Don't feel like putting the RGB Shades Kit together? We can assemble and test it for you, click the checkbox above! May require 1-2 extra days processing time.
Introducing macetech's newest piece of wearable technology: RGB LED Shades! They're colorful, bright, hackable, and the ultimate expression of blinky awesomeness. A great way to learn programming and electronics, yet just as entertaining for experienced tinkerers. But if you need a stunning fashion accessory without writing code, they're pre-loaded with dazzling patterns out of the box!
RGB Shades are programmable slotted shade sunglasses with an array of 68 bright full-color pixels on the front. The LEDs can show different colors by mixing levels of red, green, and blue...just like the screen on your computer or phone. An integrated Arduino-compatible microcontroller controls the color of each pixel to display a wide range of colorful animations.
Though the LEDs are bright from the outside...REALLY bright...they're almost invisible from the inside. You can see through the slots.
Fair warning: when you wear these, you'll be the center of attention! They're impossible to ignore, and the ultimate conversation starter. You're a mobile light show and people will stop you to talk to you...if you need to get across a crowded room quickly, it's OK to turn off the RGB Shades for a few minutes!
What do you get?
You'll receive an LED panel with 68 full-color pixels, a controller board, a spare "hacker" board for adding your own circuits, and all the parts and metal hardware needed to assemble the frame, plus a small hex wrench. You'll also receive a special thin USB cable that runs to your power source. The USB cable is very thin for optimal wearability; due to the very thin wires inside, you may need to switch to a regular USB cable in order to reprogram the shades on some computers.
RGB Shades are constructed entirely of carefully designed circuit board material. Usually, PCBs are hidden away inside an enclosure, but we've used 3D modeling and precise manufacturing techniques to create a puzzle-like structure that is very strong and folds just like normal sunglasses. All electronic components are exposed...we do recommend being careful with direct impact and exposure to water, but they're actually quite durable!
The RGB Shades Kit is shipped with electronic parts fully assembled, but requires some mechanical assembly (no soldering needed). You'll need to fit several parts together (it's pretty fun, and takes about 15 minutes), install eight screws, and plug in a cable. We include a hex wrench, you'll also need a small Philips screwdriver, a small pair of pliers or tweezer, and threadlocking compound or glue. Full instructions available here: http://docs.macetech.com/doku.php/rgb_shades
Unlike our single-color LED Matrix Shades, the RGB Shades don't have an integrated battery. They require a lot more power, so we've decided to include a thin USB power cable that can be attached to a wide range of portable rechargeable USB battery packs. We recommend packs that can output at least 1.0 amps at 5 volts, with capacities of 2000mAh or better to run the RGB Shades for several hours. Here's a good quality pack that we've tested with the RGB Shades: Jackery Mini Premium 3350mAh
How do they work?
The pixels we use each contain a small chip that receives commands over a wire, sets the LED color, and passes commands to the next LED. The front panel is a PCB (printed circuit board) which connects all the LEDs in a single zig-zag chain across the panel. Our program maps the physical pixel locations to the correct LED on the chain.
The program is stored inside an Atmel ATmega328 microcontroller chip on the control PCB. This PCB also has a USB interface (for loading new programs), a power switch, and two buttons for interacting with the program. Our controller and example code is compatible with the popular open source Arduino cross-platform programming environment. That means you can write or upload programs on Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux computers, using free downloadable software. You'll also have access to a huge community of Arduino experts, books, and examples if you'd like to learn how to write your own programs.
Modify and hack them!
The RGB Shades electronics are out in the open, and there are places to solder your own sensors, communication modules, or anything else. You can make the RGB Shades do almost anything! Here's a simple example showing how to turn them into a colorful clock: http://docs.macetech.com/doku.php/rgb_shades_clock_using_chronodot
Make them dance to music!
The Shades Audio Sensor (currently in beta) will listen to music and allow your RGB Shades to display sound-reactive patterns. With the right code, your RGB Shades will be a personal light show that dances to the beat of any nearby music! Some soldering is required.
Open Source Hardware
Based on the success of open source software, a growing number of hardware designers have been releasing their designs under permissive licenses. The idea is that sharing your work, and encouraging others to share theirs, can make it easier to support, maintain, and improve the design. It can also improve the design community by providing spaces to learn from real world examples. So, should you ever want to peek under the hood of your new LED glasses, you can get the files from our documentation page.