We must repeat! Our “Kaleidoscope Eyes” goggles project was so popular that we wanted an easier option for newcomers to electronics. These “Larson Scanner” shades offer a lot of bling with fewer parts and less tricky connections. Freedom of choice is what you got!
The Larson scanner is named after Glen Larson, producer of Knight Rider and the original Battlestar Galactica television series, both of which prominently featured the effect as the “eyes” of KITT, his nemesis KARR, and the Cylon Centurions.

Larson scanners were traditionally red (or yellow in KARR's case), but thanks to the magic of NeoPixels you can change the software to use any colors you like.
This guide was written for the 'original' Gemma and Trinket boards, but can be done with either original or M0 Gemma or Trinket. We recommend the Trinket M0 or Gemma M0 as it is easier to use and is more compatible with modern computers!

Tools Needed

This is a soldering project, albeit a small one. You will need the common soldering paraphernalia of a soldering iron, solder, wire (20 to 26 gauge, either stranded or solid) and tools for cutting and stripping wire.

You’ll need some method of securing the electronics inside the glasses. Hot-melt glue (with a glue gun) works well for this. Watch your fingers! Packing tape could also be used.

Parts needed

  • Visor-style sunglasses — the 1980’s style with a single “unibrow” rather than separate lenses. A well-stocked costume store may have something suitable, or you can search eBay for “robot sunglasses,” “Devo sunglasses” or “alien sunglasses.”
  • NeoPixel RGB LED flex strip: 144, 60 or 30 LEDs/meter depending on your budget and desired look. This project only requires a short section — you can either make several pairs of glasses from the strip, or use the leftovers for other projects (it’s fun stuff to play with!). The photo above is using 144 LEDs/meter NeoPixel strip.
  • Adafruit's Trinket M0 or Gemma M0 are recommended.  The legacy versions Trinket 3.3v, Trinket 5v and Gemma v2 will also work. 
  • 3.7V 150mAh Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery
  • LiPo battery charger
  • JST Battery Extension Cable (not required if using Gemma)
There are lots of eyeglass options on eBay for $20 or less. We settled on the pair on the right because they pass more light (the LEDs will appear brighter). Ski or motocross goggles could also work!
Can I use a Gemma instead of Trinket?
Absolutely! You won’t need the extra JST cable for the LiPo battery — Gemma has that plug built-in. The board is a bit wider and might be more challenging to fit, but one option is to show it off rather than conceal it, mounting the board on the outside of the glasses near one temple. Geek pride!

This guide was first published on Sep 23, 2013. It was last updated on 2023-12-07 08:08:53 -0500.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Sep 20, 2013.

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