Enginursday: Unicornium

So… let’s talk about the dearth of women in engineering. Generally speaking, there really aren’t a lot of us. Being one of that minority, I feel it incumbent upon me to get someone inspired, set a good example - that sort of thing. Alas, I have no daughters of my own but I have three amazingly beautiful and intelligent nieces that I am constantly trying to get involved in electronics. Perhaps I am a bit overenthusiastic, but with a little know-how and a lot of SparkFun you can make SO MANY COOL THINGS (cue evil laugh).

One of my darling little relatives LOVES unicorns (for real, who doesn’t?!) - so we decided to make light-up unicorn slippers, because LEDs. And unicorns. And warm toes. It is also a really, really simple project, which means the munchkin can help me put this together.

unicorn slippers with rainbow led mohawks

It starts with a RedStick, a skinny LED strip, a LiPo battery, and some basic soldering skills. The addressable LED strips have a wonderful hookup guide that we followed to make this happen. I soldered JST connectors onto our RedSticks, and attached silicone wire to pin 2 and the LED power supply pins. After that, the kiddo helped me out. We determined the “Rainbow Cycle” code was the prettiest (rainbows, YAY!) so we uploaded it to our RedStick. Then we attached wires and batteries to test!!

All together now: OOOOOH! AAAAAH!

gif of prototyped pretty rainbow LEDs

Once we decided we liked our setup, we went to work attaching the LED strips to the unicorns' mohawks and creating “saddle bags” for them to carry the LiPo batteries and RedSticks.

plush matching saddle bags that contain redstick and lipo battery

The back of the LED strips is peel-and-stick, so we attached them briefly that way and used fishing line to sew and secure. We cut the wires to fit the pockets with minimal overlay and then spliced the correct lines together and shrink-wrapped the connections to prevent shorts. We then plugged in the LiPo batteries and VOILA!

gif of dancing shoes

I love watching little faces light up when they complete a project! Have you done projects with your kiddos? Let us know in the comments!

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