The weekend isn’t upon us just yet, but here’s a little project to tuck away for when the Sunday doldrums set in — the New York-based tinkerers/part suppliers at Adafruit Industries have worked up a way to give your old pair of Chuck Taylors a bit of luminescent DIY flair.
The process is pretty straightforward — with about $21 in specialized parts like a small sheet of electroluminescent material and a pint-sized power inverter (I suspect there’s a fair chance you’ve got AAA batteries, sewing needles, and glue nestled in a drawer somewhere) you too can have a pair of Converse that light up in the dark. Adafruit’s Becky Stern says that once everything is put together your shoes will stay aglow for about an hour before starting to dim if you’ve opted to use the slightly smaller CR2032-powered inverter, though you can eke out extra juice by playing with smaller EL panel sizes or using an inverter that runs on AAA batteries instead.
If nothing else, it’s a neat little crash course in cobbling together components and the end result is a pair of sneakers that are sure to catch some attention — just make sure not to get them too wet. First-time makers may not be completely comfortable with the concept of lashing together a gadget with an Arduino and some shields, but a lightweight hack for some light-up shoes may be enough to get them ready for more ambitious hacks to come.
As always, there’s nothing to stop you from peeking at the project tutorial and looking for somewhere else to buy your components. After all, when Adafruit Industries founder Limor Fried chatted onstage with our own John Biggs at Disrupt NY 2013, she said the company isn’t so much a parts vendor as it is an educational tutorial company “with a gift shop at the end”.