The latest project from Adafruit is a pair of a 3D printed electronic sunglasses, where you control the tint with a flip of a switch. Funky!
These sunglasses from Adafruit ain’t no ordinary pair of sunglasses. They’re electronic sunglasses that allow you to control the dark tint of the glass.
What manner of magic is this? It’s actually pretty simple. Sandwiched in-between two sheets of glass is a layer of liquid crystal. Apply a small amount of voltage to the electrodes embedded in the frame, and hey presto! The glass turns dark and filters out bright lights.
But wait, it gets better! Depending on how much voltage you apply to the electronic sunglasses, you can even control the opaqueness of the glass. See them in action in the video below:
Electronic Sunglasses are Inspired by Welding Visors
The centerpiece of the electronic sunglasses are a Liquid Crystal Light Valve (LCLV). This is otherwise known as an LCD controllable blackout panel.
An LCLV uses the properties of liquid crystals to control the level of illumination passing through an optical system. They’re present in household objects like an LCD TV, except the principle works at the pixel level.
For this particular set of shades, meanwhile, a comparable example of real-world use would be a welding helmet that protects the eyes from really bright sparks.
The bill of materials include the LCLV, a Lithium Ion Polymer Battery, and a slide switch. And holding it all together is a chunky frame, the 3D model for which you can download from Thingiverse to 3D print.
If boxy square angles straight out of the 1980s aren’t your cup of tea, meanwhile, you can always remix and modify the design to your liking. The sketches for the design are also available on Autodesk Fusion360, so it’s easy to customize each component as you see fit.
Some prior experience with soldering and multimeters (to measure and test electrons) is recommended for this project. Otherwise, it looks like the end result is lots of fun.
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