Announcing: The 2022 Hackaday.io Sci-Fi Contest

Ladies and Gentlemen, Sentient robots, Travellers from the distant future, or Aliens from the outer rim, it’s time to enter the 2022 Hackaday.io Sci-Fi Contest!

We last ran the Sci-Fi contest in the far, far past — before the Voigt-Kampff machine was detecting replicants on the gritty streets of 2019’s LA. Back then, we had some out-of-this-world entries. It’s time for the sequel.

Thanks to Digi-Key, the contest’s sponsor, your best blaster, your coolest costume, or your most righteous robot could win you one of three $150 shopping sprees in their parts warehouse. Create a Hackaday.io project, enter it in the contest, and you’re set. You might as well do that right now, but the contest closes on April 25th.

Sci-Fi is all about the looks, so if it’s purely decorative, be sure to blind us with science (fiction). If your project actually functions, so much the better! Of course we’d like to know how it works and how you made it, so documentation of the project is the other big scoring category. Whatever it is, it’s got to be sci-fi, and it’s got to have some electronics in it.

If you’re looking for inspiration, you could do a lot worse than to check out [Jerome Kelty]’s Animatronic Stargate Helmet, that not coincidentally took the grand prize last time around. It’s an artistic and engineering masterpiece all rolled into one, and the description of how it’s made is just as extensive. [Jochen Alt]’s “Paul” robot isn’t out of any particular sci-fi franchise that we know, but of rolling on one ball and reciting robot poetry, it absolutely should be.

Honorable Mentions

In addition to the overall prizes, we’ll be recognizing the best projects in the following honorable mention categories:

  • Star Star: Whether you’re “beam me up” or “use the force”, fans of either of the “Star” franchises are eligible for this honorable mention.
  • ExoSuit: This category recognizes sci-fi creations that you can wear. Costumes and armor fit in here.
  • Stolen off the Set: If your blaster looks exactly like Han Solo’s, you’re a winner here.  This is the category for your best prop replica.
  • Living in the Future: If your sci-fi device was purely fantasy when imagined, but now it’s realizable, you’re living in the future. A working tricorder or a functioning robot companion would fit in fine here.
  • The Most Important Device: Has no function, but it certainly looks like it does. Just blinking lights that blink back and forth, yet the government spent millions of dollars on it.

You don’t have to tell us where your project fits in. We’ve got you covered.

Engage!

Get started now by creating a project page on Hackaday.io. In the left sidebar of your project page, use the “Submit Project To” button to enter in the 2022 Sci-Fi Contest.

You have from now until April 25, 2022 to get it finished. Of course, if your time machine actually works, you can finish it whenever. Check out the Hackaday.io contest page for all the fine print.

Remoticon Video: How To 3D Print Onto Fabric With Billie Ruben

We’re impressed to see the continued flow of new and interesting ways to utilize 3D printing despite its years in the hacker limelight. At the 2020 Hackaday Remoticon [Billie Ruben] came to us from across the sea to demonstrate how to use 3D printing and fabric, or other flexible materials, to fabricate new and interesting creations. Check out her workshop below, and read on for more detail about what you’ll find.

The workshop is divided into two parts, a hands-on portion where participants execute a fabric print at home on their own printer, and a lecture while the printers whirr away describing ways this technique can be used to produce strong, flexible structures.

The technique described in the hands on portion can be clumsily summarized as “print a few layers, add the flexible material, then resume the printing process”. Of course the actual explanation and discussion of how to know when to insert the material, configure your slicer, and select material is significantly more complex! For the entire process make sure to follow along with [Billie]’s clear instructions in the video.

The lecture portion of the workshop was a whirlwind tour of the ways which embedded materials can be used to enhance your prints. The most glamourous examples might be printing scales, spikes, and other accoutrement for cosplay, but beyond that it has a variety of other uses both practical and fashionable. Embedded fabric can add composite strength to large structural elements, durable flexibility to a living hinge, or a substrate for new kinds of jewelry. [Billie] has deep experience in this realm and she brings it to bear in a comprehensive exposition of the possibilities. We’re looking forward to seeing a flurry of new composite prints!

TV Head Is Great Replacement For Your Real Head

The head is one of the few parts of the body that it seems impossible to live without. Many people are, of course, not happy with the one they’ve been given. For those dreaming of a more digital replacement, [Vivian’s] TV Head might be just the accessory to meet those needs.

The build starts with an old CRT, which [Vivian] promptly gutted to make room for her head. In place of the original tube, a thin polycarbonate sheet was installed with window tint applied. Behind this, rows of WS2812B are set up in a grid, spaced apart just enough to allow the wearer to see through.  The setup is controlled by a Circuit Playground Express. A small PS/2 keyboard is used to control the light show, and the onboard accelerometer can be used for gravity reactive animations.

For some reason, screens as heads are remarkably emotive, and we kind of want one for daily wear. We can imagine it making a great Halloween costume, too. If you’ve always wanted to cosplay as one of those colorful robots from the Opening Ceremony of the 2002 World Cup, here’s your chance. You will not be surprised that this isn’t the first TV head we’ve featured. Video after the break.

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Making A Halloween Costume Fit For 2020

All across the country, parents are wondering what to do about the upcoming Trick Or Treat season. Measures such as social distancing, contact free treats, or simply doing it at home are all being weighed as a balance of fun and safety. [BuildXYZ] has decided to lean into the challenges this year and incorporate a mask as part of the costume for his boys.

