Animatronic Stargate helmet

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I love the movie Stargate and when I first saw it I immediately knew I wanted to make one of the super cool Horus guard helmets. I had sketched multiple designs over the years and figured out several different methods for building it but rejected them all for one reason or another- usually due to cost or complexity of construction. Since I wanted this to be a costume helmet my requirements were that it be light weight, comfortable, have decent outward vision and be reasonably durable. I also wanted it to be buildable by anyone using simple hand tools. Most important of all I wanted it to move in a similar fashion to the movie helmets.

All of this proved to be a pretty tall order but eventually it all came together and now you can make a moving Stargate helmet of your own!

Here's a video of the helmet-

Be sure to click on the photos to download high res images.
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Step 1: Tools and materials

Picture of Tools and materials

Saw for cutting wood/metal- I use a Milwaukee hand saw that accepts reciprocating saw blades- super handy!
Cordless drill w/ various drill bits
X-Acto knife with #11 blades
Scissors- small sharp scissors make cutting the patterns easier
Glue gun
Sandpaper- small piece of 100 grit to smooth wood edges and spackling
Allen wrenches- Inch
Screwdrivers- phillips and flat head
Soldering iron
Ballpoint pen
Bench vise or some other way of securing work while cutting metals
Trusty Instructables multitool- I never leave home without it!

Cardstock (2pkgs)-
Craft foam sheet (10ea 12" x 18")-
White glue
Tacky glue-
Gorilla glue-
Spray foam-
Paint- 1 can silver
          1 can copper
          1 can satin clear coat
Pastels- dark blue, reddish brown, black
Spackling paste-
Plywood- 3/32" thickness,  6" x 12" (3ea)-,6909.html
Minwax Polycrylic sealer-
Cotton swabs/ soft brush- for applying pastels

Arduino- I used my own design Arduino servo board (you can use any variety Arduino you want- available at RadioShack, Sparkfun, Adafruit, etc.)-
Small switch (2ea)-
JST female connector-
JST extension wire
AA batteries (4ea)
AA battery holder-
Servos- Hitec HS-81 (3ea)-
             Hitec HS- 425BB (2ea)-
Servo extension wire-
Gears- 22T 32 pitch Hitec splined (2ea)-
            24T 32 pitch 1/4" shaft mount (4ea)-
4-40 Swivel ball links (4ea)-
4-40 threaded rod-
Super Duty short control horns (2ea)-
Servo shaft adapter 1/4"-
10-32 Rod end-
10-32 tap & drill bit
10-32 bolt
10-32 nuts (3ea)
1" Aluminum angle-
Nylon spacers- 1/4" ID x 1/2" OD-
1/4" OD brass tubing-
3/8" Aluminum rod
Aluminum mounting hubs w/bolts-  1/4" and 3/8" bore
10mm super bright white LEDs-  local supplier or
10mm LED holders (2ea) I purchased these locally but I found some online here-
Resistors- 100 Ohm (2ea) -local Radio Shack
Standoffs- I used standoffs I salvaged from electronics equipmentI found in dumpsters but lots of places sell them online in various sizes -      
Female breakaway headers-
Miscellaneous wire/small wood screws
Small piece of steel sheet- I used a scrap piece cut from old electronics chassis material

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makellan made it!1 month ago

I made the Anubis head, collar, and staff weapon mostly based on your Instructable. Thank you! We were a big hit at Clockwork Alchemy/Fanime this year.
Sorry about it being a Facebook set, but it's public so long as you're a member.

* No servos. We went for wearable instead of moving
* Cut out eye slit and mounted copper mesh. I had lots of people ask how I could see since it blended so well.
* Cut the paper out on a laser (Comment for details on how, if you like.)
* We built-out the Anubis brow-ridge with foam to make room for the LEDs.
* The staff weapon has a hidden button under the foam for it's LEDs. The staff weapon also has a wooden dowel core through most of it. I drilled out part of the end of the dowel to secure a smaller dowel for the thinner parts of the staff.

