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This project is about giving life to the traditional masks called Kuker. They are used in Bulgarian tradition to repel evil ghosts and bad energies. For more information check the tutorials introduction The Kuker Revival!

Introduction

In this first part of the Kuker revival series we will start with the most empty part of the Kuker - its eyes. As great as it is, my Kuker always annoyed me with the lack of refulgence through its eye holes. So I thought about what can I do to make it more alive and initially put some portable light inside. Then I changed to RGB LED light. Then I bought crystal spheres to act as eyes and saw the huge potential of the combination between transparent crystals and LEDs behind them. After searching for different products online, there was nothing that could satisfy my imagination, so I decided to design one of my own. I ended up buying Arduino kit by Elegoo and two Adafruit NeoPixel Rings. Here is you'll learn how to make them shine!

Hardware

Assuming you already have a Kuker, you'll have to measure the diameter of it's eye holes and buy fitting crystals. Then you'll need Arduino microcontroller of your choice. Personally, I like the regular sized Uno to play around, because it is bigger and easy to manipulate, but use Nano for the installation, because it is smaller and fits everywhere. Then you gonna need two Adafruit NeoPixel Rings with approximate diameters slightly bigger than the crystals (mine are with 12 LEDs each). To connect your NeoPixels with the Arduino you'll need 6 cables and soldering equipment. To power all of the above you are going to need a simple USB power supply.

Software

 Get the Arduino IDE and install the Adafruit NeoPixel Library.

Putting things together

1. Connect the first NeoPixels together and then with the Arduino as show in the picture. First GND, then VCC, then PIN-IN-OUT.

2. Run my sample code

Get my neopixel code from the Kuker github project and run it through the Arduino IDE.

3. Mount everything on the Kuker and enjoy!

Finally, you have to put all of the parts together and enjoy your Kuker. I use simple mount with tape so that I can easily unmount and reprogram, but after all this one is your choice :)

Final

I've created a video tutorial in Bulgarian language with subtitles to be added soon. You can see at the end how the installation looks like at 1% power. Yes you read that right the LEDs are extremly powerful and transform the room!

Links

All of the tutorials like this one are listed in a main article called The Kuker Revival! Here are some other links you might find useful: