Daft Punk LIVES ON! My Guy Manuel Helmet


Daft Punk may have retired but that doesn’t have to mean that you have to stop having fun with their inspiration!

Here is my second dedicated project to that musical duo. This project was pretty tough to pull ALL of the information together in a one stop oasis to get this project done, but most importantly, to get a close replica to the real thing without spending thousands of dollars to get there. The helmet design is a very close replica (if not perfect) to the Grammy helmet and the multiple sequences on the arduino give it the intrigue of wondering “what else can it do?” But, if you like Thomas’ better than Guy’s, go here… I made that too. . .

The Thomas Helmet

This one is harder to fabricate than Thomas’ because it involves thermoforming a great visor and it has a few more LED set ups (6) controlled by 3 Arduinos than Thomas’. The cables gets a little challenging as they connect to the helmet. If you are new to addressable LEDs, or Arduino programming, or circuit soldering / building, you might want to start with Thomas’ first as practice, that project is a bit more forgiving. Maybe at least, read through that Instructable first.

Oh and the gloves are super simple too! Just print, paint and glue and you’re all set!

So do not fret! Let’s go “ONE MORE TIME!”


2 – 3 Spools ABS or PLA filament($36) The visor mold buck takes a good 1/2 to 3/4 spool to make it alone.

ABS Spools

1 – 4×8′ petg sheetof plastic 0.060″ thick cut into 2×2′ squares. ($70) but you need ONE good visor… You will burn up 3 learning to thermoform it, pick out the best one for you, and you make 4 more for your friends! This material is way more pricey online than local. It is better to find a local plastics supplier by calling around. It is very common and they will likely cut the 4×8′ sheet into the 2×2′ squares usually for free! Spend no more than $70 this product. Hence 5 visors for $70 is a good deal because online you can figure on spending 2-3x that price!

Machine Screws and T-Nuts – Size (6-32) Used for fastening the visor and LED frames to the Helmet frame. These also are obscenely pricey online. Go to the hardware store or big box home improvement store. I got mine for less that $3. This is a t-nut, but buy local.

2 – iDye POLY packets ($14) Black, use this with a deep, junky tub that will become permanently dyed in the process.

iDye Poly

4 cans Spray Paint – Rustoleum Auto Primer (gray) 2 cans, Semi Gloss White – 1 can, Flat black (inside) 1 can, ($18)

Spray Paint and… Primer

Bondo Spot Putty ( 1 tube) ($4) This price fluctuates wildly and is always much cheaper at your local Walmart than online – don’t ask me why, it just does this price thing… Glazing Spot Putty

Sandpaper, sanding sponges, detail files, etc. Your choice but you will need these grits… 180 / 220/ 300 / 400 or 600.

Epoxy or Gel Super glue (Your choice ).

Addressable LED strips (144 led/meter) 2 strips ($20 ea) … Specifically… WS2812B RGB Individual Addressable 1 meter long with 144 LEDs in the strip. This density is important for the correct look. It is this density though, that makes it incredibly difficult and fragile to solder this up, but if I can do it so can you!

LED Strips

USB Battery Pack – ($10) We need a long lasting power supply due to the high volume of LEDs so we should get this 10,000 mAh which means this should last 5-8 hrs on a single charge. Heavy Duty Battery

Arduino Nanos (Qty 3) ($12) Arduino Nanos….

Microphone (Qty = 1) ($10) Microphone for the Arduino

Gloves – ($10) Sport Gloves (Black)

Circuit boards & Wires, 22 AWG solid wire, solder, 470 Ohm resisters, and 1,000microF capacitors. Wire ties, 2 – on/off push switches, and 11 conventional LEDs (see wiring diagram)

Copper wire – For the LED matrix connections.

Copper Lead Wire

There are a few miscellaneous supplies that you might need to use not listed here, but easily had or found.

Ok, ready to build this ????

Grab your favorite beverage and put on “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk, cuz we can use a little luck to make this build go great!

Step 1: 3D Print the Helmet and Visor Buck

The first step is to 3D print all the parts for the helmet, LED brackets, hands, and the control box. You also need to 3D print a “buck” or what is also thought of as a reverse mold for the visor for thermoforming. There are several versions of the 3D print files out there (different size print beds etc.) for the helmet and if you are interested in a complete set, and are serious about building this helmet, just ask me via the messages here. I’ll have a chat with you and we can get you the best file for your equipment.

