Not Another Daft Punk Helmet - Thomas Pepakura Build

Discussion in 'Replica Props' started by Calmac12, Aug 10, 2015.

  1. Calmac12

    Calmac12 New Member

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    Thought I'd share some pictures of a Daft Punk Thomas helmet I'm working on. I've never done anything like this before and am sort of winging it.
    Its a pepakura base, fiberglassed with car body-filler on top. I don't plan to cast it due to a tight budget and It's not quite perfect dimension wise. The helmet is quite heavy and stinks of fibreglass. I want it to be wearable but realistically I wont be wearing it for extended periods so this isn't such an issue.

    I downloaded the pep file from here:

    I still have parts to smooth and touch up. The visor is 2mm PETG plastic which I cut out with a dremel and used a hair-dryer to bend to shape. I may try some car window tint film rather than dye the visor.

    The ear pucks are next. I'm either going to use a 3D printer or lathe them from a hard insulation foam. What do you think?
    I don't have access to the proper tools so I'm going to try my local Hacksapce for some help.

    I used Sketchup to make some mock up sub-visors to hold the LEDs. I plan to paint it using Alclad Mirror Chrome then look at installing some electronics.

    More info here :

    Ill post some more pics when I make some progress.












    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 9, 2018
    Vacformedhero likes this.
  2. Sucre

    Sucre New Member

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    I refuse to let this thread die. BTW, just a word of advice, Thomas's helmet has breathing holes under the visor/above the chin. Look it up.
    Calmac12 likes this.
  3. Calmac12

    Calmac12 New Member

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    Cheers Sucre!
    Got the vents cut the other day. Used a dremmel and some needle files. Bit raggy but they can be touched up later.
    IMG_5444.JPG IMG_5441.JPG
  4. Sucre

    Sucre New Member

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    Have you done the GM helmet by any chance?
  5. Calmac12

    Calmac12 New Member

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    No I thought I'd start with the Thomas as it looked a bit easier.

    Getting some ear pucks printed this weekend, hopefully they turn out ok!
  6. Calmac12

    Calmac12 New Member

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    Ear pucks have arrived! They are a bit blocky so I'll try and sand them smooth then coat with zap 30 min epoxy.
    image.jpg image.jpg
  7. disposablepal

    disposablepal Active Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    very nice, i look forward to seeing it when you get to the LED portion. i've wanted to build one for myself for quite a while.
  8. Calmac12

    Calmac12 New Member

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    Quick update, I have started work on the electronics.

    The visor was laser cut from 1mm PET plastic.
    IMG_5757.JPG IMG_5791.JPG

    I plan to use 5 Max7219 chips to control 320 LEDs.

    I will use Humbrol Matt Cote with 50% thinners to diffuse the light of the red 5mm leds.
    The difference can be seen in the middle led in the pic below.


    I used tamiya flat black to colour the back of the leds.

    I made a mock visor holder and will solder the LEDs together in this way to accommodate for the curve of the visor.
    IMG_5790.JPG IMG_5806.JPG

    More updates soon!

    Attached Files:

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  9. Strode

    Strode Well-Known Member

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    Good progress. This is exactly one of the ways I am going to go in terms of electronics. It was either this or Tekparasite's method. I ordered the LED matrix from aliexpress but it's been almost a month and it still hasn't arrived. Luckily I saw the MAX7219 chips on ebay so if my matrix doesn't come, I'll do this. So go into as much detail as you can please! What are you doing for the code?
  10. Calmac12

    Calmac12 New Member

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    Thanks Strode! Yes Tekparasite did a beautiful job. I went with this method as I couldn't find a pegboard big enough and didn't fancy drilling so many holes.

    I soldered the first 8x8 matrix together last night and should have it hooked up to the MAX7219 chip by the end of the week. Fingers crossed!

    Not sure about the code, I fancy having a go myself and will probably end up going to my local hacklab for help. If I get one working ill post it here.

    More to come this week.
  11. Strode

    Strode Well-Known Member

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    Mate, I pm'd you with something that I think might help. See if it works. Best of luck and please remember to document ;). Following with interest.
  12. Calmac12

    Calmac12 New Member

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    Progress report. I've soldered together 3 complete matrices.
    These are the basic steps:


    Bend the short leg towards you and cut it.


    Make a jig and solder the cut legs together. Paint the backs with black paint.


    Use matt gloss to cloud the leds to aid light dispersion.

    IMG_5827.JPG IMG_5828.JPG

    Bend the long legs over the soldered legs. I used this black plastic piece. Cut the bent legs to about 12mm.


