Introduction: Motion Activated Cosplay Wings Using Circuit Playground Express - Part 2

Welcome to the second half of the motion activated cosplay wings! In this part, we're going to take the mechanics from part 1 and turn it into a beautiful pair of mechanical fairy wings.

If you haven't completed the mechanics yet, check out part 1 of this project here!


The supplies for this project are as follows:


- Sintra board (you shouldn't need more than 9"x12")

- Buckle straps (I used the straps of an old bike helmet)

- Long sleeved shirt (not stretch-knit, but try to keep it thinner material)

- Fabric glue

- Thin wood (enough for four 2x2 squares)

- Snaps

- Breadboard (solder or no-solder, your choice)

- Wires

- Conductive thread (optional)

- Felt (9"x12" rectangle works)

- Hot glue

- Foam adhesive

- Mechanics from Part 1

Wing Supplies

For this project, I followed the tutorials by Fancy Fairy Wings and Things, linked here.

However, you can use whatever materials you like for this project. Mine are as follows:

- Iron-on vinyl by Therm-o-Web

- Iridescent wrap

- Armature wire

- Bristol board

- Alcohol Ink (green)

- Ink blending stamp pads

- Alcohol Ink blending solution

- Gold metallic spray paint


- Heat gun

- Iron

- Craft scissors

- Fabric scissors

- Sewing supplies (pins, needles, etc.)

- Craft knife

- Saw

- Sandpaper

- Soldering Iron

- Screwdriver

- Sewing machine (optional)

Step 1: Back Plate

Begin with your sintra board, and trace out the shape of your backplate. I personally cut out an oval that was 6 inches by 8 inches.

Depending on the thickness of the sintra board, you can cut out the board with a craft knife, or you can use a saw. I used a combination of both.

Once the plate is cut out, sand the sides of the sintra board, and heat up the sides with a heat gun, folding them inward to create an angle for the servos to be attached later. The heat gun shouldn't be hotter than 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and keep the heat gun in constant motion.

Step 2: Attach Mechanics to Backplate

Using the same mechanics from part 1, attach it to the backplate. If you're using a solderable breadboard, solder the mechanics the same way you attached them to the solderless breadboard, and then attach the breadboard to the backplate. If using a solderless breadboard, like I have, simply peel off the sticky side and attach it to the backplate, then reattach the wiring. Make sure to center the breadboard on the top half of the backplate.

Using a craft knife, cut a small hole underneath and to the left of the breadboard. Pull the loose wires that will be attached to the CPX through this hole, and seal them in place with hot glue.

On the bottom half of the backplate, also centered, attach the power source. In my case, I used foam adhesive squares to attach the battery pack I used, making sure that the on/off switch was still accessible while the opening to insert batteries was the side exposed. Use some more hot glue to bring the battery wires around and also facing left, as shown.

Finally, attach the servo motors at an angle. I used a combination of hot glue and screws, but how you do this is up to you.

Step 3: Create Wings

As I mentioned in the supplies list, I created the wings while following tutorials by Fancy Fairy Wings and Things, and how you create your wings is up to you. Here was my personal process:

Using the cardboard cutout wing from part 1, I traced the form and penciled out the contour of the wing frames on a piece of bristol board.

With a craft knife, I cut out the shape, traced it on the other half of the bristol board, and cut out the second paper frame.

I then took armature wire and created supports for the wings running along the two main top and bottom lines of the frame, and hot glued the bases, and then colored the wire and paper frames with gold metallic paint.

Cutting out about 30 inches of iron-on vinyl, I layered iridescent film onto the sticky side of the vinyl and lightly traced some of the inner contours and loosely traced the form of each wing frame.

Directly on the iridescent film, I colored some areas with bright green ink to tint the film, and left it to dry for a full 24 hours before carefully sealing the frame in between the painted film and vinyl side and a second sheet of iron-on vinyl.

I laminated the wings using a small clothing iron set to medium heat, and finally used fabric scissors to cut out the wing shapes.

Step 4: Attach Wings to Servos

On your wood, trace out the shapes of four 2x2 inch squares, and saw them out. If you want, as I did here, you can trace the shape of the very end of your wings on the squares and cut them out, or you can use whatever shape that will hold the wings up and that you're comfortable with.