I used ABS plastic for strength , thermal rigidity, and ease in post processing for a smooth helmet. ABS sands really well vs PLA. However, this comes at a significant effort to print. ABS can be problematic to print and requires a very hot bed (90C) and enclosed heated air environment (read as an enclosure at 95F+) to prevent the model from splitting apart. In spite of all my efforts to do this I had splits occur and it took significant repair time to get the helmet to be rigid and trustworthy to hold up and not fall apart over the long haul. PLA can work fine, just keep in mind it can deform under heat and it is hard to sand / finish well.

Use the settings for your type of filament that work for you and your printer as all function differently with different manufacturers of the same plastic type.

Some basic print thoughts…

1. Use 0.20 layer height and 70 mm/sec print speed. A good approach to minimal post processing, filament usage, yet strong enough for a helmet. If you go to 0.3 it is too coarse for a smooth helmet and will require a lot of processing for a smooth look.

2. I bind my helmet to the bed with an “abs glue” mixture made from acetone and ABS scraps. Before I run the print I put a thin coat of this on the bed (whether I am printing PLA or ABS) and it helps secure it from pulling off. A 3 day print cannot lift off the bed or you have even more work ahead. Then I use a thin razor blade to cut it off the bed.

3. Use 2.5 mm wall thickness and a 12 – 20% infill. The helmet is pretty thin (5 mm in spots) and this makes for a rigid helmet that has a very flexible shape due to the large size of the visor (no strength there) so you want it strong everywhere the visor is not.

Once printed out, post process your parts. This means clean up the errors and defects in the print, spot putty the external shell, sand, prime, sand again, prime, spot putty, and so forth. You get the idea. This is where you put in the labor now to see the fruits of a smooth finish later. It is worth it to make it as smooth as possible.

If this is not clear how to get a print post processed smooth print, go see my other Daft Punk helmet where I explain this in great detail – my Thomas Helmet. You can get there by clicking here….

The Complete Daft Punk Helmet Build (Arduino Style) : 7 Steps (with Pictures) – Instructables

VISOR BUCK 3D print:

The visor buck takes a lot of filament so I had a very little infill in it like 5%, but it needs to be very sturdy to form over it. So I broke out the infill and filled the interior with plaster to make it very hard and solid from the heat of the thermoformed sheet. Pour the plaster in stages to allow it to fully cure, like three or four pours over a week. or you get a wet mass in the inside that will not cure.

Once cured, then spot putty the outside of it to make if FULLY SMOOTH as this will affect the quality of the visor. Prime sand prime again until it is perfect or you will see ripples transfer to the PETG when it thermoforms around the buck. DO NOT putty over the buck’s dimples for the visor fastening points like I did… I had to painstakingly measure to relocate these to the visor when the thermoform would have pulled them into the plastic.

Step 2: Thermoform a Visor and Tint It

This is probably the second hardest part of the project – behind soldering the LED strings. More on THAT later…

Ok, Thermoforming is an art in itself, and there are many references here on this site and online in general. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to repeat what is out here, so I encourage you to read as much as you can on various sources. From there, decide how you want to build your thermoform oven, vacuum table and buck but below are the need to know tricks that took me over the top to get this done right!

The oven is powered by a replacement oven heating element (220vac). There are many shapes and sizes these come in – just get one that will be as close to a square as possible to evenly heat up the oven box and therefore your plastic (PETG). I wired mine to a oven cord and then plugged it into a 220v socket that I have for my table saw. If you have an electric oven you can tell mom to got out to eat and use that outlet while she is gone!

Need to know ideas:

1 – Use PETG plastic around 0.060 ” thick cut in 24 x 24 ” squares. You need this much plastic to form over the Buck.

2. Test vacuum forming is a good idea to get a procedure down and with a friend for helping hands. I used polystyrene sheet but the temp and thickness were different and therefore a much different forming characteristics. It got my method steps down to heat the plastic, move the frame over the buck, vacuum on, place down on buck, and pull the vacuum, so I did not waste money on the PETG.

3. The more vacuum the better. My vac box has two shop vacs on it, and I turned them both on at the same time by plugging them into a ganged extension cord then plugging that cord into the wall. This prevents running back and forth to two vacuums.

