Formori's 2013 Halloween Costume Contest Entry

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Formori

Member
Hey guys, after being a long time lurker around here and building a couple of smaller props and things, I read tekparasite's build log of building a Thomas Bengalter helmet and decided (after drooling over Volpin's build a year or so earlier) that I wanted to build my own DP helmet. :cool

It was going to have a full LED matrix display, hand-made so I could see out through, with rainbow earpucks, a clean chin and helmet line (that really stands out to me when I see those helmets) and it had to have a decent chrome job on top (but not real chrome since I'm not made of money).

You'll see what I actually ended up with at the end of this post, but suffice to say that I accomplished most of my goals and I'm happy with the helmet, and I still have more improvements to make yet!

Stage 1 - Designing and References
DP Thomas Helmet Original.jpg

I took most of my design notes on the helmet itself from both tek and Volpin, seeing as they have much better and clearer pictures of their helmets than almost anything of the original, but I still have a bunch of pictures of the originals from searching (and thedaftclub, those guys are awesome!) to keep it as original as possible. This helmet is being made to the Discovery era, since that was the helmet I most liked so far with a nice display and clear helmet lines.

Volpin DP-Helmet.png Tekparasite DP Helmet.jpg

The first parts I ordered were a SURE 8032 Dot matrix display board from Sure Electronics and I already had an arduino lying around with a bunch of parts and wires, so my first task was to build the working display with animations and a selector switch. The code is original arduino code from which I modified with a selector switch, a Mode2 switch (for walking around in dim lighting) and some custom animations. With that all done I moved on to how the display was going to fit into Artfunk's cast and what acrylic I needed to buy for the visor, sub-visor, earpucks, and anything else.

Fall Randoms 027.JPG

I ordered a resin cast helmet from Artfunk in Nov. 2012 and got it in early December, since I wasn't going about the model/mold/cast process by myself with extremely limited experience and he had an amazing version available. The only problem with this was that when I received the helmet from the courier it was utterly destroyed...

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Now, I have to say here that ArtFunk Props handled this situation EXTREMELY well, and they had a notice in with the courier for damaged items and were going to make a new cast within a day of me messaging them about what had happened, and I received my new helmet only a few weeks after.

I can't tell you how much I appreciated that quick response and getting a replacement helmet to me so quickly.

Now with the resin helmet I started by cleaning up the whole cast, cutting out the visor, earpucks, cutting all of the excess off the bottom and cleaning out the mouth and nostrils. This was very, very dusty and dirty work with my dremel, but well worth it!

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Now I measured all of the acrylic parts for my visor, sub-visor, a small frame for the sub-visor to fit into the front of the helmet, and the circles for the ear pucks. I had a plan put together for this before I received the cast but couldn't cut or fit any of the parts until I had the helmet to make measurements off of, so this fell together fairly quickly and the 1mm acrylic I used was excellent for bending around the visor.

Thomas Helmet pt1 001.JPG

The next part was one of the most boring and difficult parts of this build, cutting and drilling out all of the holes for the LED's to sit in on the sub-visor and I opted to put the LED leads in through the panel rather than the whole body of the LED, so my 1/32" bits got a good workout that day.

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(For those of you who are photo-keeners, you've probably noticed that the acrylic above looks thicker than what I show below, this is because I went through 3 sub-visor pieces trying to get one drilled out and cut down that didn't crack or split somewhere.)

Now it's time for the sub-visor assembly! Yay!

So I mounted all 256 LEDs into the 1mm acrylic with CA glue and had a black foam backer on each one (5mm hole punch is wonderful for this), and while gluing I had to make sure I didn't get CA glue 'clouds' on the acrylic because those are the portions I would be trying to see through later on.

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Next step is to wire all those suckers! I used tek's method here of using 30AWG black solid wire to create my rows and columns and connected them to headers mounted in the top bracket (you'll see that later). For now I left the wires a little long and not installing the bracket gave me a ton more room to work around with the soldering iron and wire.

Plus, I only burned myself once or twice! (okay, maybe three or four times...)

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Then after all of that tedious work was done I wanted to take a break from the visor for a bit so I decided to work on the ear pucks and the rainbow LED pattern. Here I used some 2mm acrylic cut and sanded perfectly round, then drilled cutouts for the LEDs to sit flush with the acrylic and CA glued them into place, then I soldered all of the leads together (they're done in parallel with the required resistor because I'm using a 5v source and it makes the most sense for this setup).

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Here I've fitted them into the ear pucks using a piece of acrylic across the interior of the puck and a bolt screwed into the outer piece to hold the entire assembly together. This means that once the inner piece is epoxied into the helmet itself I'll still be able to remove the outer parts for prep and paint.

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Here I started assembling the top and bottom frame plates to hold the main visor and sub-visor together and keep them in the front visor mount of the helmet. I had to do quite a bit of fitting and finickying to get this right because I wanted fans in the front and they had to sit between my face and the sub-visor, also over the nose vents to pull cool air into the helmet and into my face.

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Test fit! And if I do say so myself, d@@@@@@@mn she looks good!

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To be continued...
 

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Formori

Member
And the continuation of our story...