    Solder them together in the visor. This allows you to accommodate for the visor curve.


    I then soldered 8in wires onto each row. Figuring out the max7219 chips was a little tricky - working out which pin goes where. The chip kits come with a 10k resistor. I ordered some 27k ohm resistors to limit the current to each led. This article is useful for sizing your resistors:

    I used this code and the led panel worked:

    Also included in the above link is a program that lets you create your own graphics. I made a space invader as a test.
    Still early days in terms of coding. I only have one matrix working and will try and figure out how to cascade the graphics in the coming weeks.

    IMG_5856.JPG IMG_5854.JPG IMG_5865.JPG
  13. Calmac12

    Calmac12 New Member

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    Since my last post I soldered all the max chips together and tested them with the matrices. Using different colour wire for each row and column makes this easier.
    I ran a few test codes and ensured the leds fit in the holder correctly.


    Next came the code, I searched the internet for hours and tried various codes with varying degrees of success. Someone on the arduino forum suggested this:

    It is by far the best way to go if you want pre made daft punk animations. Download that file and there is a daft punk example that can be configured to your setup. Highly recommend it and the Arduino forums for help. By altering the library file you can, rotate the animations to the correct orientation, swap scroll directions, create custom graphics etc.

    Once I had the code sorted I began hard wiring the max chips together.
    IMG_5936.JPG IMG_5928.JPG IMG_5919.JPG

    I used hot glue to mount the chips to the card board top plate and heat shrink to keep the wiring as neat as possible.
    Once complete it looked like this.


    I then started on the sidebars. I wanted them to be fairly simple so botched together a code and a rudimentary lighting system which still needs some code refinement.
    I made the cases from cardboard and hot glue. The coloured panels where taken from plastic folders I found in the house. I used some cello tape to bind them all together and make them strong.

    IMG_5953.JPG IMG_5918.JPG IMG_5913.JPG

    I then hot glued them into place and sat back to admire the thing! The code needs to be refined, id like some buttons that let me scroll though the animations. Hopefully Ill get that sorted soon.

    Video here:


    IMG_5962.JPG IMG_5977.JPG

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015
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  14. Vacformedhero

    Vacformedhero Sr Member

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  15. made007

    made007 Sr Member

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    Love it
  16. Calmac12

    Calmac12 New Member

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    It's finished! It has taken about 8/9 month in total. I hesitated on many aspects as I wanted it perfect but I heard the saying "perfection is the enemy of good enough" so I compromised on some aspects such as paint/chrome and coding. Here are some pics of the last stages of the build.

    The paint turned out to be the most challenging part of the build for me. I tried Alclad gloss black base but the stuff just wouldn't dry properly.Other's seem to have similar issues. I'm not about to blame the materials though it was probably my fault. I had planned to use the mirror chrome from Alclad but it is very thin and would rub off easily unless coated with a clear coat giving a dull silver finish. I ended up having to sand the whole helmet back and re prime it. I used dial multi purpose primer then Tamiya TS14 gloss black paint. I then used Micromesh to get a deep shine. The final silver was Tamiya TS-83 metallic silver. I'm happy with the results it looks like bright silver and can be handled. I covered the helmet interior with sticky back felt.

    IMG_6075.JPG IMG_6114.JPG

    I tinted the visor with car window tint film. I had tried using black die but the plastic warped out of shape due to the heat.
    I had intended to modify the code to incorporate buttons to cycle through the animations. This I managed to achieve but I chose to let it cycle automatically for simplicity.
    I used an Arduino nano clone to control the helmet. It was hard wired to a prototype board then attached to a rudimentary mdf holder. The device is powered by a USB power pack I got cheap on ebay. I then made a simple stand from mdf.

    IMG_6141.JPG IMG_6148.JPG IMG_6149.JPG IMG_6155.JPG IMG_6140.JPG

    I'm really pleased with the final results. The helmet is wearable - if a little heavy. It will be used mainly as a display piece. I may try and include cooling fan later on or add more functionality to the electronics in the future. Thanks to Volpin for the inspiration and helpful build threads and my mate Mike for laser cutting my visor!


    IMG_0703.PNG IMG_6101.JPG IMG_0705.PNG

    Attached Files:

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  17. HULKSMASH1120

    HULKSMASH1120 Active Member

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    I've seen a lot it these daft punk helmet builds before but that's about the best one so far. Looks better than some of the secondary helmets that they actually wear. Good Job on the build. Now u should try ur hand at a dead mouse helmet
  18. JJDP

    JJDP New Member

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    Could you list the pinout on the MAX7219 for the led matrix? Im having problems connecting them properly

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