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Flora Sparkle Skirt with 50 lights
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Flora Sparkle Skirt with 50 lights

by coderunner on Fri Jul 01, 2022 4:09 am

I'm helping a friend make a dress based on https://learn.adafruit.com/sparkle-skirt
for a special occasion. She wants to use around ~50 neopixels on the dress. From the product description, the Flora can power 500 neopixels, but it seems like the bigger issue would be power and the conductive thread.

This is actually a continuation of my post here viewtopic.php?f=51&t=162242. The event got delayed but it's happening soon-ish and I am starting development on it soon.

My backup plan is to use 5 sets of the electronics (i.e. each set is 1 Flora, 1 Flora accelerometer/compass sensor, 10 neopixels). However, we'd prefer if it was possible to have one set of electronics (1 Flora, 1 Flora Accelerometer/Compass Sensor, and 1 battery pack controlling all 50 Neopixels). adafruit_support_bill was very helpful on my original post. I had additional questions I was hoping someone can help me with.

1. Could 1 set of electronics (1 Flora, 1 Flora accelerometer/compass sensor, 1 battery pack) support 50 neopixels? I wasn't quite sure if his recommendations in the original post were only for the 10 neopixel per set design or if they would also work for the design with one set of electronics controlling all 50 neopixels.

2. adafruit_support_bill mentioned using silicone coated copper wire and soldered joints in the original thread. Would that still work for powering 50 neopixels through a single Flora?

3. He also suggested using https://www.adafruit.com/product/328 for the battery. That sounded like it was for the design with one set of electronics controlling all 50 neopixels, but I just wanted to confirm I was interpreting it correctly.

Thanks again in advance!

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Re: Flora Sparkle Skirt with 50 lights

by adafruit_support_bill on Fri Jul 01, 2022 7:12 am

Yes, my recommendations from your previous thread are applicable to the 50 pixel configuration. The Flora itself is capable of controlling lots of pixels. You just need to make sure that:
a) you have a battery capable of powering them. The 2500mAh LiPo cell should be fine for that.
b) your wiring can handle the added current for that many pixels. The silicone coated wire will work better for that than the stainless steel thread.

The other tips mentioned in the previous thread are also relevant. You will need to solder the joints and add some strain-relief at those joints. E6000 or silicone adhesive work well for that.

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Re: Flora Sparkle Skirt with 50 lights

by coderunner on Fri Jul 01, 2022 2:01 pm

adafruit_support_bill wrote:Yes, my recommendations from your previous thread are applicable to the 50 pixel configuration. The Flora itself is capable of controlling lots of pixels. You just need to make sure that:
a) you have a battery capable of powering them. The 2500mAh LiPo cell should be fine for that.
b) your wiring can handle the added current for that many pixels. The silicone coated wire will work better for that than the stainless steel thread.

The other tips mentioned in the previous thread are also relevant. You will need to solder the joints and add some strain-relief at those joints. E6000 or silicone adhesive work well for that.


Bill, thanks very much for your help again!

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Re: Flora Sparkle Skirt with 50 lights

by michaelmeissner on Fri Jul 01, 2022 10:11 pm

One other thing to think of is instead of using conductive thread, you might want to consider using one of the strand neopixels. These neopixels are attached, so you don't have the issues of conductive wire. On the other hand, the pixels are at fixed intervals, which may not suit your needs.


I have the first two entries that I've embedded in two suspenders. I find the first strand is smaller than the second, and blends in with the suspenders more. The second is more solid and more visible (the led is bigger). I find using the first entry uses less power than the second, and of course the light is dimmer. FWIW, these are both wired to use the JST SM plugs, but one uses the male end as the input and the other uses the female end.

The 4th entry looks more like what you want get if you connected all of the neopixels with conductive thread and then lightly coated the wires. The wires appear to be even are even thinner than the first two entries. I don't have any experience with this version of neopixel.

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Re: Flora Sparkle Skirt with 50 lights

by coderunner on Sat Jul 02, 2022 6:24 pm

michaelmeissner wrote:One other thing to think of is instead of using conductive thread, you might want to consider using one of the strand neopixels. These neopixels are attached, so you don't have the issues of conductive wire. On the other hand, the pixels are at fixed intervals, which may not suit your needs.


I have the first two entries that I've embedded in two suspenders. I find the first strand is smaller than the second, and blends in with the suspenders more. The second is more solid and more visible (the led is bigger). I find using the first entry uses less power than the second, and of course the light is dimmer. FWIW, these are both wired to use the JST SM plugs, but one uses the male end as the input and the other uses the female end.

The 4th entry looks more like what you want get if you connected all of the neopixels with conductive thread and then lightly coated the wires. The wires appear to be even are even thinner than the first two entries. I don't have any experience with this version of neopixel.


