LED Matrix Helmits Inspiried by You-Know-Who

Here is a post from [John's Projects]. For the insane, satirical, and incredible 2011 Omaha Groundhog Prom [John] and his buddy fabricated  helmets reminiscent of our favorite robot rockers.  [John] needed something harder, better, faster, stronger than the competition and wound up creating LED matrices that mount behind aerodynamic motorcycle helmet visors.

The helmets were constructed in about a weeks time and in a similar fashion to the real helmets. [John] sourced some cheap motorcycle headgear and mounted the LEDs, their driving transistors, and ballast resistors to a 1/32″ (flexible) plexiglass sheet that sits face to face with the wearer. [John] walks through the whole process starting with a half inch grid drawn onto a paper template. The template is cut from the plexi using tin snips, then LED holes are carefully drilled in the thin plastic using various bits up to 13/64″. The 90 some odd LEDs are, one more time, fitted then hot glued in place and soldered in vertical columns to simplify things and prevent any short circuit. An Arduino Pro (via common emitter 2n2222 on/off circuits) provides some digital love to the 18 LED columns and is connected to a Velleman Sound-to-light kit which modulates the brightness of the whole visor based on da funk. Two pots are also wired to provide sensitivity and pattern selection to the human after all.

We can’t imagine the technologic setup is fresh after being subjected to the steam machine, high life, and whatever else for too long. Oh yeah, Some brighter LEDs could give the helmets night vision and make the whole thing come alive with emotion. Something about us is burnin to know what powers the helmets. Nice work [John]!

If you are looking to do some homework on these high fidelity rock’n roll outfits in the prime time of your life check out this very detailed example, a helmet construction video,  or finish the costume off with some EL wire.

Check out some videos of these superheros rollin’ & scratchin’ after the jump!

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Real-time robotic arm control with Blender


Last year, [Justin Dailey] was coming down the home stretch of his senior year as a Computer Engineering student and needed to build a final design project. He always wanted to construct a robotic arm, and figured that there was no better way to legitimize such a project, than to claim that it was “homework”.

While he originally wanted to control the arm with a joystick, he had been messing with Blender quite a bit leading up to his final project, and thought it would be pretty cool to let Blender do the work. He started out by testing his ability to control a single servo with Blender, then slowly increased the complexity of the project. He prototyped the arm using cardboard, and satisfied with his progress thus far, began constructing the arm out of aluminum.

Once he had all six of his servos attached to the arm’s joints and wired to his Roboduino, he got busy constructing a 3D model in Blender. Using a few Python scripts, the movements inside Blender are translated to serial data in real-time, which is relayed to the Roboduino in order to control the arm.

Check out his site if you get a chance – there’s plenty of code to be had, as well as several videos of the arm in various stages of construction and testing.

A Weighted Companion Cube worth saving from the incinerator


It’s honestly sad that Valve has not released any official Portal-related items to the masses, as a market for them clearly exists. As the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention”, and [Jamie] needed a Weighted Companion Cube in the worst way.

Actually he constructed his Companion Cube in order to test out some modifications and upgrades he performed on his homebrew CNC Mill. Judging by how the cube turned out, and the fact that he was able to keep tolerances within .005”, we would say that his mill is working just fine.

The cube was designed in Solidworks, and passed through the BobCAD plugin to generate the GCode for the mill. The base of the cube was machined out of a 3” solid block of aluminum, hollowed out on one side to give him access to the cube’s innards. He milled out heart shaped openings on each side, covering them with frosted Lexan.

He added a BlinkM to the mix, mounting it on the cover plate he milled for the open side of the cube. Once lit it cycles through several colors, including the pinkish tone anyone who has played Portal is quite familiar with.

We would say that it’s a great job, but it doesn’t do his work justice – it’s absolutely stunning. We’re not just saying that because we want one, though we do want one…badly.