RGB Glasses Built From PCBs

Shutter shades were cool once upon a time, but if you really want to stand out, it’s hard to go past aggressively bright LEDs right in the middle of your face. A great way to achieve that is by building a pair of RGB glasses, as [Arnov Sharma] did.

The design intelligently makes use of PCBs to form the entire structure of the glasses. One PCB makes up the left arm of the glasses, carrying an ESP12F microcontroller and the requisite support circuitry. It’s fitted to the front PCB through a slot, and soldered in place. The V+, GND, and DATA connections for the WS2812B LEDs also serve as the mechanical connection. The right arm of the glasses is held on in the same way, being the same as the left arm PCB but simply left unpopulated. A little glue is also used to stiffen up the connection.

It’s a tidy build, and one that can be easily controlled from a smartphone as the ESP12F runs a basic webserver which allows the color of the glasses to be changed. It’s not the first time we’ve seen a flashy pair of LED shades either! Video after the break.

Continue reading “RGB Glasses Built From PCBs”

Hex Matrix Clock Does It With Six Sides

LED matrixes were once a total headache, requiring careful consideration to make the most of limited I/O pins and available microcontroller resources. These days, addressable LED strings have made it all a cinch. Thus, going a little out of the box isn’t so daunting. [w.r.simpson] did just that with this hex-matrix clock.

Relying on hexes instead of a normal Cartesian grid requires some attention to how the rows and columns are laid out, but the Instructable goes through the necessary coordinate system to address the display. The whole display was built without a 3D printer, instead relying on some basic craft skills and a picture frame as the enclosure. Strips of WS2812B LEDs were used to build the hexagonal matrix, run by a Adafruit Metro Mini 328. To give each hexagonal pixel, or hexel, a crisp outline, a shadow grid was built using black paper to stop the light bleeding between the display segments when switched on. Smoked plexiglas wasn’t available, so instead, tinted window film was used to darken the front of the display.

The result is impressive; while some glue marks from the shadow grid are visible closeup, from a distance the final product looks incredibly futuristic thanks to the hexagonal layout. We can imagine this would make a great set dressing in a futuristic film clip; we fully expect to see this concept in the background of the next Ariana Grande single. If this build isn’t enough six-sided fun to sate your appetite, consider getting into Super Hexagon too!

Smart Power Delivery For Long LED Strips

Addressable LED strips, most commonly using the WS2812B, have revolutionized the pursuit of the glowiest and flashiest of builds. No longer does a maker have to compromise on full RGB color or number of LEDs due to the limitations of their chosen microcontroller, or fuss around with multiplexing schemes. However, the long strips of bright LEDs do have an issue with voltage drop on long runs, leading to dimming and color irregularities. Thankfully, [Jan Mrázek] has come up with a useful solution in the form of the Neopixel Booster.

The device consists of a small PCB which packs a 5 volt regulator capable of putting out up to 4 amps. It’s designed with pads that match typical Neopixel strips, such that it can be neatly soldered in every 50cm or every 60 LEDs or so. Each booster PCB is fed with a set of fat power wires, at between 6-18 volts. This allows electricity to be fed to the full length of the strip at higher voltage, and thus lower current, greatly reducing resistive power losses. By having several regulators along the length of the strip, it helps guarantee that the whole length of a long run is receiving plenty of voltage and current and can light up the correct color as desired.

It’s a well thought out solution to a frustrating problem, and [Jan’s] efforts on the design front mean that a 5 meter long waterproof strip can be converted in around about an hour. We can imagine this could be manufactured into strips in future, too. If you’re wondering what to do with all those LEDs, consider making yourself a custom display.

Party Canoe Lights Up The Water

Generally, any activity out on the water is more dangerous when done at night. Hazards are less visible, and it can be easy to get into trouble. [Xyla Foxlin]’s party canoe can’t help with that, but it does look the business after dark.