Michael, thanks for the info and links! I'll run this by my friend to see if this works for her. It looks like it would be much easier to integrate than the individual neopixels (and less soldering for me). Are these programmable in the same way as the individual neopixels?

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Re: Flora Sparkle Skirt with 50 lights

by coderunner on Sun Jul 03, 2022 12:58 am

michaelmeissner wrote:One other thing to think of is instead of using conductive thread, you might want to consider using one of the strand neopixels. These neopixels are attached, so you don't have the issues of conductive wire. On the other hand, the pixels are at fixed intervals, which may not suit your needs.


I have the first two entries that I've embedded in two suspenders. I find the first strand is smaller than the second, and blends in with the suspenders more. The second is more solid and more visible (the led is bigger). I find using the first entry uses less power than the second, and of course the light is dimmer. FWIW, these are both wired to use the JST SM plugs, but one uses the male end as the input and the other uses the female end.

The 4th entry looks more like what you want get if you connected all of the neopixels with conductive thread and then lightly coated the wires. The wires appear to be even are even thinner than the first two entries. I don't have any experience with this version of neopixel.


One extra question if you have time: do you know if the third link (https://www.adafruit.com/product/3631) can be chained with a second of the same type? I read in the description of the last link that that specific model cannot be chained but it seemed to be related to the addressing design of that model.

Apologies if these are basic questions. I'm a programmer by trade but don't have much experience with electronics or embedded systems programming.

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Re: Flora Sparkle Skirt with 50 lights

by michaelmeissner on Sun Jul 03, 2022 2:04 am

All of these use the exact same programming, that Adafruit calls Neopixels.

You can chain the 2nd and 3rd links together, but note the the LEDs are 2" (5cm) apart in entry #2 while the LEDs are 4" (10cm) apart in entry #3. But a more usual case would be to get 3 strands of the same type (either #1, #2, #3, or #4) and chain them together. If you have too many pixels, you can just use wire cutters (or possibly regular scissors) to cut the strands at whatever length you need (obviously make sure before doing the cut).

Given the way #5 is made, you can't string multiple LEDs together.

For strands #1, #2, #3, or #4, if you chain the connectors together, the LED numbering increases sequentially. I.e. strand #1 has 20 LEDs, number 0 through 19. If you hook up a second strand, that second strand would be numbers 20 through 39. A third strand would be numbers 40 through 59.

Note, you would not be able to connect strand #1 to either strand #2 or strand #3 without cutting the wires and re-soldering the connectors, since the connectors in #1 is backwards to the connectors in #2 or #3. I don't know whether #4 or #5 has the connectors in the same orientation as #1 or #2/#3.

IMHO, generally 2-3 strands should be fine just hooking them up. When you get to higher numbers of neopixels, you have to worry about things in the neopixel Uberguide (having multiple power sources, using a resistor to prevent ringing in the LEDs, using voltage level shifting, and adding capacitors for filtering the power). In addition, the Flora has a rather limited memory, and it probably can't handle a lot of neopixels (the sales page says 50 is about the limit for using the power supply for the Flora).

If memory serves, the poddle skirt how to was written before the strand neopixels were introduced. Using conductive wire probably is easier to hide, but I would think it suffers from the problem that any break in the wire stops all of the LEDs after the break. In addition for conductive wire, you have to make sure the three wires never touch or you will short things out. While the strands I mentioned have coated wires and should be more reliable (but if you put it under strain, it will break).

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Re: Flora Sparkle Skirt with 50 lights

by adafruit_support_bill on Sun Jul 03, 2022 7:14 am

In addition, the Flora has a rather limited memory, and it probably can't handle a lot of neopixels

The Flora has enough memory for more than 500 Neopixels.

(the sales page says 50 is about the limit for using the power supply for the Flora).

That limit applies only if you are powering from the 3.3v pin. If you are using a 3.7v LiPo battery, you can run power directly to the pixels. That avoids unnecessary stress on the Flora voltage regulator.

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Re: Flora Sparkle Skirt with 50 lights

by coderunner on Mon Jul 04, 2022 9:45 pm

michaelmeissner wrote:All of these use the exact same programming, that Adafruit calls Neopixels.

You can chain the 2nd and 3rd links together, but note the the LEDs are 2" (5cm) apart in entry #2 while the LEDs are 4" (10cm) apart in entry #3. But a more usual case would be to get 3 strands of the same type (either #1, #2, #3, or #4) and chain them together. If you have too many pixels, you can just use wire cutters (or possibly regular scissors) to cut the strands at whatever length you need (obviously make sure before doing the cut).

Given the way #5 is made, you can't string multiple LEDs together.

