Components of Abby's helmet ("Probably the future you're looking at!")
January 13, 2017 6:57 PM   Subscribe

Dear makers, engineers, and hardware Mefites of all stripes: I'm working on an Abby Yates (Ghostbusters 2016) cosplay, and I want to make her helmet. It's a bit more complicated than Rick Moranis's was! Can you identify (and maybe even source) more pieces, particularly the square circuit board and round spool-like pieces?

I'm not trying to be screen-accurate, since that is not going to happen before Gallifrey One in 4 weeks, but I want to do the best job I can. The square circuit board items and the round black thingies are particularly critical because they're prominently featured and there are so many. I have ideas of how to fake them, but I'd like to try harder to find the real deals.

Here are some quick screengrabs of the helmet with the first two crudely labeled. If you have access to the movie, the dimensions and materials look a lot clearer when you see the helmet in motion, despite the weird lighting/coloring throughout the movie. I suppose the base is a plastic helmet of some kind, but I can't tell what. I think it has ear protection of some kind, and I can't tell whether it has a small lip/brim under the sleeving or not.

Below is a list assembled from my guesses plus suggestions from EngineerTwitter. I've bought a few parts at Weird Stuff Warehouse already, and I've marked those. Corrections, additions, or further details on any items would be deeply appreciated.

Black tubing/cable hoses (bought)
Gray braided cable sleeving (bought)
SATA cable (bought)
Generic shiny metal antennae (bought)
Assorted wires (bought some at random)
Wireless access point (bought similar, but not exact)
Blue OLED 16x2 (have something that's not right, would wire up a real one if I knew how!)
Black heatsinks ~2x2"/50mm x 50mm (don't have, buy online?)
Wire ties (don't have)
Small PC case/CPU fan (don't have)
3-position terminal blocks (don't have, buy online?)
12-24v power supply, out of casing or something (don't have)
Small black antennae (don't have)
Electrical coils? Spools from wire or solder? I thought they were black plastic, but they might be metal. (really not sure about this, don't have)
MYSTERY SQUARE GREEN CIRCUIT BOARDS WITH ROUND THINGS IN THE CENTER: I thought they might be 3.5 inch disk drive motors, but nope. Are they 1 item? 2 pieces? 3 things Frankensteined together? NOBODY KNOWS

Thank you for taking a look!
posted by wintersweet to Technology (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Spool things remind me of sewing machine bobbins...these are available in plastic or metal and could be spray painted.

The mystery square circuit board could have come from almost anything electronic...dvd player, gaming system, tv, etc.,

I think I'd be inclined to hit a computer/electronics repair place and ask if they know what that square piece is and to see if they have any free parts you could use.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 7:40 PM on January 13, 2017

The mystery squares look like some sort of small stepper motor / driver combo.

You have enough good pictures you might be able to build them by printing out photos of a circuit board, attach a silver washer, and then selectively black paint the chevrons on it. Should have similar depth and shiny-ness.
posted by nickggully at 7:45 PM on January 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

The mystery square looks kind of like a cd/dvd drive motor.
posted by gregr at 9:41 PM on January 13, 2017

The spool thingies could be faked with a pair of washers and some kind of spacer (nut?) in between. I've bought washers that size at a hardware store. They don't have to be functional spools, you could even glue a piece of wood in the middle.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:28 PM on January 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

oh wow, I was going to suggest perusing the Edmund Scientific catalog for misc parts but it's all kits now. Someone else might have a suggestion.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:34 PM on January 13, 2017

A good place for weird miscellany is American Science and Surplus. I found small black antennas, for example.
posted by O9scar at 11:38 PM on January 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

The blue OLED display looks like this one from Adafruit to me, but that's such a popular one that surely you are aware of it already? Perhaps it's the one you have that's not quite right.

