Tag Archives: cosplay

Creating the ultimate Arduino-lovers Halloween costume

Happy Halloween Hallowuino!

Two years ago, mechanical engineer and cartoonist Angela Melick (who goes by the nickname Jam) developed a pretty neat Halloween costume based on her favorite prototype development board: the Arduino. And that’s not all. Not only does it look like an Uno, it’s actually powered by one as well.


“It’s hard to tell in the first photo but the outfit is covered in puff-paint traces — all up and down the arms and over the back. It was a lot of work but it looks really cool,” Jam explained in her blog post.

The costume is equipped with a series of LEDs that go down her side and blink to a preprogrammed pattern, handled by an Arduino around her neck. Aside from that, a few glow stocks were used in place of “wires,” which as Maker jokingly notes, “represent the tangled mess that any Arduino project is in its first stages.” And we can’t help but notice the ATmega328 at the heart of this ensemble, which appears to be made of styrofoam.


However, Jam’s favorite part of the entire costume? The matching fascinator which features a second Arduino and a few more flashing lights, of course!

“This was my first time soldering ‘free’ wires and 8/8 of the LEDs worked, which I’m very proud of because the wires go all the way down the side and alllll the way back up the shirt,” the Maker added.


Feeling inspired to go make your own costume? Better hurry up, as we’re just days away from Halloween! In the meantime, you can check out Jam’s entire build here.

Building a life-size Iron Man Hulkbuster suit

A Maker has designed a Hulkbuster costume in homage of the upcoming Avengers 2: Age of Ultron film. 

With Maker Faire Bay Area just around the corner, there’s nothing like some life-size cosplay to spur a little excitement. While we’ve seen a number of pretty impressive Iron Man suits in the past, James Bruton’s latest creation may take the cake. The UK-based Maker has designed a slick Hulkbuster costume in homage of the upcoming Avengers 2: Age of Ultron film.


“I had planned to build a real life suiting up robot gantry for my Iron Man MKVI build. However, since the suit and its strapping system have progressed, the idea has become less practical. Also, as the Iron Man/Avengers series of films has progressed, Tony Stark has moved away from a special room full of robot arms to do the suit-up, towards suits that put themselves on,” Bruton writes.

With that in mind, the Maker had taken it up himself to create a next-gen getup with Hollywood-like appeal. To complete this task, Burton wanted the suit to not only be self-supporting for when the wearer climbs in and out, but 3D-printed using his Lulzbot TAZ machine and powered by several embedded electronics as well.


In order to make the suit free-standing, Bruton designed a set of stilts with space for a remote locking mechanism for the feet and legs. The stilts, along with portions of the frame, were comprised of plywood pieces coated in silver paint and connected by domestic door hinges at its joints.

The Maker included an end stop to prevent overbalancing, along with 3D-printed bearing blocks hinged around the costume’s thigh section and a locking bolt/pin to keep the joint in an upright position. Meanwhile, the joint between the torso and thighs consist of a bungee cord, a 3D-printed rubber buffer piece and plenty of padding to ensure comfort. Bruton also added some snowboard bindings to serve as locking mechanisms for the feet.


The suit’s 3D-printed hands and forearms even feature Iron Man-esque animatronics, which are powered by an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) in each arm that trigger servos to drive the hand plates. The forearms were designed to have “pop-out weapons” that required various mechanics to hinge backgrounds to point the repulser forward. Another Arduino is embedded within the torso of the suit, and connected by data connectors to activate features located in the body from joysticks in each arm. As for the hand itself, there are three fingers, with the middle one being a bit wider to resemble the suit from the soon-to-be-released flick. These hands are mounted to the suit, and Bruton says cordless screwdriver motors were used to enable the grippers.

