I got an UP! Mini 3D printer for Christmas this year. Wowza. I’m SO excited.. I haven’t stopped playing with it since just about the minute I unwrapped it and I’m having tons of fun.
I’ve been making necklaces lately (this LED Turtle necklace that I made as a Christmas gift is my favorite so far). It’s a challenge to fit all the electronics and the battery and microcontroller into a small enough package that sits comfortably around my neck, but I’m slowly getting the hang of it.
I decided I wanted to design and print a pendant that is just the right size for a neopixel ring and Trinket microcontroller, with enough space for a small rechargeable LiPo battery and a nice flat back that closes up and looks pretty. The ABS plastic filament my printer uses diffuses light really nicely so I decided to try using multiple thicknesses to add interest and texture.
This is harder than you’d think.. I’ve never done 3D design before and it makes me think in ways I haven’t had use since high school geometry. But it’s also much easier than you’d think because there are some awesome free tools out there that had me up and running in minutes.
I have been using Tinkercad and I like it so far.. I’ve got a lot to learn but after 5-10 different attempts I ended up with a pretty delightful 3-D Printable necklace enclosure.
It’s got a hole for the USB port for charging. It has another hole for the wires to come out at the top. It has a front side which is rounded to hide the electronics and a back side which is flat and smooth against my neck when I wear it. (next step will be to learn how to make them snap neatly together, but hey, give me a minute, it’s only my first day). It also has a pretty cutout pattern of lines and circles to diffuse the light in an interesting way.
I printed it out, then painted it gently with gold leaf paint to give it some sparkle and more definition. The paint is opaque so it really brings out the design.
For the electronics, I’m using a Trinket 3v and a LiPo charger, both of which I removed the battery connectors from and soldered directly to the pads instead. (Those little connectors are SO BIG when you stack them up! The components stack quite neatly without them)
I’m using a 12 Neopixel Ring and a single LED from a Neopixel strip in the middle. The code is my new favorite “Holiday Twinkle Lights” sketch using FastLED. I made this one gold and white fairy lights since it looks so nice with the gold leaf paint.
I’m also using a magnetic clasp as an on/off switch, which seems to be my new favorite switch method for necklaces. It’s super elegant and clean.
I’m pretty proud of this! My first 3D Printed Design Thing and it feels so professional and slick. 🙂 🙂