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: