Disco Bug Goggles



[JUST TO MAKE THIS CLEAR: I do not use any of adafruit’s LED products in my goggles. These and all others on Robotic Arts are original pieces of work… and their editors should learn to cite things better.]

It’s been a little while since I’ve pushed out a pair of goggles. It seemed like a good time to do so with October being the anniversary of when I created my first set, the 3D light goggles.

I didn’t do anything new and unusual with this set. In fact, my goal was to see how interesting I could get these to look without the use of a micro controller. I keep getting asked if I sell these things, and I am too stubborn and sentimental to part with any of the others I’ve made in the past. This is a low-cost, ‘all that glitters’ pair that simply blinks and has the cool leather trim that is my signature icing on the cake. They’re neat, but are the sort of model I’d be comfortable letting go of, as they didn’t take me a stupid long amount of time to make or troubleshoot. That being said, I think they’re a nice addition to the family.

I’ll talk a little bit about them now…

The lenses might look familiar to those of you who have used a 3D printer once or twice. Jeff and I got our Flash Forge in the mail a couple of weeks ago. A scrap piece of rafting from a failed print was floating around on my desk and I though it was a neat shape, so I clipped it into a circle and printed out a second one for the other eye  (Jeff and Mark keep saying they look like fly eyes, thus the name) :


To make this lime green “eye grill” stand out, I chose to paint the base set of goggles a nice shiny red.

I used a mixture of black and light brown leather for the trim with red stitching to complement the red eye pieces :


I soldered some basic color-change LEDs to these small square boards from SparkFun and plugged a couple inside of the goggles through some holes I drilled on the inside wall of the eyepieces :



The fancy thing I ended up doing was in recycling one of Jeff’s old surface mount boards he had made for a set of his own goggles last year. They are white and crescent-shaped… with pads for LEDs. I managed to solder some resistors and SMT LEDs onto it and bridge the things I needed with thin wire. It was like performing surgery, but the outcome worked and was well worth the trouble :


Jeff also designed a nice battery box for me with a switch mounted inside! This is very helpful. Thanks hun! :

All and all, when you turn these guys on… they’re just as cool to look at and attract the same attention as my other more interactive sets. Plus if anyone wants to buy them off my forehead, I’ll be more than happy to send my baby out into the world. =]


Here’s me with a lush cornucopia of light bursting from my hair jungle :


Theremin Goggles


Blinking, fading, and color changing lights are a standard for eye catching goggles. This being said, I decided to change it up a bit and make a set that would engage the wearer in the production of sound.

As always I wanted my goggles to be interactive. When it comes to audio, I figured there was no better way to achieve this than with some sort of theremin which would invoke hand waving and finger wiggling from the wearer and anyone near by. Now, I realize that traditional theremins are quite complex in their inner workings and tend to run quite large, so I poked around the internet until I found this simplified optical theremin that requires a hand full of basic components and two 555 timers.This particular design also creates a very unique, annoying sound which in this application is perfect! Here is the link to the circuit I used : Easy Pocket Photo Theremin.

In regards to appearance, I wanted this pair to have a beat up electronic feel bordering on steam punk, so I gathered parts of mismatched metal types (copper, chrome, gold, brass).

This is the first time I used a different model of goggle to start with. They have roughly the same dimensions as my usual set but have larger vents on the sides with some nifty plastic removable inserts which allowed me to wrap metallic rubber chord around the edge of the goggles to create this unique ‘grip’ effect. :


Lenses? Not this time! I installed a speaker and volume knob in the eye pieces. The volume knob is attached to a potentiometer which is held in place by some laser-cut acrylic fitted to the inside of the goggle. :



I created a similar piece to hold the speaker in place. :


The snazzy bits over the speaker were made from some random metal pieces I found at a craft store. I have no idea what their intended purpose is but they work as speaker grills quite well when stitched together. :


The pitch and octave fluctuate based on the amount of light the photo sensors are receiving, so to ‘play’ the goggles some interaction is required. I felt that the most entertaining place to install the photo cells would be on the sides over the vents so that the wearer would have to wave their hands around their head to effect the sound. :


Each photo resistor has its own slider, which effects the total amount of resistance and thus changes the pitch of the sound. :


All of these elements are attached to this snazzy board which I designed in Eagle with some help from Krux… :


I connected all the wires by attaching female terminals to their ends, then plugged them onto the male pins seen above. This is the same method I used with the Othello Goggles. It seems to hold up pretty well so far on both pairs. :

Completed, I think they are a very snazzy looking accessory :



Thank you to everyone who helped me along the way, and a huge shout out to SYN Shop for having the equipment necessary to make these. ❤


Reactor Goggles


I was searching through DIY project ideas when I found an instructable on how to make an Arc Reactor from misc plastic pieces (Make an Iron Man Arc Reactor). The coiled wire and blue lights were so appealing to look at that I decided to give the new laser cutter down at the hackerspace a try and make a set of lenses that looked like mini ‘reactors’.

