After watching the latest Tron movie ... the kids were excited at the idea of being Tron (and so was i). We set about researching how to make a decent and yet still inexpensive Tron outfit. Here is how...
1 - 5m roll of LED Lights - $10-15 on ebay
1 - Roll of 22 guage wire (make sure it is not solid)
1 - Soldering iron
1 - Glue Gun
1 - Battery holder (for 8 AA's)
- Camping foam
Optional: An old Chest protector - motorcross style
Additionally you will need some patience ... soldering those little tiny contacts can take awhile.
As you can see from the photo ... they are very bright. We actually had troubles taking this picture ... no worries about where the kids were on Halloween night. Litterally they were stopping traffic. I have to admit ... the kids got a lot of RAVE reviews from people about their cool Tron costumes.
Note: we were originally going to go out with scuba suits underneath - but it was raining so badly we had to put on jackets! This weather won't stop us!! Electricity might ... but not the weather.
Step 1: Prepare Well in Advance
Prepare well in advance of Halloween ... these items are long lead - meaning they take about 30 days to arrive.
The LED roll was a good solution for the costume since it was cheap and you could cut it. Decent ability with a soldering iron comes in handy ... or at least be willing to learn. The LED roll costs about $10-15 on ebay ... get the 5m roll. You don't need super bright LED's since these were blinding people as it was. Ensure you get the self-adhesive LED roll. Also ... since it is the wet-west coast here ... I also got the waterproof roll. In hindsight - it was nice since it was pouring rain on halloween.
Yes, the LED's can be cut ... every three lights there is a line to cut at. Strip the ends with a razor knife to remove the silicon ... ensure you have bare clean metal to solder too.
Battery: you need 9V or more ... the 9V battery is good for a tester and for the identity disc since it can go on or off. The suit has a lot of lights - I recommend a battery pack with 8-AA's ... they are 1.5V each ... a good solid 12V. Lasts for 4-6 hours.
I picked up 30+ AA's at the dollar store for $3.
While you are ordering the LED strips ... it was much cheaper to buy the other electronics stuff online. I used connectors for between the legs torso and arms ... so they were removeable. I also bought some switches (to turn it on and off) and battery packs (8-AA type). Also get a roll of 22 gauge wire (not solid).
Step 2: The Identity Disc
Tron Identity Disc:
You can get some good soldering practice on the identity disc ... and afford to make a few mistakes. You want to be good at soldering before you get to the costume. Practice here.
You can buy an identity disc from Disney ... but I never found one at a reasonable price. The $15 model is basically a frisbee ... and the deluxe model with lights is $75. With two kids ... that made the costumes too expensive. My solution ... a bit of woodworking. I bought a 1x10 - and cut it into a 10" circle. Then I used a jigsaw to cut out the inner circle. I had the right shape ... now I needed a groove and slope. I have a router table ... I just ran the disc in a circle to create a 3/8" groove ... then a belt sander to slope it. 1-2 hours for all 3 discs ... spray paint them blacks and voila!!
Additionally - I felt it was beneficial to add an on/off switch. One the paint dried - I soldered the LED's around the outside edge and inner groove ... all powered by one 9V battery. It would last for about 2-3 hours non-stop usage for each battery.
Step 3: Cut Shapes to Fit
Great stuff ... you buy rolls of it - it is 3/8" thick, cuts easy ... and hot glues to anything. You can spray paint it any color ... perfect. Ultimately you need a groove to put the lights into ... or you could surface mount. I went with the groove. It also allowed me to be pretty liberal with the hot glue.
I used cereal box cardboard as the backing material and plenty of hot glue ... pick your shapes and patterns. Try to be straight ... the LED strips do not bend hardly at all. So for each turn you want to make - you will need to cut and solder.
Also ... if you can pick yourself up some old MotorCross armor ... these are great ... spray them up and reuse them for any costume. This armor I have had for 20 years now ... it used to be white. I stuck the LED's directly on it ... and used the camping foam for my arms and legs.
Heat the contact point then pull the iron away as the solder melts on to it. Tin your wires before soldering ... then all of you have do is place them on your contact and melt them to join. Much easier.
Also ... once you have done the soldering for an area ... confirm the lights work with a 9V battery as a tester. Pull on the wires to ensure they are very secure. After ... hot glue them to ensure they stick. The solder tends to break off the tiny contact points once you start moving around a lot ... glue them down tight.
Step 4: Powering the System
I spray painted the bottom of a 2L pop bottle and zap-strapped it to the armour. Under that you can just see is where I put the battery pack with the 8-AA's. I also zap-strapped the battery pack to make sure it was secure.
Conventiently - it is around the right shape for mounting your identity disc on ... optionally you could add some magnets to hold it in place and be fancy. Run the wires around as you see fit ... tape it down with electricians tape.
Step 5: Final View
Here is what the finished product looked like ... so much fun.
Hope you all enjoy ... Happy Halloween!
Finalist in the
Autodesk Employee Halloween Contest