Monday, January 31, 2011

Removed the inner C track on the front!

The LED ring for the new blade

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I installed a cast ring in the routed track on the back side of the disc last night.  I am happy with these cast replacement rings but I am not as pleased with my routing ability.  I guess I was hoping for something that looked cut by a laser.  Only one of the preorders had requested this process so I am going to clarify what her expectations were in this area.

I will also try injecting some black adhesive from inside to conform to the edge of the plastic (which is crisp) because it looks worse when illuminated.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Routed out the back C in 13 minutes.  Finished cutting out the battery compartment in 10 minutes but it doesn't look like there will be room left to change out the A23 battery.

Inner C rings (cast on left, original on right)

Finished routing including the little notches

Got the replacement parts, good as new!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Everyone is sick in the family except me so up at 4:30am with my daughter... probably won't last a long time tonight.

I have spent about 20 minutes so far cutting posts and I would say I am more than half done.  The factory battery is going to take most of the remaining time.

I also spent about 25 minutes mounting the LEDS on the blade but that is done.  Now I need to do the wiring.

Cutting the tabs off the factory blade only took about 10 minutes with a box cutter.  I used thick cardboard on my work surface to protect it and it had a nice effect of giving the blade some friction so I didn't accidentally cut through the rim itself.

Casting the blade and the two C rings takes about 3.5 ounces of PET and a 15 drops of catalyst per ounce.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

One of the two molds are done... waiting for more urethane to be delivered Friday so I can finish.

I started growing concerned about the kids playing with the molds and stuff so I moved everything down to the man-cave (basement) this morning.

New proof came in... gave them the go-ahead!

Another problem is the subminiature slide switch.  The one that is installed at the factory is part of a PCB and has a 3cm span from post hole to post hole but I can't find a panel-mount switch like that for sale.  So now it looks like I am going to have to put my own board on there just to install a switch at that location.  More on that after I hit up the local Radio Shack.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

RTV Urethane Mold
Wiring Diagram (Already Superseded)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Received the dress forms and the kids had fun dressing them up like mom and me.

Turns out the male dress form has some issues... there is a ding on the top of the neck and the little clamp that is on the female dress form is not installed on the male making it impossible to adjust the height.

The vendor is sending us a new neck cap and this part and refunded us $10 to do the work.  Now we are down to $45 each!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The fabric swatch came today! We are a little off on the scale somehow but it is very encouraging. It is about $35 a yard because it is custom printed on Lycra Spandex. Only plan on a yard for Quorra but up to three (3) yards for Sam.  I have them running a new swatch at 14% larger scale with a 25% increase in brightness of the hexagons themselves.

The mold and cast kit came today.  The bit for the Dremel came today.  The white LEDs came today.  Dress forms should arrive today (weather permitting).  Hopefully the two (2) different orders of EL wire will arrive today too so we can wrap that testing up.

I had a little time this morning to evaluate the viability of a "dumb" LEDmod version (no microcontroller) but the problem is you can't (to my knowledge) connect 72 LEDs in series (too much voltage needed) or parallel (subtle manufacturing differences will cause differences in output).

I made a little video of a 4 LED test... the refresh rate on the camera picks up the fact that they are cycling but your eyes can't tell.  Only one is actually on at any given time.  You may also notice that they appear on and off in a sequence (that is deliberate, these are blade posts).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Now I am all set up on the iPhone to upload videos directly to YouTube!

I found the Eclectic E-6000 at Jo Anne's here in town so I am not going to settle for the Eclectic Goo.

We bought a few sheets (2mm and 6mm) of the Foamies stuff they had there. It doesn't say EVA anywhere on it so I guess I still need to go to Hobby Lobby so if I can see if this stuff is the same thing or not. If it is, Jo Anne's has the 2mm in a larger roll which would be convenient to go buy.

TAP Plastics order should be here today. Dress forms should be here tomorrow. Replacement order from ELwirePros and the new order from Coolight should arrive today or tomorrow too.