My color scheme this time was going to be black and neon yellow (my favorite color) which I thought the blue LEDs would complement quite nicely….

It took no time to design the shapes for the lenses in illustrator and manifest the acrylic into two layers that once stacked, gave some depth to the radial design:


In itself this looked pretty cool but I still needed to wrap magnet wire around the thin sections of the left most lens. I also needed to come up with a circular disk that would wedge behind these neatly shaped lenses and hold six LEDs in place. This took some trial and error to achieve the snug fit :


The fun part as always (I say this with heaps of sarcasm) was doing the stitching on the leather straps. The thread I found was a nice brilliant neon but it was nylon, which was a paint to work with as it snagged on everything and didn’t like to hold a knot. To work around this I added a dot of super glue to every tied end and waxed the thread with a cheap candle to prevent the fine fibers from snagging on my cuticles while I sewed. :


With the leather work finished and the lenses/LED holders cut, it was time to design the schematic and PCB. I did the majority of the schematic on my own without Jeff’s usual help. The chip installed is again an ATTiny 4313.  :


Etching and drilling the board was the last step I completed before my surgery which put me in the hospital for two weeks at the end of January, so the project has actually been shelved for quite a while. It felt good however to have something to come back to that was already well underway once I was done recovering.

I spent this weekend sizing and soldering the wire to all the LEDs and buttons. :


I made sure I soldered the correct LEDs to each pin by giving the wires super big idiot proof labels :


…The two push buttons on the side to control the speed and mode of the LEDs :


With that the exterior was pretty much complete and looking snazzy :


Prior to going in for surgery I had spoken to my friend Justin from SYN Shop about what I wanted the LEDs to do. He offered to write me some code that would add some variety to the way they lit up. In addition he taught me how to upload the code he wrote using the Arduino sketch to the ATTiny 4313 board I had installed on my PCB! -Really neat thing to know as I am new to using other micro controllers and still have my arduino water-wings on.

Sadly, when I eventually was ready to upload Justin’s Arduino code onto the ATTiny chip, this cool trick didn’t work like it was supposed to. For some reason when the 4313 board was selected the code would not compile. So… I brought the goggles and my problem with me to the hackerspace this Saturday and did some troubleshooting with my friend Mark, who is the biggest electronics wiz I know. There, over many hours of getting distracted by our other friends, we slowly worked out the bugs. We were able to use a force command to make the arduino upload the code to the ATTiny 2313 version of the board (because it is ultimately the same chip as the 4313 but with half the memory) which worked:


In the end we got the thing doing going perfectly. The different modes are extremely cool looking. Now admire the sexy :


GQ Mark :IMG_1240

…………….. John :IMG_1256

goofball Jeff :IMG_1263

and unamused Aakin :IMG_1259

A HUGE thank you to Justin (Gizmaniac) who wrote my snazzy code and taught me how to upload arduino sketches to alternate boards, Mark (circuit monkey) who helped me work out the various bugs in the code and wiring, and to Jeff (Krux) for giving me creative advice as well as access to everything I could possibly need to make all these awesome things <3. This pair of goggles is that much better because you’ve all had a part in their creation!

Progress : Theremin Goggles

Two minutes of the most annoying sound I’ve ever made. =P I may stick with this circuit, however if possible I’d like to find another schematic that produces a different tone… in a deeper pitch. It would also be very nice if when my hands weren’t near the photo resistors the sound would just stop. Even I have a threshold for irritating.

Othello Goggles


This weekend I was faced with many new challenges. I etched the first circuit I’ve ever designed in Eagle and with the help of my friends as well as Mark’s fancy tools, I also learned to surface mount all the tiny bits onto it! What you see above is the product of lots of patient help and fruitful collaboration. Thank you to Krux as always for developing the code and teaching me the various processes along the way. I am a better nerd than I was a week, or three weeks ago. This is indeed the brain of our first spawn; first of many.

I will outline the production of the project now. Like the ‘3D Light’ goggles, I began with all the exterior embellishments, black and white mirrored motif in leather to complete the othello look…:


With the leather pieces in place, I then soldered my RGB piranhas to little pieces of protoboard, connected some 26 gage white stranded wire to the leads and snaked them through the vents on the sides of the eyepieces.


