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September 26, 2005

Make your own Aqua Teen Hunger Force costumes

I recently got an email asking me how I made the Aqua Teen Hunger Force costumes pictured on my website. For future posterity, and so I don't have to repeat myself, here it is:

Frylock's body and fries are coroplast (available from plastic supply houses, sign shops, etc). It's corogated plastic and pretty easy to work with. The front and back are joined to aluminum angle with rivets and washers. It was tricky to get the curvature on frylock since corogated material doesn't like to bend. Once the front and back were joined we used more aluminum angle covered in pipe insulation to keep the front and back spread apart. These pieces rest on the shoulders of the wearer. We also needed something to keep the bottom apart, but a spacer was awkward, so we used wire between the angles to pull tension and keep the front and back bowed out. The fries are just square tubes of coroplast with clear packing tape to join the edges. We used rubber cement to glue the fries to the body. It works tremendously well for gluing coroplast. The eyes and mouth are some sort of thin foam available in the kid crafts section. It's easy to cut and available in 8.5x11 and 11x17 sheets. The beard was several pieces since I couldn't find a 20x30 piece of the foam locally. I'm sure it's available mailorder in larger sizes.

Shake is made of 1/2" foam sheet wrapped and around and riveted to two hoops made of 1" aluminum bar stock. The lid is made of clearish coroplast. The side edge of the lid is three curved strips of coroplast, and the top raised lip is a coroplast "donut" on spacers to give the appearance of depth. The straw in a tube made of the same foam sheet material as shake's body wrapped in translucent purple vinyl as paint won't stick to the foam. Eyes, mouth, and hands are the same craft foam as used on frylock. I crafted suspenders out of 1" nylon web but found they didn't work well. If I did it over I'd make a a rigid harness similar to those for marching drummers. I didn't want to cut holes in the face of the costume to see out so I used a small CCD camera and 2" LCD. The big problem was heat. A costume made out of foam with a closed top works just like a styrofoam cup - it keeps things hot. I'd probably modify the lid if I wore it again. You could do a fan in the straw or space the lid off the foam cup. Either way I think a fan is necessary to keep it under 100F. If you wanted to be creative you could make the straw a hat and just stick your head through the lid, but that still doesn't fix body temperature.

Meatwad was sewn together with six eye shaped pieces of pre-quilted red fabric. The fabric already had batting attached which helps smooth out bumps, and the round quilted pattern kinda looks like ground meat. The quilted pattern doesn't show up well in the photos. I made the template for the cloth shell pieces in autocad and printed it on a plotter full size. I made the form out of chicken wire with six cuts towards the "equator" top and bottom, stitched together with tie wraps. I used a zipper on one seam of the cloth shell so I could slip it over the chicken wire frame, and then stuffed random bits of foam and batting to make lumps between the chicken wire form. If I had it to do over I'd make the form from paper mache over a large balloon, then cover that in a couple inches of expanding polyurethane foam. I'd also cut a hole in the top of meatwad to make him wearable. I made meatwad in less than three hours so I didn't have time to make it wearable. (chickenwire has really sharp pokey edges)

Posted by cary at 11:05 PM

September 21, 2005

LEDs as input devices?!?

I came across Multi-Touch Sensing through LED Matrix Displays in a posting on the synth-diy mailing list. After some extended googling I found the notes from Forrest M Mims that Jeff Han referenced in the above link. It turns out that LEDs work as very narrowband (50nm) detector, producing around 2-5 microamps depending on the LED. The LED's peak sensitivity is about 30nm shorter than its emitted wavelength, so red emitters work great with yellow-orange LEDs as detectors, yellow emiiters work well with green LED detectors, and so forth. I already have a great idea about using bicolor LED dot matrix displays for real time interactive displays.

Posted by cary at 02:58 AM