So now that I know everything fits, it's time to start wiring!

Here's the Sure8032 Dot Matrix board after being stripped down, the Arduino Nano is mounted on top and power is on the breadboard just to get this working. The large ribbon cable is for conecting the Sure board in the back of the helmet to the sub-visor headers in the front, keeping things a little even in a cramped helmet.

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And holy cr@p on a cracker it works! (though this did take quite a bit of time and fiddling, not 30 seconds like it's taking you to read this post :p )

Thomas Helmet pt1 063.JPG

So, now to make sure the thing will work as intended, back into the helmet again for another test fit!

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And of course I couldn't help but try it on and see what it looks like in there.

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Now that the display and internals are all working as planned, it's time to get this bucket painted!

Started by sanding the entire surface down to remove surface scratches and clean the surface for the primer to go on. Also did a little bit of bondo work here to clean up some lines and edges that were either rough from casting or didn't sit perfectly straight when gluing.

Thomas Helmet pt1 073.JPG Thomas Helmet pt1 074.JPG Thomas Helmet pt1 075.JPG Thomas Helmet pt1 076.JPG

Now we're (hopefully) ready for paint! I used a black acrylic enamel for my primer and base coats (more on how this wasn't the smartest solution later).

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Once this cured for a couple of days it was time to sand this perfectly smooth. I used wet 800 grit to start and worked my way up to 3000 grit foam pads, this gives a really nice matte finish to then polish.

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Once I was (sort-of) happy with the black paint job it's chrome time!



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The painted helmet, polished, with ear pucks!

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I didn't want to go the route of PVC formed back pieces for the gloves so I opted to buy a set on ebay that were vacuformed ABS. They come on a sheet and you have to cut them out and sand to fit into place on the back of whatever glove they'll be mounted to.

I cut and sanded all of them and then mounted them to a piece of cardboard so I can evenly paint them chrome.

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Put everything together and VIOLA!

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At this point in the build, I had just turned on the battery pack for the helmet and it lit up with the (hilariously coincidental) "OK" !!!

This is the moment when I got up from my desk and promptly did a little happy dance and just started at it for like, 20 minutes straight. :lol

The finished piece and costume photos coming up next!
 

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Formori

Member
Okay, so this costume was (partially) completed in time for my local convention Sci-Fi on the Rock IIV and so that's where it originally debuted back in May of this year, since then it has been repainted, wiring has been messed with and fixed, and I added the light bars for the sides of the visor.

It's been at many parties, outdoor cosplay events (promoting cons and cosplay!) and will be going with me downtown for our Halloween Costume Boonanza contest on Oct. 26th. I know I don't have the same skills and quality to my build as many others on this board but I wanted to do this build and costume justice by putting up a good build log and submitting it anyway.

Here's my first appearance at SFOTR 7

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This photo courtesy of Philippe René, who was the event photographer for SFOTR and is an amazing guy to both work with and hang out with!

I also have a couple of friends who have been slowly building a couple of droids and now R2-D2 is almost complete but his brother D4 is going to take a bit longer. I had to stand here with the droids for almost half an hour straight because so many fans wanted to take pictures of "Daft Punk with his Turntables" (I didn't name it, someone else on the committee did).

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And while I was walking around someone from a local podcast grabbed me for an interview about the costume, mostly about the helmet, and about the con in general (I've been going since the second year and have known the committee for a while).

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I even got to hand out with my rival!

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And we had a cosplay and SFOTR fundraising event in the park in August, so here I am!

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And just for contrast of how big a leap this was in build props and costumes in general, here was me only 2 years prior with a handmade Arc Reactor as Tony Stark (apparently missing my whisky glass, hmm...).

Sci-Fi on the Rock V-36.jpg
Again, credit to Philippe René for his awesome job photographing almost every costume at the con.

So I hope you guys have enjoyed this build and I have some future plans for the helmet as well, but between work and school those are on hold at the moment. Let me know what you think, what I can do better (I'm already planning another repaint) and any comments, criticisms or whatever!

PS: I'm also going to be posting some more recent photos and some interior shots of the current build of the helmet soon, I have to get access to my camera again.

I love this community and the people in it and I can't wait to see what the costume contest brings!

Enjoy!
 

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Formori

Member
Hey, so apparently for the contest you need to have a proof photo either with a card with date/title/etc. or with the RPF in the background, so I went for the background and here's me as proof!

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That being said, I spent a little time tonight going over the battery controller, updating some programming on the display for Halloween, and fixing up some small things.

Here's the inside of my controller, the battery attaches to the back on it's prongs and sits like a belt clip on my right pocket, so I can use the selector switch or power switches whenever I need.

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Here's the helmet and gloves on the bench, they've had some use now and need a repaint but I haven't had time recently.

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And here's a couple of shots of all of the electronics inside the helmet and mounted. You can see how tight it is in there, but my head still fits comfortably and the fans are almost always on.

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Anwways, that's it from me for a little while. Between Halloween now and school coming up I'm not going to have much time to do much with this helmet repaint or any new props, so it might not be until around December after exams when I get back to this.

Good luck to everyone in the costume contest, and I can't wait to see all of the entries!

Enjoy!
 

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