“I’m using cordless screwdriver motors to drive the features, these are mounted in pairs on each arm on a 3D-printed bracket with a pulley assembly to pull the finger cords. These parts have to support the arms and allow movement in multiple axis, so I have two spaces for bearings on each axis,” Burton writes. “The elbow hinge will also act as a pulley with another motor to drive the joint, I’ll be springing the arm in the middle of it’s range of motion so that the motor only needs to pull it off centre rather than supporting the whole load around the pivot point. The arm is suspended with a combination of bungee cord and wooden dowel with 3D printed ends. I’m using some larger metal geared motors to drive the elbows — this are Como-Drills 919D motors with an 810:1 gearbox. The bungee and dowels are covered with fake pistons made from PVC pips and 3D printed spacers.”


As for its shoulders, these will also be open to not only allow the helmet to hinge back, but for the “weaponry” to be revealed. This will be made possible through four-bar linkage and some additional frame parts. One end is hinged on the existing M8 studding which the arms are mounted to, while the other runs into a channel. Bruton notes that the lever mechanism is sprung so that it can stay in either position or be activated by cable control.

Beyond that, the back of the suit is completely open to let a wearer easily hop in and out. As the Maker reveals, its rear panels needed to be able to be remotely activated and while the wearer is inside the suit, in addition to having a safety release for a quick exit in the event of power failure.

Like a number of its other parts, a majority of the chest plates were comprised of foam PVC, plastazote foam and 3D-printed components. The main plate is mounted, enabling the opening of panels on each side of the Unibeam to later hold internal detailing. These parts will be driven by an R/C servo so that they can open and close.


And, what would Iron Man be without an Arc Reactor? Designed in collaboration with Adafruit, both the Unibeam and Arc Reactor unit are illuminated by a series of NeoPixel LEDs and driven by a GEMMA microcontroller (ATtiny85).

Overall, this may be one, if not, the most elaborate and truly impressive cosplay projects we’ve seen. We wouldn’t be surprised if a few Hollywood producers call Bruton for prop jobs after this display of creativity. Intrigued? You can find an extremely detailed breakdown of the build here, or simply watch his 29-part video tutorial.

Creating a Dr. Who Handles replica

John F. has created a slick replica of Handles from Doctor Who that was recently featured on the official Adafruit blog.

The build uses an Atmel-based Arduino Uno (ATmega328 MCU), Wave Shield, Proto-Screw shield, triple axis accelerometer and a class D stereo amplifier. All of the components were purchased directly from Adafruit.

In related news, YouTube user Jamison Go is constructing an impressive Mercury Hammer that Debonair Jayce of League of Legends would be proud of! The cosplay hammer even transforms into a Mercury Canon – complete with lighting effects and moving parts.

According to the official Adafruit blog, Go’s iteration of the Mercury Hammer is packed with an RGB LED to change the prop’s colors between yellow and cyan, a servo to power the wings on the sides, solenoid valve to activate the extending rods and an Atmel-based Arduino board.

Interested in learning more? You can check out John F’s Handles replica here and Go’s Mercury Hammer here.

1:1 Interview with Mel Li (Part 1)

In 2013 there were 100 Maker Faires held around the world with nearly 530,000 people in attendance. Among the events, there are players and exhibitors who showcase their creation to the spectators. Many young techies, savvy tinkers, and even academic researchers are turning to tinkering. According to Makezine, there are over 40 million people who are classified as being part of this broader creative class. Among this creative class, there lies a blend of creative professionals. They are estimated at nearly 40 million people, all who create for a living, and are involved in a variety of fields from engineering to biotech to education to small business. We are witnessing the rise of the creative class – the Maker Movement.

Among this creative class, there are also some Makers who love the blend of creativity, fantasy, and technology in fantasy role-play (also known as “cosplay”). They live and advocate artistry, practice creative fiction, or conduct game play by integrating experimental R&D into their lives. The integration of new technologies into the Maker movement allows people to bring their creative or artistic endeavors from fantasy into reality. Below we interview Mel Li, a Biomedical Engineer and Maker, whose work showcases an illuminating wearable technology. She participates in an entertainment technology fantasy role-play coupled with imagination and real-world integration, all made possible by the advent of embedded mediated digital technologies. Mel Li is a Biomedical Engineer by day and creative Maker by night. Today, this dual-role is adopted by many graduates and researchers who are technologists, passionately wielding technology for artistic expression, research and advancement.

