Overview

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!

Materials

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. 

Adafruit GEMMA M0 - Miniature wearable electronic platform

PRODUCT ID: 3501
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...
$9.95
IN STOCK

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" Pitch

PRODUCT ID: 3630
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!...
$27.50
IN STOCK

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.

PLA/PHA Filament for 3D Printers - 1.75mm Diameter - 1KG

PRODUCT ID: 2338
Having a 3D printer without filament is sort of like having a regular printer without paper or ink. And while a lot of printers come with some filament there's a good chance...
$49.95
IN STOCK

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!)

Lithium Ion Polymer Battery - 3.7v 350mAh

PRODUCT ID: 2750
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 battery...
$6.95
IN STOCK

Adafruit Micro Lipo - USB LiIon/LiPoly charger

PRODUCT ID: 1304
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...
OUT OF STOCK

My necklace design also uses this on/off switch, and some silicone stranded wire.

Breadboard-friendly SPDT Slide Switch

PRODUCT ID: 805
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...
$0.95
IN STOCK

Silicone Cover Stranded-Core Wire - 25ft 26AWG - White

PRODUCT ID: 2518
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...
$4.95
IN STOCK

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 Sep 25, 2019. This page (Overview) was last updated on Oct 17, 2019.