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Hi everyone, in this Instructable I’m going to show you how to make a pair of LED pixel shades. Originally I created these to wear around the house at Christmas / New Years, sort of as a mobile ornament, but they ended up being a bit more cyberpunk than I anticipated, so they should be fun to wear at other events too!

The shades use 76 WS2812b LEDs (aka Neopixels). The LEDs only project their light in one direction, so you can see through the shades without blinding yourself. WS2812b’s are individually addressable, meaning that you control the color of each led. This lets you create almost any effect you can imagine (as long as you can code it). If you’re not sure what effects you might like, or don’t want to write a bunch of code, don’t worry; I’ve written code to control the shades, including 40 different effects. The shades also include connections for a MAX4466 mic (for audio reactive effects) and a HC-05 Bluetooth breakout board, although my code currently doesn’t incorporate either of them.

The LEDs are controlled using a Wemos D1 Mini, an Arduino compatible micro-controller featuring an ESP8266 as the processor. This gives you plenty of space and power to run as many effects as you’d like. It also gives you access to WiFi functionality ( although not currently implemented in my code). The shades are powered externally via a 3.5mm DC jack to USB cable connected to any common 5v power bank.

Both the LEDs and the Wemos are mounted on custom PCBs, which also form the frame of the shades. Soldering each of the 76 LEDs (and their decoupling capacitors) is a lot of work. Likewise, WS2812b’s can be quite easily damaged by hand soldering. To avoid both these issues, I’m going to show you how you can order the PCB pre-assembled with the LEDs and capacitors.

Note that only the shades PCB is intended to be pre-assembled. You will still need to solder components to the Right Temple PCB(the ear arm). This will require some SMD soldering, but nothing smaller than 0805, which can be soldered by hand with a fine-tip iron.

Finally, you will need access to a 3D printer to make a few mechanical components.

You can find all the relevant files here:

If you have any questions, please leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you.


Each pair of shades requires three PCBs: a Left Temple, Right Temple and a Shades PCB. You can find the zipped Gerber PCB files at the Github depository linked above. I’ll go over how to order the PCBs later in this Instructable.

Electronic Parts:

The link below should take you to a pre-filled bill of materials (BOM) that contains all the parts needed for one pair of shades. I recommend ordering extra of each part to account for any mishaps during assembly. Note that you will need a Digikey account to access the BOM.…

If the link doesn’t work please see the list of parts below, including part numbers:

One 3.3 volt linear regulator: MCP1755ST-3302E/DB
One 22 Ohm resistor, 1/4W, 1206 size: RC1206JR-0722RL
One 3.5mm female DC Jack: PJ-040DH
One SOT-23-3 NPN transistor: MMBT2222A-7-F
Five 1µf, 0805, 25V capacitors: CL21B105KAFNNNE
Four 1K, 0805 resistors: RNCP0805FTD1K00
One right angle, 3 pin, 2.50mm JST connector: S3B-XH-A(LF)(SN)
Three 100K, 0805 resistors: RMCF0805FT100K
Three 4.5 x 4.5 x 5mm tactile buttons: PTS 647 SM50 SMTR2 LFS
One 3 pin, 2.50mm female JST connector: XHP-3
Three JST crimp connectors: SXH-001T-P0.6
The micro-controller:

One Wemos D1 Mini v3.1.0 Link
If you’re choosing to solder the shades PCB yourself, you’ll also need:

76 WS2812b LEDs: Link (you can find them elsewhere: Aliexpress, Ebay, etc)
One 1N4148W, SOT-123 diode: 1N4148W-TP
71 0.1µF, 0402, capacitors: CL05B104KO5NNNC
If you want to use either the Bluetooth or microphone inputs:

MAX4466 Breakout
HC-05 (you’ll have to remove the headers)
Other Parts:

130mm of 10mm Dia. black heat shrink Link
~5mm of 3mm Dia. heat shrink (any color than black, optional)
One lobster claw necklace clasp Link
One 1” Dia. key-ring ring Link
22Ga silicone wire Link (for repeated flexing)
Two 5mm M2 screws
Six 4mm M2 Screws
One USB power bank (pretty much any will work, should have 1A out minimum)
One USB to 3.5mm DC jack cable Link (I’m 6ft tall and a 4ft cable is comfortable for me, but 3ft might be better if you’re shorter)
One nose support piece Link
76 1/4” round white stickers Link (Ideally they’d be 4mm in Dia, but I cannot find any) (optional)

3D printer + 1.75mm filament
Wire strippers
Wire cutters
Wire crimper for JST terminals Link
Heat gun
Soldering iron w/ fine tip
PH0 screwdriver
Small needle-nosed pliers (like for bead work)
Tweezers (for SMD placement/soldering)”

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