I'm going to ask a friend of mine who is good with such things about the mystery object.
posted by yohko at 12:16 AM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Check out Newark Electronics. They have a huge selection of electronics, including "evaluation boards" and kits. I didn't find quite the right thing after a quick perusal, but I didn't look very hard either.
posted by adamrice at 7:36 AM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure the small white plastic "spool things" are inductors, an electronic component that's just a coil of wire around some kind of structure to keep the coil in shape. The central plastic part for the ones on the helmet is called a "bobbin" or "coil former." Bobbins are also used for thread for sewing machines, so you might have some luck looking in a local fabric/sewing/crafting store. The catch otherwise is that inductors come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and coil formations, so you'll have to get pretty specific in your search terms and dig kinda deep to find something that matches. (ex: AliBaba results for "plastic coil bobbins" which you can see gives pages and pages of results.)

My first thought on the round black "accursed mystery object" (heh!) was some kind of round meter. It looks like the circuit board plus round thing are actually a complete assembly from something, the boards are all the same size and shape and have roughly the same circuit traces - but from what, I've no idea, sorry. None of the pics are clear or close enough to really tell, and GIS isn't any help either. But you could possibly make an acceptable fake by gluing a round meter to a square piece of circuit board. (Assembly tip: hot glue is used all the time in attaching large components to circuit boards.)

Circuit boards are of course in all kinds of stuff, although often larger than the ones on the helmet. You could probably get enough "raw material" just by taking apart a broken DVD player or something, and you can cut circuit boards to the right size with a small hobby saw or Dremel tool, or maybe just take a boxcutter and score both sides about 1/4 of the way through and then just snap them along the score.

Seconding American Science and Surplus as a possible source for parts, or try Electronic Surplus. You could also try new stuff from Mouser or DigiKey, although their websites/catalogs can be kind of overwhelming. (Also sometimes things are oddly expensive unless you're buying like 500 of the same thing, and shipping charges can really add up, so I've found it best to really plan what I need and make one big order of everything.) And while they won't have the best prices, for convenience you might try Radio Shack stores in your area, there are still a handful in business in most urban areas.

You could also maybe craft some stuff using parts and some empty plastic boxes, called "enclosures" in the electronics industry, and you'll need some Safety Stripe tape.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:55 AM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

A great source for building materials is a Ham (amateur radio operators) Swap Meet. If you google that term, or "hamfest" along with your area you should be able to find one, or you could look for a local ham club, their website will likely list upcoming meets in the area. You can find all manner of components and bits of interesting stuff for super cheap.
posted by AliceBlue at 12:05 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've heard back from Friend about Mystery Object.

Friend says:
Not sure, possibly the circuit board and motor circuit for a syquest drive.
(later, after they had a chance to take a second look at the photo)
Actually I recall those boards being surplus boards, at either allelectronics, or electronics goldmine, i think they came from a run of medical equipment, but not sure what. Never picked one up, but they were being sold as bulk boards for testing surface mount soldering.

(me again) OP, would love to see photos of the finished cosplay -- if this thread is closed, feel free to PM me.
posted by yohko at 3:11 PM on January 14, 2017

Those black spools look to me like piezo buzzers that have had the wires glued down creatively. Digikey has 125 options in stock right now.
posted by range at 9:59 AM on January 15, 2017

Sorry for the delay; I got sick.

yohko: Yes, I definitely found the blue OLEDs online. I'm going with a similarly-sized LCD that I got cheap at Weird Stuff, though, since it'd be a waste to buy the right display when I don't know how to hook it up to anything! Next version of the costume, I guess. (And I will try to remember to share photos with you!)

Thanks for all of the suggestions. I'm still searching for anything clicks as the square circuit boards--none of the leads I've chased down have borne fruit. And it seems like it used to be a lot cheaper and easier to get old or surplus circuit boards than it is now.

Anyway, if anyone else comes up with any suggestions, however tentative, I'm still interested!

I have a suspicion that the helmet underneath is some kind of snow sports helmet, like a Bern ski helmet. The chin strap/fastener looks right, too. Sadly I think I'm less likely to find one of those in my local thrift store bin.
posted by wintersweet at 9:23 PM on January 16, 2017

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