After sanding down the sides, hot glue some attaching mechanism. I'm curious to how Velcro may work, but personally I used sew-on snaps.

Once the snaps are attached, hot glue the plates to your wings and your servos. Now you should be able to take your wings on and off fairly easily.

Step 5: Prepping the Sleeve

Now we move onto the sleeve for the wiring.

First take your shirt and, using chalk, mark the general places you want the fabric to cut off. I marked to about the center of the back at the bottom of where the backplate would be located, over the shoulder and partially over the chest, under the arm and back to the backplate. I also marked where I wanted to sew in a thumbhole.

Cut out around the chalked-out lines, but make sure to leave at least half an inch of space, if not a full inch, between where you cut and where the chalk lines are. Don't cut the thumb hole!!

Next, hem the edge of the shirt. Here's a good tutorial for reference. However, leave a little space at the end in case you want to fill your hem with thin rope, braided twine, or leather cord for support. To do this, attach the end of what you're filling your hem with to a safety pin, and slide it thorough the hem, and then sew the hem closed.

Sew around the thumb hole to keep the fabric from falling apart later, and cut out the hole.

Hold up the back plate to the back of the shirt, and mark where to make holes for the wires to go through to the inside of the sleeve. If you have a sewing machine, you can simply make button holes over the marks, or you can sew more holes by hand.

Step 6: Adding CPX and Wiring to Sleeve

Put the sleeve on, and line up the CPX with the back of your hand. Go around the CPX with some chalk to mark where to sew it down, and then take off the sleeve and put some cardboard inside by the hand area to create a surface to sew on. Make sure that the correct port for your power source is facing your arm. For example, the power jack is facing my arm, while the USB port faces my fingers, because that is the connection type I plan on using. Sew down the CPX onto your hand accordingly, but either skip or stitch once around the A1 and A2 pins, and the GND and VOUT pins on that side of the CPX.

Solder the power wires to power jack for the CPX. Remember to use wires strong enough to carry the current.

Turn the sleeve inside out, and using the rest of shirt (save the other sleeve though), cut out a strip of fabric to insulate the wires. Sew down on one side, where the power wires will be. Line up the wires, and fold over the insulating fabric, sewing it down on the other side of the power wires but leaving the rest of the fabric to insulate the servo wires. If you want, you add an emergency switch on one of the power wires like I did. I used a sew-on snap wrapped in conductive thread and the wire itself, one sewn onto the shirt itself and the other free to move on the negative power line.

Going back to the CPX, sew down the unsewn pins from before with conductive thread, leaving enough string at the end to solder to the servo wires. Don't use one continuous thread, use one for each pin. Alternatively, you can solder the wires directly to the pins. If your wires are all the same color, remember to add some sort of indicator to tell you which wire is which (I ended up switching the wires midway to stronger ones that were all the same color, and I used strips of vinyl tape to indicate which wire was which).

If you used conductive thread on the pins of the CPX, solder them to the correct wires, and them insulate them in the fabric like you did for the power wires, as shown.

Step 7: Attaching Sleeve and Buckles to Backplate

Using a dress form for this step is helpful, but not necessary.

Grab your backplate, glue gun, and buckle straps. Glue the ends of the over-arm straps to the back of the backplate.

Put your sleeve onto the backplate and pull the wires from the battery pack and breadboard through the holes in the fabric. Glue down the outer rim of the fabric onto the backplate to hold it in place. Solder the wires together accordingly, making sure to match the wires that run through the sleeve and the wires attached to the backplate correctly, because if the wrong signals are sent through the wrong wires, you may destroy your wings and hurt yourself.

Glue down the rest of the fabric, and then add a layer of felt on the back of the backplate for comfort.

Finally, on the front, attach a second buckle across the chest for support.

Step 8: Testing and Final Adjustments

Test out your wings, and see if any adjustments need to be made.

Unfortunately for me, my wings ended up being too large and too air-resistant for the servo motors, so I'll be replacing the wings with smaller versions in the future.

Once you're satisfied with how your wings look and work, recode the CPX to remove the color of the Neopixels, and use that second sleeve and create for yourself a custom cosplay, so that you have matching sleeves and holes in the back of your shirt for your wings. Happy flying!