Hey, I'm Leslie and I'm very psyched to be chosen for this challenge. I've been inspired by science fiction my whole life. While I'm a big fan of Star Wars, I also happen to love Bladerunner and Tron. It just so happens that both of these films have beautiful umbrellas. In Bladerunner the shaft and handle are illuminated in cool blue, while in Tron the clear umbrella is outlined in golden light and also has a center hub which illuminates or backlights the head of the holder. There is something just really beautiful about the combination of light and rain. So, that is why I'm inspired to create a project that combines things which have to do with light and rain -- FLORA and an umbrella. The umbrella I have chosen is a clear Totes dome style. Not only does it have a 70's vintage feel, but it is also great for light shows and has durability in the big winds we get in center city Philadelphia. Seriously, you should see how many dead umbrellas are on the street after a typical rain storm here! My ultimate dream is that the umbrella would be capable of three patterns using a switch.
Pattern 1 would invoke a rain drop pattern similar to what you see on those wonderful icicle dripping LED lights at Christmas time, Pattern 2 would be a rainbow effect, while Pattern 3 would use the color sensor to match a particular tone in clothing (pink is very Geisha Teku ). One of the challenges I will face is using Neopixels. I must admit that I've only worked in single color LED's and there are a lot more wires or threads involved with these babies. Also, I'm considering the use of Neopixel strips, which have the advantage of being waterproof, but would also be above my programming level. I'm more the artist than the engineer, so I suspect there will be a lot of troubleshooting, especially since I probably have to use more than one pin on the FLORA. Another challenge will be the location of the FLORA. My dream would be to feed major wires down through the shaft, but that will entail removing a hard plastic handle from the umbrella and possibly creating a new handle to house the unit and power. The alternative would be to create a clear vinyl hammock for the unit and power at the top of the dome. I'm not fond of that idea because I feel it doesn't protect the electric components well, and it looks clumsy. It's really important to me that the umbrella be useable in the rain, as I've seen other umbrella projects incorporating LED's on the web that were only useable in dry weather. I think people deserve a good light show and laugh in the rain, don't you agree?
I'm definitely a fan of collaboration, so if you are working on a project with soft circuits, I'm happy to give you pointers from my experience. Likewise, I'm likely to crowdsource and post on forums for answers to my questions. So, you may be hearing from me. A big shout out to Element 14 and Adafruit for offering this challenge. Just having access to this kind of parts list makes me insanely giddy! Also, I'm so excited to have a great mix of women and men -- woot! Great things happen when diverse great minds come together, and that's the true meaning of the Get Closer challenge. I can't wait to see what we all create. P.S. Katie, I'm with you -- can't wait to see the parts and I hope they don't come tomorrow as I'll be away at the shore for the day.