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April 22, 2015 AT 1:00 am

#Ravespecs for Your Next ’80’s Party #WearableWednesday

This is a great pair of glasses that reminds me of Max Headroom and all the other crazy tech pop culture of the day. Created by Lorenzo Wood, the glasses were designed in a hurry to be worn at a friend’s party. Apparently he had a few thoughts about his party wear.

The idea started as a mask, but glasses felt a bit more social. Also, the idea was to power it with a big battery in my pocket and run a wire to the glasses. However, it was more fun to make them self-contained so they could be handed around easily.

One of the things I like about this project is that it combines lasercutting and soldering skills. Lorenzo started with simple safety goggles (hey, you should all have those hangin’ around your bench!) and then had a front base plate cut at Lasercut Works in London. Using NeoPixel strips, he mounted them vertically, making sure they would still allow for correct spacing.

I positioned the slits around a typical inter-pupillary distance of 55mm–65mm. In fact, pretty much anyone can see through them (even small children), because the frame is held quite a long way from your face by the safety goggles. The slits could therefore probably be sightly narrower, so you could get even more LEDs on.

A Pololu A-Star 32U4 micro-controller served as the brain for the glasses, leaving power as the one challenge. Although Lorenzo started with the idea of a remote battery pack, he soon discovered that there was enough room to mount the batteries on the frame itself. I can tell you NeoPixels definitely like  power. You can dial down the brightness in the coding and also try to create designs that don’t engage all the pixels at once. However, it’s nice to have different options with proper power available. So, in the end, Lorezno found that Lithium AAA cells worked well. Of course, you could also opt for a Lithium Polymer battery.

Lorenzo already has ideas for improvements for his #ravespecs, including more intricate patterns, as well as incorporating different sensors. The glasses could react to motion or sound, which would be extra fun at a party. His best idea includes group interaction.

Adding radios to synchronize more than one pair — either just to have them all do the same things or actually work as one big surface (eg, the “chaser” pattern could move from one set to the next). Might need relative position sensing, too, which is a bit harder. Radios would also allow a wireless hand-held controller for pattern expression.

If you want more details on the build, you can Tweet to @lorenzowood–he’s happy to share the file for the lasercut and the Arduino code. It’s great to see how ideas piggyback from a single idea; that’s one of the special benefits of making. Party on, Lorenzo! If you decide you want some fancy shades, too, check out our tutorial for Celebration Glasses or our Larson Scanner Glasses.


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