Adafruit Flora NeoPixel LED Ring Headphone Mod




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Wearable Arduino mod for your headphones. Non-invasive procedure for headphones that don't have room inside the drivers or you don't want to hack apart your high end cans.

Adafruit just put out a tutorial for adding pattern blinking LED lights to headphones. This instructable takes it one step further.

This project is really the Adafruit Ampli-tie project morphed into a cool sound reactive LED light appliance for your headphones. It provides a visual audio meter or color organ that responds to the volume/amplitude of the audio heard in your headphones.

Daft Punk, call me.

Update Feb 2015: Look into the Adafruit Trinket, Gemma or Trinket Pro for a smaller microprocessor to use.

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Step 1: Here Kitty, Kitty...

You need to get some products from since there are some exclusive parts that they make.

You can actually use any Arduino but I am using the Adafruit Flora.  It is their wearable Arduino platform which I have used for many of my other ibles.

You need the microphone amplifier breakout module.

Instead of many sewable NeoPixel boards, you need to get two NeoPixel rings. A ring contains 16 RGB LED units with each pixel having its own constant current limiter chip built in.  No need for external resistors. The pixel units are already chained together, individually addressable and controlled by one data pin by I2C.

A battery pack for your Flora(4.5v, 3xAAA)

Hookup wire to get everything connected.

Male header pins and female header sockets to make detachable cables.

Zip-ties and tape to put everything together

And a set of headphones you want to mod.

CAUTION: Know how to work with electronics. Use care in soldering.

Step 2: When My Eyes Were Stabbed by the Flash of a Neon Light...

You just need to follow the fine tutorial on Adafruit's Learning System.

I used the Dynamic sketch for the Ampli-tie.

Mod the code if you want to change the animation of the lights.

The only major change is that I will not be connecting my components with conductive thread. Instead, I am using real wire from ribbon cable.

The connected row of 16 individual NeoPixel boards will be replaced with a set of two NeoPixel rings controlled by the same pin. Note that they need 5 volt power so they are connected to vBatt.  The 3.3 v is not enough to power the NeoPixels and they will act wonky,  I tried.

Note that I have modded my Flora to have leads from the pin outs and terminated with female headers. The power supply pins and GND have a ganged  female header to accomodate the multiple common connections.

The microphone amplifier breakout board came with a set of 6 male header pins.  I soldered 3 into the board (+3, GND, data). The other 3 unused pins I wasn't sure of what to do with.  Spare or were they to make your own cable?  I just soldered them perpendicular to the ones on board and made a right angle connector. Clip off the excess leads. You can then terminate a cable with a female header connector for use. It makes for a flatter connector.  Connect this to the 3.3v pin of the Flora.

Test your circuit.

I haven't looked at the code closely yet but you can create multiple instances of the Adafruit_neopixel strip commands to run off of different pins.  I wasn't sure of how to do that yet but you can just put the data pin inputs together so that the driving signal goes to both Neopixel rings in parallel. The original code was to graphically convert for 16 pixels and not a chained strip of 32 for both rings if you put the data out pin to the data in pin of the other.

Step 3: Rig It All Up...

Take a piece of wire and form a standoff clip for the NeoPixel ring.  I suppose you could 3D print or machine some clear lexan supports for a real fancy finished product. Maybe even just a bezel ring mount to adhere to your headphone shell.

The ring will float outside one of the earcups.  The LED elements will face inside since they are so blindingly bright, maybe too bright for some standing next to you but that is your choice to have it face outward.  Facing it in creates that halo effect with the light bouncing off of your headphones.  You can tape the wire mount to the headphones or screw for a more permanent solution.

Route your wires through to the headband.

Mount your battery pack and your Flora.  I think I should have made some kind of web or fabric piece to bridge the open headband to better support the components.  I just tie-wrapped them in place.

The microphone amplifier board is pretty small.  I lifted the earpad cover up to snake in the cable for the mic module.  The mic module rests inside the earcup where there is room and can pick up the sound directly from the headphones.  Someone else would know better how to integrate it electronically with the direct output or split from the audio signal. The electret microphone capsule can even be separated from the board if the breakout is too big for the earcup or you can feel it through the cushion, maybe a piezo pickup would work.

Try to tidy up all the loose cables and wires.

Step 4: Ada-beats

So there you have it. A custom pair of rave headphones. As annoying as you wanna be. Get  Make  a pair.

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    17 Discussions


    1 year ago

    hi I was just wondering what code the flora uses because i got one recently and would like to learn the code. Maybe if you know it could you make an instructable explaining it a little?

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    The basis of this project is a Flora with a microphone module and neopixel rings. It is better explained in detail with code in The Adafruit Flora is essentially a regular Arduino. You might want to check out the many other tutorials for the Flora in the Adafruit Learn site. There is one on how to get started programming the Flora with setup and code. Move on to learn about Neopixels - one, a strip, a ring, a matrix, then learn how to attach sensors and build your sound reactive visual meter. Good luck.


    4 years ago on Step 4

    Afraid not, @The End of A Heartache.

    The Neopixel LEDs are current monsters. Those two rings, at full brightness, will consume a whopping 1700 mA of current. Solutions include permanently dimming the LEDs a little (they will still be very bright), lighting up one color at a time, and/or avoiding patterns that light every single LED the whole time.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Looks great! Now find something to hide all the wires and it would look even better!

    1 reply

    This is a great project and I have the same pair of sony headphone.

    The battery pack is huge Why not look for small lith-ion battery back on ebay.

    I have a micro battery pack 3.7v 200 Mamp Not sure if the ampere is right for the use :) but I want to try this out on my own headphone

    3 replies

    I don't have a li-po battery pack...yet. Still working on using up the 48 pack of AAA from the wholesale club. You might be able to power up the Flora with that but I think the LED rings might take a little more juice. It also probably expects more closer to the 5v that USB puts out.

    okie thank you for the information, with that in mind 2 li-po pack will do fine. I wonder whats the max voltage the Flora can handle. I know it can take up to 3 amps which is very powerful for such a small unit. I looked at the link which has more information about the Flora They did not tie in a USB to charge the battery or li-po and because the li-po can cause a fire hazard I agree with them working with light foam EPO RC airplane Li-po under charge gets very hot, have not measured temperature but I know you need at least a 10 minute cool down before charge and use on each pack. Only good thing about a lipo pack is a 2 cell to 3 cell unit :) which can give you 500 mamp to 1 amp of current.

    Li-pos do pack more punch that regular alkalines or old chemistry rechargeables. I have used 9volts on my regular Arduino and I think both that and Flora have onboard voltage regulators. 12volts may be the max but probably not recommended.

    Pretty sweet. They look really amazing in the video. If only the battery pack and wires could be hidden somehow without opening the headphones, it'd be ready for everyday wear...

    1 reply

    My real headphones have a cushion wrap around the headband so it wouldn't be hard to cover all the electronics with it and hide it there. You should get a few of the bare NeoPixel chips to fool around with. They are really bright and don't need external resistors.

    You can go to to price what you need
    $25 Flora arduino
    $7 Mic amplifier breakout
    2x $10 NeoPixel RGB LED rings or you can get a bunch of the SMT NeoPixel chips or microboards to configure in your own pattern
    $12 li-po battery or $2 battery case
    misc wire/connectors/tie-wraps/tape

    Depends on what you have $50 - $75?