How to make a light up headpiece to the Staff of Ra

Learn how to create an LED headpiece to the Staff of Ra, which lights up when touched.

Fingers touching lit up headpiece of Staff of Ra

We’ve got another cosplay project from our community, this time from Sophy Wong. She uses Electric Paint, the Trinket M0 and a NeoPixel LED to light up a 3D printed prop when it is touched. You can see it in action on her Instagram. The Trinket M0 has similar capacitive touch sensors to the Touch Board, so you can use it with Electric Paint. Sophy provided full instructions for her project, so you can either create something similar or get inspired! Thank you Sophy!

Step 1 3D print the head piece

First, print the 3D model, you can find the files here. If you need to, modify the 3D model to create flat areas for the electronics to be housed in. Print the two pieces, glue them together, clamp them in place and let the pieces dry.

Step 2 Solder the battery

Lay all the components in place of the 3D model to determine the lengths your wires need to be. Then solder the wires of the battery holder to the power and ground pads on the bottom of the Trinket M0.

Step 3 Solder the NeoPixel LED

Next, solder 3 wires to the NeoPixel LED: one wire to +, one to -, and one to Data In. Braid these wires together for a few centimeters to keep them tidy. Cut to length using your measurements and solder to the Trinket M0 as shown: + to 3v, – to GND, and Data In to pin Test. Fit the circuit in the prop but do not glue it down yet.

Step 4

Program the Trinket M0 with MakeCode, Circuit Python, or Arduino. You can find the Circuit Python code here. The code reads the capacitive touch sensor on pin 3. When pin 3 is touched, the NeoPixel glows red. Upload the code onto the Trinket M0. 

Test by inserting the batteries into the battery holder and switching to on. The NeoPixel should light up red when you touch pin 3. Be sure to check the circuit with the USB cable removed, as the additional conductivity can skew the capacitive touch reading.

Step 5

When the circuit is working, glue everything into place. Try to make sure the wires can’t be seen from the front.

Step 6

Paint the area of the prop that you want to be conductive with Electric Paint. For the prop shown, only the bird on the front of the medallion is painted to be conductive. Paint a path joining the conductive area on the front to pin 3 on the Trinket M0. Since the pins are quite tiny on the Trinket, it’s easier to use the Electric Paint tube for this type of cold soldering. Let the paint dry fully before switching the battery pack on to test your circuit. Touching the painted area should now make the NeoPixel light up.

Step 7

Now you can finish painting the prop as desired. The conductive paint will still work under a thin top layer of paint as shown. Before covering the NeoPixel with a plastic rhinestone, use an ultra fine sanding pad to buff off the silver coating on the back of the stone. This will make the LED shine brightly through the rhinestone!