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Picture of Interactive Predator Costume With Head Tracking Plasma Cannon
The_Predator_i00.jpg

It started as an idea to build a head-tracking plasma cannon, "like in the Predator movie"...

Almost a year later, it became a full body size, interactive Predator Halloween costume featuring props, head-tracking plasma cannon, laser sights, original sounds and everything else the Predator could do (except being invisible).

Building this costume has been an incredible journey, and if you are willing to embark on this project please allocate a lot of time. It took me almost a year (working on weekends mostly) to design and build it. It covers a wide range of skills, and thus have been an amazing mix of cutting, sawing, spray- and brush-painting, gluing, sewing, soldering, programming, sound-editing, video-editing, 3d designing, and 3d printing.

The challenge was to either design everything from the scratch or modify existing (frequently unrelated) object to fit the theme. Although some components of the costume were purchased, almost none of them has been left untouched or unmodified.

I am grateful to my family for putting up with me during this lengthy process, and especially my daughter Alexandra, who helped with quite a few details, and nailed me one particularly project-messy days with a phrase "I still remember when this was just an idea...".

Step 1: Overview

I will describe each component of the costume is much more details in the steps to follow. This is just a high-level overview

THE BODY:

The base of the costume is a Halloween costume available over the counter (for instance: here). I only kept the skin, leather props, and the gloves from this costume. The mask was so bad I had to throw it away. I added a zipper to the back of the skin and sewn all the leather props directly to the skin of the costume (losing velcro straps in the process, which gave the costume extra cheap look).

THE HEAD:

The Predator's face is another Halloween prop available for instance on eBay. It is a latex mask, that is rather big and therefore does not sit well on a regular-size human head. To give it proper look, I decided to insert a small size helmet (like this one) inside. The helmet gives the mask a "skull", and the mask sits perfectly on it. The helmet also sits tight on your head, thus giving you full motion control. Additionally, the helmet is great housing for all the electronic components required for head tracking, sound effects, and the lights.

The Predator faceplate (the famous Bio-Mask with 3 laser sights) was 3D printed. I borrowed the design from this Thingiverse author, but subsequently "assembled" the 3 pieces together in TinkerCAD, and enlarged to fit the latex mask. Actual 3D printing was done by the Voodoo Manufacturing (who are just amazing!) since the part ended up too large for home printing. I added "laser sights" to the Bio-Mask for additional "targeting" purposes. The dreadlocks on the mask looked so cheap that we decided to replace them all. See the steps below how it was done.

THE GAUNTLETS:

The design of both right and left gauntlets are borrowed from Thingiverse (left gauntlet, right gauntlet). Again, I "assembled" them in TinkerCAD, modified left gauntlet to house control electronics, and 3D printed using Voodoo Manufacturing as monolithic pieces. All the STL files are enclosed. Models are here: right gauntlet, left gauntlet, blades.

You can print the right gauntlet in pieces and assemble it so the blades can be extended. I decided against it since you cannot operate the blades in clumsy latex gloves anyway.

THE PLASMA CANNON:

Although I could 3D print a replica of the actual Predator cannon, I decided to modify an alien toy gun (Ray Gun Toy Black Atomic Alien Space Gun). I gutted the gun, cut off the handle, and fitted it with a laser pointer, 9 bright white LEDs at the front, a 3-color LED in the glass bulb in the middle, a PWM control board, an MPU9250 IMU, and 2 servo motors for head motion tracking. All of this is connected to the Predator "Backpack" via RJ-45 network plugs and cables.

The front LEDs are used to simulate a plasma blast. 3 color LED is used to simulate "energy pulsation" during laser tracking and plasma blast. IMU (gyroscope and accelerometer) is used to establish 3D position of the cannon and compare it with 3D position of the helmet for head motion tracking. PWM board controls the servos and turns LEDs on/off (or dims them appropriately).

THE BACKPACK:

I always thought that some bike helmets look somewhat alien-like. So I used one of them to become the plasma cannon "Backpack".

The backpack houses the main control unit, sporting a Teensy 3.5 board running at 120 Mhz and doing most of the heavy lifting of three-dimensional positioning calculation for head tracking. The choice of Teensy 3.5 is due to the fact it has a math co-processor that takes care of all the floating point calculations of the Madgwick sensor fusion algorithm.

The Backpack also contains a second sound system (2 x 4 watt - for system sounds) and communicates wirelessly with a gauntlet.

The Plasma Cannon is mounted directly on top of the Backpack using Go Pro mounts, which proved to be indispensable for the task.

THE CONTROLLER:

The costume motion, light and sound effects are controlled by the Wii Nunchuk controller, connected to the left Gauntlet. A Wii Nunchuk controller has two buttons up-front, a joystick at the top and an accelerometer.

