Are you a teacher on a budget looking for a programmable light-up system your students can use at home and keep for their own projects? Or maybe you want an inexpensive, simple way to incorporate lights and a microcontroller into your wearables permanently. Here's a quick and easy solution -- perfect for Halloween, cosplay, or just making outfits that really stand out!
This guide will show you how to use a Gemma M0 microcontroller and "fairy lights" -- a strand of one-color LEDs strung along a lovely silver wire that can be bent to hold its shape -- to add lights to wearables and decorations.
Although the Gemma doesn't have the functionality of the Adafruit Circuit Playground Express board (still my favorite board for adding light effects to wearables), it does have a color-changing DotStar LED built in.
And with free, online, beginner-friendly MakeCode Maker (cousin to the version of MakeCode used to program the CPX), you can program the LED strand of lights to blink, dim, and brighten in unison.
Make your light patterns run on a continuous loop, or use the touchpads on the Gemma M0 to control and change the light effects. Add these lights to a hat for Halloween or cosplay, or any wearable that can hold a board and battery pack.
As an intro coding project for kids and other beginners, the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming lets you get creative, fast!
These are the parts you'll need at minimum. The Wire Light LED Strand also comes in warm white, red, green, and blue -- choose your favorite!
Depending on what you want to do with your programmable fairy lights, you might find some of the following useful: