Ultimate DIY Halloween Costume: Rolloween Project

DIYers create one-of-a-kind Halloween costume for 10-year-old in a wheelchair

Rolloween: Inspiring Montreal makers step up to create the ultimate Halloween costume making one boy happier than ever to trick or treat!

The Maker Movement embraces just about any challenge and looks for the best DIY way to shake things up and overcome it. In this case, a group of eager makers stepped in to produce Chad, an exciting, remarkably real not to mention practical Halloween costume solution for young Émile.

Unlike years past when Émile, born with a disability that requires him to use a wheelchair, has found Halloween to be a particularly challenging celebration, thanks to a group of Montréal makers this year he will have THE ultimate in Halloween costumes for himself as well as his wheelchair.

Having pulled together imagination, creativity, serious maker skills, as well as generosity and commitment, this group of makers created a dragon in his castle, or, simply, Chad.

Beyond Magic: A Dragon Comes to Life

Halloween costumes are not designed for children to wear sitting down and for those people requiring an assisted mobility device, getting around towns and cities is not easy even at the best of times, let alone at night, dressed in costume.


Inspired to create a fun, festive, and practical costume for Émile, the maker group collected all the necessary materials to create Chad: polystyrene for the castle to surround the wheelchair, thermoplastic to form the dragon head, silk and green polylactic acid (PLA) filament to 3D print the dragon scales, an umbrella to build the wings, foam to build parts of the costume and a set of Hallowing — programmable eyes for the dragon.

Coming together every two weeks in the months ahead of October 31st, the group spent their weekends hard at work in the garage of a member of Duct Tapers Anonymous. Other meetings took place at Milieux Make — the Milieux Institute for Arts Culture and Technology makerspace.

As the costume came together, Émile visited the garage for fittings.

This Halloween, thanks to the ingenuity and skills of this dedicaged groupe of people, Émile will BE Chad the Dragon. He will also show off the amazing creation during the Montréal Maker Faire, produced by Concordia University on Nov. 16-17.

Rolloween Project

Magic Wheelchair is a non-profit organization “that builds epic costumes for kiddos in wheelchairs — at no cost to families.” The organization started with Ryan Weimer whose son was born with spinal muscular dystrophy. When his son wanted to be a pirate for Halloween, Ryan decided to turn his wheelchair into a pirate ship.

Following the inspiration of Magic Wheelchair, Concordia University’s Education Makers and Montréal’s Duct Tapers Anonymous decided to get together to build a wheelchair Halloween costume. Education Makers had experimented with 3D printing dragon scales on fabric and with thermoplastic. Duct Tapers Anonymous offered up a wealth of know-how ranging from handymen, engineers, sculptors and seamstresses.

This project is exactly what Maker Culture is all about – seeing a challenge and turning it on its head! Disrupting how things might conventionally be done. The Rolloween project is a perfect example.

A boy who simply wanted to be a dragon for Halloween helped spur much-needed change in Halloween costume design, encouraging inclusiveness and respect for differences in the tradition of Halloween.

Fun Friday! Halloween Maker Edition

MIDAS fab lab Fun Friday Halloween Edition

Halloween is only a couple of weeks away, plenty of time to create some pretty nifty, interactive, and spooky decorations that will have your friends and family jumping!

Of all the holidays, Halloween is perhaps the most fun for makers – a true makers holiday, really! So, to inspire the spooky, creepy maker in you take a look at the following fun ideas, making creative and scary use of Arduino and Raspberry PI to get the juices flowing:

Raspberry Pi and projectors make this house sing the Monster Mash

Raspberry Pi Monster Mash Halloween House

This is something of the ultimate in Halloween decorating – bringing the entire house to life to sing a fun, Halloween classic.

Through the use of Raspberry Pi and a few projectors, Twitter user @Firr was able to create this fun and impressive Halloween project using two Raspberry Pis, three projectors, some speakers, and “a mess of HDMI cables”.

One Pi handles the eyes using an HDMI splitter to project the same video of moving eyes onto a pair of windows.

The second Pi does the mouth which is a custom animation created in After Effects. This also handles the audio which is output to some party speakers playing the classic song:

For the mouth the video looper project from Adafruit was used as a base. The eyes were also adapted from an Adafruit guide, this time written by Phillip Burgess.

We’ve actually featured Burgess recently for another Halloween decoration with projected eyes, this time using spherical projectors.

While the eyes can move on their own, a joystick can be added for direct control. Firr created a switch that goes between autonomous animation and direct control.

via Gfycat

Haunted Jack-in-the-Box – Raspberry Pi

This project uses a Raspberry Pi and face detection using the Pi camera to determine when someone is looking at it. This look like a great way to scare your friends! You can make your own – learn more about it HERE.

