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Marking holes for the NeoPixel rings

Now its time for the electronics! Let’s start off with the NeoPixel rings. The 24x NeoPixel rings should fit nicely on the indents in the ears. Place one 24x NeoPixel ring over the left ear (or right, which ever you prefer first). Orient the ring so the power and ground pins are pointing towards the top of the helmet. The data in pin will point towards the bottom. This orient will keep the wires away from the front of the visor. Get a sharp pointy thing (like a needle) and insert them through the power, ground and data in pins - Poke the surface to mark these points. Repeat this process for the second ear.

Enlarge wire holes

With the pins marked, remove the 24x NeoPixel ring from the ear. Now we need to puncture these marks and make holes that are wide enough for 26 AWG sized wires to all through. You can heat up the tip of the needle with a lighter and push it through these marks to create the holes. While the needle is still hot, you can move it in a circular motion to enlarge the holes. Once the holes are made, try to pass a wire through and see if it fits. If it doesn’t, keep widening the holes. Repeat this process for the second ear.

Clean up holes

Once the holes are wide enough to pass wires through, you may need to remove some excess material from the ears. You can use flush cutters remove the excess material around each hole. Repeat this process for the second ear.

Measure NeoPixel ring wire

Now we can measure our wires for the 24x NeoPixel ring. We recommend using 26AWG silicone coated stranded wire. We’ll need three pieces of wire for each ear. They’ll need to be about 22mm in length. We recommend using a different colored wire for each connection (power, ground and data in) - This helps tell them apart. Make a second pair of wires for the second ear.

Build a Y cable

With the six wires measured and cut to length, we need to connect them together via a “Y Cable”. Make a third pair of wires for power, ground and data in using the same 22mm length. The pairs of wires (power, ground and data in) will need to connect to this third pair of wires, making a Y shape. Strip the ends of each wire, removing about 5mm of insulation. Tin the tips of the wires with solder, using a helping third hand to assist you. Solder the pairs of wires together to form a Y cable. You’ll end up with set main sets - One Y cable for power, ground and data in.

Heat shrink

It’s a good idea to insulate the exposed connections. We can do this with pieces of heat shrink tubing. Cut a slit half way down the piece of heat shrink and slide it through the wire. Apply heat to shrink.

Add a second piece of heat shrink with a slit cut and overlap it onto the first piece of heat shrink. Apply heat to shrink.

Connect wires to 5V Trinket

Now it’s time to connect the wires to the 5V Trinket. Tin the following pins on the 5V Trinket to make soldering easier - Ground, BAT and #0. Then  solder ground to ground pin, power to BAT pin and data in to Pin #0. Follow the circuit diagram if you need reference.

JST wire

Now we need to extend the power from the Trinket via a JST extension cable. Grab a JST extension wire and cut it in half. We’ll use the end with the female JST connector and wire it to the bottom of the 5V Trinket. Strip the tips of the two wires from the JST extension cable and tin them. Tin the positive and negative pads on the back of the 5V Trinket and solder the JST extension cable - red to positive, black to negative.

Build an On and Off switch

Using a second JST extension cable and a slide switch, we’ll build a JST adapter. This will go in between the lithium polymer batter and the micro-controller. Cut the JST extension cable in half and trim it short - about 10/20 mm in length. Solder the negative wire from the male and female connector together and add heat shrink for insulation. Remove the third lead from the slide switch and tin the other two. Solder one red wire from the male connector end to one of the leads. Solder the red wire from the female connector to the remaining lead of the slide switch. Apply heat shrink to insulate leads from slide switch. The final JST adapter should resemble the one in the photo. Repeat this process twice, you'll need to two JST adapters - One for the 5V Trinket, the other for the Adafruit Feather 32u4.

Pass Y cables through ears

With the wires connected to the 5V Trinket, now its put them inside the helmet. Start with one set of Y cables and insert each wire to one of the ears - Power, ground and data in. The holes should be wide enough to insert each wire. Pull wires through both ears with so they’re about 2-3 inches long on the outside.

Connect 24x NeoPixel Rings to Y cable

Now we can connect the 24x NeoPixel rings to the wires. Secure one 24x NeoPixel to a helping third hand. It’ll be easier to solder the wires if the pins on the 24x NeoPixel ring PCB are tined. Move the ring close to the wires and solder power to power, ground to ground and data to data in. Repeat this process for the second ear.

