NeoPixel Hedgehog Necklace
In this activity guide, you will learn to program an infrared remote control to change the color of lights on a NeoPixel strip.
Total read time: <7 minutes
Skill level: Beginner
Street Corner STEAM
On Wednesday evenings, I lead a free STEAM activity in a location that also serves free meals. Activities are designed for 10-12 year old students, but in reality we have five-year-olds through senior adults who attend. There are three activity tables: sewing, painting, and drawing, as well as one special project I bring each week – such as this one. The goal of Street Corner STEAM is to offer socially-distant and spontaneous play to build skills and confidence with technology. Below you will see pictures from Street Corner STEAM.
Materials for this project:
- micro:bit – Go pack – $18.00 (set of 10 – $160.00)
- basic:bit – $4.99 – 1 per project
- NeoPixel Strip – $4.99 – 1 per project
- Infrared receiver sensor – $2.90 – 1 per project
- Infrared remote control – $4.95 – 1 per project
- Free software: MicroBlocks
Note: These materials are fully reusable.
A stuffed animal or toy
If you want to help a group to create their own toys, I like this kit: Woodland creatures felt animal kits – 12 sewable felt kits – $22.99, but you can also make your own toys basically for free from old socks
Connecting the electronics
When you attach the NeoPixel strip and infrared sensor, be sure to line the black wire up next to the letter /G/ which stands for ‘ground.’ If you plug the wires in backwards, your program won’t run properly. Make sure the slide switch on the basic:bit is set to ‘P0’, not to the speaker.
Get to know your materials
- Connect your micro:bit via USB to your computer.
- Open MicroBlocks and be sure you have a green circle in the top left corner.
- Add the NeoPixel library to MicroBlocks.
At this point you can play with the NeoPixel library. Below is sample code I shared with the students in Street Corner STEAM. With these code snippets, they were able to create new scripts.
Infrared sensor and remote control
Infrared light is invisible to the human eye, but if you look at it through the lens of a video camera, including most cellphone cameras, you can see it. Below is a way to use the remote control with your NeoPixel strip.