Install Electronics

Attaching the LED strip to the frame can be a challenge. There are very few things in this world that will adhere to the silicone weatherproof sleeve that protects the NeoPixel strip.
Double-stick carpet tape provides a reasonable hold. This does not provide a strong or permanent bond to the silicone sleeve; it’s more like a Post-It Note.

The tape is a lot wider than the strip, and has a peel-away backing. Cut a piece that’s half as long as the strip, align one edge while pressing the tape to the strip, then trim away the extra with an X-Acto knife. The trimmed section can then be similarly applied to the second half of the strip and the remaining extra width trimmed and discarded.

To apply this to the frame: peel away a few inches of the tape backing from the center of the strip, leaving the “tails” hanging off to one side. Center the strip on the frame and press into place. Then work from the center outward a few inches at a time, pulling at the tails and pressing the strip into place.
For a more permanent installation, the only glue we've found that sticks to the waterproof covering is Permatex 66B Clear RTV Silicone Adhesive (even other silicones refused to work).

If you go this route, lie the LED strip face down, run a bead or a series of dots along the back of the strip, then place the frame on top of this and set some weight on it for a few hours (a couple heavy books should suffice). Do not use anything like A-clamps…these squeeze very tightly and could damage the NeoPixel strip!
A staple gun can come in handy for securing wires in a few places, but be extremely careful with your aim! Just a slight misalignment could punch a conductive metal staple right through a signal- or current-carrying wire.
When joining the UBEC output to the NeoPixel power wires, remember that just one wire at each end is used (doesn’t matter which end is + or –). Clip off the exposed tip of the unused wire or cover it with heat-shrink insulation to avoid mishaps.
To keep the data wire short, the Arduino was mounted near one end of the bar. The battery pack can be mounted on the opposing side, a bit closer to the center so the two sides are balanced.

Self-stick hook-and-loop (Velcro) fasteners were used so the pack can be removed for easier battery access.
The UBEC can be held down somewhere with a cable tie, hot glue, double-stick foam tape or Sugru. Whatever works for your situation.
In the photos above we’re using female and male power adapters. An in-line power switch can then be added without soldering, held in place with cable ties, Sugru, etc.

For a slimmer profile, our tactile on/off switch can be soldered between the + terminals on the battery pack and UBEC.
Once all the connections are made, you may want to do a last preflight check of all the parts before final assembly.

Load up the SD card with an image (as explained in the “Preparing Images” section), set the dial to a middle position, power it up and see if it works. You should see the red “SD” led flicker for a few seconds while the software initializes, then tapping the button should produce a light show on the NeoPixel strip.
If everything checks out, turn off the power and install the Arduino and shield inside the mint tin. Double-stick foam tape works well, or this might be another Sugru moment.
Close it up and you’re good to go!
This guide was first published on Dec 10, 2013. It was last updated on Dec 10, 2013. This page (Install Electronics) was last updated on Oct 20, 2019.