For version two of my LED Top Hat, I decided to go with four 16×16 RGB matrices so that the LED’s could surround the entire hat. I gutted the electronics from the old hat, ordered two more panels and began thinking of the physical hat construction. After lots of research (I’m not a craft person), I decided that foam would be the lightest and most durable material I could use as the frame. In the middle, a clear plastic is used and is joined with the foam using cement glue. The plastic lets light through and even diffuses the LED’s a bit. The plastic also gives the electronics some water resistance.
To cover the foam I used felt, ribbon, and a very thin black fabric around the plastic. I have all the electronics mounted on a breadboard at this stage. The breadboard has a Teensy 3.2 micro-controller for processing, a SD card reader for animation storage, and a HC-08 Bluetooth module for communication. The Hat is powered via 5 volts DC over USB. I can run a longer wire to a big battery pack in my pocket, or use a small battery pack in the hat that manages to give a couple hours of use. The code I have written is much better than before but still needs improvements.