I’m proud to announce my first product launch! The color changing top hat is poised to become the must have fashion accessory for 2016. It’s bright, it’s colorful and and it’s fun! Ready to be a star? You’re gonna go full spectrum supernova with this hat. Check it out at LEDTopHat.com!
Enough marketing for a moment and I’ll discuss the design process a little. The idea started as a Burning Man costume piece to up my nighttime blinky game since I was pretty dark the first time I went. As an unlit pedestrian at night you’re a hazard to yourself and others – especially people on bikes. I had an Adafruit NeoPixel strip laying around the lab not doing much and I decided it was time to take a crack at some wearable electronics. Here’s how the original turned out!
At the burn, I noticed a unusual lack of RGB LEDs. I figured this would be “old hat” by now, but apparently its still a little ahead of the curve. At the risk of breaking the commandment of de-commodification, I’ve decided to try and productize it.
It was clear that the electronics needed an enclosure. The original used an Arduino Uno and I drew a halfshell case in OpenSCAD with the idea it would be velcro’d inside the hat. After showing it to a few people, it was obvious that the electronics should shrink down. I selected the Arduino Nano and after testing the NeoPixel strip with it for compatibility, I started looking for enclosures.
Credit to rblakemesser on Thingverse for the initial hinged enclosure design. I found he had already mostly designed what I wanted. I remixed it with a round mounting hole for a 12mm momentary pushbutton and added a small separate opening for the 3 wire connection for the LED strip. Check it out at http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1310969
The putting it together with a new battery bank (No more solar, but a lot of run time!), the finished beta design has come together pretty well. There’s still some room for improvement – if anyone has a better idea for mounting silicon encased LED’s than monofiliment or a decent way to protect adhesive backed LED stripes, let me know!