Intro: Tron Legacy Costume
A few weeks ago I posted an instructable on making the Tron Legacy Clu helmet. This is my second and final installation on the actual costume part of this project. There are many different ways this costume could be made, but I chose a low cost version that turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.
You can find my instructable on the Tron Legacy helmet here:
I initially purchased 30' of el wire from http://www.thatscoolwire.com with a 9 volt inverter box. This costume turned out to need a lot more wire then I had initially planned and ended up only being able to make the top half of the costume.
Step 1: Supplies List
El wire (I had about 29 feet left after the helmet)
Black long sleeve shirt
Blue painters tape
Fishing wire, preferably thin
Heat shrink tubing
Sewing needle (need to be able to fit the fishing wire through it)
"Helping Hands" (they help a lot when soldering the angle wire)
Wire (I used 20 gauge)
Step 2: Mapping the Layout
This is a key step in the process as you will want to find a way to make your design as efficient as possible when it comes to the loss in length of what will be under the fabric.
My first step was to simply map out the location of the el wire on the shirt.
My second step, only when it came to the left chest side, was to map out the direction of the el wire. I did this by figuring out where exactly I would want each hole to be that let the el wire enter and exit the fabric. And where I would want the el wire under the shirt to be positioned.
The third step was deciding where to start the el wire and where to end it. I ended up deciding to go with two long pieces, one for each side of the design. Each length of el wire starts and stops at the bottoms of the arms.
Step 3: Starting the Layout
In the beginning I used blue painters tape to map out where the El wire would be going, lay the el wire over it, and taped over it in sections around 6 inches apart. The idea was to sew everything into place and then rip the blue painters tape out from under the el wire and off of the fishing line.
However, this technique proved to be inefficient as it took FOREVER to get all the blue tape out from under the wire. I then moved to a second technique where I mapped out the layout of the wire, removed that tape and put new tape over the el wire so there was nothing underneath it. This proved to be far easier when it came to removing the tape. Although one has to be careful to not stretch out the fishing line while removing the tape as it can become very loose around the wire if you are not careful.
The way I ran the wire started with one end at the finish point on the sleeve, going up over the chest, down to the stomach, around to the back, up the back, over to the sleeve, and then down the sleeve to the end. I understand that is a lot to try and understand but when thinking about the process view the right side of the costume where there is no design. The path starts on the front winds around down to the bottom around to the back, up and back down the opposite side of the arm. Meaning both ends of the el wire should be at the bottom of the sleeve. Soldering two short leads to the el wire on the starting point will make it easier to connect everything once its sewn on.
Step 4: Lets Get to Sewing
This is a very basic whip stitch over and under the el wire to hold it in place. This should technically be done on a thicker shirt or jacket because the el wire will eventually bend out of shape and need to be re-bent into the proper shape. However, I have extensively used this costume throughout Halloween and it stood up to everything I threw at it.
As stated previously, I began by laying the el wire overtop of the blue painters tape I had used to map out where all the wire would be going and this proved to be a challenging method becuase it took literally forever to pick it all out from under the el wire. My second method was to lay out the el wire and use the painters tape over it to simply hold it in place. Sew it in, and then take the tape off of the top. This method went much faster.
Step 5: Soldering the El Wire
This step is not necessarily for those who have never soldered before. It is a pretty complicated process that "helping hands" helps out with a great deal. There is a perfect tutorial on soldering el wire here on instructables.com:
The way I chose to go about the connectivity of the el wire was to solder short leads to one end of each strand before I began to sew them in, giving me full range with the el wire and giving me the ability to use the "helping hands".
Once finished with the sewing of all the el wire it's time to wire it all on and marvel at your new glowing costume. I took two 4 ft lengths of 20 gauge wire and twisted them together. Since I had previously soldered short leads to the el wire It was easy to simply add heat shrink tubing to either side of the wires, solder them to the short leads, and then cover and shrink the tubing over the connection. The wires from each side then run up the arms on the inside of the shirt and down towards the bottom, eventually ending up on the left side of the suit so that when connected to the inverter box, I can be easily stored in the left pocket of the jeans.
This is where you have two options, either a suit with a helmet or one without. When going without the helmet option you simply need to wire the arms together with the male connector and make sure to heat shrink all connections. When going with the helmet you need to do the same as before, however, you want to add a third connection to the male connector that is about a foot long. At the end of this short length of wire, you need to attach some sort of easy system to disconnect and connect the wires from the helmet. I went with a very basic crimping quick disconnect set up.
A note to remember, el wire can be wired without worry about a positive or negative lead, it has no polarity because it uses AC.
Step 6: Finishing Touches
Now that everything is all wired up and the lights glow, you may notice that you can see the light through the shirt where it is underneath the fabric. This is were the gaff tape comes in to play. Take small strips of the gaff tape and cover up all the exposed el wire that is on the inside of the shirt. This will keep the light from showing through the shirt entirely.
You will also want to cover up the exposed ends of the wire at the bottom of the sleeves, otherwise you will get an occasional shock. And trust me, these are not pleasant shocks at all.
Step 7: Final Product
Now put on your new TRON Legacy suit and head out to show off how much you glow.