It started with a 3d printed mask, printed in two halves, and sealed with silicon caulk and N95 filter material in the inlet and outlet holes on the sides. The real magic of the mask is the small OLED screen mounted to the front that works along with a small electret microphone inside the mask. By sampling the microphone and applying a rolling average, the Arduino Nano determines if the mouth drawn on the display should be open or closed. A small battery pack on a belt clip (with a button to flash “Trick or Treat” on the screen) powers the whole setup and can be easily hidden under a cape or costume.

This isn’t the first hack we’ve seen for Halloween this year, such as this socially distant candy slide. We have a feeling that there will be many more as the month rolls on and people start to apply their ingenuity to the season.

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Fast Fresnel Hack Embiggens The Smallest Of Heads

Aside from frightening small children, we have absolutely no idea why anyone would need a face-magnifying headpiece. But the video below gives us a chuckle every time we see it, and we figure a good laugh that incorporates a quick optics hack is worth a look.

When he’s not playing geek in a box, [Curious Marc]’s videos usually have more of a retrocomputing theme, like his recent conversion of a vintage terminal to a character set from a made-up language, or helping to revive an Apollo Guidance Computer. Given gems like those, we were surprised to learn that [Marc]’s background is physics – optics, to be precise – and that he studied at École Polytechnique, the same school famed physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel attended. Which fits right into this build since it features one of those large, plastic Fresnel lenses. After a fascinating detour into the history of Fresnel’s namesake lens, [Marc] proceeds with the build.

It’s simplicity itself – a box big enough to wear on the head with one end replaced by the Fresnel lens. A strip of LEDs – warm white, please, lest the wearer takes on a deathly pall – lines the edge of the box just behind the lens. If you want to get fancy, maybe attaching a hard-hat suspension piece would make it more wearable, but even as is it’s just a hoot to see someone with a magnified and distorted head walking around. One probably should be careful not to look at the sun while wearing this, however, for reasons that become apparent beginning at the 3:24 mark of the video.

Thanks to [Marc] for perhaps the oddest YouTube face-reveal yet, and for a great idea for a quick cosplay hack.

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Be Anyone Or Anything With Facial Projection Mask

In the market for a low-poly change to your look? Hate the idea of showing up for a costume party only to find out someone is wearing the same mask as you? Then this face changing front-projection mask may be just the thing for you.

To be honest, we’re not sure just how much [Sean Hodgins]’ latest project has to do with cosplay. He seems to be making a subtle commentary about dealing with life in the surveillance state, even though this is probably not a strategy for thwarting facial-recognition cameras. [Ed Note: Or maybe it’s just Halloween?]

The build consists of a Raspberry Pi and a pico projector of the kind we’ve seen before. These are mated together via a custom PCB and live inside a small enclosure that’s attached to the end of a longish boom. The boom attaches to the chin of 3D-printed mask, which in turn is connected to the suspension system of a welding helmet. Powered by a battery pack and controlled by a smartphone app, the projector throws whatever you want onto the mask – videos, effects, even images of other people. Even with some Photoshop tweaks to account for keystone distortion from the low angle of projection, there’s enough distortion that the effect is more artistic than masquerade. But honestly, having your face suddenly burst into flames is pretty cool. We just wonder what visibility is like for the wearer with a bright LED blasting into your eyes.

As a bonus, [Sean] has worked this build into a virtual treasure hunt. Check out 13thkey.com and see what you can make from the minimal clues there.

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Lifelike Dinosaur Emerges From The Plumbing Aisle

Despite the incredible advancements in special effects technology since the film’s release, the dinosaurs in 1993’s Jurassic Park still look just as terrifying today as they did nearly 30 years ago. This has largely been attributed to the fact that the filmmakers wisely decided to use physical models in many of the close-up shots, allowing them to capture the nuances of movement which really helps sell the idea you’re looking at living creatures.

[Esmée Kramer] puts that same principle to work in her incredible articulated dinosaur costume, and by the looks of it, Steven Spielberg could have saved some money if he had his special effects team get their supplies at the Home Depot. Built out of PVC pipes and sheets of foam, her skeletal raptor moves with an unnerving level of realism. In fact, we’re almost relieved to hear she doesn’t currently have plans on skinning the creature; some things are better left to the imagination.

In her write-up on LinkedIn (apparently that’s a thing), [Esmée] explains some of the construction tricks she used to help bring her dinosaur to life, such as heating the pipes and folding them to create rotatable joints. Everything is controlled by way of thin ropes, with all the articulation points of the head mirrored on the “steering wheel” in front of her.

Now to be fair, it takes more than a bundle of PVC pipes to create a convincing dinosaur. Obviously a large part of why this project works so well is the artistry that [Esmée] demonstrates at the controls of her creation. Judging by her performance in the video after the break, we’re going to assume she’s spent a not inconsiderable amount of time stomping around the neighborhood in this contraption to perfect her moves.

In the past we’ve seen the Raspberry Pi used to upgrade life-sized animatronic dinosaurs, but even with the added processing power, those dinos don’t hold a candle to the smooth and organic motion that [Esmée] has achieved here. Just goes to show that sometimes low-tech methods can outperform the latest technological wizardry.

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