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March 18, 2015 AT 12:00 am

CNC NeoPixel Jewelry #WearableWednesday

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Cute necklace from markk7 on Instructables!

This is a prototype for a secure enclosure and substrate for creating jewelry with Adafruit’s NeoPixels and Gemma microcontroller. The design is intended to provide an adaptable platform for diffusing, directing and modifying the light and colors emitted from the addressable LED NeoPixels.

It is my first CNC project and was completed during a short “Intro To Machining” class at the local community college. Big props to the instructor for going along with a project that far exceeded the class syllabus. This iteration was limited by available milling bits, materials, single face pass and class time.

In fact, the project is so rough and full of errors that no files are provided. I will probably take an actual CNC class next year and may revisit the design at that point. I am also eager to try the design on a 3D printer. If an improved design emerges, then there might be a reason to publish files for others to use. Until then, have fun and play with shapes.

1x – Adafruit 12 LED NeoPixel Ring

1x – Adafruit Gemma Microcontroller (now in V2)

1x – Small LiPo battery

3x – 1″ long coated wires

1x – 6″x6″x1/2″ PVC slab

1x – Soldering iron and solder

…plus fasteners to connect the pieces, paint, finishes and assorted bling to complete the jewelry.

Design Notes:

• The NeoPixel ring, Gemma microcontroller and LiPo battery were measured with a caliper. The enclosure was designed to protect the electronics, leave room for easy installation, and provide room to add decorative external features.

• Over the course of the project, several 3D design and CAM programs were used as a way to explore real-world workflow. SketchUp, AutoCadLT, Inventor and MasterCAM were all used at some point.

• The radiating channels (part shown at left in drawings) are intended to modify the light from the NeoPixel ring. The LEDs are so bright that they can overwhelm viewers and can “mush together” into a single light field. The channels work fairly well, but with dark materials, an interior coating of white or reflective paint can help extend the distance the light travels. The differing lengths of the channels provided valuable info on how far the light can be “piped” before becoming unusable. Note that the milled piece features a hole not shown in these drawing.

• The “ring holder” part (middle in drawing) fit the NeoPixel ring snugly so that the channels aligned well with each pixel on the ring. Combined with the power, ground and data wires (routed through holes not shown in these drawings), the LED ring was quite secure and alignment remained dependable after a full day of wearing the jewelry. The center post also prevents “blowback” from the LEDS and keeps each pixel separate visually.

• The electronics tray (part at right in drawings) provides room for the Gemma microcontroller and a small LiPo battery. Sensors and switches have also been tested in the same space in an effort to make the piece interactive.

• The milled PVC parts are rather plain. Until the shapes are refined and transferred to wood or metal, the entire assembly requires paints and bling to indicate its life as jewelry, not an industrial sensor. But the project has given several local makers a chance to collaborate on electronics, coding, CNC, finishing and general design. That’s a pretty good outcome for first try, though.

Read more.

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Featured Adafruit Products!

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NeoPixel Ring – 12 x WS2812 5050 RGB LED with Integrated Drivers: Round and round and round they go! 12 ultra bright smart LED NeoPixels are arranged in a circle with 1.5″ (37mm) outer diameter. The rings are ‘chainable’ – connect the output pin of one to the input pin of another. Use only one microcontroller pin to control as many as you can chain together! Each LED is addressable as the driver chip is inside the LED. Each one has ~18mA constant current drive so the color will be very consistent even if the voltage varies, and no external choke resistors are required making the design slim. Power the whole thing with 5VDC and you’re ready to rock. Read more.


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Adafruit GEMMA v2 – Miniature wearable electronic platform: Love FLORA but want a bite-sized version? Look no further, GEMMA is a tiny wearable platform board with a lot of might in a 1″ diameter package. Powered by a Attiny85 and programmable with an Arduino IDE over USB, you’ll be able to realize any wearable project!

We wanted to design a microcontroller board that was small enough to fit into any project, and low cost enough to use without hesitation. Perfect for when you don’t want to give up your Flora and you aren’t willing to take apart the project you worked so hard to design. It’s our lowest-cost sewable controller! Read more.


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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