More fun with lighting costume wigs
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More fun with lighting costume wigs

by hippyhillary on Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:05 pm

I have become a bit of a costume geek and i recently started workin electronics into my projects. I am a relative newb, but I managed to get a wig to glow without setting my hair on fire ;)
The new task is getting a wig to "change colors" via a light halo. I want to start with a blue wig and shine lights on it via an led halo hidden in a costume piece on top of my head. I want to use the color changing LED's (probably common anode but i'm open to suggestions). The final result will involve a lilypad/arduino board and probably the bluetooth attachment and all kinds of cool things, but for right now, I need a good way to test theoretically whether or not the lights will look the way I want them to when we shine them on the wig (and if not, if there's a way to make that work). For this test, I don't necessarily need the lilypad as long as i can get the led to shine each color for a while (even if it means manually retooling the prototyped circuit). Any suggestions on good ways to test this part of it? I have never used the rgb lights before, so all help is welcome.
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Re: More fun with lighting costume wigs

by adafruit_support_bill on Tue Oct 23, 2012 5:05 am

To get the full range of colors these devices are capable of, you will need to connect it to something capable of independently fading the R, G & B channels.
Using a common anode RGB led http://www.adafruit.com/products/159, you could connect it to 3 PWM pins on a controller (such as the lilypad). Or connect the common anode to 5v and each of the 3 cathode pins through a potentiometer for manual adjustment.

Another option is to go with an LED strip. This will simplify the wiring for your halo and you can control it with a color wheel for prototyping purposes.
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Re: More fun with lighting costume wigs

by hippyhillary on Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:29 am

I'm trying to come up with a really inexpensive and easy way to test the theory of "lights on wig" to see if the effect i want is even possible because i'm thinking it might not be (i want it to give the impression of the wig changing color). Would getting a few single color leds of a similar viewing angle and luminous intensity to the rgb ones and then using a prototyping board to light them up be a reasonable facsimile or are the rgb's capable of too much more for that to work?
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Re: More fun with lighting costume wigs

by adafruit_support_bill on Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:09 am

are the rgb's capable of too much more for that to work?

Electrically they are essentially identical to a reg, green and blue led with the anodes tied together. Optically, you will get a different quality of light due to the spacing of the elements. Whether that is a good thing or not depends on what kind of effect you are trying to create.

When you blend colors from 2 or more leds, you get multi-colored fringes in the shadows because each led is coming from a slightly different angle. With something finely textured like hair at a close range, I would expect that this would be quite noticeable.
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Re: More fun with lighting costume wigs

by hippyhillary on Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:26 am

I have been promised the arduino board of my choice for my birthday. This means I will have about 7 months to complete the project. Now, for the real questions. Originally, I was looking at the lilypad because my applications are typicially going to fall more in the "extextiles" wheelhouse, however, for this project, I think it would make more sense to solder rather than sew (which means i have to learn to solder, but i was planning on that anyways). I saw the nano on the arduino site, but alll the consumer sites say it is obsolete. So now, mainly because of dimensions, I am thinking along the lines of a pro micro. A. how fool-hardy is it for someone who knows very little about electronics to dive in face first with a "pro" level of arduino board? B. what is the best way to prototype with an arduino board and are there guides i can read on such a thing. C. For the final project, I think i'm looking at 20-30 rgd leds (wired in parallel in unless there's majorly compelling reasons to do serial) in one project, but right now i just need to be able to hook up a few (or even one would be helpful) to test whether or not i can get the correct lighting effects. Is there a guide somewhere on how i would go about doing that and making sure it's properly resisted (perferably with a driver). I know using a pre-wired strip would be easier, but the ones i have seen don't have the lights at the right angle to work for what I need it for. Thanks for all your awesomely helpful responses. I hope everyone is safe and healthy up there.
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Re: More fun with lighting costume wigs

by adafruit_support_bill on Sun Nov 04, 2012 11:52 am

You might also consider our FLORA processor. It is in Beta test now. The pads on the FLORA can be either soldered or sewn with conductive thread. To answer some of your other questions:

A. Programming most of the arduino variants is no more difficult than a standard Arduino. There may be minor differences in the number of available analog and digital pins, but otherwise they use the same code.
B. A standard Arduino or Boarduino are easiest for prototyping with a breadboard. Ladyada's Arduino tutorials are an excellent way to get started.
C. This tutorial shows you how to hook up discrete leds. This will work for experimenting with the colors and quality of light you can expect from RGB leds. But if you are planning to do 20-30, you should really consider an RBG pixel strand. You will not be able to drive that many leds (in serial or in parallel) directly from the Arduino. You will need some additional driver circuitry to handle the current from all those leds.

