Neopixel Light Up Glue Sticks - Sophylights


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This is not necessarily a wearables project but an instructable just to show what happens when you get an idea and apply it to things. You have permission to experiment.

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Step 1: Sharp and Pointy Things...

Get your inspiration from seeing what other people do. I came across this tweet by Sophy Wong.

https://twitter.com/sophywong/status/1161874685409...

That's cool. I said to myself. "Self, what have you made that you could apply this advanced technology?"

Hmmm, I have made these before...

I just hot glued hot glue sticks to a Neopixel strip. The end of a glue stick rests on top of a Neopixel so it will act as a light guide and glow in the most efficient manner. I put a strip of packing tape on the kitchen counter. It is to catch the the hot glue blob that spills over the sides and you can peel off the entire strip when everything is assembled. It also creates a selvage or sewing tab in case you apply it to clothing. I left the original silicone sheath on the Neopixel strip. It will also provide some protection from the heat of the melted hot glue. Lay the Neopixel strip on the tape base. You can also tape the strip in place creating tape strip sandwich - I might reuse the strip later in another project to make it easier to extract from the hot glue. Start by putting two hot glue blobs on the side of each Neopixel. Hot glue takes longer to cool when you use a lot so exercise caution and give it time to cool. I then put a hot glue blob right over the Neopixel and let it solidify a bit. Attach the glue stick and let it set in position. You can then build up the side supports by adding hot glue to the side blobs. Once everything is cooled, see if the sticks stand upright, inspect the joints and apply more hot glue if needed. Trim the hot glue sticks to length if desired. I think the second set I made was done by laying all the glue sticks down but I didn't have the Neopixel strip completely perpendicular so I had a wonky set when placed upright because the glue blobs sagged as it cooled.

Hence, Sophylights.

and then this...

Step 2: Blinkenlights

You can do all of this by learning how to use microcontrollers to light up the LEDs or in this case the more advanced Neopixels.

Essentially it's a tiny computer that you program to animate the flashing of the lights.

I started out by getting my first Arduino UNO.

I have since gone through Adafruit's line of boards from the FLORA, Trinket, Circuit Playground Classic to Circuit Playground Express. I also have an Adafruit Gemma M0.

Neopixels are great in that you can control the individual elements on a stick, ring, or strip and tell it what color to light up.

Programming these newer boards are much easier now and you can choose to use blockly programming MakeCode, CircuitPython or Arduino.

The Adafruit Circuit Playground Express board is nice since it has a whole bunch of sensors built-in that you can use as triggers for your light animations.

Adafruit has lots of projects and full tutorials to get started.

Step 3: Lights, Camera, Action...

Once you have your rig soldered together and board programmed, you just start putting it on things to see what works.

Stick is on clothing.

and I had this Batman Samurai helmet laying around... So you're asking yourself, "Who has a Batman Samurai helmet laying around?"

It was a cloudy night then so I couldn't see the lights from my house so I made a replica.

I might as well throw this in since it is things lit up with Neopixels. The belt is a strand of Neopixels encased in nylon tubular webbing. #BadgeLife, #LanyardLife. The "lasso" is four strands of side-glow fiber optic cable braided together. A few Neopixels are hot glued to one end of the bunch to inject light. I used some regular Neopixels. Although they are bright, they are not bright enough. I think you need to move up to the multi-watt LEDs or super bright Pixies for a better glow. But then there are power and coding considerations. You do have to watch out for heat build-up that can damage your Neopixels.

Enjoy!

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