RGB LED Shades

At the heart of this project lies a pair of "Hacker Edition" RGB LED shades from Macetech, a pair of shutter-style shades with a matrix of 68 Neopixel LEDs that face your amazed onlookers in rainbow glory. The shades are made of PCB material cut from the same panel attached with clever joints and hardware, and the power and data lines are broken out to a prototyping space on the right arm that begs for some hacker magic.

Microcontroller

To this frame you can mount any microcontroller and control the 68 Neopixels any way you like. You could add a Trinket, Pro Trinket, a Feather board, any microcontroller you want to hack into the shades.

Feather 32u4 Bluefruit LE

The possibilities for a microcontroller are endless, but from Adafruit, the one that makes the most sense for this project is the Adafruit Feather 32u4 Bluefruit LE, an Atmega32u4 (Arduino Leonardo) based microcontroller with on board bluetooth low energy, and a lithium polymer battery connection and charging circuitry which would allow you to power the shades with a rechargeable battery like this instead of USB!

Sensors

To add even more capability to your shades, why not hack on a sensor or two?

Electret Microphone

For my pair, I built in a microphone amplifier with auto-gain control, or adaptive volume so sounds of all volumes can be detected and don't max the audio level. It's the Electret Microphone Amplifier - MAX9814 with Auto Gain Control

With this microphone, the shades can react to sound and glow to the music or ambient noise around you with beautiful animation and visualization. The automatic volume feature makes sure the audio level never passes the edge of the glasses, and even softer sounds can light up the shades.

Other Sensor Options

Make your shades your own! In the hacker spirit, add any sensor you like to available prototyping space on the arm of the shades! Add a light sensor for automatic dimming as to not blind your fans, an accelerometer to react to dance moves, a temperature display, go wild! A great place to start with a variety of sensors is the Sensor pack 900.

Parts list

In summary, to build my pair of shades with an Adafruit Feather and audio sensing you will need these parts:

Silicone Cover Stranded-Core Wire. It's easily bendable, very thin, and perfect for wearables.

With parts and tools ready, we can begin assembly and tsting of the shades!

This guide was first published on Mar 12, 2016. It was last updated on Mar 12, 2016.

This page (Parts and Modifications) was last updated on Nov 24, 2020.