Honus (author)  makellan1 month ago

Wow- fantastic! The pics from the photo shoot are great! Looks like you guys had a lot of fun and I'll bet you were a huge hit. :)


A G+ link with higher res images.
Sorry to make you cut and paste twice. Instructables kept trying to make my link into a youtube video.

tparrotte3 months ago

I love you. You are gonna help make a childhood dream come true for me. I plan on doing a 3d printed one soon, just finished a 18x18x24" printer for it. You are the man for sourcing everything. Would love to swap ideas sometime.

Honus (author)  tparrotte3 months ago
Thanks! If you ever have any questions just let me know!

I've begun work on a new Horus helmet with a friend. This one is much more screen accurate. :)
szaffarano14 months ago

Making this piece now and am about 1/4 done (up to the paper mache and have my foam ready!) planning on having a fully decked-out garage as an egyptian tomb for halloween, 2014...with the Horus guard at the entrance! Great work!!

Honus (author)  szaffarano14 months ago
Awesome! Be sure to post pics when you're done!


sgreenhouse17 months ago
This is amazing, Ihave started ordering parts, it's a little trick as Iive in the UK so I have to use amazon uk and ebay uk rather than home depot.

Q. may i use clear varnish in substitute of polycrylic sealer, or is that a must to protect foam from paint. I also worry varnish may cause problems to paint but am not sure...

Kind regards Stephen
Honus (author)  sgreenhouse17 months ago
Hi Stephen,

Clear varnish would probably be fine. I would try to find a varnish that is acrylic based or at least do a small test sample on the foam sheet first to make sure it won't hurt it. Most enamel spray paints will dissolve foam so that's why you have to coat it first plus it helps seal it so you get a better finish.
awesaomeness510 months ago
where did you learn this stuff?!?! this is awesome!! i have tried to make some stuff with the arduino but have difficult in the design and implementation stage. is this an internet thing or did you go to a university? and is there a name to this other than animatronics?
Honus (author)  awesaomeness510 months ago
I pretty much taught myself. When I started adding animatronics to costumes I found there really was very little written material about it available and pretty much 90% of what is done for movie animatronics is RC control, with the remainder being computer controlled. On the electronics side, microcontrollers at the time became more widespread for hobby use so I read as many books about them as I could find, especially any books about physical computing- that's what really bridged the gap for me. Then a couple of years later the Arduino came out...

So basically what I did was combine traditional movie practical effects animatronics with a microcontroller so the costume wearer could control the system.

Animatronics were first created by Disney to make moving/talking puppets for displays- they were called Audio-Animatronics. The Jim Henson Creature Shop is probably the first studio that created animatronic creatures for movies.

What I do when designing animatronics is figure out how I want something to move and then figure out how I want to be able to control it while wearing the costume. The trick is figuring out how to make everything fit within a given space in the costume.
WOW! Huge thumbs up to you for putting this together. This is incredible. Your craftsmanship is amazing. Thank you for sharing!
Honus (author)  lostBluBird1 year ago
Honus (author) 1 year ago
A couple of weeks ago I received a very nice letter from someone that made this helmet (with control system modifications) and with his permission I'm posting it here with the photos he sent me. He did an amazing job! It makes me really happy when I get letters like this. :)

"I just wanted to write and thank you for all of your assistance with this project. It truly was a huge undertaking as my first PEP and animatronic project and I could not of done it and had it turn out to be such a success without your assistance. So from the bottom of my heart thank you for taking time out of your busy day for assisting me with questions. I premiered the helmet and a quick costume I put together at Dallas Comic Con last month. I was a huge hit... people loved it and when they saw the head and ears move they were dumbfounded! I was mobbed for photos and video. I even had people coming up to me and saying "I have no idea what you are but you look awesome and I want a picture!" haha.

I am going to do a full build thread here (on the RPF) for those who are interested in making one like I did. I wanted to show you first the final result of your assistance. I'll also give you a link to a montage I made about the building of the helm which includes a part with the head and ears moving on a test run I did.

When I arrived for the costume contest the wires to the joystick twisted and broke off but I still managed to win Best Sci-Fi costume at the con. It would of been nice to blow them away with the head movement but I think it still looked pretty darn good.

Well again thank you for all your help. I really do appreciate it."