TV: What is your opinion of the Maker Movement?

ML: For me, technology should not only be about practicality, but should also be creative and aspirational. It really exists in the mind and the imagination. Without creative visions from artists, writers, and engineers, we have goals to work towards. I think this is the root cause for a lot of transformative ideas and technologies. For example, Neal Stephenson’s cyberpunk classic “Snowcrash” predicted a lot of the Internet and I think many sci fi aficionados can see that current technologies from Google Glass to Amazon quadcopters and self-driving cars owes a lot to creative influences. These advances are a motivation to learn more about the world around us… I think we’re living in a really exciting time. I want to be part of something important that makes a difference. “Making things” makes me feel resourceful; it makes me feel I can do things I did not know I could do.

Also, I am excited to be part of this super trend for wearables. There is a lot of “Maker Movement” in all of us. We have been making for countless centuries. Making is an attitude that isn’t the sole domain of the young, or the old. Today, the tools to build complex or innovative things are simply faster and more available to everyone. Using Arduino, I quickly realized I too could make creatively. It gives me a great feeling that I am a participant in this Maker Movement. A lot of modern technology is now simplified and easily broadcast. On Twitter, I can interact with famous and inventive people; I can tweet with Obama or communicate with the next contemporary cool inventor. 3D printing is not for small one time use or useless parts or useless created things. Technology in general is used to making things in a mass produced way. It’s all changing now. 3D printing is helping make highly personalized products. People make their wedding rings. Doctors and researchers make prosthetics and print unique designs for custom tailored patients. Even still, there are many more uses. Tech is becoming super personal and highly personal, it’s digitally produced, it can be tailored to fit your imagination.

Figure 2: Photo by Benny Lee

Photo by Benny Lee

Most importantly, you can express who you are to people by building their own things. These are the strong pillars, and can cause a resurgence of manufacturing. Prototyping phases are condensed. The risks have been removed with new instruments such as crowd-funding. You no longer have to think about high volume or highly invested factory models. It’s through crowd-funding where Kickstarter tied to R&D can make a lot of sense. Going to a hackerspaces and crowd-funded models to validate, get help, print out whatever is on your mind. Early phases can now be easily proofed and transparently evolved through open-source troubleshooting. The Maker Movement is important. It’s really the first time in digital technology where tools or ideas have become economically feasible and available.

Figure 3: Photo by Mike Vickers

Photo by Mike Vickers

TV: Can you talk a little about Arduino and AVR MCUs?

ML: Arduino is one of the best things that happened to Makers, artists and engineers. Arduino is such a great revolution. A lot of people close to me or in my lab research groups use it for personal or professional projects. For example, some have used it for persistence of vision (POV) bike wheel displays, others for piloting hobby drone helicopters for surveying hiking conditions. These machines are now our friends and part of the cast. Whether among friends or professional coworkers/collaborators, Arduino and Embedded design have become part of our discussion and rapport with one another.

This world had become much easier for entry and the barriers to learning are now far removed – allowing more and more people from other core disciplines to get more tightly involved with their ideas. It’s a deeply knitted thread into everything in our lives. In fact, this sort of technology is serving as an invaluable tool. It’s sort of an extension to our imaginations and thoughts.  We are now able to not only have a discussion on the topics or matter at hand, but we can actually work together to help demonstrate and move great ideas from concept to reality. For me, it would have been too taxing and exhausting if I had to program in basic using exotic and difficult learning languages which are really expensive to do without the helpfulness, openness and availability of open hardware, open source, Arduino IDE and Atmel. These things that use to be beyond our limits have now come closer to “easy.”  Now the more important question becomes what we are working towards.

Figure 4: Photo by Mike Vickers

Photo by Mike Vickers

TV:  How does imagination and creativity meet technology? 

