Try on your collar and determine where it will buckle. Take it off and re-buckle, to get an idea of where the center front is. Mark this spot with a pen or pencil.

Lay the collar flat and mark two more spots at one-inch increments on either side of the center mark.

Use a ruler to mark the top-bottom center line on the collar as well.
Use a utility knife to cut small horizontal slits in the collar at the marks. They should be just long enough for the legs of the NeoPixels to pass through, but not so long as they show on the front.

Pierce your NeoPixels through the collar with the flat sides all facing the same way (away from where the GEMMA will go).
On the inside of the collar, bend the legs as shown-- power up, ground down, data to either side! Repeat with all pixels.
Bend the power and ground leads towards each other with a pair of pliers, and set the collar up, curved, in a set of helping hands. Trim the data leads to just overlap, but not get in the way of other legs.
Solder overlapping wire leads while the collar is curved, using a pair of pliers to hold them close where necessary.

Use small pieces of wire to make a continuous power bus, and do the same with ground.
Use an awl to mark where wires will pass through the collar from GEMMA to the pixels.

Pierce these marked spots with the awl. Prepare three pieces of wire by stripping one end, then thread them through the holes in the leather.
Pass the stripped ends of wire through GEMMAs pads marked Vout, D1, and GND, referring to the circuit diagram, and solder in place. Use flush snips to trim off excess wire.
On the inside of the collar, trim and strip the other ends of the wire, then connect them up to the power bus, data in, and ground bus respectively (refer to circuit diagram). Wrap the wires around the pixel leads so they stay in place for soldering. Solder these connections and trim off any excess.
Plug your collar in with a USB cable and see if it's working! It should still have the program on it from testing earlier, and all five pixels should glow and animate. If they don't, use a multimeter to check your connections, and double check none of your pixels are in backwards!
Once you know your circuit is solid, you can protect your delicate neck skin by gluing on a piece of fuzzy fabric (we used microsuede, a durable fuzzy microfiber) with E6000 craft adhesive. Painter's tape can come in handy for clamping over the edge. Allow to dry for 24 hours.
Wrap your battery in gaffer tape to protect it and provide strain relief to its wires.

Use a piece of Velcro tape to affix the battery to the collar right next to the GEMMA. We arranged GEMMA and the battery so the collar slack covers/protects them. The battery wire wraps around the collar once, then plugs into GEMMA. This is how you turn the collar off/on.

This guide was first published on May 07, 2014. It was last updated on Jul 22, 2024.

This page (Build Collar) was last updated on May 06, 2014.

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