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HOW TO GET FASHIONABLY STRUCK BY LIGHTNING!

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Last weekend during the MakerFaire2014 me and ArcAttack did something ELECTRIFYING, we created a wearable faraday cage dress! Hereby our process on how a collaboration like this got started! Enjoy. Muhahaha.

 
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Step 1: COMPUTER GENERATED METAL PLATED FARADAY CAGE DRESS

First started by making a drawing of the ideal look (hard because it was a first time explicitly working with full metal as material) due to the hardness of the material I needed to be creative creating a structure that would be flexible and wearable.

Through 123D, we used Autodesk’s Maya to draw panels on top of the scan of the model using Quad Draw. An image plane with the artwork/concept was used for reference in the front view.From there we used 123D Make (app) to layout the 3D panels from Maya into flat into a 2D sheet. We managed to make any design changes, such as slight offsets for the panels for spacing, in AutoCAD. Due to the use of this software, the base dress only took one few days to complete from design to cutted piece, since a lot could be solved in software. Finally we had a 2D layout of all 94 panels, which we cut out of a sheet of metal using the waterjet at the machineshop of Pier 9. Martin, who is in charge of the Omax 60120 at the Autodesk workshop at Pier 9, was a great help here helping me out in getting everything setup and ready to go (these machine's can be hard to handle).

Constructing the whole dress together with rings (over 600 rings) I think this process took the longest of all - we mainly did this in the ArcAttack workshop in Austin / Texas with the whole team while having a chat about how cool the end result would be (motivational talks - very important).

Creation of rings by pulling wire over a wooden stick and cutting them off with a powerful cutting tool.



NOTE:
Don't wear this dress to a bar, as sitting was impossible with the metal plates.

Step 2: CREATION OF 3D PRINTED PLASMA BALL SHOULDERPIECES

Creation of the model of the shoulderpieces in AutoDesk's Maya - this time I constructed two 6inch (diameter) nitrogen-filled plasma balls that glow bright purple in order to be electrified through the tesla coils. One important thing while constructing these pieces on the shoulder is BALANCE - so it feels comfortable - even if these designs can have a bit of a load - a good balance can safe a lot. The mount is a collaboration with Niccolo Casas with who I am exploring the possibilities of fashion, on-body technologies and 3D printing and what effects can be reached while using the spaces around the body.


Once ready - I loaded the file into the computer and with special software of the OBJET printer I checked if everything was correct before I hit 'print' so the piece could be printed. 3D printing the design at one of 7 OBJET500 Connex printers at Pier 9 during my AutoDesk/Instructables residency - one shoulderpiece took over 33 hours to print - so me and Gabe (responsible for the 3D printing facility) choose to load the machine in with DOUBLE material so it only took HALF of the time. Each piece ended up taking 19.20 hours (20 hours) to print on high speed. I choose to do it on high speed since the design didn't had that much detail, basically it would not matter that much.

After printing I needed to clean off the material - I used a water blaster to blast everything off so it would be cleared from all, sometimes a bit oily, support material.

Last step is polishing - sandblasting (machine + by hand) + polishing of the pieces and finally painting them (primer - paint - coat) and your piece is ready to be IMPLEMENTED BY TECHNOLOGY. Yes baby.

Step 3: A HELMET TO PROTECT YOUR BRAIN

One step in between: in order to protect the head from the agression of 2x half a million volts of tesla coil madness (as I stood in between an approximately 1 million volts of electricity) - we needed to protect my head so we created a prototype helmet from full metal at the ArcAttack workshop in Austin / Texas.

I started off making a sketch, at the 'Home Depot' (oh yes!) we collected materials and started to shape the patterns out of the materials, made a big dome that my head would fit in from 3m scotchcast casting tape (resins are 100% solids, thermosetting, electrical-grade insulating resins) on which I constructed the metal plates with screws. We constructed the helmet with a lot of muscle power, grinding and hammering and the help of Sam using a spot welding technique. I constructed the helmet and added spikes that might lead the arcs on stage over the helmet (did not work) and spray painted and coated the helmet so we could test the usability (did work).

Step 4: ADD SOMETHING EXPERIMENTAL!

