Design and create glowing scales in your favorite shape and add NeoPixel strand lights inside for a stunning display of animated lights.

These are so easy to add to any costume or design. This guide shows you how to create your design in TinkerCad, a free online 3D design program. You can print your armor at home or use an online printing service. Hot-glue a strand of NeoPixels inside and control your project with a Gemma M0 or microcontroller of your choice.

We've included some easy-to-customize CircuitPython code so you can choose your color palettes and get your costume glowing!


You'll need a NeoPixel strand and a microcontroller, plus a battery or power supply to run your project. For costume applications I like using the Gemma M0 because it's small and compact and really easy to solder to and program. 

Pink polished fingers holding a Adafruit GEMMA M0 - Miniature wearable electronic platform.
The Adafruit Gemma M0 is a super small microcontroller board, with just enough built-in to create many simple projects. It may look small and cute: round, about the...
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If you want interactivity in your project, like motion sensing or sound reaction, you might want to consider using the Circuit Playground Express instead - it's got a ton of onboard sensors. We've got a lot of guides showing how to use this board. I'm using a Gemma M0 for this project but it will work the same no matter which board you choose.

You will also need some lights! I'm using the NeoPixel LED dots at 2" pitch. This makes for a nice tight design, but we've also got them in the 4" variety if that suits your project better.

Adafruit NeoPixel LED Dots Strand - 20 LEDs at 2 inch Pitch
Attaching NeoPixel strips to your costume can be a struggle as the flexible PCBs can crack when bent too much. So how to add little dots of color? Use these stranded NeoPixel dots!...
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This project works best with clear or glow-in-the-dark 3d filament. I like the glow kind, because glow in the dark stuff is just so cool, and it will glow like crazy even after you turn the lights off.

Finally, you'll want a battery to power your project. If you're making this for kids, or for a roomy costume like a jacket, I recommend this AAA battery pack. It has an on/off switch and is a safer option than Lithium Polymer batteries, which can explode if they're mistreated. 

However, I personally really prefer the small size of the Lithium Polymer batteries, and since I'm making smaller costume pieces -- a necklace and a bra -- I'm using these smaller batteries.  (And don't forget to get a charger!)

Angled shot of a rectangular lipo battery with a 2-pin JST connector. The battery specs are listed on the body: 3.7V 250mAh.
Lithium-ion polymer (also known as 'lipo' or 'lipoly') batteries are thin, light, and powerful. The output ranges from 4.2V when completely charged to 3.7V. This...
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Top view of Adafruit Micro Lipo - USB LiIon/LiPoly charger - v1 above a 2-pin JST cable.
Oh so adorable, this is the tiniest little lipo charger, so handy you can keep it any project box! Its also easy to use. Simply plug in the gold plated contacts into any USB port and a...
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My necklace design also uses this on/off switch, and some silicone stranded wire.

Breadboard-friendly SPDT Slide Switch
These nice switches are perfect for use with breadboard and perfboard projects. They have 0.1" spacing and snap in nicely into a solderless breadboard. They're easy to switch...
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Silicone Cover Stranded-Core Wire - 25ft 26AWG - White
Silicone-sheathing wire is super-flexible and soft, and its also strong! Able to handle up to 200°C and up to 600V, it will do when PVC covered wire wimps out. We like this wire...
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You'll also need a hot glue gun and some mesh fabric or tulle to insert into the print.

This guide was first published on Sep 25, 2019. It was last updated on Dec 09, 2023.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Sep 23, 2019.

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