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Hack-o-Ween 2010/11

For the past couple of Halloweens, I’ve come to really enjoy hacking together costumes. Seeing everyday objects in a different light and turning them into makeshift props is one of the most gratifying design exercises ever. “But why?”, you ask. I blame the A-Team, McGuyver, and Legos, but it was mostly my dad who got me thinking this way.

During my early childhood, I remember him making household repairs using whatever he was able to muster out of the family toolbox. He referred to these pieces as the ‘cuffah.’ I’m not exactly sure if it was a Chinese word or some Chinglish that he managed to hack together, but the cuffah represented the missing piece to the puzzle. These pieces were usually spare parts that he collected over time, ranging from nuts and bolts to bigger pieces like brackets and unused caulking guns.

Halloween 2010 (last year)
I managed to piece together a Mega Man costume, which involved a Japanese lantern (cuffah!), a disassembled LED flashlight, a snowboarding helmet, and of course, blue tights. My two rommates followed suit, Will as Quick Man and Dave as Zero.

Snowboarding helmet converted to a Mega Man helmet

Snowboarding helmet converted to a Mega Man helmet

Mega Man helmet finished!

Mega Man helmet finished!

Me as Mega Man

Me as Mega Man

Who would have ever thought it’d be so much fun to relive your childhood? Besides laughing at each other, we were in our own world, jumping around, blasting our plasma cannons and humming the Mega Man theme song.  People that crossed our paths were also reminded of their early favorite early 90s video game.

“OMG, it’s Mega Man!” Moments later, my brother comes around the street corner, “Oh shit! It’s … the Other Man!” The guy was almost in tears even though he didn’t recognize Will’s character.

Will as Quick Man

Will as Quick Man

Epic Battle - Quick Man vs. Mega Man and Zero (Dave)

Epic Battle - Quick Man vs. Mega Man and Zero (Dave)

Halloween 2011
Building off the fun from last year, Derek Chan and I managed to get together a handful of our friends to go as X-Men characters this Halloween. To help carry on the tradition of hacking from last year, we required one constraint, materials spent on an X-Men costume needed to be under $50.

With a total of eleven X-Men and a Magneto, there was certainly going to be some variation in fidelity of the costumes.  To tie us all together as one cohesive group, I decided to build out the X-Men Communicators for all eleven of us.

The communicator is a simple circuit, which consists of the following:

  • 10mm red LED
  • 2032 coin battery (battery holder, optional, but helpful)
  • a switch
  • red cellophane
  • foil
  • Scotch tape cylindrical plastic container
How to connect the X-Men communicator

How to wire the X-Men communicator

To house the entire setup, I used the plastic cartons that came with the electrical tape. I lined the inside with foil and covered the outside with red cellophane, which enhanced the red glow of the communicators.

Tip #1: When making this is to point the LED downwards towards the foil surface for maximum reflection. I heard there are other ways of making the LED shine even brighter, but I’ll leave that up to you guys.

Tip #2: Never buy 2032 batteries from a regular store like CVS, Blockbuster, etc (2 batteries for ~$4). Go to your local 99cent store and get 5 for ~$1.29.

Scotch eletrical tape container makes for great X-Men communicator shells

Scotch eletrical tape container makes for great X-Men communicator shells

Not as clean as the diagram above made it out to be. With that said, I highly recommend the battery holder.

Not as clean as the diagram above made it out to be. With that said, I highly recommend the battery holder.

Functioning X-Men communicators!

Functioning X-Men communicators!

After making several communicators, I got bored and decided to help Derek make his optic blaster. Optic what? It’s the visor that Cyclops wears that prevents him from taking everything down when he opens his eyes.

The parts required for this consisted of the following:

  • a pair of Jersey Shore sunglasses that he picked up from St. Mark’s ($7)
  • 2 10mm red LEDs
  • 2 2032 batteries
  • 2 2032 battery holders
  • tiny momentary switch
  • red cellophane

Disclaimer: I’m not going to go into much detail about this, but if you know basic electrical circuits, this should be cake. Else, if you know a friend that knows basic electrical circuit, you will probably have to get them cake. 🙂

Wiring the glasses ala whiteboard

Wiring the glasses ala whiteboard

Derek showing off his new specs

Derek showing off his new specs

Red cellophane curled over the lens area. Cutting a slit in the center of the cellophane allows it to bend.

Red cellophane curled over the lens area

In order to get the cellophane to curl around the lens, cut a slit in the center of the cellophane. This will allow it to bend. This will create some space on the sides for the LEDs.

Next, melt holes into the side of the glasses so that they match up with the back side of the battery holder.

Make way for battery holders

Next, melt holes into the side of the glasses so that they match up with the back side of the battery holder. Also make sure to have a hole for the wire coming from the momentary switch, which will be placed against the battery holder.

Tip #3: Create a template of where the pegs on the backside of the battery holder are located. Then map the pegs onto the side of the glasses.

Battery holder mounted onto glasses

Battery holder mounted onto glasses

Next, do the same thing to the other side minus the hole for the momentary switch since you already did it to one side.

Tip #4: Hot glue gun works best when mounting plastic pieces together.

Battery mounted alongside the momentary switch

Battery mounted alongside the momentary switch

Tip #5: Helping hands (the maniacal lab looking object in the photo below) are super helpful. They help (duh) with keeping wires in place as you solder the night away.

Almost done!

Almost done!

Finally, place the red cellophane back over the opening and you have yourself a pair of sweet looking optic blasters.

Here’s a demo of Derek nerding out with his new pair of blasters.

What's a prototype without some... user testing?

What's a prototype without some... user testing?

The Finale
Halloween 2011 was a success! All the costumes turned out to be frikkn’ amazing. Here are some pics from that night. Before signing off, I’d like to thank the following people for taking part in this: Wally, Jess, Derek, Jane, Sera, Will, Dave, Chris, Ryan, Vicky, and Shelley! What’s on the plate for next year?

Will as Professor X and CereBro (see what I did there?)

Will as Professor X and CereBro (see what I did there?)

Wally as Gambit

Wally as Gambit with cardboard abs! (photo cred: J. Choo)

Vicky as Jubilee and Jane as Storm

Vicky as Jubilee and Jane as Storm (photo cred: J. Kwon)

Dave as Nightcrawler (homemade elf ears with band-aids)

Dave as Nightcrawler with elf ears made out of band-aids (photo cred: J. Kwon)

"We're like the inverse of each other!"

"We're like the inverse of each other!" (photo cred: J. Kwon)

X-Men: The 2nd Class (photo courtesy of Jane Kwon)

X-Men: The 2nd Class (photo cred: J. Kwon)

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  • 03 Nov 2011

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