Everyone awaits they day they graduate. I've been hearing it from my peers for the past 4 months, accompanied by tears of joy, tears of sadness, and senioritis. The part of graduating I was anticipating the most was actually commencement ceremony. Not because of the symbolism when walking across the stage, or moving the tassel, but because there were large groups of people present. Time to do something awesome in my last hurrah: Decorate my graduation cap.
The original plan was to illuminate a piece of acrylic from the side using RGB LED strips. An arduino nano or equivalent uProcessor would control the transitions between the colors. All of this would be powered by one of my numerous 3s lithium polymer batteries. However, I was lazy with the parts ordering. So here is the final instructable on how to make this guy.
- graduation cap
- 1 meter long LED strip
- 3s lipoly battery
- polycarbonate U-channel (mcmaster 1753K61)
- a switch (min 1/4 W)
- wire and misc plugs
Step 1: Design the acrylic cutout
I designed it using SolidWorks. Began with the diamond shape and then extruded-cut the letters. The logo was generated from importing an image and projecting it onto the background. Using the Spline tools I could trace the more complex geometry.
The material selected was acyrlic. This was because it had excellent optical properties and could be laser cut using the machines at the Georgia Tech Invention Studio.
Step 2: Cut chamfers into the polycarbonate at the bend points
The most important thing to remember about this is to have enough allowance in the bend. I'm not going to discuss k-factors here, but cut away some extra material to allow the corners to meet without stressing the sides of the U. Do not just remove material along the theoretical permissible lines.
Step 3: Apply LED strip to the inside of the U-channel
The LED strip I linked too earlier has an adhesive back. This made it much easier to stick to the inside of the channel. Also, I believe the width of this strip is 6mm. Should interface perfectly with the mcmaster part number I also linked earlier.
Step 4: Bind the ends of the U-channel to encapsulate the acrylic cutout
Step 5: Attach to grad cap (hobbyking brand superglue!)
The acyrlic plate actually levitates within the constraints of the polycarb U-channel. If I wanted to reuse these materials, I could unfurl the polycarb channel and simply take everything out...
Step 6: Solder wires and connectors
I recommend adding connectors on both ends of the power switch. One plug will be for your battery, the other allows you to take the cap off without having to extract all your electronic guts. I may update this step to include my wiring harness.
Step 7: Graduate!
The cap was well received by everyone (except the fire marshall). As a result, I received lots of air time that afternoon.
From the GT camera crew there:
... and the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
What a way to cap off the end of a four year adventure. Thank you friends for all the wonderful experiences. I dedicate this work to remember all of you.
Some Responses from non-GT folk:
i want to sex you in the most non gay fashino possible
so one of us has to be in cosplay"
The next step for me is the legendary MIT!