Apr 302015
 

We finally got around to building Isaac’s shoulderpads for this convention. And it was a lot easier than we expected! We bought some wonderflex, which is a polymer material made by the same people that make the fosshape I adore so much for ears. It’s super easy to work with now that we’ve bought a heat gun.

Step one: Chaos made a mold out of poster board that fit his shoulders correctly and had the right amount of curl to it.

Step two: Chaos draped the wonderflex over the mold, heating it with the heat gun until it softened. It was super important here to keep the mold bent; laying it out flat would let it flatten out and not give the correct shape, so he ended up hanging it to keep the right bow shape. A more sturdy mold would have worked better, but we were experimenting here.

Step three: Now you have shoulder pads:

The spine, resting in my lap

The spine, resting in my lap

spine2

Edge-on view to show the bowing

So it’s time to cover them with something! We could have painted them for a metal look, but we decided to cover them in faux leather instead. I traced the posterboard molds onto the faux leather, added about half an inch all around, then cut four pieces. I stitched pairs together to make a pocket, then used hot glue to anchor them onto the spines (to ensure they curved correctly) and seal the seam.

 

Shoulder pad

Shoulder pad

I then took some more of the faux leather and, having measured the length from shoulder to hip on Chaos and cut out four wide strips. I then folded each strap in half, stitching it shut, then stitched the straps at right angles at the hip. Finally, I glued the tops to the shoulder pads (you can’t stitch through wonderflex).

strap1

The strap

 

Step Four: I stitched on some quick pockets so he could hold his wallet 🙂

 

Pocket

Pocket

I had him try them on over the robe from last year’s con:

 

Armor over the robe

Armor over the robe

Just like the spec… but way too ren faire. Not nearly steampunk enough! We ran out and scrounged up some other pieces in a last-minute shopping flurry. I think the result works well, don’t you?

Tadah~!

Tadah~!

Apr 282015
 

Laika’s ears have never worked when we arrived at a convention. So we’ve decided to redo her hat as a standalone item — complete with a soft circuit stitched in.

What’s a soft circuit, you ask? Basically, like a regular circuit, but with conductive thread in place of wires. Instead of pins, there’s pads, which I can stitch around with the conductive thread, to both hold the items in place and connect them. It’s actually pretty cool.

We bought an Adafruit Gemma, the smaller of their two wearable microcontroller platforms, and devised a circuit:

2015-04-02 17.59.07

Those aren’t sparks; that’s conductive thread catching the light from my flash

2015-04-02 17.59.23

You can see the circuits heading to the breadboard, where the servo leads are going to be soldered in

Unfortunately, the battery pack — a neat little job that holds two d-cell batteries — could provide enough voltage, but not nearly enough amps to power the Gemma and two servos. After doing some research, we purchased a rechargeable battery pack that could do plenty of amps — but not enough volts. So we also had to get a booster that would up-step the voltage to 5V, which would be enough for the servos. 

That got us almost all the way to where we wanted to go, but that’s when we discovered another problem: one of the two servos was misbehaving. Instead of going from 0 to 90 and back, it was rotating slightly backward, then rotating 180 degrees. Clearly that wasn’t going to work for the ears; however, we spent ages hunting down potential shorts, taking measurements with our multimeter, editing the servo library, and generally trying to figure out what was wrong before we finally figured it out: we needed a capacitor. The power draw from both servos together was just too much for the circuit.

But we finally got it working!

laika hat 2