Magic Scare Mirror

Another great project to scare the pants of your visitors. It wouldn’t be Halloween without the evil spirits – make your own!

via Gfycat

Talking Skull – Arduino

This is a classic, and another great one for eliciting jump scares! Perfect for setting the perfect Halloween ambiance to your home. Make it yourself!

Fun Friday! Spider Lovers: Arduino Lego Arachnid

Arduino Lego Spider project

Have fun with this Lego arachnid controlled with your smartphone!

Whether you like spiders or not, this easy project is a ton of fun, bringing your Lego spider project – or any Lego project, really – to life.

This project is also rather timely as, now with the school year back in full swing and thoughts of RoboGames and Science Fair start to percolate, it provides a little maker inspiration in plenty of time.

Just beware, with this project you will have to glue your Lego bricks together as the spider, or probably anything you decide to make, will NOT move gently, and without glue will fall apart within only a few feet of walking!

Technical components you’ll need:

Arduino Nano R3

Dual H-Bridge motor drivers L298

2 x DC motor (generic)

4 x C.H.I.P Approved 3.7 V LiPo Battery (a 4S LiPo battery)

If you’d like the full design and operational schematics to this cool Arduino creature head on over HERE for complete details.

If you decide to take on this project, or any of our other Fun Friday! inspiration, please let us know and we’ll feature your creation!

Fun Friday! DIY Own Amazon Echo with Raspberry Pi

Build Your Own Amazon Echo with a Raspberry Pi

The Simplest Way to Build A Raspberry Pi-Powered Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo can be a great device to have in your home. Upon voice command, it is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic and other real-time information. It can also control several smart devices acting as a home automation hub; controlling the temperature of your home, for instance.

However, much like all of our other fun and convenient little gadgets, it comes at a price. Ranging from $50 to $150, it can be something of an expensive convenience, particularly if you’re not quite sold on its value.

If you’ve any Maker proclivities, though, and you’d like to see if there’s a DIY alternative, here’s your answer: through the wonders of the Raspberry Pi, here’s how you can create your own, fully-functional Amazon Echo.

A brand of smart speaker developed by the innovative folks at Amazon, the Amazon Echo (or simply Echo) connects to the voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant service Alexa.

Remarkably, this DIY Echo works just like the real device, activated simply by saying the wake word “Alexa”.

While other DIY versions make use of Amazon’s official resources, this project utilizes a GitHub project called Alexa Pi. This installs the identical Alexa voice service that Amazon uses onto your Raspberry Pi.

What you’ll need for your DIY Alexa:

A Raspberry Pi is at the top of the list and here are the rest of the components required:

  • A Raspberry Pi 3 (recommended), Raspberry Pi Zero W, or Raspberry Pi 2 (you’ll also need a USB Wi-FI adapter with the Model 2) with Raspbian installed and Wi-Fi set up. If you haven’t installed Raspbian before, our guide covers everything you need to know. While I’m going to concentrate on installing this on the Raspberry Pi, a number of other devices are supported. You can find a whole list here. I ran the installation on a C.H.I.P. as well just out of curiosity and it worked fine.
  • A MicroUSB power cable.
  • An 8GB MicroSD card.
  • A USB Microphone (I used this cheap $6 mic, but pretty much any USB mic seems to work. The $8 Playstation Eye seems to work especially well if you’re looking for a slight upgrade) If you’re using the Raspberry Pi Zero W you’ll also need a MicroUSB-USB adapter.
  • Speakers (any powered speaker does the job, I decided to use a UE Mini Boom because I already owned it and even when it’s plugged into the Pi, it still works as a Bluetooth speaker).
  • A Keyboard and Mouse for setup (or use SSH, Adafruit’s Pi Finder makes this project much easier to do from your main computer because you can copy/paste the longer commands).

Step One: Register for a Free Amazon Developer Account

Step One: Register for a Free Amazon Developer Account

First up, before you start assembling anything, you’ll need to register for a free Amazon Developer Account, and create a profile for your DIY Echo.

  1. Log into your Amazon Developer Account.
  2. Click on the Alexa Tab.
  3. Click Register a Product Type > Device.
  4. Name your device type and display name (I arbitrarily chose “Pi2” for both, though you can enter pretty much whatever you want here), then click Next.
  5. On the Security Profile screen, click “Create new profile.”
  6. Under the General tab, next to “Security Profile Name” name your profile. Do the same for the description. Click Next.
  7. Make a note of the Product ID, Client ID, and Client Secret that the site generates for you.
  8. Click the Web Settings tab, then click the Edit button next to the profile dropdown.
  9. Next to Allowed Origins, click, “Add Another” and type in: http://localhost:5050.
  10. Click “Add Another,” then type in http://your.raspberrypi.ip.address:5050 but replace with your.raspberrypi.ip.address with your Raspberry Pi’s IP address. You can find your Pi’s IP address using the Pi Finder tool detailed here.
  11. Next to Allowed Return URLs, click “Add Another” and type in: http://localhost:5050/code
  12. Click “Add Another” and add in http://your.raspberrypi.ip.address:5050/code once again replacing your.raspberrypi.ip.address with your own info. Click Next when you’re done.
  13. The Device Details tab is next. It doesn’t matter much what you enter here. Pick a category, write a description, pick an expected timeline, and enter a 0 on the form next to how many devices you plan on using this on. Click Next.
  14. Finally, you can choose to add in Amazon Music here. This does not work on the Pi powered device, so leave it checked as “No.” Click Save.

