A Gif-Playing Top Hat For FRC 2018!

In gearing up to mentor a team at the 2018 FIRST Robotics Competition, redditor [dd0626] wanted to do something cool that resonated with this year’s 8-bit gaming theme. Over the course of a few days, they transformed a top hat into a thematically encapsulating marquee: a LED matrix display loaded with gifs!

The display is actually a sleeve — made from shipping foam, a pillow case, and an old t-shirt — that fits over the hat, leaving it intact and wearable for future events. A Teensy3.6 displays the gifs on four WS2812 16×16 RGB LED matrices, and while a sheer black fabric diffuses the light, it’s still best viewed from several feet away. This is decidedly not intended to be a stealthy hat display.

To mitigate current draw, [dd0626] is using a 5V 30A DC/DC converter and keeping the brightness at a minimum — otherwise, each panel can pull up to 15A! To offset any dip in performance, they’ve bundled in a massive 22,400mAh, 24V battery pack to keep the hat running for a while. Despite all the hardware, the hat weighs under two pounds — eminently wearable for a long day of competition.

While they expect this hat to be a smash hit at the competition, it’s also a demonstration of one of [dd0626]’s most important lessons to their students: never underestimate the value of hot glue; they say that there’s over four feet of the stuff holding this build together!!!

[Via /r/electronics]

13 thoughts on “A Gif-Playing Top Hat For FRC 2018!

  1. Isn’t a 22.4 amp-hour battery at 24v either incredibly heavy (lead acid based) or expensive (lithium ion)? Heck, even powered by AAs, it’d be something like 200 AAs, which would weigh quite a bit.

    1. Yeah…
      Say a 3200mah 18650 @ 4v, thats 6 in series to get to 24v.
      7 × 3200mah to get 22.4 amp hours.
      Soo 7 sets of 6 is 42 ($3-$5 a pop, 45g each) 18650 cells.
      1.890 Kg
      > $150
      Thats a big expensive battery pack mang…

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