This year my son wanted to be Bumblebee from Transformers. I created a simple prototype to test if he could see with the mask on, especially as he went around for his school parade and around our neighborhood trick-or-treating.
The first objective is to test out the where we will place the LED–top or bottom, can it be placed farther back to create the eye circle as seen in the movie.
Gathering Prototype Materials
|SuperBright LED||Any bright LED for this first prototype|
|Wire||Some wiring to connect to the battery, resistor and LED.|
|Resistor||1K – 3K ohms|
|Batteries||Any 2 alkaline batteries that can be linked together to get 3 volts.|
|Blue Painters Tape||Used to hold everything in place temporarily, without dealing with the goo from duct tape.|
|Thin Plastic Shades||Got a pair of shades from my son’s last eye doctor appointment.|
|Foam||I got some blue colored foam that was used pack some electronic equipment and used scissors to cut it.|
Building the the prototype Bumblebee Mask
1. Cut the thin plastic shade in half.
2. Use 1 half of the shades and use blue painters tape to hold it in place.
3. Using the wire, connect each part to each other by twisting the wire at each end.
+ AA battery – >> + AA battery – >> 1K resistor >> Super Bright LED >> (Loops to + of AA battery)
The LED should light up.
4. Cut some foam to place LED close to first eye. Tape down with painters tape.
5. Using air duct tape, cut a rounded out edge so it follows the actual shade area. Cut perpendicular lines to the rounded out edge to create a better light seal.
6. Place the LED on the foam spacer and tape it down with blue painters tape. Wrap the air duct aluminum tape around the LED to seal in the light. Otherwise, the wearer can’t see very well because the glare of the super-bright LED.
Here’s a completed view of the prototype mask.
What did I learn by building the prototype?
After my son placed put on the one-eyed BubbleBee mask, here are some things to fix in the final mask:
- Viewing Area – My son said he wasn’t able to see very well in he mask. I needed to minimize the area for the eye by making the area around the LED as small as possible. The tape to easily covered about 30% of his view. To gain even more view through the mask, I need to move the eye as close to the forehead as possible. Although, the LED is not centered, my son will gain the ability to see better through the mask. (When he actually wore the final mask with these changes, I didn’t hear any 1st graders complain that the eyes were to close to his brow.)
- Super Curl on Shades – When placing the shades inside the mask, the curl on the shades was so strong that it pulled the blue masking tape off easily. Therefore, I needed to use more blue tape than needed. And in the final mask, I could not have the curl on the shades pull the duct tape off slowly either. To fix this, I cut a small strip of shade and warmed it up with a heat gone slowly. It kept a new shape after it cooled.
- Wear the Entire Constume – My son did not do this when I tested the prototype mask. The costume doesn’t have any pockets! So the 2 AA batteries were going to float! ;-) My wife, Anthonette, pointed this out when I thought I was 90% done with the actual mask. I had to go back and cutI fixed this later the hardware buy using 2 coin sized batteries to fit in the final mask.