by David LeMieux
Halloween is my favorite holiday. Other holidays are also great, but Halloween is the one time a year I have an excuse to make something that would otherwise seem unnecessary. Usually I decorate my car for the annual Trunk or Treat. This year, however, my son wanted to dress as a robot with "lights and working gears." And so I felt compelled to grant his request.
Full costume, sans wearer
My wife and I decided to team up. I did most of the robot body and electronics and she did the other decorating and made some cool pants and other accessories.
The front ended up having two sets of LED lights. One set blinked at an interval, the other chased back and forth. A third set of lights, in the head/helmet, ran in a circle.
Two sets of lights and some decoration
Switch controlling the lights
A switch on the left side of the costume, reachable by my son, controlled the lights in the body.
The body and head were made with carboard boxes that we taped up and painted silver. I glued an extra poster-board panel on the front to give it a cleaner looking finish. On the bottom of the front panel were spinning gears. I made those out of high-density foam and connected them to a gear box and electric motor that were inside the box. I cut the gears from a template but since I don't have a band saw I cut them by hand and therefor they were quite inaccurate and would jam frequently. Fortunately since they were foam, any fingers or other things that got trapped in them were safe from harm.
Push button switch
The gears were switched on by a push button on the right side that my son could use whenever he wanted to add some flourish to his costume. While the lights could stay on as long as they were turned on, I made the gears operate with a push button that had to be held so that they wouldn't run all the time, draining the batteries. Also, the motor and gear box were kind of loud.
The wires were all just on the inside of the box.
Wires, taped in.
In the end, my son loved the costume and everyone we met while trick-or-treating seemed to enjoy it as well. Many houses we went to even claimed to be giving him extra candy just because the costume was so great.
There was a costume contest, but he lost to some very well made life-sized Star Wars Lego mini-figs (sorry, I don't have a picture.)