4. TOO hot of PETG can cause the plastic to be far too soft and flexible and create excessive webs / drapes over the buck, but too cold and it wont pull down. Too hot and it will start bubbling and create voids in the visor. Visually look for the PETG to sag approximately 3/4 the depth of the buck so if the buck is 6″ high, heat the plastic so it sags about 4.5″ and the rest will pull down around the Buck. Record the temp (as read by a laser thermometer on the sagging plastic) and try warmer or cooler depending on your results.

5. A small amount of talcum powder or similar over the buck can make it easier to pull the formed plastic off of it.

6. Once formed, ROUGH trim with a good tin snips or rotary cutter (dremel) about 1″ farther out than what is needed for final dimension. Place the visor inside the helmet and mark the locations where the t – nuts go before you dye it. Drill these holes out carefully slow with slight pressure as to not break the visor.

7. Follow the instructions for iDYE brand name for polyesters / synthetic fibers. I used BLACK, and it works the best. Heat the water to the correct temp, and open the dye bag but do NOT dissolve the bag in the water like it says on the instructions as the bag never dissolves fully and those floctuants will leave spots on your visor.

8. Thread some stiff wire through the support holes and dye the visor for like 15 minute intervals, then rinse under water, then repeat this process until you have the desired darkness. DO NOT let the visor touch the side walls or bottom of the container and be sure to fully submerge it for a uniform dye job. Darker is better to control the outside people from seeing the internals.

Step 3: Paint

Paint – Rustoleum auto primer and Rustoleum Semi gloss white. Use flat black for the inside.

Paint the helmet with a quality auto primer one last time and sand with a 300 or finer sanding sponge. Wipe it clean of all dust with some isopropyl alcohol. Always wipe off the dust with this damp rag method before any final coats.

Use a minimum of two coats but I used three for a durable finish. FOLLOW the spray can’s directions for recoating times, temp, and humidity levels BEFORE painting or you may end up with a orange peel / bad job.

Paint the LED frames black and the LED Backing plate silver on the side facing outwards to reflect the light out, and black on the inside.

I epoxied the visor mounting t-nuts (6-32) to the inside of the helmet where location dimples are shown in the 3D print. You might want to put a little oil / Vaseline on the threads of the machine screw to prevent the epoxy from sticking the screw to the t-nut.

Step 4: Electrical (BUILD)

The steps for building the electronics is basically in several mini-projects:

1. Sectioning and Wiring up the Rainbow LEDs Frames.

2. Sectioning and Wiring the White scanner bar LEDs (located below the rainbow).

3. Sectioning and Wiring the VU meter circuit board LEDs (located below the White Scanner Bar)

4. Wiring up the 5 LEDs for the Ears heartbeat panel.

5. Building the Arduino control box

6. Wire harness from the Control box to the helmet.

7. Arduino Program Uploading / Troubleshooting

Study ALL of the Photos and the wiring diagram as they are very critical to understanding what we are doing here.

Let’s start with #1… The Rainbow Frames….

The Rainbows are built into a 8 x 7 LED MATRIX that is 8 color segments or groups – each containing 7 LEDs each. You will CAREFULLY cut with an Xacto knife the LED strips into 16 pieces (each having 7 leds). Take the Xacto and carefully scrape off the clearcoat on the 3 copper pads that connected the LEDS you just cut between to get to a “solderable” surface. With a pencil tip soldering iron, solder three copper solid wires (22awg) to each of the 3 pads. These wires should be no less than 3.5″ long. WE WILL EVENTUALLY place a dab of hot melt glue over these 3 soldered pads and wire leads but NOT NOW! We have to check the data line is good first, then when ALL 56 leds light up, we will secure the leads to these tiny pads with hot melt. But we can check our other solder jobs now. Check for continuity on the +5 vdc wire leads and the Ground (GND) leads from each end of the 7 led strip, as those flow straight through. YOU CANNOT check continuity on the data line, so it has to just be soldered well or we will find this out on start up. If you try this on the data line it will show open circuit which is not necessarily a bad solder job.

Do this for each side of the 7 led segment strip.

Repeat this for the remaining 15 strips. SEE PHOTOS.

Next grab the rainbow 3d printed frame (already painted) and carefully drill 3 small holes into each segment area on each end of the segment into which the led strip wire leads will be fished through. SEE PHOTOS. Insert all of the LEDs strips into the 8 segment areas of the frame in a CONTINUOUS Zig-Zag or Snake like pattern following the arrows printed on the strip. See detail on wiring diagram. The data line is in the MIDDLE and must connect up in sequence to the arrows shown. The arrow points the direction of data flow FROM the first LED in the string to the Last LED in the string. FIRST LED #(0) ——> Last LED (#56).

