It started with an advert on a social media platform for a skull mask. I really liked the look of it an thought it could make for a good project. I’d also seen some “flames” on AliExpress, things like caldrons and table decorations. Perhaps it was these together than had caused Netflix to show us the Ghost Rider film again, perhaps it was that people were discussing Ghost Rider 3 on film forums? Either way, it was this combination that formulated in my mind for a ghost rider costume.
As mentioned the Skull mask was bought in, I also tracked down a cheap leather effect jacket that was in a similar style to the Ghost Rider’s with large lapels. A large plastic chain was also acquired along with some skeleton gloves from an online novelty shop. The chain looks the part and can be taken apart to make different lengths, that clips onto the shoulder and waist. The gloves were the part I was most disappointed with and I think I’ll swap those for simple black gloves or leather ones. For the trousers, I wore simple black jeans.
I did think about adding some big metal studs on the shoulders or fake 3D printed ones. But when I got to the part about creating the side lights, I realised those would need some kind of housing. I had some silver/grey filament left over from when I made the elephant so I styled a pyramid that would look a bit like an oversized stud and also hold some large red and orange LEDs. These light the face well and clip to the shoulders using a magnet and some metal mesh which you might recognise from the MingPi project.
I had originally intended to PWM control these lights with a flickering effect but the Arduino Nano 33 BLE board/software I picked meant that I was limited to 4 channels of PWM where as I wanted 8 for the 6 lights and 2 fans. The underlying processor should be capable of upto 12 but there’s a limitation in the MBed/Arduino code. I didn’t want to get into the low level debugging of this so simply left the lights on a on/off digital control. Perhaps I’ll have a go at understanding the issue or perhaps I’ll swap out to another board?
A big part of Ghost Rider is the flames so I wanted some large flames either side of my skull mask. I had originally experimented with some blower fans but discovered these were too small to make the flames flap about. On reflection I think there needs to be a wide flow of air either side of the cloth.
I ended up swapping in some big 12v fans that I suspect had come out of a server as they were quite dusty. A cardboard housing and support for the 3W RGB LED were created using packing material and black duct tape.
The system is run from a large RC battery, with a DC-DC convertor to provide 5v for the RGB LED modules used. There’s a big shutoff switch which kills the power. I printed some simple clips to hold the battery in place and the control board is screwed to the wooden frame.
I wanted to be able to control the effect without having a wire through the jacket so I picked some control boards that had BlueTooth Low Energy built in. I learnt a few things about how that works and was helped massively by the example code and the nRF Connect app, which I’ve since found also has a desktop version that works with a BLE dongle.
So that I didn’t have to activate buttons on the remote I made it work from the accelerometer built into the Arduino Nano 33 BLE. This allows me to activate the flames simply by lifting my arm. I assembled that into a 3D printed box along with a power switch, battery charger module and small battery. I haven’t done any power optimisation with the remote yet but hopefully it will last me a few hours.
A skull mask plus fans, lights and a microcontroller give a flaming effect for halloween.