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Revamped Dollar Store Items for the 4th of July


Like many of us here in the U.S., we are gearing up for the 4th of July. Grill-outs, beach day, parties, it’s a day for many of us to relax and have some fun. In preparation for our get together, we purchased a few novelty items from the local dollar store. However, we wanted to take it up a notch. With a few inexpensive parts, and some simple programming, you can also take your dollar store wearables to the next level. 



Sunglasses: Everyone needs a pair of sunglasses on the 4th because hopefully the weather requires them. These days you can get a pair of sunglasses in almost any shape or design, but why not customize them?

To make our sunglasses more “flashy”, we added a neopixel ring from Adafruit to each lens. The process was fairly simple. Just measure the wires out, solder the connections, then use hot glue to adhere them to the glasses. Be sure to solder the digital wire from the microcontroller to the input of the first neopixel ring. Then solder the output of that same neopixel ring to the input of the second one. The output on the second will not be connected as there isn't another neopixel ring inline. To clean up the wires going to the microcontroller, I used heatshrink the same color as the temple, or arm of the glasses. This lead me to the next question, where should the microcontroller go?

Hat - Wiring

Hats: The microcontroller selected for this project was the Micro:Bit because of the LED matrix on the front and overall ease of use. To implement the Micro:Bit I cut a hole in the hats purchased from the dollar store and slid it in place. This also helped contain some of the wires. After assembly, the scrolling text just wasn’t enough and we decided the hats needed something more. Using a second digital pin from the Micro:Bit I ran a small strip of neopixels to create a glowing effect. These were attached to the inside of the hats on the back to optimize the glow.

Hat - Exterior

Coasters: Using the Micro:Bit and ZIP Halo from Kitronik I recreated our recent coaster project (click here to view) and simply modified a portion of the code to update the colors to red, white, and blue.

Suspenders: What 4th of July outfit is complete without suspenders? These are very simple. Just a few electroluminescent (EL) wire strips, an inverter, and some AAA batteries. Once I had all the pieces, I taped the back of the strips to hold them together. If you are able to locate actual suspenders, these would be very simple to attach and complete the look. These are not very bright, but they are perfect for an evening gathering.


If you are ready to recreate our projects, the code for the glasses and hats can be found here, and the updated code for the coasters can be found here. With the provided information, you are ready to officially have the coolest outfit at any gathering you attend this 4th of July!


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