Snarkticon1 year ago
Been studying this instructable closely since I plan to make a Horus helmet myself pretty soon. I love your build and the anamatronics are awesome. I just wanted to ask if there was any way to program the servos to move on command? Maybe using flex switches or something similar?

Not that the programmed movement isn't great. I just remember seeing an earlier prototype of yours that used flex switches controlle a MAKE setup and was curious if that was still possible with arduino.
Honus (author)  Snarkticon1 year ago
Absolutely! There are all kinds of sensors you could use- bend sensors, force sensitive resistors and capacitive sensors immediately come to mind. What you do is treat the sensor like a potentiometer- the arduino takes the analog input reading from the sensor and maps the servo movement to it.
Very cool. Thanks for the quick response! I'll look into that more once we get to the electronics stage of our build. :)
If anyone can build me one of these and the quality is top notch in functionality and aesthetics I will pay top dollar for one. Thanks Honus for sharing!
dmichaels11 year ago
I can understand your older method of attaching the head, but this got WAY too technical for me here. As I see it you have 2 servos for left/right.The third servo spins/tilts the head. Do you not have an up/down?

I haven't even begun working with electronics, but I'm looking to make a "simple" (at least I thought when I started) moving head such as this for my first project, but I can't wrap my head around this page's assembly.
Honus (author)  dmichaels11 year ago
It's actually very simple. When both of the servos move forward the head moves up. When both of the servos move backward the head moves down. When one servo moves forward and the other moves back the head will turn (while tilting slightly.) The third servo tilts the head. Make sense?

a great book for the construction part of the project :
Papier-Mache Monsters by Dan Reeder. He has a web site
His construction method is very durable. Fast construction.
awesome ! cant wait to see your next project ! im sure it will be EPIC !

hmm. in that case, 3 servo then. more natural fluid movement. err. Can you make me head mechanism ? i dont have access to most of the stuff in my country.
Honus (author)  EccentricNeko1 year ago
Where are you located? If you can't get the materials shipped to you I'm sure I could make the mechanism for you. It might be a while as I have a pretty big backlog of work at the moment.

Sorry for the late reply!
Sent you a private message
The details is insane ! i love it ! as a stargate fan, this is a to-die-for-prop . anyway, wanted to ask is it possible to make the head moves with just two servo and move according to where ur head is moving (ur predetor helm,gun thingy is a good example) ... still new to microcontrollers :)
Honus (author)  EccentricNeko1 year ago
Thanks! I'll have another really cool Stargate project later this year. :)

You could make the helmet move using only two servos- just have it move up/down/left/right and leave out the tilt servo. Having it move in a head tracking fashion is much more difficult because your head really can't move inside the helmet.
AMAZING! ive never seen a better how-to helmet than this. its simply AMAZING...
Honus (author)  white dragon1 year ago
MyCustoms1 year ago
This is phenomenal, your attention to detail is breath-taking.
Honus (author)  MyCustoms1 year ago
MyCustoms1 year ago
Dude this is pretty hardcore!!!!!!!!!!
poofrabbit1 year ago
Congratulations on being a finalist in the Halloween contest!!! Can’t wait to see if you win! Good luck!
This is insanely good, even without the bonus Arduino work. Really stunning, and inspiring. I may be hitting you up for advice when I get to the Arduino phase of my current costume project. . . which *might* be done in time for next Halloween?
Honus (author)  scoochmaroo1 year ago
Thanks so much! Whatever you need just let me know- I'm happy to help. Making costumes is a year round endeavor for me as well. :)
Whoah! What a piece of work!
Honus (author)  AnubisAndIsis1 year ago
navyman0011 year ago
i dont have the time or skill to try and make something like this being in the navy and all i was wondering would you be willing to make one for sell?
Honus (author)  navyman0011 year ago
I've got three big projects in the works right now but I would certainly love to do a kit with all of the animatronic parts. Vac forming the helmet pieces would also make construction go a lot faster. It would take some work to make the master patterns but I think it could be done.
nerd17012 years ago
nice job! Surprising its made of paper. You should try these techniques to make a serpent guard helmet.
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