The software for this project uses the Arduino development environment. If this is your first time using this with Adafruit boards, please see the Feather M0 Setup guide here:

Adafruit Feather M0 Basic Proto: Arduino IDE Setup

Aside from installing the Arduino software, you’ll need to add the Adafruit boards package as mentioned in the guide above.

Additionally you’ll need a few prerequisite libraries, which can be installed with the Arduino Library Manager (Sketch→Include Library→Manage Libraries…). Search for and install:

  • Adafruit_NeoPixel
  • Adafruit_NeoPXL8
  • Adafruit_ZeroDMA

Then fetch the code for this project, downloadable here:

Select “Feather M0” (or M4) from the Tools→Board menu, compile and verify that you can upload to the board. If so, great! Now we need to fine-tune some settings to match your project…

If using a Feather M4 (with M4 version of the NeoPXL8 FeatherWing), look for this line early in the code:

int8_t pins[8] = { PIN_SERIAL1_RX, PIN_SERIAL1_TX, MISO, 13, 5, SDA, A4, A3 };

Change the list of pins to the following:

int8_t pins[8] = { 13, 12, 11, 10, SCK, 5, 9, 6 };

The above change is only needed for Feather M4; if using Feather M0, you can leave the defaults.

Now we can configure some visual things…

Near the top of the code, look for this line:

uint8_t dripColor[] = { 0, 255, 0 }; // Bright green ectoplasm

This defines the color of the drippings, as an RGB value. The default, {0,255,0}, is a pure green…good for ectoplasm. But you might want red instead, {255,0,0} for blood, or blue {0,0,255} or white {255,255,255} for something more Christmasy. Bah.

Q: Can the drips be different colors?

A: Not as it’s currently programmed. Maybe that’s a feature for Ooze Master 4000.

Just below that is this line:

#define PIXEL_PITCH (1.0 / 150.0)    // 150 pixels/m

This tells the code the “density” of your NeoPixel strip, in LEDs-per-meter. The default, 150.0, corresponds to the density of the ultra-skinny NeoPixel strip. If using different pixels, change this to match…60.0 and 144.0 are both pretty common strip densities. The code needs to know this figure so the drippings fall at a physically plausible speed.

Q: Can I mix and match strip densities?

A: Electronically there’s nothing preventing this, but the code as written works with a single density throughout.

Speaking of physically plausible speed, look for this a couple of lines further down:

#define G_CONST 9.806 // Standard acceleration due to gravity

Combined with the strip density figure, this makes the drips fall convincingly. 9.806 is the force of gravity on Earth, in m/s2. A little math ties this all together to make the drips and the splats play well together and fool your brain.

The value there…9.086…is convincing enough for a thin liquid like water or blood. If you want something really viscous looking…rather than working viscosity calculations into the code, you can be like Q from Star Trek and just change the gravitational constant of the universe. Try values between 2 and 3 for a nice gravy-like feel.

One more piece to this recipe…just a little ways down in the code, look for this table of numbers:

  { 16,  7, 0.157 }, // NeoPXL8 output 0: 16 pixels long, drip pauses at index 7, 0.157 meters above ground
  { 19,  6, 0.174 }, // NeoPXL8 output 1: 19 pixels long, pause at index 6, 0.174 meters up
  { 18,  5, 0.195 }, // NeoPXL8 output 2: etc.
  { 17,  6, 0.16  }, // NeoPXL8 output 3
  { 16,  1, 0.21  }, // NeoPXL8 output 4
  { 16,  1, 0.21  }, // NeoPXL8 output 5
  { 21, 10, 0.143 }, // NeoPXL8 output 6

The table holds information about our NeoPixel strips and real-world distances, to make the physics “actual size.” Each line, one for each drip (up to 7) contains three numbers:

  1. The length of the NeoPixel strip, in pixels.
  2. The pixel index (starting at 0, up to length-1) where the dribble pauses before falling. This can be 0 if you want no dribble.
  3. The distance from the dribble pixel (the one you just provided the index # for) to the splat pixel below, in meters.

You can have an 8th drip but won’t get splats in that case. Given a choice, I think the splats are way cooler.

Here I’m measuring drip-to-splat length for drip #6. It’s about 143 millimeters, or 0.143 meters as you can see in the table. Not the topmost pixel, not the end of the drip, but the dribble pixel at the tip of the horn.

If measuring in inches, multiply by 0.0254 to convert to meters.

Get all your numbers and measurements in there, save the code (or a copy) and upload to your Halloween prop. If all goes well, the motion should physically correspond to the thing you’ve built! If it’s close but not quite, tweak your table numbers…move the dribble pixel up or down a bit, change distances (or G_CONST) to get the timing right.

This guide was first published on Dec 07, 2019. It was last updated on Dec 07, 2019.

This page (Arduino Code) was last updated on Dec 08, 2021.

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