Arduino Costumes!
March 8, 2012 3:54 PM   Subscribe

I've got a costume that incorporates LED lights cued to music. I need to re-setup the costume and am trying to find the best Arduino (if possible) tech for them. How do I do so?

So I'm turning this getup into a costume that I can wear multiple times. In this video the LED lights were stuck directly onto my skin, and there was a pretty big controller attached to them that had a wireless receiver and battery pack.

To make the act more feasible I'm getting a bodysuit made, but right now I'm stuck on the electronics. I no longer have the controller, but from asking around I was told that a smaller Arduino board works well.

The light cues are written for DMXControl as an .STG file. Is there a way to make this Arduino-readable?

What sort of board would be suitable for my needs? Can an Arduino board fit all that?

(I'm not totally au fait on how Arduinos or similar tech work, so apologies if my terminology is shot.)
posted by divabat to Technology (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This can absolutely work. The key questions are the number of independent LED channels you want to drive, and the amount of current each channel draws. This will determine the kind of interface board the Arduino will need.
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:09 PM on March 8, 2012

I only know that these things exist, and that's about it , but the LilyPad is an Arduino board designed to be sewn into clothing.
posted by mendel at 4:12 PM on March 8, 2012

also, what sort of controller/battery setup were you using before?
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:14 PM on March 8, 2012

Response by poster: these were the notes from the person who designed my setup the last time (and got the original controller as payment):
Controller: 24 channel LED controller ( This is the one I used, but any 24 channel controller able to output between 12 and 24 volts will work.

Battery Pack: I used 4 9-volt batteries, 2 sets wired in series and then wired in parrallel to get a total output of 18v with a larger capacity. Plus a single 9v battery for the wireless receiver.

Wireless: You will need a wireless receiver and transmitter ( I took one of the units out of it's housing and rebuilt it into a much smaller package.

Finally, the converter: You will need a USB to DMX converter ( There's a whole thing about a driver to get this to work with DMXControl, it's mislabeled or something and you have to manually enable it...i'll look up the info again and send it to you.

Now, you'll have to trace the cables running to each string to find positive and negative...Positive is common and is daisy chained...the negative wires go to each control channel. It will be a lot of sorting wires and testing (trust me, took me so long to get all the wires straight when I was doing it).
posted by divabat at 5:28 PM on March 8, 2012

You might try using a bunch of BlinkM MaxM modules. The BlinkM system has a sequencer app available for Mac or Windows which can upload an animation pattern to a module. You could use one MaxM to drive three of your white LED strands by designating each one as red, green, or blue, and programming the sequence accordingly.

If you want to keep the program all in one place, it will be a bit more complicated, but I would recommend an Arduino plus the RGB Shield. This is based on the TLC5940 chip which is a handy and useful component I have used in many LED projects. The board is laid out intending to drive 16 RGB LEDs, but you can just as easily ignore the RGB aspect and use it as a 48-channel mono sequencer.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:19 AM on March 9, 2012

I'm attempting to help make this, with a very limited idea of what I'm doing.

Here's what we've (divabat and I) figured out so far:

There are 24 individual wires, plus 1 red and 1 black wires.

There are approx. 20 (hard to keep track when counting them) strands of LED lights. They're most similar to the image on this page. Scroll down to Specifications heading under the product details tab.

There should be some way to start the lights (thinking just a button attached to arduino). This means:
  • There would then need to be a (worked out beforehand) cue point in the music being played so the performer knew when to press the button.
  • There would be no external dependence on a laptop or anything else during the performance.
  • The Arduino would contain the entire song cue set. (could memory limitations be an issue?)
Thanks for the suggestions Mars Saxman. Some good things to think about.

I think what we need to work out now is which arduino. A shield is almost certainly needed too. What about the blue screws that hold wires? Is that good/bad/necessary? Or should the wires just be soldered on?

Thanks for any help!
posted by cofie at 5:08 PM on March 9, 2012

Response by poster: yo, cofie, your link to the blue screws doesn't work...
posted by divabat at 2:38 PM on March 11, 2012

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