For strands #1, #2, #3, or #4, if you chain the connectors together, the LED numbering increases sequentially. I.e. strand #1 has 20 LEDs, number 0 through 19. If you hook up a second strand, that second strand would be numbers 20 through 39. A third strand would be numbers 40 through 59.

Note, you would not be able to connect strand #1 to either strand #2 or strand #3 without cutting the wires and re-soldering the connectors, since the connectors in #1 is backwards to the connectors in #2 or #3. I don't know whether #4 or #5 has the connectors in the same orientation as #1 or #2/#3.

IMHO, generally 2-3 strands should be fine just hooking them up. When you get to higher numbers of neopixels, you have to worry about things in the neopixel Uberguide (having multiple power sources, using a resistor to prevent ringing in the LEDs, using voltage level shifting, and adding capacitors for filtering the power). In addition, the Flora has a rather limited memory, and it probably can't handle a lot of neopixels (the sales page says 50 is about the limit for using the power supply for the Flora).

If memory serves, the poddle skirt how to was written before the strand neopixels were introduced. Using conductive wire probably is easier to hide, but I would think it suffers from the problem that any break in the wire stops all of the LEDs after the break. In addition for conductive wire, you have to make sure the three wires never touch or you will short things out. While the strands I mentioned have coated wires and should be more reliable (but if you put it under strain, it will break).



adafruit_support_bill wrote:
In addition, the Flora has a rather limited memory, and it probably can't handle a lot of neopixels

The Flora has enough memory for more than 500 Neopixels.

(the sales page says 50 is about the limit for using the power supply for the Flora).

That limit applies only if you are powering from the 3.3v pin. If you are using a 3.7v LiPo battery, you can run power directly to the pixels. That avoids unnecessary stress on the Flora voltage regulator.


All, thanks for all the information. It was very helpful. I ordered one of the LED strips to experiment with and get more familiar with the development pipeline.

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Re: Flora Sparkle Skirt with 50 lights

by coderunner on Mon Jul 25, 2022 10:30 pm

I have a few questions about power I hope someone can help me with.

* According to https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-neo ... onnections, a single neopixel uses ~60mA at full brightness. Would 50 neopixels * 60 mA/neopixel = 3A to power 50 neopixels at full brightness?
* I was thinking of using https://www.adafruit.com/product/727 to power the lights on the dress. From some Googling, it looks like 1 AAA alkaline battery has ~1Ah, so would that battery pack provide ~3Ah? If all of my math is correct, does that mean the battery pack can power the lights for one hour? And maybe a little less as I am using a circuit playground as the microcontroller?

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Re: Flora Sparkle Skirt with 50 lights

by adafruit_support_bill on Tue Jul 26, 2022 6:32 am

Would 50 neopixels * 60 mA/neopixel = 3A to power 50 neopixels at full brightness?

Yes. But 50 pixels at full brightness would be more of a Supernova Skirt. For a sparkle skirt, you will only have a few on at a time. And they don't need to be anywhere near full brightness. I'm guessing you will need less than 0.5A. I recommend reading through this guide: https://learn.adafruit.com/sipping-power-with-neopixels

From some Googling, it looks like 1 AAA alkaline battery has ~1Ah, so would that battery pack provide ~3Ah?

No. Connecting batteries in series will increase the voltage - not the current. So the capacity in Ah will be the same.

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Re: Flora Sparkle Skirt with 50 lights

by coderunner on Tue Jul 26, 2022 9:39 am

adafruit_support_bill wrote:
Would 50 neopixels * 60 mA/neopixel = 3A to power 50 neopixels at full brightness?

Yes. But 50 pixels at full brightness would be more of a Supernova Skirt. For a sparkle skirt, you will only have a few on at a time. And they don't need to be anywhere near full brightness. I'm guessing you will need less than 0.5A. I recommend reading through this guide: https://learn.adafruit.com/sipping-power-with-neopixels

From some Googling, it looks like 1 AAA alkaline battery has ~1Ah, so would that battery pack provide ~3Ah?

No. Connecting batteries in series will increase the voltage - not the current. So the capacity in Ah will be the same.


Thanks again Bill

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Re: Flora Sparkle Skirt with 50 lights

by coderunner on Thu Jul 28, 2022 3:36 pm

coderunner wrote:
adafruit_support_bill wrote:
Would 50 neopixels * 60 mA/neopixel = 3A to power 50 neopixels at full brightness?

Yes. But 50 pixels at full brightness would be more of a Supernova Skirt. For a sparkle skirt, you will only have a few on at a time. And they don't need to be anywhere near full brightness. I'm guessing you will need less than 0.5A. I recommend reading through this guide: https://learn.adafruit.com/sipping-power-with-neopixels

From some Googling, it looks like 1 AAA alkaline battery has ~1Ah, so would that battery pack provide ~3Ah?

