to make sure it stays in place. Place as many paper clips as you can around the tiara to hold the glitter sheet down onto the tiara. Do this for the battery as well since you'll want it to stay put (Figure 1 & 3).

    d) Let the glue dry for 24 hours. Remove the paper clips when time is up. Plug in the battery to turn the lights on.

    Step 10: Earn the Love of the Bride FOREVER

    You're all set to surprise your bride-to-be with a sparkly tiara for her bachelorette party! She'll love you forever. You'll get tons of brownie points. She'll make you her kids' godmother. She'll probably even put you in her will so you'll get totally rich after she's gone. You're welcome. ^_^