Now you have an Amazon Developer Account and you’ve created a profile for your Pi-powered Echo. It’s time to head over to the Raspberry Pi and get Alexa working.

Step Two: Install Git and AlexaPi

Step Two: Install Git and AlexaPi

Next you’ll need to fire up Terminal on your Raspberry Pi because everything happens in the command line. Before you start the installation you need to update and install a couple things:

  1. Type in sudo apt-get install update and press Enter to make sure your version of Raspbian is up to date. Let it do its thing here.
  2. Type insudo apt-get install git and press Enter to install Git. Again, let it do its thing.
  3. Type in cd /opt and press Enter to change the directory.
  4. Finally, type in sudo git clone https://github.com/alexa-pi/AlexaPi.git and press Enter to clone the AlexaPi GitHub repository. Again, give it a second to download and do its thing.

That’s it for the downloading portion, onward to actually installing it.

Step Three: Run the AlexaPi Installation Script

Step Three: Run the AlexaPi Installation Script

Next, you’ll run an installation script. This automates the installation of everything else you need to get your Echo up and running.

  1. Type in sudo ./AlexaPi/src/scripts/setup.sh and press Enter.
  2. You’ll be asked a series of questions. If you’re using the Raspberry Pi, just press Enter for both the operating system and device prompts. The last question asks if you want to add AirPlay support. If you have an iOS device, this makes it so you can easily stream music from your iPhone to your DIY Echo over Airplay. The script will then download a bunch of software for the next 5-10 minutes, so go ahead and relax for a bit.
  3. Eventually, you’ll be asked to enter in your Amazon developer information. Type in the Device Type ID and Security Profile Description you made way back in step one (we used AlexaPi). Next, you’ll need to enter in all those long, complicated numbers for your Profile ID, Client ID, Client Secret.
  4. Finally, the last thing you need to do is authorize your device. You only need to do this once. Head back to your main computer and open up a web browser. Than type in http://your.raspberrypi.ip.address:5050replacing your.raspberryi.ip.address with your Raspberry Pi’s IP address from earlier. You’ll then need to log into your Amazon account. After that, you’ll see an authorization token.

That’s it, the Alexa voice service is now installed on your Raspberry Pi. You just need to start the service. You can either just reboot your device completely, or type in sudo systemctl start AlexaPi.service and press Enter to start it.

Go ahead and try it, say “Alexa” into the mic, and it should reply back with a “Yes?”

If it’s not working, you can type in sudo systemctl status AlexaPi.service and press Enter to check the status.

Alexa will start up automatically when you reboot your device or if the power goes out for some reason, so you shouldn’t ever have to think about it again.

Thanks to LifeHacker for the resources for this project!

Here’s a fun little video fo the Alexa Pi or PiLexa in action:

Fun Friday! Fabtronic Sewing Kits

Fabtronic Sewing Set

Enter the world of e-textiles and wearables with Fabtronic Sewing Kits!

Custom reusable parts that allow you to make and remake as many times as you want! 

Electronic technology and wearables are becoming all the rage!

What began as watches and fitness trackers is evolving quickly to include e-fashion and e-textiles as well. Not only are they fun to wear, but they’re also a fun and creative activity while being a terrific way to get the basic foundation of electronics as well.

Smart Garments do what traditional fabrics cannot!

Electronic textiles, also known as smart garments, smart clothing, smart textiles, or smart fabrics, are fabrics that enable digital components such as a battery and a light (including small computers), and electronics to be embedded into them.

Smart textiles are fabrics that have been developed with new technologies that provide added value to the wearer. Pailes-Friedman of the Pratt Institute states that “what makes smart fabrics revolutionary is that they have the ability to do many things that traditional fabrics cannot, including communicate, transform, conduct energy and even grow”.

Smart textiles is typically broken into two categories: aesthetic and performance enhancing.

Aesthetic includes fabrics that light up and fabrics that can change colour. Some of these fabrics gather energy from the environment by harnessing vibrations, sound or heat, reacting to these inputs. The colour changing and lighting scheme can also work by embedding the fabric with electronics that can power it.

Performance enhancing smart textiles are intended for use in athletics, extreme sports and military applications. These include fabrics designed to regulate body temperature, reduce wind resistance, and control muscle vibration – all of which may improve athletic performance. 

If you’re just learning how to sew and want to learn a few basic electronics too, Fabtronic Sewing Kits are a really great way to get started.

 

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