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    element14's The Ben Heck Show

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    See also: Episode 257: Ben Heck's Halloween Superhero Wearables Part 1: Development Episode


    The team completes Karen's SuperHero Costume to give it speakers, EL(electroluminescent) Wires, IC2 connected accelerometer sensors, a Parallax Propeller, and an Arduino Mini Microcontroller. Karen transforms into Captain Tangent giving her the power to diffuse problems with tangents!


    Episode 257: Ben Heck's Halloween Superhero Wearables Part 1: Development


    Supporting Files

    Click Herefor access to all the supporting files you will need to replicate this build!


    Ben attaches an Arduino Pro Mini BoardArduino Pro Mini Board underneath the board used for audio to get both boards working together. The Atmel chip will do the polling of the I2C Bus and if it sees a trigger event it will send that command to the Propeller telling it to play audio. Since it's a 3.3 V board as well they can run everything at 3.3V and only use 5V for the audio amplifieraudio amplifier. Before designing an enclosure to fit on the belt he runs some tests to make sure the board works with the sensors. He then wires up communication between the Atmel and the Propeller.


    Ben works on sound effects for Karen's punches. He adds higher and lower frequencies to give the system three sounds to randomly pick from for variety. He also makes three different sounds for the kicks. After he runs some tests he moves onto the next part which is adding the audio amplifier and speakers and hooking this up to a battery pack.


    Ben runs into an issue with Adafruit LSM303 Library which he solves by commenting out the Wire.begin() function and going through each of the devices in the multiplexer to select the device and then begin it. You only need to call Wire.begin() once to initiate the I2C Bus on the microcontroller. It's a good idea to examine a library's H and CPP files to see what it's actually doing. When the system initially booted some of the accelerometers weren't initialized. When it boots you need to tell it to enable your accelerometer and enable your magnetometer. Some of the devices on the serial monitor were coming up as zeros meaning they weren't properly initialized and causing the I2C bus to hang. The accelerometers aren't enabled on boot, so proper initialization is a must.


    Felix finds a place on the board to place the 5V regulator and the stereo amplifier and then attaches wires to connect the battery and the inverter. A TIP102 will control the DC-AC converter that runs the EL wire. EL wire is AC and the circuit is DC so they use a DC-AC inverterDC-AC inverter to provide power for the EL wire. The DC side goes through a TIP102 Darlington TransistorTIP102 Darlington Transistor which they can control through a microcontroller allowing a high powered current to be controlled by the low powered microcontroller.


    Karen works on bracers using mesh and accent fabrics for a cohesive design that fits well around the wrists. She attaches the material to a basting stitch to hold the material in place without permanently attaching. She does it as a whip stitch which means she sews it over and around the edge. She adds a trim to the outside edges for a nice, finished look. Ben uses the laser to cut multiple pieces of acrylic to create a multilayered, multicolored Captain Tangent logo. He also punches individual holes for sewing it into the garment. Ben and Karen then go to work assembly the final pieces of the Captain Tangent costume. Once the costume is complete, Karen uses her new powers to diffuse a heated exchange with Ben and Felix by going off on a tangent.