Follow That Compass Hat #WearableWednesday

I ran into some great Adafruit fans while at Maker Faire NY. Meet Evan, a fun loving automation/robotics engineer. When not busy with large mechanical armitron type devices, he likes to mess around with fun wearables. Check out his compass hat that would be ideal for any scout on a camping trip. The LED strip illuminates red for north and white  for south, making any wearer the leader of the pack.

He’s using some fave Adafruit parts including a FLORA microcontroller, an accelerometer/compass sensor, NeoPixel LED strip and LiPo battery. Here’s what he had to say about the build.

I really enjoyed learning how to use the RGB LED strip. It was surprisingly simple! I’m looking forward to putting strips into more projects in the future. Mostly, though, I love the process of making in general. I love taking individual pieces and turning them into something that I dreamed up, instead of being constrained by someone else’s ideas. I love taking a simple object and giving it a brain and a new purpose. The ability to make something (even something simple) is powerful, and I’m excited to see all of the people rediscovering this ability around the world.

Compass hat


One of the tricky parts of Evan’s project was discovering Earth’s magnetic field from the hat’s perspective.

Some people didn’t realize it was a compass at first, because when I tilt my head the lights move around and stop pointing north. Who knew that Earth’s magnetic field mostly points downward at the surface? It makes north kind of arbitrary (whichever side is down) when the hat is anything other than horizontal. My next plan for the hat is to use the accelerometer built into the compass board to correct for the tilt and provide an accurate compass direction even when angled fairly far in any direction.


Engineers love problem solving, and I’m happy that Evan has already figured out a quick fix. It’s a good thing, too, because he already has another project lined up — a drum jacket for his wife.

I want to place sensors in different parts of the jacket and tie them to sounds so she can start playing a whole drum set just by tapping on her jacket.

Sounds like fun and I’m hoping we get a video clip on that, as well. Getting back on track here, you are probably excited about the idea of navigation, so why not take a look at our FLORA NeoGeo Watch tutorial. This practical jewelry has different modes including time, GPS and compass — perfect for an urban safari, or for understanding those detailed maps on Game of Thrones.

Flora breadboard is Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA. Be sure to post up your wearables projects in the forums or send us a link and you might be featured here on Wearable Wednesday!

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