Once all segments are orientated correctly and threaded through the 3 holes in the frames, carefully take a needle nose pliers and bend the leads into configurations to connect the segments together. You can see in my photos how some of these are tucked to one side and the other runs in the middle and the third is tucked to the far side – all to ensure they do not touch each other and short out. Solder them and clip the excess leads with a side close cutters. Solder all 8 segments together and then 3 long (10″) INSULATED wire leads to LED (#0) the first in the zig Zag string (Red for +5VDC, Green for data line, and White for Ground -5vdc). Repeat the build as described above for the other Rainbow frame for the left side.

2. White Scanner Bar – Same procedure basically described above only we are going to affix the led strip to a piece of circuit board cut to size to support it in a rigid backing. Again look at the photos… This is a one strip with copper wire leads soldered only on 6 total pads – 3 going in and 3 out. Again the +5VDC and GND can be checked now for continuity to the pads but not the data leads. Use the same care in scraping the pads first, use some solder flux and then solder the leads on. Then solder three long leads to the board for running it up to the main helmet connection point (10″ long for Red +5VDC, Green Data and White / Black for ground).

3. VU Meter LEDs – By now you should be really good at soldering these tiny pads, but this time we are cutting the strips again to build a matrix (3 x 4) to Zig Zag snake around like in the rainbow frames. Fasten these 3 strips to the circuit board by threading the copper leads through the holes in the board, solder them as shown in the continuous pathway. Then solder some main supply leads (10″) to the LED(#0) for +5VDC, Data, GND. Again, once we get these checked and operational, we will hot melt the leads again to the board for security.

4. 5 LEDs for the Ears – These are different (conventional LEDS) for the ears that are directly wired to individual outputs on the Nano. If I did this over again I suppose I would do the same addressable LED approach as this would reduce the amount of wires up to the helmet from 10 to 2. These are soldered to a circuit board cut to the round inside diameter of the ear muff cup. I marked the locations where the 5 LEDs need to go to give a continuous pulse look along the heartbeat pathway slot. Each led has to have its own resistor to work correctly so I added them right onto the circuit board. See the wiring diagram. Sorry I did not get a picture of this assembly.

5. Arduino control box – Once the control box is printed you may wish to paint it black to be inconspicuous as possible in da club! Position the 3 Nanos so that all the programming ports align to one side of the circuit board material. Ideally if you can cut one large board down to the exact size of the box to fit all three that is best, but I had smaller pieces of board I connected together with wire ties. It works but kind of sloppy and non-rigid.

Run a power buss (+5 vdc and – GND) lines down one side of the circuit board and run taps off this buss to feed the three arduinos and the VU meter Microphone board. Solder the Arduinos to the board via the pins on the four corners of the arduino and the rest of the connections will also aid in securing its position. You will also run this power up to the helmet and to the on/off control box board, so layout a lot of circuit board real estate to make these connections. See the wiring diagram and photos! Solder a 1000 micro farad capacitor across this buss paying attention to the Minus and positive leads of the capacitor. This conditions the power from spiking and damaging the LED strips on power up.

Cut into and solder two USB connectors power leads (+/-) to the ON/Off power switch buss. These usbs will plug into the battery pack. From the usbs the power will first go through a 2 pole switch to switch in the A or B side of the battery, and then through an on/off switch with an LED to indicate power is on.

Microphone Card – De-solder the Microphone from the board and add two long leads (red and black) onto it so we can extend the mic up to the helmet in order for it to listen clearly for sound. Solder those leads back to the microphone board. Wire the Microphone card up to the power buss that feeds the Arduinos so it turns on with the Arduinos.

6. Harness – Complete internal wiring within the control box to match the wiring diagram. Then solder the wires of ALL leads from the Arduinos out the box that need to go up to the helmet. These long wires should be color coded and labeled so you do not confuse where they should connect to inside the helmet. Wire harness from the Control box to the helmet. Up to the helmet should be:

  • 2 data wires for the Rainbow
  • 2 data wires for the VU meter
  • 2 data wires for the white scanner bar
  • 5 wires for the Left ear heartbeat
  • 5 wires for the right ear heartbeat
  • 1 – +5 vdc power line
  • 1 – Ground or -5 VDC for power.

Source: Daft Punk LIVES ON! My Guy Manuel Helmet

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