Introduction: Robot Costume

About: I love wood working, metal working, science and technology.

Over the years I've found that this costume never fails to spark the interest of both young and old. It's no surprise either, it's various lights, buzzers and fans (for the wearer's comfort) always make this costume a huge hit. It's also quite versatile, in the sense that it can be personalized to suit the needs and preferences of the user.

Step 1: Materials and Components

Some of the Materials used are included in the photo.
The materials required include:
- A large cardboard box (one your torso can fit within)
- A small cardboard box (one that your head can fit in, for mine, I used 2 really small boxes to make up the height of the head)
- Glossy grey spray paint
- Duct tape (the handyman's secret weapon)
- Aluminum foil tape
- 1/2" angle iron
- Four 1-1/2" x 1/8" bolts
- Eight 1/8" hexagonal nuts
- 18 gauge wire
- 18 - 22 gauge wire crimp connectors
- Various switches
- 1/8" x 1" bolts, washers and nuts
- 2 Green (or color of choice) LED Diodes
- Flash light bulb and holder
- 2 computer fans
- 1 piezo buzzer
- Clear 1/4" thick acrylic
- Various computer parts
- Flexible dryer exhaust tubing
Some small fasteners used may not be listed but are mentioned when they appear.

Step 2: Preparing the Body

To start off, cut the end of the large box off, as the picture shows. Once that's done, tape up the top and bottom length-wise flaps up using duct tape, keeping the horizontal flaps inside. Once that's done, tape the horizontal flaps in place. If you are confused about the orientation of the box, direct your attention to the diagram included with this step.

Step 3: Making the Head and Arm Holes

Using a wooden bowl I turned, I layout the head hole (see picture #1). The bowl was the perfect diameter for my head. A circle-drawing compass could also be used as well as any kind of round dish-ware or object of correct diameter. At this point you are able to cut out the head hole if you prefer to (see picture #2). Then, using a square, I draw lines going in from the edges of the sides that meet up with the head hole all the way across the top (see picture #3). Next, I drew true line down from onto the sides, extending the ones on the top (see picture #4). I make a 1" mark from the top and draw a square line across using that mark as a measurement for the shoulder line of my cut (see picture #5). From that line, I make a mark 4-1/4" down (the diameter of the arms). If the previous steps were done correctly, you should see a rectangle marked out on the sides of the box. I then mark the center of the rectangle, by drawing straight lines from corner to corner (see picture #6). After that I draw a square line right through the center (vertically, see picture #7). Then, I mark out 2-1/8" out from each side of this line (the diameter of the arm pipe divided by 2). After, I mark to square lines down from the 2-1/8" points (see picture #8). Then, using a compass, or the lid of a container of correct diameter, I use the tiny square in the center to center my arm hole (see picture #9). This is done for the other side, then the holes are cut out (see picture #10).

Step 4: Making the Head

Like I mentioned in step 1 (materials), I made the head of my robot costume from two small boxes. I cut the flaps off one and insert one into the other and tape the joint together. After that, I cut the bottom off, leaving two "flaps" to help attach the head to the body.

Step 5: Painting

To paint this project I chose a gloss light grey spray paint. i start off by carefully spraying a very light coat, then following up with another light coat. This is repeated until the box is a solid, consistent grey. Take care to set up a work-space suitable for spray painting, one that allows for the paint particles that miss the box to clear any objects.

Step 6: Installing the Head's Fan

I decided to install computer fans in both the head and body of my costume since it can get pretty hot in there. I start off with the head by laying-out a centered hole near the bottom edge of the head. The hole is the right size to accept the fan. I then cut the hole and fit the fan in. It should be tight enough to hold the fan in place without the aid of glue or fasteners. The same thing is done for the switch, which is located on the side of the head. I then tape a 9 Volt battery inside the head. The positive wire from the battery goes to the switch and the negative wire is crimped together with the negative one on the fan. The positive wire from the fan also goes to the switch. Keep in mind, all wires within the costume are taped aside. Note: fans blow fresh, cold air into the costume!

Step 7: Installing the Head's LED

I decided to fit an LED in the head of my costume that will provide light behind the "Vision Bar" (the robot equivalent of eyes). A hole is poked (or drilled) towards the top of the head on the front face. I then seated the LED in the hole. After that I tape an AA battery pack inside the head. I then wire one end of the battery pack to LED and the other to a switch, keeping in mind the fact that the current can only flow in one direction through a diode. A wire is then run from the switch to the LED. Please note that the wire-LED connection is crimped to keep it from failing.

Step 8: Building the Vision Bar

As I previously mentioned, the vision bar is my robot's equivalent of eyes. I made a prop version out of 1/2" angle iron cut to about 6" long, but it is really up to personal preference. A 6" by 2" piece of clear acrylic is also cut. I then clamp the pieces together as shown in the second photo and drill 2 3/16" holes, one through each end of the angle iron through the acrylic too. This is done for each long edge of the assembly, then 1-1/2" bolts are put through with nuts on the exiting side.

Step 9: The Viewing Lenses

To see out of my costume, I needed some kind of tinted lens. The only thing I had on hand at the time was a cheap set of 3d glasses. It wasn't the ideal choice. If I had more time, I would have used a fine window screen mesh, since I would easily be able to see out (because I would be looking through at a closer distance) and everyone else would have trouble seeing in. To start off, I layout and cut two holes for the lenses, slipping the head of the costume on my head to check the comfortable height for the lenses. Then I taped the lenses in place inside the head.