No. Connecting batteries in series will increase the voltage - not the current. So the capacity in Ah will be the same.


Thanks again Bill


Bill, I'm running into issues lighting up the NeoPixel strip connected to a Circuit Playground that I'm hoping you can help me with also. Apologies for basically asking you to guide me through this whole process and I appreciate all of the help.

I've hooked up a NeoPixel strip to a Circuit Playground as shown in the following two images. I am powering the Circuit Playground through a USB port on my computer.

Image

Image

I followed the wiring diagram shown at https://learn.adafruit.com/sparkle-skirt-playground/wiring-diagram

I was on pin 6 but moved to pin 12 during debugging and updated the pin number in the code when I did. I made some basic modifications to the code example shown in that tutorial in an attempt to light up a single led on the strip with no luck. The neopixels on the Circuit Playground light up as expected however. Also none of the leds on the strip light up in the other modes that were included in the code example.

I read that VBATT will output 5V when powered by USB, but I do not know what the voltage of a data signal from a Circuit Playground is. I thought that might be an issue per the following quote from https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-neopixel-uberguide/basic-connections

NeoPixels powered by 5v require a 5V data signal. If using a 3.3V microcontroller you must use a logic level shifter such as a 74AHCT125 or 74HCT245. (If you are powering your NeoPixels with 3.7v directly from a LiPoly cell, a 3.3v data signal is OK)


If it's helpful at all, I've also attached some relevant snippets of the code I'm using

Code: Select all | TOGGLE FULL SIZE
void setup() {
  Serial.begin(57600);
  CircuitPlayground.begin();
  np_strip = Adafruit_CPlay_NeoPixel(20, 6);
  FastLED.addLeds<WS2812B, LED_PIN, COLOR_ORDER>(leds, NUM_LEDS).setCorrection( TypicalLEDStrip );
  FastLED.addLeds<WS2812B, CP_PIN, COLOR_ORDER>(cp, 10).setCorrection( TypicalLEDStrip );
  FastLED.setBrightness(20);
  currentBlending = LINEARBLEND;
  set_max_power_in_volts_and_milliamps(5, 500);               // FastLED 2.1 Power management set at 5V, 500mA

  CircuitPlayground.setBrightness(10);
}

void loop()  {

  leftButtonPressed = CircuitPlayground.leftButton();
  rightButtonPressed = CircuitPlayground.rightButton();

  if (leftButtonPressed) {  //left button cycles through modes
    clearpixels();
    ledMode=ledMode+1;
    delay(300);
    if (ledMode > NUM_MODES){
    ledMode=0;
     }
  }
    if (rightButtonPressed) {   // right button turns all leds off
    ledMode=99;
 
    }
 
 switch (ledMode) {
//       case 0: currentPalette = RainbowColors_p; rainbow(); break;
       case 0: dress(); break;
       case 1: motion(); break;
       case 2: soundreactive(); break;
/*       case 3: currentPalette = OceanColors_p; rainbow(); break;                   
       case 4: currentPalette = LavaColors_p; rainbow(); break;
       case 5: currentPalette = RainbowStripeColors_p; rainbow(); break;*/
       case 99: clearpixels(); break;
       
  }
}


void dress() {

  cp[9] = CRGB::Cyan;
  leds[0] = CRGB::Cyan;
  FastLED.show();
//  FastLED.delay(500);
}


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Re: Flora Sparkle Skirt with 50 lights

by adafruit_support_bill on Thu Jul 28, 2022 4:00 pm

The CircuitPlayground is a 3.3v processor. So you will likely need a level shifter if powering the LEDs from 5v. Have you tried it using the battery?

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Re: Flora Sparkle Skirt with 50 lights

by coderunner on Thu Jul 28, 2022 5:35 pm

adafruit_support_bill wrote:The CircuitPlayground is a 3.3v processor. So you will likely need a level shifter if powering the LEDs from 5v. Have you tried it using the battery?


I did. I also borrowed a multimeter to try investigating more. Here are some things I tried and results in case it's useful information:

* Powered off battery pack (3 AAA alkaline) and connected to VBATT on the CP: 4.5V when measuring ground and +, 0.1 V when measuring ground and data signal (pin 6)
* Powered off battery pack (3 AAA alkaline) and connected to 3.3V on the CP: 3.3V when measuring ground and +, 0.1 V when measuring ground and data signal (pin 6)
* Powered off USB and connected to VBATT on the CP: 4.7V when measuring ground and +, 0.1 V when measuring ground and data signal (pin 6)
* Powered off USB and connected to 3.3V on the CP: 3.3V when measuring ground and +, 0.1 V when measuring ground and data signal (pin 6)
* I measured the JST female plug that connects to the input JST male plug on the neopixel strand and the power and data signal measurements aligned with the above measurements so I think that plug is okay.

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