ML: Imagination and creativity are important for seeing beyond what exists out there and instead looking forward to what could be. Technology is about obtaining the depth to make these dreams real. A lot of my spare time is in the depth of the research or personal build. Technical depth helps pull away the curtain of mystery and make things transparent. It unfolds the creativity with logic and fuses them together with others.

TV:  What is the pursuit?

ML: I like to blend fantasy with reality. I mean simply thinking about it, lots of the tech and smart electronics we use today were once unexplained or unimaginative a decade or so ago. The fantasy world helps unleash abstract concepts in my drawings and paintings. Now there is an availability of technology and lowered barriers for entry such as what you find with the ease of Arduino and forgiving Atmel AVR chips. It’s his ease-of-use which help provide a concrete bridge to formulating my day-to-day work. This technology provides a platform to someone like me, who is immersed into creative/research academia; a canvas to exhibit my work.

Figure 5: Photo by Mike Vickers

Photo by Mike Vickers

I have always been a big fan of the fantasy and game world. It’s a relief, pleasure, and balance, being also a research scientist trying to figure out and solve difficult problems. The electronic cosplay collection as a maker help stretch the imagination. The Maker work helps extend my parameters of creativity, lift any preconceived barriers and make thoughts elevate more open. With my graduate research work, the Arduino inspired fluorescent LED costume helps personify the notion of science and tech, where these two disciplines of study are typically not necessary known to be social. When you are in a gaming cosplay, it truly is really easy to share and quickly attract interest. Gaining interest in your project portfolio to present your maker work is not difficult.  When you are at an open convention, people will come up and talk to you… The best feeling is being able to share what you have created.

TV:  What is accelerating the Maker Movement?

ML: Arduino has been so fantastic, with cost and ease of use its primary valued traits. These platforms help me on the weekend. I really like to learn and use motor control and so I have used these controls in a bunch of projects. Time-wise, it’s practical and some of my projects usually took a weekend or week at most.  I used to play a lot of computer games. This led me to building my own computers then I tore things apart to break things and build them back again. It made me feel very knowledgeable and empowered. This whole Maker Movement which is being accelerated more by the Internet, Adafruit, Etsy, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Sparkfun, Seeed Studio, crowd-sourcing, crowd-funding, etc…  To me, it’s really doing things in a more sharply defined or distinct ways and building hardware. Making is an attitude that isn’t the sole domain of just the hacker, young techie, or the old adapting to what’s new. Creativity with raw materials, the introduction of digital tools, social sharing, communities, and thriving or developing potential market for wearables or IoT apply to today’s Maker Movement.

Together with the social sharing and instant accessibility, the Movement has become more active. We can find this in academia or even in a social community gathering where people get together with a shared common belief.  For example, Makers and hackers are some of the friends I have at Georgia Tech. We find new platforms to constantly test and stretch our imaginations. Some are building robots together and finding similar pursuits in chasing their imagination. This helps in the exchange of creativity and innovation but also with fostering interesting new ideas. Of course, this all happens when you build something that has a personal expression and share something very meaningful or passionate towards …  Technology has become very personalized.

Figure 1: Inspirational work from Anouk Wipprecht's fashion designs

Inspirational work from Anouk Wipprecht’s fashion designs

TV: How would you characterize yourself?

ML: Well for me, I’m at heart two coalesced into one. I’m a Biomedical Engineer and a Maker. I’ve recently completed a PhD program at Georgia Tech and I’m currently a postdoc over at the University of Washington. At the same time, I really enjoy personal projects. I love to research and create – expand the creative envelope and engage in pursuit of the imagination. This makes me a true Maker at heart. I enjoy pursuing my projects with wearable electronics and I created DIY laboratory automation. Through my creative cosplay and imaginations, I am very passionate around wearable technology as an expression. I have created wearable electronics, which are powered by the Atmel microcontroller and Arduino boards. For example, during this year’s Maker Faire (Bay Area), I showcased some items from my DIY laboratory automation projects which demonstrates how the Atmel MCU and Arduino can be used for low-cost, multi-channel optics control and fluorescence visualization.

