Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tron Costumes Part 4: Identity Discs

Part 1: Concept
Part 2: Garment Construction
Part 3: Electronics

So all of the credit for the amazing discs goes to our Dad, who made them completely from scratch and did an incredible job.

Initially, we had looked into buying discs, but the only things we could find online were flimsy foam things that didn't light up and were only painted on one side anyway.  Our Dad is a very talented wood turner and it struck me that the discs were something he might be able to help us with.

What followed was a LOT of emails that went back and forth as we all discussed how these things should be designed and how to make them functional.  Really, Dad is the one who should narrate this process, which I would be happy to add to this post, Dad, if you want to write anything.  But for the time being I have lots of pictures that Dad sent us during the process!

It looks like he's making the groove for the LED lights to go here
See?  There they are

It seems like to took forever for the LED lights to come

He colored epoxy with blue paint pearls and poured it
into the groove and wrapped it all with duct (duck?) tape

Here are the interior grooves with epoxy poured in.

Making the inside bevel

And the outside bevel
Look at those beautiful angles
Adding the beautiful detailing

The back of the discs are removable, and you can see inside he has 8 AA batteries lined up providing power to the LED lights.  You can see the switch below.

Here are some different views and lightings as Dad was playing around with his amazing creations.  You can see that even outdoors you can still see that they're lit up.

Here's the back of the disc after being painted black
One concern was how long would these last being lit up?  Dad did some trials to see how long they could stay on and still offer a glow.  I think he gave up around 32 hours when they were still going strong (is that right, Dad?).  Anyway, ridiculously long.  Adam and I haven't even changed the batteries yet and we wore these around all day and night.

At this point in the disc process we started trying to figure out a good way to get these on our backs.  Many more emails went back and forth, and we decided that we wanted an actual piece to mount these on.  Dad came up with a really beautiful design, and the part that I really like is how ingeniously simple they go together.  Dad used rare earth magnets - four on the back of the disc, and four in the "back rack."  Rare earth magnets work really well until you slide them away from each other, then they come apart really easily.  We didn't want gravity to do the sliding for us, so the back rack holds the disc in place and prevents gravity from making the disc slide down.  Then we just twist the disc a little on the rack and -poof- off it comes.  Fabulous.

Dad created this pocket in the back of the back rack where I put the 8 AA batteries that lit up our whole costumes.  I had the entire costumes - jackets and pants/skirt wired into this battery pack.  I kind of like that the identity disc sort of powers us.  

Here's how the disc and back rack fit together
Dad glued velcro onto the back of the back racks, and then I glued and stitched (mostly around the edges) the matching velcro onto the back of our costumes.

Here's how they looked on the costumes:

Sorry the disc is sideways, Dad.
And here's us at the convention:

These discs got a LOT of attention at the convention, everyone wanted to look at them and hold them, and most people assumed we had bought them.  You should have seen the looks I got from people when I told them our Dad had made them from epoxy and wood.  They are pretty amazing, and the whole time I was working on the costumes I was motivated to try to make the costumes live up to how great the discs were!  I think they turned out pretty awesome.

Thanks, Dad!!  You're the best.

P.S. I might do one more post where I talk about some of the smaller details and about the cool stuff the costumes can do, and about how the day went when we actually wore the costumes.

1 comment:

Ross and Kathy said...

I couldn't have said it better myself.