Mount 24x NeoPixel rings into ear

With the rings soldered to the wires, tug on the wires from the inside of the helmet until the 24x NeoPixel ring is sitting flush with the ear. The wires should hold the rings in place - You can optionally apply adhesives to permanently secure the rings in place. Repeat this process of the second ear.

Prep NeoPixel Strips

In this project we’re using mini NeoPixel strips - you can optionally use regular sizes NeoPixel strips. Grab the whole strip and gauge the length you’ll need - it should span across the length of the acrylic visor. We cut the whole length of the strip and stacked two on top of each other - You can do this, or add more how ever you see fit. 1 meter of strip should be enough to fit two rows as shown in the photo. Cut the NeoPixel strip in between the three pads. Regular sized strips will have a dotted line to indicate cutting area. The mini strip doesn't have room for this label.

Connect NeoPixel ends

Now that we’ve cut the strips to length, we need to chain them together. Position the two strips onto a helping third hand as shown in the photo. Take note of the arrows indicating the direction of the data stream. See how the they follow in one direction? Make sure they’re like that - Do not have the arrows point together each other (thats the wrong direction!). We recommend using black 30AWG silicone coated stranded wires to connect power to power, ground to ground and data out to data in. Cut three pieces of wire and strip the tips, then tin. It’s easier to solder wires to the pads of the strips when they’re tined.

Connect wires to Neo Pixel strip

Next we need to connect three pieces of wire from the NeoPixel strip to the Adafruit Feather 32u4 Bluefruit LE. The length is variable, but it should be long enough to go from one end of the visor to the inside of the chin. One wire for power, second for ground and third for data in. We recommend using 26AWG silicone coated stranded wire. Again, it’s easier to connect wires to the pads on the strip is everything is tined (both wires and pads).

Adafruit Feather 32u4 Bluefruit LE circuit

Now we can connect the three wires from the NeoPixel strip to the pins on the Adafruit Feather 32u4 Bluefruit LE. Tin BAT, Ground and Pin #6 on the Feather board. Now we can connect the wires from the strip to the pins. Plug the female connector from the second JST adapter to the lipo battery, and the male connector to the female connector on the Adafruit Feather 32u4 Bluefruit LE. Turn the slide switch on to see if the circuit works! Obviously, the code should already be uploaded to both the 5V Trinket and the Feather 32u4 Bluefruit LE.

Mount NeoPixel Strip to Acrylic Visor

Next up we need to attached the NeoPixel strip to the visor. Place the strip onto the acrylic visor from the inside of the curvature, with the LED’s facing out - as shown in the photo. Try to keep the strip centered and as straight as possible. To mount the strip in place, we’re using simple scotch tape.

Install Acrylic Visor into Helmet

Now we can insert the acrylic visor into the helmet. Be very careful while doing this. Insert the visor at an angle and slightly bend the acrylic so it can be fitted into the lining of the visor area of the helmet. It should have a fiction fit, no adhesives are necessary to secure the visor to the helmet, but you can optionally use some if you find the tolerance loose.

Prep lipo battery

OK now’s a good time to insert the two lipo batteries into our Ninjaflex lipo pockets. You can optionally wrap gaffers tape around the lipo batteries. We recommend applying silicone based adhesives to the ends of the wires on the lipo battery (the area where the wires are soldered to the battery, with the kapton tape) - This helps alleviate stress from the wires to the battery.

Mount batteries and micro-controllers

Let’s mount the batteries and micro-controllers to the inside of the helmet. A good spot for the 5V Trinket battery is the back center of the helmet. The 5V Trinket can go next to that. The Adafruit Feather 32u4 Bluefruit LE can go near the lower face, while the battery can go near the bottom center of the chin. We recommend using hot glue for the batteries and gaffers tape for the micro-controllers. The wires can also be secured using gaffers tape. Try to keep the wires neat and tidy. There should be no lose wires so it’s easier to put on and off the helmet.

Test, Wear - Around The World!

Now it’s time to put on the helmet and see if everything fits! Test the circuit and see if everything works. You can finally remove the protective film from the acrylic visor. Be careful handling the helmet as it’s easily to scratch or scuff up the surface. Visibility is fairly good but be cautious when wearing. Be safe, use common sense and have fun! Congratulations on making a Daftpunk helmet!

This guide was first published on Dec 29, 2015. It was last updated on Dec 29, 2015. This page (Add Electronics) was last updated on Sep 22, 2019.