Part Two of the interview with Mel Li can be read here.

1:1 Interview with Mel Li (Part 2)

(Continued from Part 1 …)

TV:  Tell me about the Lab on a Chip?

ML: The lab-on-a-chip (LOC) is a device that integrates one or several laboratory functions on a single chip of only millimeters to a few square centimeters in size. LOCs deal with the handling of extremely small fluid volumes down to less than pico liters. The notion of the “Lab-on-a-Chip” generally indicates the scaling of single or multiple lab processes down to chip-format, primarily dedicated to the integration of the total sequence of lab processes to perform chemical analysis.  My previous work examined the design and validation of a LOC for screening blood samples to determine optimal personalized drugs and their respective dosages for specific patients to prevent heart attacks. A lot of those techniques were first inspired by the fact that tools requiring the examination, characterization and integration of the sophisticated hardware controls are made available.

TV: Describe your post doctorate work and bio medical engineering?

ML: I worked on research projects that are helping us to better understand and detect early heart disease.  My current research work involves measurements for fluid migration over surfaces then discussing those applications for medical diagnostics. My works also involve motor control for fluorescence microscopy for applications in life sciences.  This work involves spectrum study of fluorescent DNA or proteins. This graduate work is related to the building and diagnostic device which can measure at microscale, pinpoint dosage of drugs to show visibility of early signs of heart disease. The medical application revolves around a low cost infectious disease as well as looking at tuberculosis and malaria. The idea is to provide a breakthrough in what typically required extensive cost, lots of lab work and long examination to be replaced with a low cost and easily administered solution. The application is very similar to taking a sample of mucous or saliva; this is sort of like a pregnancy test. We collaborate with large industrial partners such as GE Healthcare and hopefully we’ll be able to produce a commercially viable product in time.

TV:  How are AVR Microcontrollers being used with the Arduino in your cosplay costume

ML: I use the ATmega168 (via the development and application of the Arduino Duemilanove board) for this costume. The microcontroller is used to control the color, power and timing of the lights on the costume through shift registers. The cosplay costume using this controller chip is the one pictured here.


I also use the ATmega328 (via the Arduino Uno/Uno R3 board) for the lab projects previously described.  Specific tasks for the controller include driving the position and timing of a servo motor and/or linear actuator, as well as switching power on and off from an AC wall socket to a high powered, wide spectrum LED light source. Additionally, it was also used in a costume where it again controlled color, power and timing of LED’s, but these were driven using normal (non shift register) PWM signal controls. My costume using this controller chip is pictured here:

Figure 6: Photos by Mike Vickers

Figure 6: Photos by Mike Vickers


This is the ATmega32uF (via the Arduino Micro board) for my current project (in progress) that will be used for motor control.



* Mel’s costume is an original design inspired by a wide range of cyberpunk/fantasy artists including Masumune Shirow, Eric Canete, Joe Benitez and various modern gaming concept art. According to Mel, the process was a lot of fun and took approximately three months of on-and-off planning and building. The assembly is made from over 60 parts designed in Solidworks and sewn/cut/glued/laser-cut/heat-formed using various techniques. The costume includes color changing LEDs on the spine and front that are controlled by Arduino boards with Atmel AVR and ARM microcontrollers and onboard RGB controllers (respectively). The costume is powered by 16 AA batteries, 1 LiPo rechargeable battery, two 2032 coin cells and one 9-volt battery. In total, there are more than 70 LED’s on the entire costume and over 60 parts.

** Part one of this interview can be read here.


Atmel @ Maker Faire Day 0 (sneak peek)

Atmel is getting ready to take center stage at Maker Faire Bay Area 2014 in San Mateo on May 17th and 18th.


