Introduction: "Resistance Is Futile" - How to Become the BORG
For a quite long time I wanted to create a Borg costume and I finally finished it. I won't lie to you, it's not a quick and easy project, but if you are a Star Trek fan or you love cyborgs and robots, it's probably project for you \\//
To start with you will need to source quite few materials. The most important thing is to buy a cheap motorbike body armour, which will be our base for the costume. I found mine on Wish.com and it was really cheap compared to other online offers. I have been using wish for about 4 years now and never had an issue. The only downside is the waiting time, which could be up to 2 months sometimes.
The most complicated part of the costume is the arm, but I will show you step by step how to assemble it, and then we will add other parts of the costume like mask and glowing spine.
- Cheap motorbike body armour (I recommend wish.com)
- 5m EL wire green with controller (amazon.com)
- 2 x SG90 servos (amazon.com)
- Arduino Nano (amazon.com)
- 12mm black corrugated hose (amazon.com)
- 8mm black pipe tube (amazon.com)
- 16 x 3mm LED's (various colours)
- 1 x 5mm Red LED
- 2 x mini on/off switch (amazon.com)
- 1 x 9V battery
- 9V battery clip
- 1 x 3V CR2032 battery
- 2 x AAA 1.5V battery
- Wire (at least 5 meters for soldering all electronics)
- PLA (preferably black)
- Black and metallic copper spray paint (I recommend rust-oleum)
- FDM 3D printer
- 3D pen
- Wire cutters
- Soldering iron
- Air brush (or spray paint)
- Silver/grey body paint (optional)
Step 1: CAD Design
The Borg arm, spine and armour implants were designed in Fusion 360. The arm was the most challenging as I wanted to create a surface with many different components. After about 30 hours I had a prototype ready and I had to make few minor adjustments before printing the final version.
The spine was inspired by the design I saw on the internet, and I instantly thought that it would be a nice addition to the Borg costume. There are two pieces that goes at the top and bottom of the spine, and you just have to print one of each. Then there are two parts that goes in between, and you can print as many as you like to make the spine as long as you wish.
It took only an hour to design the implants for the armour. I made them the way that the 12mm diameter corrugated pipe will fit perfectly inside. I've also added 6 small holes around the edges for an easy mounting with cable ties.
The mask was slightly more challenging because I wanted to make the best possible fit to human face. For that I used ZBrush which is an amazing sculpting software, but it is quite difficult to learn it. After about 30 hours I had a model ready, and after test print, it fit my face profile nicely.
Below you will find all STL files already split into pieces so they can be printed on regular size FDM printer.
Step 2: Slicing and 3D Printing
I use Cura for slicing all STL files. Above you can check pictures above with some basic settings for each model.
I recommend slightly higher layer resolution (0.3mm - 0.26mm) for the Borg arm, as it's quite large and requires many hours to be printed. You can use brim (10mm) to ensure that the part won't come off the bed halfway printing.
You can use standard 0.2mm layer resolution when printing the mask. In this case, the brim and support material is necessary. I recommend 10mm brim and 'Touching build plate' option for support material with 7% - 8% infill. I also set the x/y distance to 0.8mm and z to 0.2mm. I found out that with these settings the support material is easy to remove.
There is no need to use brim or support for the spine and armour implants. If you wish to print them in really good quality, I recommend 0.12mm layer resolution.
All above parts I printed in PLA (1.75mm) with 205C nozzle temperature and 60C bed temperature. The infill was set to 20% in all parts and total printing time was just under 120 hours.
Step 3: Borg Arm Assembly Part 1
- Firstly, glue all the parts together using superglue (I recommend gorilla superglue)
- Cut 15cm to 30cm pieces of 8mm black pipe (it is up to you what length you cut and how many you wish to mount on the arm)
- Glue the black pipe into the designated slots around the arm
- After printing you will see that the arm has a slit so you can adjust the diameter and fit your arm perfectly. To do that, use hair dryer and warm up the plastic. Once PLA become soft you can then expand the 3D printed parts to desired size
Step 4: Electronics
-Above, you can see wiring diagram for the electronic. I like Arduino Nano because it is small and powerful enough for DIY projects like this.
- Solder 8 pairs of 3mm LED's together (remember to solder negative leg of first diode to positive leg of second diode)
- Solder the 8 pairs of LED's to the Arduino Nano (use digital pins D2, D3, D4, D5, D6, D9, D10, D11)
- Solder Servo's to Arduino Nano (use digital pins D7, D8)
- Solder the 9V battery clip with On/Off slide switch
NOTE: For 8 pairs of LEDs use various lengths of wire. You don't have to worry about cutting exact length because any excess will be a nice decoration for the arm. It is Borg arm in the end lol.
