Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

Guide: Boba Fett Chest Display

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

If you are making a Boba Fett costume, the display on the chest piece can be especially troubling.  Outside of a one or two available on, there isn’t a lot available.  Leaving a builder to come up with alternate displays.  Such as using a decal or placing a light behind a printed graphic on transparency sheet.  Cheap and it looks ok, but is not animated.  An animated display is much more appealing.

In this guide, we will go over how to create an animated display for the boba fett’s chest armor.  You will need at least beginner soldering skills to complete the circuit.  All the parts add up to less than $40.

Boba Fett Chest Display v2


  • Solder Iron & Solder
  • Wire Cutter
  • Solder Wick

Part List:

  • 2 – Red LED Bargraph Displays
  • 5 – Red LED 0.3″ CA 7seg Displays
  • 5 – 33 ohm resistors
  • 5 – 1k ohm resistors
  • 5 – NPN Transistors
  • 1 – 1uF capacitor
  • 1 – 10k ohm resistor
  • 1 – AA Battery Holder w/ Switch
  • Some wire (to connect the boards)

You can purchase all the above from mouser, use this link for a ‘one click purchase’ part list:

Lastly, you will also need the two PCBs and a programmed chip.  I sell the custom parts for cheap.  Email me for details.

Alternately, if you have means to program chips yourself (arduino), you can purchase the custom parts yourself.  Source code can be found on codebender.


Once you have gathered all the parts, you can begin putting it together.  Start with the bargraph board.

  • Examine a bargraph display part and look for the small notch in one corner, this marks the anode side.
  • Examine the bargraph display PCB.  With the bargraph picture side facing you and the 6pin connector on the left, the top is the anode and the bottom is the cathode.


  • Solder the two bargraphs into place, being careful to install right side up.  They will not function is installed upside down.

Next is to solder the rear parts on to the main board.

  • The row of ten resistors at the top are labeled 1k and 50.  The part list does not include 50 ohm resistors.  Instead any value from 33 to 47 may be used, lower is brighter.
    • Solder on the 5 x 1k ohm resistors to the spots marked with 1k.
    • Solder on the 5 x 47 ohm resistors to the spots marked with 50.
  •  The next row down are the transistors.  Orient the transistors so the flat side faces the same way as pictured. Solder them in place.
    Optionally, after inserting each transistor into the board, you can fold it down flat against the board before soldering.  Thinner circuit is easier to install in your chest piece.
  • The remaining two parts are the capacitor and 10k resistor.  Solder in place where indicated.
  • Clean up.  Turn the board around and clip the excess leads off.


Now to solder the front parts on the main board.

  • Examine a digit display part, look for the small notch. This marks the orientation.
  • Insert each of the 5 displays, but do not solder down yet.  Double check that they are inserted right side up. They will not function is installed upside down.
  • You may now solder the displays.  The solder points are between the resistors on the other side.  Use the solder wick to clean up any unintentional solder connections.
  • The final part to go on the front of the main board is the chip.  Again, note the notch for the orientation.


Last is to wire the two boards together and power up.

  • Figure how much space you need between the two displays.
  • Examine the area on each board labeled display connector.  The line next to one of the pins indicates orientation.
  • Cut 6 wires to cover the distance between the connectors adding an extra inch for positioning.
  • Solder each of the six wires, positioning pin 1 to pin 1, pin 2 to pin 2, and so on
  • Connect the battery pack, the wires are color coded. Red goes to +, Black goes to -.  Do not mix these up, you will destroy the chip.


Power it up and enjoy!


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Marvel Arc Reactor Shirt: Modification

Friday, July 13th, 2012

I have dabbled with arc reactor costuming before, so when I learned of an official licensed arc reactor shirt from Marvel I jumped at the opportunity.  What I got was a good product.  Plenty bright to be seen behind a black shirt.  The arc reactor runs on AAA batteries and is velcro removable for washing the shirt.

I bought mine from ThinkGeek for $30.

The only problem I found with the shirt was the shirt itself.  The arc reactor is not heavy but is enough that it pulls down the collar of the shirt, making it sit awkward on your chest.  In addition, the shirt wasn’t comfortable.  I wear a large, so I ordered a large.  For a large, the shirt felt tight in all the wrong places.

Since I loved this simple arc reactor, I decided to do a little project using my previous experience and convert the arc reactor to a standalone wearable without the shirt. Assuring that the arc reactor will sit centered on my chest without drooping.

Tools Needed

  • Scissors
  • Drill
  • Pliers / Tweezers

Build Part List

  • Official Marvel: Tony Stark Light up LED Iron Man Shirt
  • Nylon Rope
  • Double-Sided Tape, Optional

Start by removing the arc reactor from the shirt, the velco pulls easily.  Pop the cord out from the battery back (small clip connector), don’t force.  Then de-thread the wire from the inner cloth of the shirt.


With the arc reactor removed from the shirt you can now pry off the top casing of the arc reactor. The top casing is held on by some adhesive but gives way with some mild force.

Top removed

Can turn on the lights to check you didn’t break anything. Overall, is durable, but you never know about those LEDs. Plus it looks cool :P

Four drill holes

Time to break out the drill. The smooth plastic surface is a little difficult to drill into, a pilot hole would help. You need to be very careful when drilling into the back casing. The LEDs and reflector are close to the casing wall. Do not drill holes into either of these, only drill a hole into the back casing wall.

First rope added

Thread the first length of rope. The length should be long enough to wrap around your arm to chest, can always trim down later. I made mine 3 feet each. Nylon twine likes to unravel when cut, I used a tweezers to help push all the fibers through the hole.

Threading the strap

Thread the rope through to the next hole. Two for the left strap. Two for the right strap. When pulling the rope through, be sure that the rope ends up behind the LEDs and metallic reflector. The rope in front would cause unwanted shadows.

Rubber diffuser removed

Now that your rope is pulled through into place, but not yet tied in a know for sizing, it is time to put the lid back on the arc reactor assembly. The adhesive on the top cover is still good. Use double-sided tape to re-attach if needed (I didn’t).

When placing the cover back on, alignment is important. The rubber diffuser has grooves to follow, is easy to align with the top cover. Aligning the top cover with diffuser attached to the rear casing is more tricky. I found it easier to do this with the LEDs turned on.

Hold the cover as close to the casing as you can without sticking the adhesive, then line up the shadows in the light with the black portions of the top lid.

Straps need trimming and knots

You should now have a nearly completed wearable arc reactor. Just need to size the strapping to your body. Take your arc reactor rig to a mirror. Place the arc reactor where you want it on your chest, then loop one of the straps around one of your arms.

Pull the strap tight and pinch the spot with your fingers, then take off the rig and tie a knot in that spot.

Repeat for the second strap.

Once all done, the arc reactor should be centered on your chest and feel snug but not tight. If you tie the knot in the wrong place, un-tie and try again.

The last step is trimming the excess rope. Leaving an inch or two for future adjustments.


I took more pictures during this project. You can view them on my flickr: Marvel Arc Reactor Shirt: Modification