Our team is currently setting up booth #205, where we’ll be showcasing a wide range of Maker projects, platforms and devices, including the new Arduino Zero which is powered by Atmel’s ARM-based SAMD21 microcontroller (MCU).

So, what else can you find in booth #205?

  • Wearable electronics and cosplay
  • MicroView
  • ProtoSnap Pro-Mini
  • Red Boards
  • FuzzBots
  • Phonear
  • Touch Boards
  • Hexabugs
  • uToT ‘bots
  • 3D printers
… And more!

Maker Faire Bay Area 2014 will kick off at the San Mateo Event Center in San Mateo, CA, on Saturday, May 17, from 10am to 8pm and Sunday, May 18, from 10am to 6pm.

Tickets can be purchased on-site at Maker Faire Bay Area 2014 on May 17 and 18, 2014 ($25.00 – $40.00 for a full day pass).

Can’t make it to the Faire? You can follow @Atmel live on Twitter for event updates, or join the conversation by tweeting #AtmelMakes.

A cosplay cyberpunk build

Cyberpunk films and novels are often set in post-industrial dystopias characterized by extraordinary cultural ferment and the use of technology in ways never anticipated by its original creators.

As William Gibson noted in Burning Chrome, “the street finds its own uses for things.” 

Although Gibson wrote those words way back in 1981, they more than aptly describe the cyberpunk build designed by the very talented mel ell, a cos-player and graduate student at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

According to the Adafruit crew, mel ell admires the cyberpunk and fantasy genre styles of various artists in comics and games. Indeed, she used the genre art as a basis for the design of her slick outfit.

“The process was a lot of fun and took approximately three months of on-and-off planning and building. The assembly is made from over 60 parts designed in Solidworks and sewn/cut/glued/laser-cut/heat-formed using various techniques,” mel ell explained.

“The costume includes color changing LEDs on the spine and front that are controlled by an [Atmel-based] Arduino board and onboard RGB controllers. It is powered by 16 AA batteries, 1 LiPo rechargeable battery, two 2032 coin cells and one 9-volt battery. In total there’s more than 70 LEDs on the entire costume and over 60 parts.”


Tron cosplay with an Arduino

Swap_File has created a slick Tron suit costume that wouldn’t be out of place at Flynn’s, The Grid or the End of Line Club.

According to Swap_File, the motorcycle helmet is equipped with a 20×4 RGB backlight negative screen, along with a serial backpack from a 16×2 and a microphone. And the disc? Made of black and frosted laser-cut acrylic.

“Neodymium magnets hold it to the holster on my back, which is bolted through my leather jacket and through a backpack. I left the bottom two magnets out of the holster to aid in removal,” Swap_File explained in an Adafruit forum post. “The disc contains an [Atmel-powered] Arduino Nano, Wixel, ADXL345 accelerometer, TCS230 color sensor, 1450mAh 3S Turnigy LiPo, 16 outward facing LPD8806 RGB LEDs and a 5v switching regulator.”

Meanwhile, the Tron jacket boasts 80 LPD8806 LEDs mounted onto checkout store pricing strip – all sticking to the leather with 3M 969 adhesive transfer tape. Audio from the helmet runs through two op amps and a msgeq7, with the analog sections operating on their own 3.3v regulator to reduce noise.

User input? Via the Disc, another Wixel and Wireless Wii Nunchuk. As an added bonus, the jacket can be neatly paired with a smarphone via a JY-MCU-HC-06 Bluetooth Radio.

“A Python script on my phone allows incoming text messages to change the helmet display and my colors. It also replies with a status message with basic statistics,” said Swap_File. “Stats are saved to EEPROM once a minute, snapshotted to RAM and written to EEPROM.”

And last, but certainly not least, the suit itself boasts 6 motion based effect modes, two EQ based effect modes and a fully on mode, with 8 output modes and 7 levels of max brightness supported by the open source cosplay.

Pretty cool, eh? You can read more about Swap_File’s open source Tron cosplay here with code, schematic and DXF files available here.