I had dreamt of putting together Space Balls Halloween costumes for oh too long and committed to making it happen early in the year. I wasn't able to actually get started on things until late September, but managed to execute it all in a short amount of time. Here's what I did!
Here was the checklist I made for myself in building this costume. I'll address each of the items below.
Things I can 3D print: necklace, shoulders, chest-plate, mask
Things I can sew: Skirt, top
Things I can buy: Shoes, face-paint, wig, gloves
Things I have: Leggings
I modeled these large chunky isosceles trapezoid & spherical beads off this image of Dot Matrix.
I used 26 gauge yellow silicone covered wire for the necklace and attached it to my top.
From 2013 - 2016, I coordinated costuming for the L.A. Fire Brigade, a Burning Man Fire Conclave. In 2014, we purchased a bunch of metallic gold leggings for a bird-inspired costume I created (see below) & I've had them stashed in my garage waiting for a way to recycle them into something new.
In addition to wearing one pair as leggings, I used three pairs to construct the top and skirt. I mainly used my Brother 1034D Serger for this project.
I used the largest pair for the top and started by cutting out the crotch and then trying things on by sliding my head through the new hole. For a quick and dirty top, this could work, but I wanted to cut down on the amount of bunching in the armpit area. I marked the areas I wanted to remove and cut them off.
Using a previous sleeve pattern, I put together a test sleeve & eyeballed some adjustments. I attached the sleeves using my serger and for what it was, I was VERY happy with the results.
I purchased a 3-hoop cage skirt from Amazon and used it to give the skirt some more shape, but ended up removing the bottom hoop because it was so long. I harvested fabric from two pairs of leggings and made a quick pattern for the skirt "panels" given my waist measurement, the circumference of the skirt on the bottom, and the overall length I was aiming for. I serged pieces together and attached them to a waistband. Since I'd used a couple pairs of larger pants to fashion the skirt, I made a new waistband to match.
I really had no idea where to start with this and probably spent WAY too much time on it. I started my first iteration by layering oblong toruses together in Tinkercad, but had trouble shelling the shape. I thought I could get away with printing without supports but two test prints failed around the same spot.
I finally had some success with modifying a spherical shape in Fusion360, but given how much filament I was using and the need for supports along the tops of the shoulders, I sliced my design into two parts, and ended up using 3D PLA Gloop to "weld" the pieces together. Wish they'd had a smaller size then!
Dot's Chest Plate
Although I'd brainstormed aspects of this costume off and on for months, it wasn't until the maker market was flooded with Pixel Purses for under $10 that I realized exactly what I needed to do. I followed the Adafruit Learn Guide for 32x16 and 32x32 RGB LED Matrix. I used an Arduino Uno with jumper cables to start. I tried to create my own "backpack" that would connect everything up nice and clean but after spending a couple long nights on it, I resorted back to jumper cables.
To match Dot, I modified some simple code from Adafruit's testshapes demo in the RGBmatrixPanel library. Since I was aiming to get certain words on the display, I tested a bunch of fonts - I ended up going with the Picopixel font, which is just 5 pixels tall.
I designed the chest plate in Fusion360 to print in two pieces and be screwed together along the center seam. Although I didn't have a proper way of attaching the chest plate to my body, I added some holes to the top to wear the whole thing like a necklace. Despite how comically large it turned out, I was so thrilled.
I downloaded MLEOnline's LED Matrix Diffuser Grid from Thingiverse, added some notches to the sides to hold things in place, and printed it up in transparent. I ended up gluing the pieces together using 3D gloop as well. I used some 3M foam tape to attach my uno and some velcro to the inside of the chest plate to hold a USB power bank. Super fancy wiring going on there!
A friend had gifted me a used blond bob wig, which my fiance helped to spray paint gold.
For my shoes, I bought a pair of Melissa gold glitter wellies off a consignment site - these were pretty perfect.
I thought about picking up a pair of gold gloves or making some myself but decided against it at the last minute. I was interested in modeling a Dot Matrix mask, but decided against it as well.
My Dot Matrix
Most of my time on the Barf costume was spent working on creating the ears, programing them, covering them in fur, and then attaching them to a wig where I could hide wiring and a battery pack.
The base outfit was created using beige coveralls and a Barf patch, both found on Amazon. We used face paint to match his makeup and opted out of gloves. My fiance bought a bone shaped cookie cutter and made a batch of sugar cookies, which he stashed inside a Milkbone box and carried around for the evening.
Using the same fur as the ears, I made a simple tail that could be safety pinned to the back of the coveralls.
Here's how I put together the articulated ears
I drew from a few really great guides: Dave Astels Circuit Playground Express Perk-up Ears Adafruit guide and Chris Taylor Jr's Guide to Make Your Own Articulated Critters in Tinkercad to make these. Thanks friends!
Here are my files on Thingiverse!
I created a general shape in Tinkercad and then articulated it so that the ears would flop forward but not back. Instead of designing the articulated hinges as Chris Taylor Jr does in his tutorial, I used a triangular prism to cut the lines instead of the rectangular prism provided. I used the hinge and punch he created in his Articulated Anything starter Files. I found 8mm to be great!
The servo has a pretty snug fit in the design I created. I used one of the screws to secure the servo just in case. I didn't include a hole for this in the design and used heat to get it in: I marked where the screw would go, used my soldering iron to melt a couple layers of filament & then screwed it in by hand.
I used a few tutorials from Dave Astels on the servo mechanism, but instead used an Adafruit trinket M0 to drive the servos. I attached some wire to the servos using a jewelry jump ring & secured the wire through the holes at the top of the ears. I calibrated & tested the servos & then secured a rubber band to the front to keep the ears down when the servos were up.
Each ear has a solid base plate with six holes to attach to a hat, or in my case, to be sewn to a wig. A friend gifted me a long rockstar wig, which I used as the base for the wig.
I sewed the servos to a wig and then sewed covers for the ears out of dark brown felt & faux fur - I did these by hand because I wanted them to be a bit imperfect. I slid the covers onto the ears but they didn't work as well, so I ended up gluing the felt part of the cover to every 3rd panel on the ears when the ears were in their upright position, trying to stay away from the hinges and moving parts.
The fabric inhibits the movement a bit, so it should be loose. I would actually use a stronger rubber band than necessary in the future to ensure that the ears go down when they're supposed to - the fabric would sometimes keep things upright. I glued the fabric down to the base of the ears enough to cover it up.
I glued the Gemma M0 to a 3xaaa battery pack and attached a little clip. I wouldn't recommend this clip in the future as it barely held onto anything! I used hair and bobby pins to cover up the electronics and fashion it into the most Mog-like wig possible.