I absolutely love these neopixel strands from Adafruit.com.
They’re rugged, nearly indestructible. They come in 4″ or 2″ spacing. They’re WS2812B neopixels inside and they’re just so easy to get up and running without hours and hours of soldering. And they don’t break! I have so many costumes with hand-soldered LEDs that break almost every time I wear them. These don’t offer quite as much flexibility with spacing, but they last and last and last. This makes me happy.
Today I launched a new guide over at the Adafruit Learning System: make a StarFlower Neopixel Strand with MakeCode. Check it out.
This guide is my first one using MakeCode. MakeCode is cool. It’s basically a drag-and-drop editor that lets you program a microcontroller (like the Circuit Playground Express) without doing any coding.
Not any. No coding required. That’s amazing.
You still need to understand a bit about how the code works to make things happen, but it’s a really great learning tool for sure. I imagine that a 10 year old would probably be able to make the Circuit Playground do all kinds of magical things. Probably more easily than I could.. it’s very Minecraft.
It does have its limitations. I’m used to using Arduino with the FastLED library, which allows for fancy shading and buttery smooth animations and interrupts and all kinds of fun stuff like that. But for beginners or just basic animations, MakeCode is incredibly easy to use.
For the 3d design, I used Fusion360. I am getting a lot more comfortable and really starting to enjoy modeling in Fusion360. I’m finally past the learning curve where designing in Tinkercad would be faster and easier.. which is awesome. I’ve been 3d printing stuff for a few years now and it’s definitely time for a grown-up modeling program.
I made a step by step tutorial video showing how I modeled the flowers:
I used glow in the dark filament from Gizmo Dorks. I really like the way it looks when light shines through it. It does glow after I turn the lights off, but only for a couple seconds.. still, I really prefer its diffusion look to white or clear PLA. It’s got rainbows in it.
I kept the code simple in the guide, but now that it’s done I want to decide where to hang my light strand. And I get to play! I’m going to make the pretty lights do pretty things. Life is good.