Each of the buttons (or joystick positions) could be interpreted as a single "click", double-click or a long press. Additionally, we can detect if the controller is positioned sideways or upside-down.

This alone gives you 18 distinct control combinations (36 if you consider upside-down option), which is sufficient for our purposes.

I am holding the controller in my left hand, and although it is not super-comfortable to push buttons and move joystick in the latex glove, it is quite doable.

CONCLUSION:

This is a complex project. If you embark on it the result is not guaranteed. "Your mileage may vary" as they say... I will try to help time permitting with advice, but please do rely on your experience and skills as primary drivers for this endeavor.

I will be describing the process in the order I was building it. You are free to choose a different path!

Good luck!

adhith949 months ago
Wow..its super cool. I'm pretty sure that no one could beat this costume in Halloween :)
arkhipenko (author)  adhith948 months ago
The judges obviously disagreed. :(
Honus9 months ago
Very cool! Nice solution to the head tracking!
arkhipenko (author)  Honus8 months ago
Thank you. This is not as close to the original P1 as you and your team has come. That costume was spectacular. I would not consider making a mould and a latex costume in an apartment, but the animatronics part was a lot of fun.
ScottS1038 months ago
I am curious, have you considered marketing the head tracking shoulder mount with a Go-Pro camera on the Go-Pro mount? Seems like somebody out there would want to be able to pan left and right while skiing or such.
arkhipenko (author)  ScottS1038 months ago
Usually GoPro camera is just mounted on the top of a helmet thus eliminating the need for ALL electronics :)
Thinking about other commercial applications though
Enkiduu8 months ago
Great costume! Thanks for posting the links to the prop pieces. I'm thinking of doing a predator costume and finding the right feet and gloves has been problematic. I did find a pretty sweet body suit on etsy but its fairly expensive - I want to get together some of the other props before I commit to it!
https://www.etsy.com/listing/180276837/predator-bo...
arkhipenko (author)  Enkiduu8 months ago
Also, check these guys out:
https://www.facebook.com/predatorfx/
arkhipenko (author)  Enkiduu8 months ago
Thank you. Check out https://www.predatorium.com
Lots of valuable advise and examples.
snorlaxprime9 months ago
One word "Incredible", so details and fully functional. This looks so amazing!!!
arkhipenko (author)  snorlaxprime9 months ago
Thank you! Please vote for this one in the Halloween contest!
Wow. A very detailed costume. I really dig the alien head beneath the armoured mask.
arkhipenko (author)  Antzy Carmasaic9 months ago
Thank you! Please vote for this one in the Halloween contest!
paappraiser9 months ago
This is freaking awesome.

I just made my wife go to gamestop to by a Wii nunchuck...

I dont make costumes, but put on a halloween display and your head following turret is AMAZING. Im going to totally steal this...:)

I will post pics of what I do with it!
arkhipenko (author)  paappraiser9 months ago
Haha. Can't steal what's already given away free...
Good luck. Shoot me a message if you have questions.
And please vote for this for the Halloween Contest!
Voted... I have and have used most everything here except the MPU9250 . Ill hit you up if I have problems with the MPU9250.. I just ordered one as well. That is the one Im mostly unsure of.
Ghloo9 months ago
Hey, that is awesome! In fact I have something such (in principle) on my table about now - servos, accelerometers, arduinos, action cam shoulder strap, to-be-a-gun (which I want to shoot something material such as a syringe rocket)... - and wish I could ever push it to this level of perfection and function. Will definitely have a closer look at your design very soon. ;o)
arkhipenko (author)  Ghloo9 months ago
Thank you and good luck with your design! Shoot me direct questions (not comments here - private messages) if you have questions.
Ghloo arkhipenko9 months ago
Thanks a lot for the kind offer! I would, however, hardly get to the evel of detail as you have, I tend to testproof the concept (and an animatronic sholder canon is cool indeed) and then point my attention elsewhere. Like I just received a heartbeat sensor, flex sensor and some neopixels so I may easily switch my mind in this direction. Like a LED bracelet signalling that I am about to explode, or driving a tabletop AA turret remotely with two fingers. :o)

Plus I want the wristblades retractable. Even if just rubberband-powered.
LlewellynD19 months ago
Fan-tastic! Such passion, skill and perseverance. Salute to you!
Defender909 months ago
That is awesome. The props are so creative. If you want fancy mask,this one is great …https://www.evike.com/products/36704/
Thanks for sharing this amazing creation!!!
arkhipenko (author)  Defender909 months ago
Thanks for the tip with the biomask. I tried at least 4. The problem is they all are small for the mask under it so together they look ridiculous. Had to adjust the measurements and 3d print one as a result.
arbe20009 months ago
This is absolutely amazing! Congratulations - definitely deserves to win!
tercero9 months ago
Holy crap. That's hollywood quality. Thanks for the ible