Cosplaying as HAL 9000

2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the greatest films of all time, but unlike every other masterpiece of SciFi, you’re not going find many people cosplaying as characters from the movie. Going as a monolith to a con would be hilarious, but [jacqueslelezard] had an even better idea in mind: a HAL 9000 costume.

The costume itself is just bits of painted cardboard, shiny material (we’d go with aluminum tape), some black mosquito netting to see out of, and in a stroke of brilliance, a tablet that will display HAL’s unblinking eye to con attendees. If you’re extraordinarily clever, it might be possible to sample lines from the movie and play them through the tablet. This is, unfortunately, the best way to replicate the voice of HAL, at least until someone gets the money to have [Douglas Rain] sit in for some voice work.

The only drawback to the costume is the propensity for the wearer to hit their head on doorways and low thresholds. This problem could be solved simply by increasing the size of the costume, but then you’re back in monolith territory. So, what do you want to be, a murderous computer or a galactic swiss army knife?

High voltage Thor’s Hammer: Mjolnir at 80,000 volts

[Thor’s] hammer, Mjolnir, is pretty freaking awesome. It can only be picked up by [Thor], he can use it to fly, and probably the coolest part, it can summon lightning. After watching the first movie, and goofing around with the guys at ArcAttack, I had this idea that I could stuff a tiny tesla coil into a mjolnir and end up with a really cool prop.

At this point, I had to make a decision. I was either going to go portable and live with small arcs, or make this a stationary piece and hide a giant tesla coil in a base. It would have bigger arcs, but I couldn’t carry it around.  While I may re-visit the stationary version at some point, I ultimately decided I wanted to be able to wander around and play with this thing.

I had seen some videos of [Staci Elaan] showing off her battery-powered coils and I really liked her results. I figured, with her experience, she could probably do a better job than I could on getting the most bang out of a small package.  She was happy to be involved and delivered a small 12v powered coil for me to work with. I should also point out that the coils [Staci] makes are usually donated to educational groups. This woman is awesome.

Continue reading “High voltage Thor’s Hammer: Mjolnir at 80,000 volts”

Daft Punk replica helmet


For all their varied and entertaining uses, circuits and code comprise only part of the complete hacking experience. To really put your project over the top, sooner or later you’ll want to possess some physical fabrication skills. Consider the works of [Ben Heckendorn]: He’s always done a fantastic job with the electronics, but it’s the fit and finish of the enclosures that make him a legend.

“Fabrication” usually conjures images of shop tools — saws and sanders and drills — all tremendously useful skills worth learning, and easily within reach of most home shops or garages. Recently, the techniques of mold making and casting have seen something of a DIY renaissance. Mold making is nothing new, the basic concepts go back millennia, but in just the past few years the materials for extremely high-quality molds have become safer, simpler to use, and easier to acquire.

This being Halloween month, what better example of the medium than this impeccable replica helmet styled after half of the musical duo Daft Punk (a recurring theme among Hack a Day contributors), created by prop maker [Harrison Krix]. After sculpting an original master part (from common hardware store and art store materials, we might add), a one-piece flexible mold is built up from silicone, which captures every minute detail, and later the helmet form is cast from a thin layer of resin. The visor is vacuum formed. A follow-up with the internal electronics build is yet to be posted, but even at this stage the shell alone is so refined it looks straight off a showroom floor. If mold making can do this for someone’s noggin, imagine what it can do for your next creative hardware project. Smooth-On, a major supplier of these materials, has a free PDF introduction and a set of tutorials on their web site.

[thanks Wolf]