It's always FUN to try things out - for this project I used two 16 inch NITROGEN-FILLED PLASMA BALLS that I constructed in the shoulderpiece that would (hopefully - and they DID!) would GLOW when they would get struck by the arcs (you can see this in the next step) It was SIMPLE but has an INTENSE effect! [some things can be SO simple! ...hooray] it's all about experimentation - even it you think sometimes it might not work is VERY important - without experimentation no innovation. But - BE CAREFUL and don't do things without the expertise OR experts around you. Test - ask - make sure, don't do anything without full control over the situation - this makes you a real genius.

step 1:
I bought toy plasma balls from Ebay

step 2:
I hacked the toys and put them into my shape.

Step 5: TESTING PHASE! BEFORE WE HIT FULL LIGHTNING

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I might need to make a note here 'Don't Do This At Home'
Again - this is VERY dangerous, so NOT try this at home lil kiddo's!

It’s a bigger process than just gathering the right materials or colors and constructing it, so I flew into Austin, Texas, where ArcAttack’s builder shop is housed. It’s “form follows function” in this case — a continual back and forth between design and role or purpose, where function was alpha, above all: multimeter testings of constructed connections, metal and aluminum materials that were ordered and mostly turned out not to reach the required conductive capabilities, paint jobs and coating that isolated too much of the created grounding structure.

It’s always trial and error when you are trying to do something new — and by testing it time after time, you secure your best options. When it was finally time for fitting and testing we started with firing up the coils lightly and built it up step by step. If the arcs raise through your heart, you might not live to tell, so if anything, this process was done very carefully. ArcAttack have been doing this for over 12 years and are specialists in their field.


Here you can see me and Steve of ArcAttack with a tesla
coil gun testing the plasma domes before the MakerFaire:

Step 6: GOT STRUCK!

I took place in the MIDDLE in between the coils, as coming too close is dangerous.

We activated the Tesla coils - if you would like to know more about TESLA COILS go to this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_coil

ArcAttack - http://www.arcattack.com

SETTING: Two custom engineered hand built Tesla Coils by ArcAttack throw out electrical arcs up to twelve feet long, each one acting as an instrument with a sound reminiscent of the early days of the synthesizer.

OH MY... Although I fully trust the whole team, the first time that the arcs hit me fully on stage was very scary, but incredibly interesting being in contact with such a free and pure form of electricity. Each coil can peak at about ½ Million Volts, so I was basically surrounded by close to a million volts.

Incredible pictures by Kyle Cothern by the way,
he used a wide lense camera! - oh it's a Canon 70-200 F2.8 IS II on a Canon 7D camera I just heard.

Step 7: (IMPORTANT!!) DOCUMENTATION!... Document your stuff.

Picture of (IMPORTANT!!) DOCUMENTATION!... Document your stuff.

Or better - I took a GO-PRO with me / close to me: we shot a clip from inside my helmet using a GoPro, so viewers could see my perspective:

All went good and no humans got broken during the process - a good thing because MAKE magazine was able to make a fun interview about it http://makezine.com/2014/05/23/anouks-sizzling-ho...

Step 8: REFLECTION - WHAT DID I LEARN?

Picture of REFLECTION - WHAT DID I LEARN?

I gained a more intuitive understanding of how electricity could flow freely, as I experienced it firsthand on stage. It was a good investigation on how to route and engage electricity as it flows over certain surfaces. Working with the unstable (instead of controlled) nature of electricity at higher voltages inspired me to think of ways to energise uncontrolled effects — interfacing in a direct way with electricity instead of enclosing and leading it. This collaboration (based on Nikola Tesla's invention) gave me the possibility to have electrical energy being broadcast without wires, through the ground, while energising the plasma balls without any onboard circuitry.

[picture is a sketch setup of the ArcAttack stage]

ONE FINAL DISCLAIMER: [can't say this enough]
This is something that you really should NOT do yourself as you need to be very specific about everything when you are working with things like high-voltage, low-current, high frequency alternating-current electricity ;) piew piew

JesusGeek9 days ago

I saw this in Popular Science.

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Crazy, beautifully done!

Bard1 month ago

I was wondering if you used a grounding wire anwhere in your build?

You are an awesome artist and inventor!

W.O.W This is electrically cool :)

Eh Lie Us!1 month ago

I was at this show and ...wow.

