This is the Hacker Edition of our new RGB LED Shades. A pre-programmed controller IS NOT INCLUDED, in order to use this product you will need to add and program your own microcontroller! If you need fully integrated kit wiht a controller, click here: RGB Shades Kit
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. This Hacker Edition doesn't come with a controller, but provides a place to add your own controller and circuits to express your unique ideas for wearable technology.
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. A microcontroller or other small computing device can communicate to the LEDs using a simple protocol and tell them to display any color.
Though the LEDs are bright from the outside...REALLY bright...they're almost invisible from the inside. You can see through the slots just fine.
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 "hacker" board for adding your own controller circuit, and all the parts and metal hardware needed to assemble the frame, plus a small hex wrench.
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 Hacker Edition is shipped with electronic parts fully assembled, but requires some mechanical assembly. 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. You will need to solder a microcontroller of your choice to the frame (or connect to a controller using long wires). We include a hex wrench, you'll also need a small Philips screwdriver, a small pair of pliers or tweezers, 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 use an external power source. A very convenient way to get a portable battery that outputs 5 volts is to use a rechargeable USB power bank, most commonly used to charge phones. 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.
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.
For the Hacker Edition RGB Shades, you will need to add your own controller. This means you can use any type of controller you prefer, instead of the Arduino-compatible one we include on the integrated version. Any number of small microcontroller circuits can either be soldered to the frame, or connected some distance away using a three-wire cable. Here's an example of one great option to use for controlling RGB Shades: Teensy-LC by PJRC
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.