Step 5: Arduino Code
Below you will find the code that you have to upload using Arduino IDE software and instructions how to do that.
- Open Arduino IDE
- Open the code [File -> Open -> borg_arm.ino]
- Connect Adruino Nano to PC/Laptop using USB cable
- Choose COM port [Tools -> Port “…” -> COM…]
- Choose Arduino board type [Tools -> Board: “…” -> Arduino Nano]
- Choose Arduino Nano processor type [Tools -> Processor: “…” -> ATmega328P] [It is possible that you will need to change it to ATmega328P (Old Bootloader) depending on Arduino Nano]
- Verify the code
Step 6: Borg Arm Assembly Part 2
- Use 3D pen and mount the LEDs which you prepared in previous step (you can distribute the LEDs as you like around the arm). To do that, extrude a little bit of plastic, using 3D pen, around the LEDs to weld them into the arm
- Glue the servos inside the dedicated slots in the Borg arm
- Glue the servo arms (the white pieces that comes with the SG90 servo) into two 3D printed 'clamps'
- Mount the 'clamps' onto of the servos and secure them with the screw (see picture above)
- Insert Arduino Nano into designated slot and use 3D pen to extrude a little bit of plastic around it, to secure Arduino
Step 7: Borg Arm Assembly Part 3
- Insert On/Off switch into designated slot and secure them by extruding a little bit of plastic with your 3D pen
- Place the 9V battery in the flat area at the bottom of the arm (see picture above)
- Put the cable tie trough the holes and secure 9V battery
- Switch on Arduino Nano and see if everything works (8 pairs of LEDs should light up in sequence and then servo motors should rotate)
- Lastly, use spray paint or air brush to paint Arduino Nano and battery in black (this step is optional)
NOTE: If you like you can add more components as a decoration. In one of the versions, I used the old capacitors and resistors and I mounted them using 3D pen.
Step 8: Spine Assembly
- After printing several borg spine parts, line them up on the floor (see picture above)
- Use 5m EL wire to connect the pieces together (please check close up pictures to see how the pieces are connected)
- Make sure you feed the EL wire on both sides of the spine
- Once you finish, you can feed the excess of the wire into the holes in the middle of the spine (this is optional step just to give the spine a little bit greener glow)
- When you finish making spine, you can cut the excess of EL wire using wire cutters or scissors (you won't damage the remaining part connected to the controller)
Step 9: Head Mask Assembly Part 1
- Firstly, glue the mask's pieces together (use superglue)
- You can use 3D pen and extrude a little bit of plastic to the joints, and then use solder iron to smooth it (this way the pieces should bond together really well)
- Use hair dryer and warm up the mask to re-shape it slightly, so it will fit your face profile perfectly (be careful and don't overheat the plastic, as you might burn yourself)
- Use spray paint (black and metallic copper) to paint the mask
- Cut two pieces of corrugated pipe (about 30cm - 40cm) and insert them into the designated slots (use a little bit of superglue to make sure the pipes won't detach themselves)
- You have 4 slots around the mask, and you can use any of them, just make sure you leave one end of the pipe free. You will connect this end to the implant on the armour later
Step 10: Head Mask Assembly Part 2
- Put the electronic circuit together (see picture above)
- Insert red LED into the designated slot on the side of the mask (you can glue the LED in place or use 3D pen and extrude plastic around it)
- Place battery and on/off switch into the box at the back of the mask
- Switch on the LED to check if everything is working
Step 11: Body Armour Assembly
- Attach the 3D printed implants to the motorbike armour using cable ties
- You can mount as many implants as you like, just remember to mount one near the shoulder for the corrugated pipe from the mask (see previous step)
- If there are no holes in the armour to attach the implants, use solder iron and melt few holes through the plastic
- Measure the distance between the two implants and cut the corrugated pipe. Then insert the pipe into the implants (I recommend using a little bit of glue to secure the pipes)
Step 12: Putting All Together
- Attach the spine to the back of the armour using cable ties
- Attach the EL wire controller to the armour with cable ties (make sure it's reachable so you can easy switch it on and off)
- Put on the finished armour first
- Put on the mask and switch on the LED
- Insert free end of the corrugated pipe from the mask to the implant on your shoulder
- Put on the Borg arm and switch it on
Step 13: We Are Borg......
You just become a Borg and you can begin assimilation of other species \\//
To complete your costume you can use silver/grey body spray paint as Borg have nanites instead of blood cells.
Here is a link to short video of fully assembled costume:
You can add more lights (LED's, EL wire or LED strips) to your costume later. I would recommend to use 9V battery instead of CR2032 for the LED in the mask. That should give you enough power for few extra LED's to decorate chest pieces of the armour.
I hope you enjoy this project and please keep an eye on more Instructables in the future as I intend to design few upgrades.
Runner Up in the