Monday, 4 November 2013

Daft Punk Helmet

If you haven't ever seen Volpin's excellent Daft Punk Helmet build, I recommend you check it out. His impressive work has inspired and continues to inspire many people to attempt to build their own helmets. Back in May, I decided to give myself the challenge of building a similar, albeit much more budget, Guy-Manuel Daft Punk Helmet. For the short version, enjoy the video below:

You can find the CAD files and Arduino code for the helmet here.

2015-06-02: I have now published an Instrucable which describes the build process in full detail, available here.

Keep reading for the long version.

As a starting point, I found a great CAD model of the helmet on Ivan Spasic's blog here. After importing into SketchUp and a fair bit of tidying, I had a great initial model.

Unfortunately, printing the helmet as a single piece wasn't going to work; it was too big. I split the helmet into sections, and added flanges so that it could be joined together once printed.

The earpieces were missing some detail, so I added it based on some a picture from Volpin's blog.

Printing, Assembly
I printed the parts on the Prusa i3.

Parts were joined with M3 nuts and bolts and a generous helping of hot-melt glue.

Once the whole helmet was assembled, I used modelling clay to fill the cracks between parts, and sanded it down once dried.

The next step was to prepare the helmet for painting. Unless you have a really high quality printer, printed parts have a tell-tale appearance, retaining the layers where individual layers of material were laid down during printing. I wanted my helmet to be shiny, like the real thing, so I coated the majority of it with car body filler.

Next the helmet needed to be sanded. A lot. I bought myself a Black & Decker Mouse Sander, and I'm sure it saved me a lot of time. During sanding, I gradually used finer and finer papers to get maximum smoothness. Once I felt the helmet was sufficiently smooth, I spray painted it, first with a coat of surface primer, and then with metallic gold.

I needed the back plate for the helmet, so I quickly made a curved plate which would fit the current design in SketchUp. I printed this curved surface with support material, painted it black, and glued on strips of thick wire to match photos of the real helmet.

By a stroke of luck, the back plated snap-fitted inside the current helmet. I added plenty of hot-melt glue anyway.

I had already decided I would use an Arduino to control the lighting of the helmet. I wanted to use PWM, so that limited me to 6 channels. I chose the colours red, orange, yellow, green, blue and pink. Since I wanted 3 LEDs per side, each channel would be powering 6 LEDs, which would exceed the current requirements of an Arduino pin, so I used some 2N2222 transistors to switch the LEDs on and off. As usual, my designs are works of art.

I assembled the required components on a small piece of veroboard.

The electronics and power (8 AA batteries) needed a case, so I whipped one together on SketchUp and printed. I also included an SPDT on/off switch and potentiometer to control the speed of animation.

I needed a surface upon which to mount the LEDs, so altered Ivan's design to make thick mountable diffusers, which I printed in translucent PLA with support material.

To mount the lights, I designed some small blocks with holes for three 5 mm LEDs. Each set of three LEDs was wired in series; resistors on the aforementioned circuit board ensured they were delivered the correct current.

The LED blocks were attached to the diffusers with hot-melt glue. Hot-melt was also used to mount the diffusers to the helmet, and for cable routing.

Probably the trickiest bit of the whole build was the visor. I had a CAD file for the required shape from Ivan's design, so I converted this surface into a mould.

Ideally, I would have simply created this mould from a block of wood with a CNC mill, however all I had access to was a laser cutter. As a solution, I sliced the required mould into nineteen 6 mm slices, and cut in MDF.

I assembled these slices with a couple of wooden dowels, glued with wood glue and left to dry, adding pressure with a few dumbbells.

I then sanded the mould for a very very long time. I was extremely thankful for the B&D Mouse.

I vacuum formed thin (0.5 mm I believe) PETG over the mould to create my visor, and tinted the inside with a few coats of VHT Niteshades.

The visor was attached to the helmet with... you guessed it! Lots of hot-melt glue. I added some sticky foam roll to the inside of the helmet to improve comfort. I finished the helmet just in time for Glastonbury 2013!

The total cost of the helmet was probably around £100, not including the tools I bought to help build it.

Hope you enjoyed reading about this. If you'd like to make one of your own, please check out the design on my Thingiverse!