I decided to knuckle down and get a suit finished in time for the Reach launch, so I've been working lots of hours in the workshop and I've got a lot of updating to do since my last post regarding the HALO Spartan armor costume.
First up, it's time I explained my marker lights...
While I was in Afghanistan I spent a lot of time mulling over ways to make all of the lights turn on and off without an obvious pushbutton or switch. I also didn't want to have wires running all over the suit to a common battery pack and/or actuator.
Somewhere in my quest, I stumbled across this page: http://www.evilmadscientist.com/article.php/nightlight
This one might work better though: http://www.instructables.com/id/light-detector-no-microprocessors-just-simple-el/
Using the evilmadscientist method, I started making LED circuits that would automatically shut themselves off when exposed to daylight. I had to make some changes based on the fact that I was using different LEDs, so the only part numbers that match up to his tutorial are the transistors themselves. The phototransistors are sensitized to infrared light, so they don't tend to turn off in flourescent lighting. Otherwise, they're great.
I also got a great deal on a large pile of battery holders that hold 3 "AAA" batteries. They're bulkier than the button-cell that they show in the article, but they'll also run the lights for years. Literally. Years.
Anyhow, once I had enough of the lights to outfit the whole suit (twelve of them) I started making the fixtures themselves. First, I cut out the holes where the lights would go. Then I would cover it with duct tape like so:
Then I filled the hole from the inside with water clear surfboard resin (essentially a high-end polyester resin) to make a transparent plastic window:
The lights were then embedded directly into the resin:
Once the resin had cured, all that was left to do was peel the tape, put batteries in the battery box, and find somewhere dark to test them.
Here's the one at the back of the calf:
I used the same clear resin method to embed all of the lights in the suit, so there's a separate battery pack in each shoulder, the helmet, the backplate, the chest, the thighs, and each calf.
When I get a moment, I'll take a video of me walking in and out of shadows to illustrate how well they work.
On the subject of wiring and lighting: in addition to the two marker lights on either side of the helmet I decided I needed working headlights in the cheeks and a pair of cooling fans. Here's a shot of the whole rat's nest coming together:
The switch on the right side turns the cheek lights on and off. The one on the left is for the fans. The black piece is a piece of Sintra that I heated up and formed to fit inside the chin of the helmet. here you can see the fans and the backside of the pushbuttons fitted to it:
The way the black plastic is shaped, it will duct air flow from the fans across the visor and then my face. This way the fans work to defog the visor and improve visibility.
Here's the only part that will be visible when it's installed:
Once I was done soldering all of the wire ends together, the next step was to tape the whole assembly into place and then glue it in with some black casting resin I picked up from jgreer.com. All of the wires were taped to the edges inside of the helmet to keep things neat.
I failed to get a picture of everything tucked in, but you get the idea.
Coming up next: Building the harness and undersuit.