Someone had commented on the Identity Disc page about me re-casting the blade/rim piece. The problem I see is that there is a texture on both sides and the stuff I bought is really for making a mold of one side of the piece. Also the resin that I am using may not survive a drop as well as the flexible stuff they have in it now. My gut tells me that the white LED's will be so bright in fact that it won't matter... the color it will give off is the same tinge as the white bulbs themselves.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Received my order of EL wire from EL Wire Pros but they didn't get the special instructions section from the Yahoo! checkout process for some reason so we are missing an inch.  I spoke with Darrel Davis today (on a Saturday) and he is going to fix it ASAP.

It also isn't as bright as I had expected.  I am not sure what frequency the inverter outputs at but I have a query in at EL Wire Pros to get the answer.  They said the manufacturer's site looked like it was hacked so they couldn't get the spec sheet.  Ultimately I am concerned that EL wire is specifically for applications where the wire itself is visible (as opposed to lighting from within).

I placed an order from Coolight which sells the brand-name LyTec 2.5mm EL wire which is supposedly the brightest in the world and Coollight inverters run at 3kHz.  If this doesn't make the difference I am going to upgrade pre-orders to the LEDmod version at no extra charge and take the ELmod version off the table.

Got the Dremel 300 today in the mail but not the cutting bit yet so I can't start cutting plastic yet.  I am also waiting for my molding/casting kit so I can't start reproducing parts.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Now I am just waiting for a lot of stuff to arrive by mail.

My wife understandably blew up last night because of the dress forms.  I hadn't had a chance to really discuss it with her and I didn't realize that making an offer meant that the transaction is final once the seller accepted the offer (did this workflow change on eBay?).  We are very tight on cash after the holidays and my power steering pump didn't help matters.

So overall I got a little bit (rather a lot) overzealous about the costume considering we have 10 months to complete it so I am going to focus on the discs for a while and make a little to help pay for them and hopefully I can undo the tainting of the costumes project

One of the recent purchases for an ELmod disc was from a Daft Punk cover band member!  That is why I am in this business... I asked them to send us pictures from their first performance!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Found this company to possibly do the PC boards but their ExpressSCH (circuit design) doesn't have the Atmel ATmega168 (PDIP-28) IC on the component list.  I wrote the company to see what gives... here is there reply:
All of the component models that we have are included with the ExpressPCB layout and the ExpressSCH schematic programs.  For other parts you can make your own.  Please see the online help within the programs for more information.  From the "Help" menu, select the program's "User's Manual", then look for the topic "Making Custom Components".
It is evident that preorders allow me to buy in bulk and will save everyone cash in the long run.  These custom PCBs are looking like they are around $20 a piece if I order 8 right away.

I ordered the Dremel 300 with 25 accessories and the 9903 Tungsten Carbide Cutter bit through Walmart.  This special bit is to remove the inner C ring from the back of the unit.  The cutoff discs that the kit comes with will be used to remove the one on the front (from inside).

I ordered a complete room temperature vulcanization urethane molding kit for the inner C ring as well as clear casting resin from Tap Plastics for $113.

I made an offer of $100 on a set of male and female pinnable mannequins on eBay which are in our size... much cheaper than the traditional dress form and more relevant since it has sleeves!

I was also curious if I could do some sound effects from the ATmega168 for the identity disc.  It turns out that for decent sound we need 22kbps (mono) which for one second we are already out of flash memory onboard.  Here is an article I found on StackOverflow... now I am hunting for an article on connecting external flash ROM.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I think this speaks for itself!  I gave them the go-ahead to print and ship this swatch which is about 8" x 9" if you are curious.

I ordered some 12v A23 batteries and holders for the ELmod version of the disc last night.

Found a Kevin Flynn white disc at Target in Olathe... I will head there over my lunch break in the snow... that one will be for my friend Ian's birthday in May.

This is the last of the LCD display which was just used for testing the hardware.  Now we are ready to hook up some LED's!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Got the first project finished to test the hardware.  Pretty cool!

Got the USB programmability in place... little bit of trouble with Windows 7 drivers for the Prolific USB to serial device.  Was able to flash store new code.

Now I am ready to do a LED test and am going to remove the LCD wiring.

In going back and forth with the fabric printer we determined that the hexagons are 0.3" tall and that there are three (3) of them per 1" vertically.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My folks came through and found an additional 5 of the identity discs at another Target (cleaned them out)!

Received my microcontroller kit in the mail today.  The three items on the left are for the LED array.  These are red LEDs for me to play with.