Impressive work guys and the music was spot on as well!

denewf1 month ago

A lot of inventive brainpower utilized. To me instructables of this type are not what I will even consider trying but still highly value for the thinking it may generate for other projects. Whomever said it

"An invention is something whose time has come" hit it right on.

Where could this lead?

Tesla's genius, wasted for the most part by industry and government of his time.

Probably would generate the same reaction today..

This was a cool 'ible. Not hugely useful, but cool as hell. All I can think of right now is what Lee Trevino (pro golfer who has survived three lightning strikes) said about lightning. "It's God's way of saying he's playing through." You do not mess with this stuff.

baecker031 month ago

as long as there is a path of low resistance to ground nearby the person it should be okay... but it really doesn't take much to get shocked once. potentially throwing yourself into cardiac arrest should be a good enough reason to not attempt using this suit.

I think I'm either falling in love or getting scared.

makinak421 month ago
Victor fr obtainium works totally loves this. You rock sunshine.

Instructables doesn't let you edit a comment, so I deleted my original.

This is a cool project, but it seems like this Instructable is too high-level for a reader to replicate the project. The 'ible is an entertaining read, but it's not really a how-to guide.

Do you plan on adding more nuts-and-bolts detail to allow other DIY'ers to follow in your footsteps?

I bring this up because the I want to learn from your techniques! I would love to learn the tricks you developed in the process, like how to turn 3D panels into a 2D layout, or how to programmatically size panels down to allow some flexure, or how to build up a headpiece onto a helmet. I'm sure other readers do too. It's why we're here.

Maybe I'm being too demanding here, but this just needs more substance to feel like a set of how-to instructions.

Original comment:

I don't like Instructables like this... there's nowhere near enough information to build my own.

How do you slice a dress model into laser-cuttable squares with Maya? Where do I source plasma balls? Where are dimensional drawings? How do I connect the parts to the undergarment?

This Instructable isn't designed to be replicated, it's saying how cool you are. It's a nice project, but this is not an Instructable.

(removed by author or community request)

While I'd agree that there are additional details that could (should?) be provided by this ible, you might as well say "this instructable doesn't tell me how to model things in Maya". Some aspects of an advanced project will be glossed over. This one doesn't tell *you* enough to replicate the project, but I'd have no problem replicating it from this info. That's just because we have different backgrounds. It doesn't mean that the instructable is inadequate or that you're stupid or that I'm a genius. In this case, it means that it has a different audience.

The ible *does* tell where they sourced the plasma balls (though that might have been added in the last five hours). They got them off eBay. And it tells where they went for technical assistance since some of the details of the project were both beyond them and extremely dangerous.

Perhaps you could ask for more information to be added to the instructable, being specific about what you think is missing, and helping them to create a more detailed one based on what information people like you might need to complete the project.

That's valid. I'm editing my original post to be more focused.

ynze1 month ago

Wonderful costume and lightning act! Please show off your costume during my science class :-)

Y.

bowgey1 month ago

great looks! fyi Nikola Tesla already invented this wireless electricity but shutted down by gov. hope u could continue his projects. Godspeed!

syates3 bowgey1 month ago

Part of the reason Nikola Tesla's idea was rejected was because it required too much power to transmit over long distances. The idea was great idea, the technology just didn't' exist to sustain it. Also it scared people.

fixfireleo1 month ago

wow! so cool. you need to make one for fat guys now! lol

Hecate1 month ago

NICE! this proyecto it's so ... :)

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confu1 month ago

Glad you survived to do more awesome stuff like this ;)
Although I have to agree to zackfreedmans´ comment to a certain degree.

jlapierre11 month ago

I saw the show at Makers Fair, it was awesome!

first part of video invaders must die!!!!

glitvjaks1 month ago

Well, if that's not EPIC, I don't know what is! Pure unadulterated awesomeness!

Toe Gap1 month ago
highly useless but freaking cool, i love this :))
Kiteman2 months ago
A.W.E.S.O.M.E.
robothead2 months ago
this so cool
repkid2 months ago

Erg goed gedaan. Voor mij toch een beetje te gevaarlijk.

doenlen2 months ago

Wow, this turned out incredibly well!

This is amazing! I loved seeing this whole outfit come together and see it in action!

probetox2 months ago

Amazing!

mpinner2 months ago

This is brilliant work!

I love how you go from the drawing to the 3d model to the flat pieces. im excited to try at least this part for my next garment design.

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