LED Shoulder Pads Using Arduino

LED Shoulder Pads (1)

For this project, I was inspired by my best friend. She had been wanting some disco-fabulous armor-inspired wearable technology for music festivals and costume parties for some time. I took a pair of construction/gardening knee-pads and turned them into glitterific shoulder pads that shine bright with 50 LEDs that are Arduino controlled!LED Shoulder Pads (1)

This project was super fun to make! SO SPARKLY!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

[box color=”#985D00″ bg=”#FFF8CB” font=”verdana” fontsize=”14 ” radius=”20 ” border=”#985D12″ float=”right” head=”Major Components in Project” headbg=”#FFEB70″ headcolor=”#985D00″]

All of the components I used were purchased from Radioshack, or the Hardware store


60-Ft. UL-Recognized Hookup Wire (20 AWG) (Radioshack Part no. 278-1225) x1
9V Battery Clip (Radioshack Part no. 270-324) x1
12V Battery Clip (Radioshack Part no. 270-405) x1
Arduino Micro (Radioshack Part no. 276-258) x1
Solder (Radioshack Part no. 64-009) x1
Grid Style PCB with 371 Holes (Radioshack Part no. 276-149) x1
Dual-General Purpose IC PC Board (Radioshack Part no. 276-159) x1
NTE30043 Blue Super-bright LED Indicator (Radioshack Part no. 55050631) x24
NTE30045 White Super-bright LED Indicator (Radioshack Part no. 55050633) x24
SPST 3-Amp “Soft-Feel” Push On-Push Off Switch (Radioshack Part no. 275-1565) x1
Momentary Switch (Radioshack Part no. 275-609) x1
+5V Fixed Voltage Regulator/Transistor (Radioshack Part no. 276-1770) x2
Enercell® 23A 12V Alkaline Battery for Remote Controls (Radioshack Part no. 23-336) x1
Enercell® “9V” Alkaline Batteries (4-Pack) (Radioshack Part no. 23-866) x1
500-Piece 1/4-Watt Carbon-Film Resistor Assortment (Radioshack Part no. 271-312) x1

Bon 12-309 Superlight Molded Rubber Foam Waterproof Knee Pads
TEKTON 6235 Assorted Cable Ties, 200-Piece
Scrap Denim Fabric
Krylon K02329000 Fusion For Plastic Aerosol Spray Paint, 12-Ounce, Patriotic Blue
3M 77 Super Multipurpose Adhesive Aerosol, Clear 16.75 Oz. Aerosol Can
Clear Gloss Spray Lacquer
Sulyn 4 oz. Glitter Jar – Royal
Velcro Reusable Self-Gripping Ties, 0.5 Inches x 8 Inches, Black/Gray, 50 Ties per Pack (90924)
50 – 1 Inch Heavy Welded Dee Rings

Sewing Machine
Soldering Iron
Wire Snips/Strippers
Drill and various bits[/box]

Step 2: Straps and Foam

Straps and Foam (1)

In an effort to prep the knee pads to transform them into shoulder pads, I took off the straps and foam.

This was a little tricky, and took a little bit of wrestling – but I was able to get it off without ripping the foam apart. If you need to, use a pair of scissors to cut the foam away from the pegs holding it in place.

Step 3: Make it Shiny! (part 1 of 3)

I put down some waxed butcher paper on the shop floor, so I wouldn’t turn it blue with my overspray.

After I had the paper taped down, I set my shoulder pads on top of it, and went to town with the paint. The trick to getting good results with spray paint is distance, motion and time.

Hold the can more than 6 inches away from whatever it is your painting.

Move the nozzle and can constantly while applying paint in zig-zag sweeping motions.

Allow the paint adequate time to dry. This will vary depending on the type of paint you use – read the directions on the back of the can – this paint took a full 24 hours to dry.

Step 4: Make it Shiny! (part 2 of 3)

After the spray paint dried, I began to coat it with Spray adhesive and adhere the glitter to it.

I coated the shoulder pads quickly with two even coats of adhesive, applied sequentially. Give the Super 77 about 5 minutes to get really tacky.

The fun part was unloading an entire canister of blue glitter onto the shoulder pads. I was certain that I had purchased too much – but sure enough, I ended up using the entire jar of glitter! I had to pick up some of the glitter that fell off the pads and throw it back on, it all stuck eventually. 🙂

Step 5: Make It Shiny! (part 3 of 3)

After the glue had set for 24 hours, I sprayed the whole thing with multiple coats of clear glossy lacquer. This is so the glitter has a shell around it protecting it from littering all over the place.

Essentially, it is like resin coating the shoulder pads, without actually having to use any two-part resins.

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