It's done! I wear my hat to a party and explain how it works.


So it's done?

This past week I wrapped up the code and put the finishing touches on my temp-sensitive Christmas hat. It was just in time for me to wear it to my company Holiday party at a cool makerspace and bar in Dayton, OH (I work in NYC but the company HQ is in Dayton). The hat made it through airport security with nary a glance from TSA.


What does your hat do again?

The hat contains a Flora board, 1.5-meter NeoPixel strip, five other LEDs, a battery pack, and a temperature sensor. It's programmed so that if the temperature is under 60° F, the LEDs are blue and white, with random sparkly flashes. The colder it gets, the whiter and sparklier the hat becomes.  If the temperature is above 60° F, the hat becomes red and green, with the colors cycling based on how warm it gets; the hotter the temp, the faster it's colors change.



How'd it perform?

Overall, the hat was pretty comfortable to wear, wackily fashionable, and it served as an excellent conversation starter. It really does keep my head warm, so I've decided it's better as an outside city hat than a party hat. I have to admit that it felt a bit too conspicuous at times for an event populated by normal humans. It's just easier to wear odd light-up things in New York City when you know that there will always be someone nearby wearing clothes that are even weirder than yours. But the hat does look pretty good even when it's turned off, so I suppose that I could just give the lights a break if I ever think it's too much.



Would you do anything differently?

I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. I think that the concept, electronics, and design all came together very nicely. However, as with any project, there are some things I would do differently:

  • I'd diffuse the NeoPixel strip more. I'm not sure how I would do it while maintaining the low profile of the plain felt-covered strip, but I was not a big fan of the discrete points of light in the circular band.
  • I'd 3D-print an illuminated bauble for the side decoration. My original idea of making the 3 front-facing LEDs look like holly berries didn't pan out so I covered them with a feathery poof. It looks fine but I could have done something more interesting and integral to the overall design. The current iteration doesn't take advantage of what those LEDs are capable of. A nice 3D-printed snowflake or star could have brought it to the next level.
  • I'd add fiber optic twinkles. I couldn't get the side glow fiber optic to work the way I wanted, edging the felt decoration, but it made me think that using some regular fiber optics for twinkly points of light would have been a nice touch to the cold state. I really admire this top hat and might try something similar in future.


Thank you to everyone who's read my posts and watched my videos. You guys make me want to make things!

What do you think? Would you don this hat for a festive holiday celebration? Any suggestions?


me in hat.jpg


If you haven't seen my other Xmas Hat posts or if you just want to peruse the process, here ya go:

Intro: A Christmas Hat

The Components

Prep and Planning


The Code

Un-Uglying The NeoPixel Strip

Finishing Touches

The Final Code