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Robert Thomas' Arduino-Controlled Helmet-Mounted Firefighting LED Matrix

Gareth Halfacree

Robert Thomas' Arduino-powered LED helmet lamp project

It's always a pleasure to see Arduino devices being used to solve real-world problems, and a new video from US firefighter Robert Thomas offers exactly that: a look at a home-made programmable LED light designed to be fitted to a helmet to improve visibility in low-light situations.

Designed to improve his safety during fire and accident response, Robert's creation uses an Arduino Nano to provide controlling logic for an ultra-bright LED matrix mounted on the front-side of his helmet. While a simple power switch would allow the matrix to be turned on and off, the microcontroller lets Robert toggle between four modes on-demand: off, full brightness, half brightness, and an irregular strobing blink designed to make him easy to spot in low-visibility conditions.

Powered by four 9V batteries running through a home-made MOSFET-based power supply circuit with remote switch, Robert's project is still in the prototype stage: he's currently working on waterproofing the circuit, an important feature of equipment used in firefighting, and on safely routing the wires around the helmet without damaging the integrity of the helmet.

This is an Arduino-controlled LED matrix I'm going to put on my helmet, and it will supply light during a fire or in the dark. I'll be able to get it down to about half luminance, and then I'll flash it so if I'm out on an accident scene in the dark or in the middle of the night or something, people can see me.

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