I created a mounting piece for the bat switches (intended to control the LEDs) with a white plastic pulley gear and cut a slot in the side of the google with my dremel to fasten it in place:


Once this part was finished the body of the goggles got tucked away for a while and we began working on developing the code (which is still getting improved upon).  A protoboard was built up with all the same components.

Krux wrote the program used to customize the colored LEDs in the lenses of the goggles. We decided on beginning with two modes for various degrees of LED control. The first mode (basic) would allow you to switch back and forth between each eye with a toggle button, and then switch the R, G, and B channels on and off with three corresponding bat switches.

The second mode (extended) allows you to switch back and forth between each eye, select a color channel, and then modify that color’s intensity in increments of 10% with the toggle button. This would allow for more specific color customization:

Next we built the circuit in Eagle. I had never used this program before so it was another learning experience. In spite of how tedious it was I loved plotting out the design of the traces. It was like solving an evil puzzle and creating art all at the same time… weeeee:


After this was finalized we immediately printed it out and began the board making process! It took a few tries to get the toner ironed on clean, but once we did it was smooth sailing. The fun with chemicals in the garage yielded one perfectly etched PCB.

The next day, I drilled the holes and Krux cut/sanded it to size:


Next was the surface mount part. As it was Saturday and we were attending the usual Hack Up at Mark’s garage, I had everyone around for moral support while I guided the flecks of dust into place with tweezers and melted them down with gobs of shiny. All and all it was fun and I feel I did well for my first time:


Lastly, Krux connected headers to all the wires on the goggles. It was then only a matter of tying up some loose ends and plugging everything in:


I sewed the board onto the strap along with the power supply and voila:




Though they are technically in working order and cool as hell to look at (and wear)… the code is still being developed. Expect demo videos in the near future! Also, check out the rest of the project images here:

Othello Goggles : Switches and Things

I began my second set of goggles a couple of weeks ago and have since finished all the neat cosmetic parts on the exterior. Just like the name suggests, they are all in black and white, one eyepiece black with white trim, the other eyepiece its opposite.

With the artsy part finished, this weekend I started on the electronic portion and wired up a breadboard with all my componants : three bat switches for each color channel of an RGB LED and a toggle button to switch between the LEDs housed in the two separate eyepieces.

For this project I am using the ATTiny 2313 microcontroller, supplied to me by Krux. As I have never used anything other than the arduino, he is also helping me yet again with the programming portion. This is a learning experience for both of us, so hopefully I can jump up the latter as quickly as he can on this one. (As always thank you for the help!).

So far we have the switches controlling the channels just as they are supposed to in ‘Basic Mode’. The ‘Extended Mode’ however with allow for more color customization. The switches will allow you to select each color channel and the toggle button can then be used to adjust the color percentage adding 10% brightness per press.

Creative Dialogue : 3D Light Goggles

October is one of my favorite months and it has been quite a memorable one so far. I have taken a brief breather from developing my delta army and engaged in a playful dialogue with a fellow techie at our local Hacker space here in town. He has an impressive collection of self-made steam punk inspired goggles, of which he is currently underway with his fourth pair.

In response to this stellar practice, I have created my own version… a retro leather-trimmed set that has some nifty chain-switch activated light pipe around the lenses to give the illusion of neon.

Check out Krux’s hand-made goggles on his page : krux.org/gallery/mk2goggles

I also want to thank him for helping me work past some brain farts along the way with this project. =]

Alas, here is the outline:

First I started by cutting and embellishing all the leather trimmings. The ‘V’ shaped pieces hug the sides of the goggles.

Hand stitching leather sucks, but it was well worth the outcome. It gave the right effect:

Once I received the base pair of goggles in the mail, I started attaching the leather pieces, as well as the buckle and strap…

After I finished panning out the aesthetics, I had to devise a way of getting my light pipe to stay in a circle-shape behind the lenses. This was a tad tricky. I ended up using the edge of a plastic cap to create a backing that would sit behind the tubing and keep it wedged in place against the lens:

I attached a white LED at either end of the light pipe with some heat shrink. I then stitched the wires to the inside leather padding of the goggles.

The fun part was wiring the thing up and making sure it worked… (because the way I had originally built my circuit was not going to do the trick). Krux helped me troubleshoot and also supplied the minty-boost board (little green thing) which kicks the 3V of my AA power supply to 5V.

I managed to get them working in time for a Halloween party this Saturday (with help) so I was pleased to be able to show them off a bit. They were a hit amongst my friends and peers. Pulling the chain switch to turn them on and off will never get old. =]

Here is the complete gallery of progress photos :

Until my next pair, back to the robot army!