Step 10: Adding the Head Light

The head light is a great thing to have on this costume to help you see in the dark. Especially since it is a little hard to see through the lenses on this costume. I started off by bolting a mini light bulb in a "holding fixture" on the top of the head and fitting a switch on the side of the head. I then connect two wires to the bulb, insulating the ends to avoid a short out. A hole is then poked to allow the wires to enter the head. One of them is connected to a switch which then has a wire run from the other prong on the switch out through back of the head. The other wire from the switch runs directly out the back of the head. A DIY D battery pack will be located outside the head but is not yet installed because it requires quite a bit of support that the body will provide. To make the battery pack, tape two D batteries together with opposite ends beside each other. After that, run a wire across the two ends of the batteries and tape it in pace firmly.

Step 11: Rigging Up the Body's Fan

Again, it can get pretty hot in this costume, so another fan can't hurt. I traced a hole on the front face of the body using the computer fan I chose as a template. I then cut it out and stick the fan in place, again, without the use of glue or fasteners. I then do the same for a small switch. After that I taped a 9 volt battery inside and wired the the positive end of the battery to the positive end of the fan. The negative end of the battery is then wired to the switch. The switch is then wired to the negative end of the fan. The white wire on fan is ignored in this case.

Step 12: The Piezo Buzzer

At first I hesitated to include a buzzer on this year's costume, but I thought I should try it out to draw a final conclusion. It turned out it was a huge hit, contrary what I thought (I thought it would just annoy people). The circuit is pretty simple, the buzzer is on the body. A 9 volt battery is taped inside, a switch is on the outside (bolted on) and the buzzer is on the outside (with a hole poked through to allow for the wires to go inside). The negative end of the battery goes to the buzzer and the positive end goes to the switch. A wire is then run from the switch to the buzzer, to carry the positive current over to the buzzer.

Step 13: Decorative Integrated Circuit With LED

I wanted to make this robot look a bit more "industrial", like some mad scientist threw it together in his lab, so I added an integrated circuit on the outside of the body with an LED (the LED adds a bit of realism, making it actually look like it's doing something). Keep in mind, the Integrated circuit is only for decorative purposes and does not actually function. It was harvested from an old computer. I start off by bolting the circuit board to the body in the top right corner, it can go anywhere though. I then poke a hole through the body using the hole that already exists on the circuit board so things stay aligned like I want them to. An LED then goes through that hole and sits on top of the circuit board. I chose a green one. I then cut a square hole in the "shoulder" of the body and fit a switch in it. An AA battery pack is then taped inside. As you've probably guessed, one of the battery pack's wires go to the LED and the other goes to the switch. A wire is then run from the switch to the LED. Again, when dealing with wire to LED connections, I strongly recommend using wire crimp connectors. Also, keep in mind that current can only flow through an LED one way.

Step 14: "Decorating" the Body

If you have followed through with all the previous steps (or the ones you choose to include), you should now be able to add the final touches to the body! I start off by bolting some more old computer circuit boards all over the body. I also cut two slots in the shoulder of the body that will accept two RAM cards. If you choose to do the same, make sure these slots are parallel to the edge of the body, I imagine that non-parallel slots wouldn't make for a very snazzy looking robot. The next and final thing I do is add an Aluminium Foil Tape edge-banding along all the edges of my robot's body (except the bottom). I fold the tape over around all the edges, so half of it's width is on each face of the body, as the photo shows.

Step 15: Adding the Arms

At this point, I would recommend fitting the arms into the body of your robot suit. Having access through the head hole will make the task a lot easier. This step is relatively straight forward, start off by cutting the flexible dryer tubing to the correct length by measuring it off of your arm. This stuff can't be cut by anything except wire cutters (with the exception of various saws and machines found in a machine shop). Once it's cut, put a strip of duct tape around the edge to keep to wires within this pipe from scratching you (it's happened to me before, almost as bad as an angry cat's claws). Do this for both ends of pipe, then cut the second arm to length. Once that's done, insert the pipe into the arm-hole on the body and secure it four or five pieces of duct tape (on the inside). Follow the same method for the other arm.

Step 16: "Decorating" the Head

I figured my robot costume required some kind of antenna like device, so I thought of something quick (this was on Halloween day) and an acorn nut came to mind, it has the nice industrial look I went for with my costume. I poked a hole in the center of top face of the head that was about a 1/4" in diameter or so and put a 3/4" bolt through from the inside, screwed a hex nut on and then the acorn nut. I then add the same decorative "Aluminium Foil Tape" edge banding around all the edges (except the bottom) of the head. I also attached the vision bar bay poking holes for the bolts and bolting it on.

Step 17: Attaching the Head to the Body

The head is attached by getting someone to hold the head in place on the body while you crawl up inside and use duct tape to tape the flaps left on the bottom to the body through the neck hole. Once that's done, trim away the excess material on the flaps and add more tape where needed. Make sure the tape is pressed down firmly, I have relativity long hair for a guy (or for anyone in general) that goes a little more than half way down my back, so the last thing I wan't is for my hair to get caught on sticky duct tape. At this point you can wire in the external D battery pack for the head light.

Step 18: Showing Off Your Snazzy Robot Suit

It's finally done! Time to do the final check on all the electronics. Some final tips on wearing your robot suit, like I mentioned before, I have long hair, so I tie it back to keep it out of the way and I suggest you do the same if necessary. Also, in all seriousness, go to the bathroom before you get your robot suit on, it is usually a fairly tight fit and takes about 30 seconds to get off, so it's a bit of a hassle, but totally worth it. One final thing, try to act a little stiff and robot-like, even do the robot dance from time to time, people get a kick out of it. Follow the steps, use the tips provided and even add your own personal touch to your costume and you will surely have an awesome costume that will be a total hit among on-lookers. Happy Halloween!

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