A post wherein I talk about my attempts to beautify this awesome component.
I love a good NeoPixel Strip. But they're kind of ugly, right? They have markings and conductive patches along the entire length—which is great in the moment that you want to cut it and power it up. But the vast majority of the life of this NeoPixel strip will be spent as a hat. A nice-looking hat. A hat whose wearer doesn't need to know where to run the 5v power.
I wanted to see if I could make it look a bit better, so I tried a couple of things on a smaller scrap section. I covered half of the LEDs on one end of the strip with little pieces of masking tape and then used white acrylic paint to paint over the markings. For the other half, I cut out a thin strip of gray fabric and then cut holes the same size and distance as the square nobs of the LEDs. I lay the fabric over the second half of the strip, pushing the LEDs through the holes.
The strip still functioned perfectly in both cases. I didn't get a sense from either that anything would catch on fire. However, the fabric cover won't work for this project. I think it looks nice, but I want to put the LEDs back in the clear rubber sleeve that they come in, and there's just no way to get the sleeve back on with the added bulk of the fabric. So I went with painting the entire strip.
And then I even went ahead and attached my Flora to the hat and soldered everything together.
The only problem was that the NeoPixel strip still felt super ugly and not at all like a fun and elegant Christmas Hat. Womp womp. So I did a little test of different diffusions—could I wrap the strip in plastic sheeting? What if I sewed a satin ribbon around it? Would the light shine through? I made a trip to the craft store to pick up different kinds of ribbon to try out. Then I lit-up my test strip. Ugh. Nothing looked good. Everything either blocked the light too much or not enough. But I'd also purchased some sheets of felt to use for the fiber optic-edged "shapes" and, on a whim, I tried that as well. Hmmm. Not bad.
The next thing I knew, I'd cut strips of the felt about twice the width of a NeoPixel strip and was sewing it into a little felt cover that wrapped around the clear rubber sleeve. Because the strip would be attached to the hat on the back, it would hide the seam. The light still shone through pretty brightly, but when it was off, it just looked like a felt ribbon.
I'm pleased. but I do wish that I'd added a little more diffusion before sewing on the cover. The lights still look too much like individual dots than I would like. But maybe I can overcome this by adding some kind of effect in the code? We'll see…