Flashing LED Helmet


LED Helmet (animated)
Click on the image to view the animated helmet on imgur












In September 2013, I crashed my mountain bike and ended up with a slightly cracked full face helmet. It was the worst crash the I’ve ever crashed, and I wrote a story about it here.

I thought of what I wanted to do with the helmet. Unlike motorcycle helmets, mountain bike helmets do not need to be DOT certified, so they can be lighter weight. This helmet was light enough to be suitable for use in a costume. My first idea was to paint it neon orange, and have ultraviolet LEDs light it up. I primed it white and painted it neon orange.

Flexible LED light
First idea for pointing blue LEDs at the helmet

I noticed that some of the blue LEDs I use for accent lighting in my house were making the helmet glow as if exposed to ultraviolet light! It was now clear that I needed to design the helmet to have it shine blue LEDs onto the orange paint. I toyed with the idea of having some blue lights on the end of flexible armatures, like you’d find in those cheap USB lights for laptops.

The original flashing LED Helmet had a translucent strip of plastic for the top mowhawk. The plastic was from a discarded diffuser for an indoor fluorescent light fixture. This material is very easy to score this with a knife and it snaps off into whatever shape you require. Unfortunately, it ended up being too fragile for this application. It would have been really neat to have something translucent to mount the LEDs to.


A translucent material for the mohawk strip would have been great, but the diffuser material that I tried was not meant to be bent, and it ended up cracking.
Boost converter
This boost converter was used to convert 3.7v to 12v.
Aluminum struts
Aluminum struts used to support the mohawk
Arduino Buzzer
Piezo Buzzer with output transistor and input resistor
Breadboard Prototyping with test load and voltage meter
piezo buzzer
breadboard prototyping with one piezo buzzer


















The next material I tried for the mohawk was a piece of resin-impregnated denim. This material was also discarded, and had been used as filler inside the slots of a large generator. I got it from work after the generator had received a new set of wedges and filler material. This denim material was not really meant to be bent as much as this, but it was made to withstand continuous vibrations. It makes a few “crackly” noises when being bent, but it is really strong. I’ve accidentally banged it into the tops of some door frames, and it shows no signs of cracking.

LED Helmet turntable1
Helmet with the super tough resin-impregnated denim. Nothing is going to crack this stuff!


The LEDs on the mohawk are wired in groups of three in series, and the groups are wired in parallel. Each group of three has a ~150 ohm resistor in series, and the strip requires 12V. One possible use for these lights is accent lighting on the exterior of vehicles, so if you take care with the exposed connections, they are also waterproof. In order to get the required voltage from a 18650 3.7V lithium ion battery, I needed to use a boost converter.


LED flashing helmet schematic

Triangle Man Costume

What kind of Halloween costume would you create that uses this helmet? How about an orange suit with triangles on it to create TRIANGLE MAN!