I tried ordering the white ones from LED-DNA but I kept getting an error message when I am redirected to their PayPal checkout
This recipient is currently unable to receive money.
So I am not holding my breath for LED-DNA I instead found another source on eBay called bestshop2008hk, they sell 3000 of the 5mm Flat Top white LED Wide Angle light 20000MCD for $190 with shipping, that is $0.06 a piece!

I took the Deluxe Identity Disc apart tonight to see how much room there will be and how the plastic blade rim was attached.  It should be a lot of fun!

The three different layers

Before gutting the electronics

Gutted except for the battery pack

Friday, January 7, 2011

Researching silicone-based adhesives the Eclectic E6000 is the same formula as Eclectic Goop but with a different viscosity.  I am always going to lean towards something I can locally in a pinch.  I should also offer the caveat that you have to be in the United States because apparently in Canada they replace toluene (more flammable) with perchlorethylene (a known carcinogen).

I received a fabric sample of To Be or Not To Bee Honeycomb Black that I found before I created my custom print pattern.  This is the last 3/4 yards of it on the planet and as far as I know it is no longer in print.  But if it was I would have used it as a compromise so luckily it isn't.

I heard back from Fabric On Demand but apparently they can't read a JPEG attachment so I resent the email so we haven't even gotten to the proof stage yet but I asked if they can match the repeat rate from the image below.

I also heard back from William Rollins at Light Tape Innovations:
Our EL material can be cut to just about any shape and then provide the leads to the lamp for power.  As long as the positive lead is on one side of the scribe line and the negative lead is on the other, you can attach the leads virtually anywhere on the back of the lamp since the entire back is conductive.  As far as the tape goes, you are welcome to cut the tape to length, field seal the end, and then attach a new connector housing.  We supply all the parts you need to make the connections and it is a simple process.  
If you want to know if you can get a 2.25” wide piece of lamp and cut it yourself, the answer is generally no.  If you need to cut a roll of Light Tape into specific lengths, that’s fine because it does not change the surface area ratio between hemispheres.  If you want to take a piece of pre-scored lamp and cut complex shapes from it, generally, that would be impossible.
We do not sell user customizable sheets.  We sell rolls of tape that the customer can cut to length.  Any custom cutting of shapes though, we have to do here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I was at Target last night to get a present for a friend's birthday and my daughter wanted to look at the toys.  Lo and behold they had the Sam Flynn's Deluxe Identity Disc for $15 so I went ahead and got it (I didn't get anything for her but she liked playing with the disc).

The lighting and sound is pretty lame but the plastic molding and design has a lot of potential.  This morning I ordered a prototyping kit so I can figure out what has happened with USB programming and microcontroller technology in the last 10 years.  I also immediately got the LED kit (even though I will need to buy a gross of  ultra-bright white LEDs).  Total so far on prototyping is $113 but to manufacture additional discs it could be as little as $30 for all the electronics!  I estimate I can sell these for $90 a piece and make a little for my time.

Alternatively I can just embed an inverter and battery and run a loop of EL wire for a lot cheaper.  If you could buy the EL version for $50 would you do it?  No power-up effects or rotation of the blade... but if it is going to stay on your costume it would be sick.

I also ordered a swatch of a custom print on Lycra for $5.  Here is the image I submitted to them.  I will post pictures of the fabric when it comes.  I am going to talk with them after getting the sample to see how much we could get a yard for if we order in bulk because a lot of people are looking for this print.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Still trying to get the wife to commit.  A guy at work thinks that having the pair would really seal the deal.

I found this thread which has a ton of information.  Namely that the real EL supplier for the movie was OrionTechnologies but their products don't seem to be available for end consumers.

I am considering custom printed Lycra for the base shirt and pants but need to talk to the wife about feasibility.  The company I found prints on a myriad of fabric types.

The deluxe identity disc supplier is a done deal but the videos I have seen of the deluxe identity disc don't show it "on" like it should appear when attached to your back... which means I will likely have to modify it and maybe take it a step further to add my own EL which is powered when attached to the suit instead of USB.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I saw the movie on opening day in RealD and was sold.  My brother-in-law and long-time friend suggested my wife and I would make a good Quorra and Sam for Halloween 2011 (it is hard to do projects with young children around unless you start way in advance).  I have been sold on the idea ever since.