Introduction: Star Wars Rebel Pilot Chest Box - Arduino

About: I am a maker, DIY'er, Dad, Engineer, and all around life Long Learner. My mission is to try new things, attempt to do more by learning from others and share my experiences with others for enjoyable experience…

This project is an overview of how to scratch build a Star Wars Rebel Pilot's chest box, and how to modify the white cooling vest to make it more realistic. I referenced numerous websites and learned that there are specific color schemes, and components for the chestbox to be "movie accurate." This is not at all movie accurate in color, function, and hardware, but it is so slightly different - it is even hard for movie buffs to pick out the differences.

The box is powered by an Arduino Uno that has the following functions; It flashes assorted leds on the box when in "idle", it can play a "Pong" game, and scroll a marquees "jedi" banner while playing the Empire March theme.


Arduino Uno, Assorted LEDs, resistors, push buttons, 5 vdc lithium battery, 2" speaker 3W 8 Ohm,, Dual 8x8 LED matrix, 8x8 LED matrix single. These parts are widely available on the web.

Let's get started...

Step 1: Build the Box

I located a drawing on the web for the front view and side view of the box. I printed it out to full scale as referenced by several sites. This is subject to the source and up to you for finalizing the size. I then cut the pieces for the box out of 4 mm acrylic sheet. This included a top, 2 - sides, bottom, and top. The rear or back panel is a thinner sheet of PVC 2 mm thick. I also constructed the top "wedge box" as a glued on piece to the main box.

Glue the box together:

I used acrylic glue, clamps, tape and registration marks to ensure the best fit up of the pieces. The glue really sets up fast so you should test fit all the parts and how you will clamp them, first before applying glue. Once glued up it is very difficult to separate the pieces without breakage. I then sanded all surfaces to remove glue lines and ensure it would take paint. I primed then painted the BASE coat of silver aluminum.

To simulate scratches to bare metal, mix a solution of table salt and water (some people use toothpaste) and apply it on corners and various locations. when it dries, it leaves salt crystals that will be painted over in green that can be broken off revealing the silver paint below. Once crystals are evident, Then I applied green paint over that coat and when dry, chipped off the salt revealing "scratches." I painted the rear cover silver.

The large toggle switches were cut from 1/2" thick acrylic on a band saw as TWO wedges glued together to get the inflection line. I sanded them until frosted, then painted them leaving a spot for an LED to shine through.

Step 2: Get the Arduino Working

Construct the LED matrix "Pong Game" and Arduino as found here. I also attached my INO programs.

A shout out to a huge help / reference to get this done to Zola labs... he helped a lot! I highly recommend looking here as to how he did it...

Note you can reference his code as well here:

This is the code I ended up gives the Death Star and Tie Fighters Marquee show...

Star Wars 8x8 LED Driver:

Star Wars Pong 2 x 8x8 LED display with "Empire March Music"

Step 3: Modify the Chest Cooler

I bought the vest shown on line and learned from several sites it is not movie accurate. I replaced the vest Velcro with the metal clips (still not quite correct) and sewn in the air tubing to give it dimension.

For a completely unique look, I decided to add labels to the vest to make it more realistic. All military equipment like a life vest, etc. will have service and sizing / warning labels or tags. I grabbed a star wars font online and literally made tages on MSWord typing real sentences like "Caution - Vest my be fitted before use or injury could result." etc. Then coverted it to star wars font and added the rebel legion symbols. I referenced how to print this out using my standard ink jet printer. There are several sites that show how to do this. Then I sewed the labels on the vest.

To give it a realistic - military and worn look, I used coffee and stained several areas of the vest. It smells really good!

Step 4: Complete the Look...

I fatigued an eBay purchased jump suit and fatigued it with an electric sander on the corners of the pockets etc. I also put small cuts in various locations and sewed them back closed to look like the jumpsuit was repaired several times. To get the ingrained dirt / greasy look, I used a variety of black, brown and gray modeling paint highly diluted to wash the uniform.

The arm communicator shown was also built from acrylic and fits up to the left arm sleeve pocket. It uses an Arduino Feather running the game of life" program that really gets a lot of comments. Here is that code...

Thanks to adafruit for showing me how to do that.

I added the rest of the LEDs to the box separately from the code.

Well, hope you like it... I didn't record all the steps during the build so I hope it is clear as possible if not, I'll try my best to help.

Any questions... shoot me a note!

Arduino Contest 2017

Participated in the
Arduino Contest 2017

LED Contest 2017

Participated in the
LED Contest 2017