FUnicorn Set Up Guide


A brilliant arduino-compatible way to tell people off

It's a unicorn with a special message.  The base kit activates the message by touching the unicorn, and needs to be plugged in to work (you'll need to provide your own USB power or 5-12V power supply).  

The base kit includes:
- The majestic FUnicorn circuit board
- A piece of dark smoked acrylic to obscure the LEDs when unlit
- A cardboard stand
- A beautiful rainbow USB cord
- Stickers

The full kit includes:
- Everything in the base kit
- A Big Red Button kit (everything you need to add a large arcade button)
- A battery cable, 9V battery not included
A Distance Sensor kit (distance sensor, cables, and stand)
- Headers for the arduino shield pattern
- An FUnicorn magnet and more stickers

The code that ships with the FUnicorn activates the message by either touching the unicorn or pressing a button (provide your own or get the full kit).  It can be put into a low power mode for operating off of battery power by pressing and holding the button for the duration of one of the message cycles.  The message cycles through 5 different fun blinking patterns.

I originally made it as a white elephant gift exchange gag, but thought that this really had to exist in the world as a thing people could buy.  So I made it arduino-compatible and developed libraries for it, and added a shield pattern to the back.  I don't know about you, but I'm much more interested in learning new skills when a project speaks to me, so I'm hoping this will inspire people to learn how to do basic embedded programming in the Arduino IDE.

It's a pretty big board at 4" x 7", a nice size to proudly display on your desk.  It has a majestic unicorn on it with **real gold** plating.  There's an unusual cyan-colored LED on the tip of its horn that adds to the magic.  There are 120 red LEDs that spell out...the thing that it says... in cursive.  So don't worry, your kids probably won't be able to read it anyway.  There's a custom-designed cardboard stand that also holds a piece of smoked acrylic in front of its special message, so it's hidden until activated.  And I found amazing rainbow USB cables, which really tie it all together.  It's also completely made in the USA.  This is also an explanation as to why it's not cheaper.  The size of the board, the number of LEDs, and the fact that it's US-made in a relatively small quantity make it cost more.  

There are 120 LEDs soldered in place to spell out its beautiful message in classy-ass cursive.  Although it's a one-trick pony and you can't change what it says, the possibilities of how to trigger the message are endless.  There's an arduino shield pattern on the back, so you can solder on the headers (or wires) and add practically any sensor to it.  Want to make a "6 feet, mofos" sign?  Add a distance sensor and/or a motion detector.  Want to tell someone they're being too loud?  Add a microphone.  Want to simply keep track of how many times you've told people off?  Add an LCD shield.




Unpack the components from the box.

You'll have the FUnicorn board, 3 cardboard stand pieces, an LED shield, and a rainbow USB cable, and ISP headers.

The headers are to make it easier to hack into your FUnicorn.  We reccomend you don't solder them on unless you're planning on using them!

Slide the 3 cardboard pieces together to make the stand

Set the FUnicorn board on the stand

Peel the protective cover from the LED shield
Set the LED shield on the stand, over the LEDs


Unpack the components from the box.

You'll have everything above plus a Big Red Button Kit and cable, Distance Sensor, Arduino Shield.

(9V battery not included)

Full Kit Setup:

Assemble the FUnicorn following the base kit instructions above

Assemble the Big Red Button Kit per its instructions HERE

Plug the Big Red Button into the FUnicorn board

Base Kit Use:

Plug in the USB cable to a charger or computer port
The Unircorn's horn will pulse once to indicate that it is ON and READY. Afterwards, every time you touch the Unicorn a new blinking pattern will appear.  There are 5 pre-programmed patterns.

Note: You must wait for the pattern to finish before you can trigger the next one!

Full Kit Use:

Connect the FUnicorn to a USB power source
Either touching the unicorn or pushing the button will trigger the message

For battery operation:

Push the button and hold it until the flashing sequence is done. The horn will blink twice, indicating it's now in low power. Touching the unicorn will no longer work, it'll be button only. To restore touch operation, power cycle or press the blue button on the back of the board.


initially made it for a white elephant gift exchange at a place that I used to work at. Everybody brings the present, you put it in a big pile, you all take numbers, the first person picks a present, but then the second person has the option to either pick a new present or to steal the firstperson’s present. By the time you get to the last person, it’s just all sorts of stealing, going back and forth. And nobody knows who brought any of the presents. So you have your typical bunch of smart alecs who will bring maybe sex toys, funny inappropriate things; then other people would bring stuff like bottles of booze. And toys – toys were also very popular because this was like a bunch of engineering nerds. I wanted to actually make something for it one year. And I don’t know if there was an actual specific event that this was a response to, but wanted to make a funny way of saying F-you, and then it just grew from there. I wanted to make something that lights up and it says F-you, and it’s kind of a surprise, right? And I thought, well, it should be classy, though. And so I decided that it would be in cursive script – because who doesn’t want to manually lay out 120 0603 LEDs in cursive? And then I decided to add the unicorn, because unicorns are super-classy. And what if it was solid gold? So yeah, it started with that. The first prototypes were pretty simple, but I really liked it, so I set about making it Arduino-compatible so that you could add other sensors to it. I had a graphic designer draw me like a nice unicorn, because I love making cool-looking circuit boards, but I personally don’t possess artistic drawing skills. So, I am always looking to collaborate with others that can help beautify the boards. Of course, when you have this big giant copper patch on the circuit board, the obvious thing to do is make it a capacitive touch button. So I added that, made it Arduino-compatible, put a shield footprint on the back... so you can add stuff that’s I2C, and UART SPI is kind of shared with programming and stuff. But anyway, a lot of the digital I/O just are not available because they are busy blinking lights. But we did do things like you know, when Covid started, we made this social distancing version with an ultrasonic sensor, so you walk in front of it and it flashes. Doing stuff like that is really fun. So many people I’ve talked to are like, ‘Well, you know, I have an Arduino, but I just don’t know what to do with it’ or, ‘Yeah, I’ve heard about Arduino. I just don’t really get them, like what is it useful for?’ When you show somebody the FUnicorn, it immediately gets a laugh; it provides some context. We have one that is hooked up to a Raspberry Pi with the AIY Google kit. It’s a voice-activated FUnicorn, which is probably my favourite version.

Elsewhere on the Web


Introducing the FUnicorn:
FUnicorn Holiday Special:
Schematic Talk:
Have any questions?  Contact us!