We have both flat and bullet-shaped pixels. The latter are not that much different than a 5mm discrete led by the time you solder leads onto it.

If all leds are going to be changing synchronously to the same color, you could use a drive circuit similar to the one we show for the RGB analog strips. Each led would need its own current limiting resistors, then you could drive them all in parallel with the MOSFETS.

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Re: More fun with lighting costume wigs

by hippyhillary on Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:57 pm

those pixel strands will work just fine, actually (and save me a lot of trouble). the flora also looks like a good bet because it will be small enough and have usb native. it seems like youre saying theres not an easy solderless option for testing and i dont know how to solder yet. anyways, i should stop complaining about what i cant do and be happy there's all these awesome options, thanks again for the help :)
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Re: More fun with lighting costume wigs

by hippyhillary on Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:38 am

okay, i've been jumping around like a jackrabbit and mixing up my intentions between testing and final product. I thought about what I want to test and what that means for what I need. For the final product, I do think I want to use an led strand, but A. if i'm understanding correctly, it won't be easy to test with because of the amount of power required and B. if I decide i don't need 25 leds, then I may not need the strand. For testing, I am trying to determine the following things: how much of a difference in perception of color lighting can cause, the range of colors I can get out of RGB leds, how far down the wig the color will permeate and the best color wig to work with (i have several strips and samples of wig colors). In my mind, this means I need a few RGB LEDS (preferably 5, but 3 is probably workable), something to drive them with and an adequate power supply for all of it. I would prefer this be a solderless test since I haven't yet learned how to solder... my husband knows how to solder but we don't currently own a soldering gun (although being a geek, i can probably find someone who has one and knows how to use it). It finally sank in that the test and the prototyping and the final product will and probably should be three separate things (in this case testing the lighting effects has nothing to do with prototyping the actual circuit). Thanks again, i know i'm a little crazy when it comes to my projects.
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Re: More fun with lighting costume wigs

by adafruit_support_bill on Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:13 am

For the final product, I do think I want to use an led strand, but A. if i'm understanding correctly, it won't be easy to test with because of the amount of power required

A single strand does not need a lot of power. One of these will easily power both a strand and an Arduino: http://www.adafruit.com/products/276
and B. if I decide i don't need 25 leds, then I may not need the strand.

The stands can be cut down to as few as you need. Since they are individually addressable, you can easily switch between lighting schemes with different numbers of leds to compare effects. Any leftover pixels from a cut-down strand will not go to waste. They remain fully functional and can be used in future projects.

In my mind, this means I need a few RGB LEDS (preferably 5, but 3 is probably workable), something to drive them with and an adequate power supply for all of it.

The light quality from a single diffuse RGB LED will be similar to an LED pixel from a strand. But if you need more than 2 of them, you will not have enough PWM pins on the Arduino and you will need to implement some additional driver circuitry. That circuitry will need to be transferred to a circuit board of some kind for the final product.

I would prefer this be a solderless test since I haven't yet learned how to solder.

You can test and/or prototype either option without soldering. Since the strands have connectors, you would be able to implement the final product without solder also.
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Re: More fun with lighting costume wigs

by hippyhillary on Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:25 am

awesome. thanks. for the final product i need a portable power supply. would something like 2 coin cells in series work if resistors were employed to step down the power going in to the arduino board?
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Re: More fun with lighting costume wigs

by adafruit_support_bill on Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:57 am

Coin cells will not. They would not provide enough current, or have the capacity to last for more than a few minutes at most. This guide has a number of battery options that should work for you: http://learn.adafruit.com/battery-power ... s/overview
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Re: More fun with lighting costume wigs

by hippyhillary on Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:51 pm

I have the flora and the adalight kit (this is for the same project as in this thread. the adalight kit just so happens to have both the lights and power supply i need). I got as far as installing the drivers and making the onboard led on the flora blink (at different rates no less!), but that's all. I did not get these http://www.adafruit.com/products/578 because they were unavailable at the time but i'm thinking i might need them. I am also having a hard time mentally translating http://learn.adafruit.com/assets/1074 onto a flora. pointers are welcome :)
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