Make a jellyfish umbrella with animated lights, with no coding required. It looks beautiful in the evening! Make your jellyfish dance and flow with lights, tentacles, and iridescence.

This is an intermediate project that gives you advanced results. The software is simple to load and use. Hundreds of animations and color combinations are available right through your fingertips, using any web browser or the free WLED app on your phone. 

The trickiest part of this tutorial is the wiring. There are a lot of connections to make and some challenging soldering to do, but the rest of the build is fairly easy.  

This project would make a great camp "totem" for festivals, or a wonderful costume if it's built onto an umbrella hat. It's also easy to synch two or more jellyfish together over WiFi using WLED. 

Parts

Angled shot of purple square-shaped microcontroller.
This dev board is like when you're watching a super-hero movie and the protagonist shows up in a totally amazing costume in the third act and you're like 'OMG! That's...
Video of an LED dot strip glowing rainbow colors.
We have all sorts of LED strips for a wide range of needs. Chonky strips? We got those! 

Battery Power

There are a lot of options for powering your jellyfish. If you're making this for a kid or planning to use it in the rain, your best option is this AAA battery pack. It has its own on/off switch, and it's easy to find replacement batteries wherever you roam.

Front angled shot of 3 x AAA battery holder with on-off switch and 2-pin JST PH connector.
This battery holder connects 3 AAA batteries together in series for powering all kinds of projects. We spec'd these out because the box is slim, and 3 AAA's add up to about...

If you're looking for a longer-lasting rechargeable solution and you know how to be careful with things, consider this Lithium Ion Polymer battery. This project can suck batteries dry fairly quickly, so a big beefy rechargeable battery will save you money and be greener in the long run. If you go this route, you'll also need an on/off switch and a battery charger.

Lithium Ion Polymer Battery 3.7v 2500mAh with JST 2-PH connector
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...
1 x Battery Charger
Adafruit Micro Lipo - USB LiIon/LiPoly charger - v2
1 x On/Off Switch
Tactile On/Off Switch with Leads

Whatever type of power you use, you'll need a battery connector. It never hurts to pick up some heat shrink as well.

1 x Battery Connector
JST PH 2-Pin Cable – Male Header 200mm
1 x Heat Shrink
Heat Shrink Pack

Testing Hardware

During the build of this project, I found it invaluable to have a Circuit Playground Express board with some alligator clips for testing the LED strips. The particular LED strips used in this project are not marked in any way, so testing the directionality is essential before soldering. The Circuit Playground Express makes this really easy to do. It's a great board to have on-hand for prototyping all kinds of projects.

A Black woman's manicured hand holds a round microcontroller with lit up LEDs.
Circuit Playground Express is the next step towards a perfect introduction to electronics and programming. We've taken the original Circuit Playground Classic and...
1 x Alligator Clips
Small Alligator Clip Test Lead (set of 6)

Additional Materials

Tools

  • Soldering iron & accessories
  • Wire cutters & strippers
  • Heat gun for the heat shrink

This guide was first published on Jun 20, 2023. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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