The canoe is made out of fiberglass, directly formed onto an existing canoe to make getting the shape right easy. It was formed in two halves, with special care taken to make the final result as clear as possible. Obviously, fiberglass is never going to be perfectly transparent, but [Xyla] does a great job of getting a nice translucent frosted look. The final effect means that it’s the perfect canoe to stuff full of addressable LEDs. A string of WS2812Bs, hooked up to an Arduino, make for an appealing lightshow when boating at night.

The diffusive nature of the fiberglass really makes the difference here. We’ve talked about the topic before – it’s the key to making your glowy project really pop. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Party Canoe Lights Up The Water”

Weather Note Tells You What You Need To Know, And No More

Smartphones are portals to an overwhelming torrent of information. Yes, they’re a great way to find out the time, your bus schedule, and the weather, but they’re also full of buzzers and bells going off every three minutes to remind you that your uncle has reposted a photo of the fish he caught ten years ago. Sometimes, it’s better to display just the essentials, and that’s what Weather Note does.

It’s built around the Adafruit Feather Huzzah, a devboard built around the venerable ESP8266. It’s a great base for an Internet of Things project like this one, with WiFi built-in and ready to go. The Weather Note talks to a variety of online platforms to scrape weather data and helpful reminders, with the assistance of If This Then That, or IFTTT. Reminders to walk the dog or get some milk are displayed on a small OLED screen, while there’s also a bunch of alphanumeric displays for other information. WS2812 LEDs are used behind a shadowbox to display weather conditions, with cute cloud, rain, and sun icons. It’s all wrapped up in a tidy frame perfect for the mantlepiece or breakfast table.

It’s a great build to learn about programming for the Internet of Things, and with those bright LED displays, it’s probably a viable nightlight too. It’s a rare project that can both tell you about the weather and keep you from stubbing your toe in the kitchen, after all. Those desiring a stealthier build should consider going down the smart mirror route instead. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Weather Note Tells You What You Need To Know, And No More”

Slim RGB Matrix Puts LEDs Inside The PCB

Sometimes all that’s required to build something interesting is to put the same old pieces together differently. [Sayantan Pal] did this for the humble RGB LED matrix, creating an extra-thin version by recessing WS2812b NeoPixel LEDs inside a PCB.

The popular WS2812B is 1.6 mm in height, which happens to be the most commonly used PCB thickness. Using EasyEDA, [Sayantan] designed a 8×8 matrix with modified WS2812B footprints. A slightly undersized cutout was added to create a friction-fit for the LEDs, and the pads were moved to the back side of the panel just outside the cutout, and their assignment were flipped. The PCB is assembled face down, and all the pads are soldered by hand. Unfortunately this creates rather large solder bridges which slightly increases the overall thickness of the panel, and is probably also unsuitable for production with conventional pick-and-place assembly.

We’ve seen some similar methods with PCB assemblies that use layered PCBs. Manufacturers are starting to even embed components inside multilayer PCBs.

RGB Party Bike Flashes With The Beat

One of the biggest dangers to a cyclist is not being seen at night. To counteract this, all manner of lighting and reflective gear is available to help ensure bicycles are seen on the streets. Of course, you don’t have to stop at the purely practical. [TechnoChic] decided to have some fun with her ride, festooning her party bike with many, many LEDs.

As you’d expect, the RGB illuminations are thanks to WS2812B LED strips. Running the show is  a trio of Arduino Nano 33 IoTs – one for the LEDs on the bike’s frame, the other two mounted on the front and back wheels respectively. This allowed for the easy control of LEDs on the spokes without having to pass data and power lines to the rotating wheels. The LEDs on the frame are even music-reactive, with the Arduino sampling music input via one of its analog-to-digital converters.

Paired with a boombox on the bike, the build makes for a great way to hype up group rides through the city at night. We can imagine such a bike being an absolute hit at Critical Mass, though you’ve probably gotta add a laser or glitter cannon if you’re going to draw attention at Burning Man. If you’re tired of pedaling, you might consider an electric conversion, too. Video after the break.

Continue reading “RGB Party Bike Flashes With The Beat”