My first customized pair was these Phenomenauts goggles, probably from 2009. I bought three sets of welding goggles from the local hardware store and painted them up in red and black. The kicker is the lenses, etched with the Phenomenauts logo on the school laser cutter. The etchings don’t impede vision much; the lines near the center kind of look like a smudge from inside. I gave away two pairs to friends, though in one of them I lost the nose chain and substituted an elastic band. I’m told they hurt like hell until he found a new metal chain.
I finished these in 2010. Building the Phenomenauts goggles inspired me to make a pair with edge-lit graphics. The atom icon seemed fittingly sci-fi, and the symbol avoids any lines crossing the center of vision. I lit these up with some surface mount LEDs, a coin cell battery, and magnet wire. The metal safety goggles I bought from Restoration Hardware back when you had to wait for Halloween season for them to be in stock. It turns out the metal goggles had a little more room to work with than the plastic ones, but the conductive surface presented its own special concerns. The 9v snaps on the side act as a switch, only bulkier and less practical. But I had them around.
I wore them for my college graduation ceremony, which didn’t exactly please my mother. You can see through them when they’re lit up, but they look like a bright, glowing smudge in your vision. Like getting shot in the face with a water gun full of glow stick fluid, I guess.
The second Adafruit came out with 50mm LED rings, I knew what they were for. Made in 2013, these were built following the excellent tutorial over on the fruit, only I used a Tiny Lily instead, and attached the LiPo battery to the exterior because I’m not strapping a small bomb that close to my face. I wore these at Makerfaire NY the first time out, and ran in to Becky Stern wearing earrings with the same Neopixel rings. It was pretty neat. Eventually I got around to customizing the Confetti code from the FastLED library. It’s a good balance of showiness and efficiency, and they run almost a full event day on one 250mAh battery.
Backburnered in my brain’s basement until I stumbled on this board on DealExtreme, I came up with the speaker goggles because I wanted to do something dumb enough that no one else had done it before. I sourced the drivers online, afraid I’d have to order a dozen pairs before I found the right ones, and was ecstatic when they actually fit. Built from a Bluetooth receiver, a class-D amp, two drivers, a switch, and a battery; the goggles themselves were the most expensive component. You can wear them in front of your eyes, not that you’d ever want to.
Here’s the beauty behind the scenes:
Infrared Vision Goggles
The neat thing about infrared light (besides being sciency) is that people can technically see it with the naked eye, but when you filter everything else out it makes the world look alien. Trees look bright white, eyes look deep black, food looks delicious, etc. Professional photographers make incredible work with IR-sensitive cameras. I made these goggles after buying a roll of expired IR film and not knowing what to do with it.
They were made by stacking up a few deep blue filters and one red filter, a recipe that’s been on the internet for some time now. Note that these are not night vision goggles, despite being asked that by everyone I’ve shown them to. Night vision goggles are heavy and use batteries. These use sunlight and block out everything that isn’t IR, forcing your eyes to adjust to the dim amount that they can process. As-is, the goggles let in a little light at the edges, and I need to cover the sides with my hands if I’m walking around. To a spectator I look like someone fumbling around a dark room in broad daylight. They do let you see the world in IR on a sunny day, and they’re pretty fun to walk around with provided you don’t accidentally blind yourself taking them off.
The smallest gels I could find were big enough for multiple pairs of goggles, so I had plenty of extra material to try out on my phone camera.
Stacking up the filters and shooting in night mode produced some interesting results.
Well worth the effort.