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Hardware Hump Day: DIY LED Pom-Pom Headbands

Learn how to make these fun and funky headbands, perfect for any summer party or festival!

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In this week's installation of Hardware Hump Day, I continue exploring the intersection between craft and electronics.

It has recently been brought to my attention that flower crowns are OUT (a summer accessory staple) and pom-pom headbands are IN. When or why this happened is beyond me, but I was shown this fun and festive DIY Pom-Pom Headband a few months ago and had to admit that it would be super fun to embed with electronics.

I decided to make not one but two versions of said LED Pom-Pom Headband. In the first (shown in the video), I used only LEDs and a battery. It is a very simple circuit and a great project to share with kids or electronics n00bs. It's also a perfect learning tool for demonstrating parallel circuits, diodes, polarity and basic soldering skills.

The second iteration is a little bit more complicated but still great for anyone new to programmable electronics. It features a strip of addressable WS2812 LEDs and an Arduino Pro Mini 5V. This means that you can update the LED animations over and over again to get different effects.

You can follow along with both versions of the project using this tutorial.

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Tell us about how you have embedded your craft projects with electronics in the comments below!

Comments 6 comments

  • I like this project a lot. the biggest comment I have is that the speckled table makes it harder to see what you are doing. Otherwise nice idea!

  • Hi Feldi!

    Nice idea. I'm impressed by having both the "beginner" and "advanced" versions, though there's a minor glitch in the tutorial (watch the "sections" part as you scroll down -- it never highlights the "Beginner PomPom Headband"). I'd also add a caution that one should be careful to not make the programming pins inaccessible, as this is one of those things where you can create "almost infinite variety" by re-programming the ProMini.

    I might think about using a longer wire and putting one battery on each end of the headband to make the weight more balanced (and thus make it more comfortable to wear).

    For an even more advanced version, you could add a couple of sensors. First, in my experience, the addressable LEDs can be dazzlingly bright in dim light, so in my "wearable" projects involving them I always add an ambient light sensor and have the program tone down the (max) brightness when it's not in full sunlight. Another idea is to add a triple-axis accelerometer and/or a magnetometer and have the ProMini modify the light pattern based on the actions of the person wearing it (say, a "flashy" pattern for a few seconds after a head-shake, fading to a slow rise/fall with less movement).

    And I'll mention my standard advice on the "local craft store": check the ads from the Sunday paper and/or the snail-mail junk mail, as many put out a more-or-less weekly coupon, commonly "40% off any one item".

  • To make this more comfortable to wear and hide the battery and boards, you can add a small panel of felt slightly wider than the band at the top center to serve as a base. Extend the wires from the strip so they will reach back up the band (hot glue underneath to hide them) and then attach the board and batteries there, then cover with extra pom poms. This will also ease weigh distribution so it doesn't slide to one side. I suggest using velcro or elastic to temporarily attach the battery (and to make it easier to remove for replacement in case of damage or for easier charging) - applying heat to any LiPo is not recommended.

  • I like the idea for my daughter but.... I'm not so sure about putting a LiPo on her head.

    • I'm a bit nervous about a LiPo on someone's head, too, especially a child's head. As an alternative, check out the 3xAAA holder from Adafruit. If you use it for the "Beginner" LED-only headband you ABSOLUTELY have to include a current limiting resistor in series, but if you use it for the "Advanced" computerized version, just replace the two LiPo batteries with it. BTW, I've built several projects involving ProMini computers and some addressable LEDs and they worked just fine running on 3 AAA cells. The only "downsides" are that the battery holder and batteries weigh more than a LiPo, and you're using "disposable" batteries.

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