Tips for Use in Costumes

  • Give your project a complete dry run well ahead of time…don’t dash right off to the party! Know how long batteries will last. Check that wires aren’t pulled and connections aren’t strained. Make sure no components get uncomfortably or dangerously hot. Fine-tune audio levels and reduce feedback.
  • Build it extra rugged and motion-proof. Stranded wire flexes much better than solid-core wire. Use beefy, NASA-style inline splices. Implement strain reliefs to avoid cracked solder connections. Breadboards are fine for prototyping, but solder up your rig for deployment.
  • Don’t shout — speak softly and let the amplifier boost your voice. You want people to hear the “bent” sound, not your natural voice.
  • Point speakers away from the microphone to avoid feedback. Even a few degrees can make a big difference.
  • Sweat is horribly corrosive stuff! It’s mostly salt water — and look what that does to ships at sea. Even worse, it’s conductive! Seal everything. Heat-shrink all wire connections, and use plastic enclosures or epoxy for any electronics that are fully inside a costume. If using a microphone inside a mask (which may have both sweat and condensation from breath, ewww!), borrow an old audio pro trick and wrap the mic inside a balloon.
  • Pack spare batteries and, space permitting, a minimal repair kit of safety pins, a few zip ties and a length of duct tape.
  • Never let technical wizardry get in the way of a good performance! The example sketch uses a membrane keypad with many tiny buttons…that’s fine for a tabletop “sound board” instrument, but a poor choice for a Godzilla suit (who really should be continually thrashing about leveling Tokyo, not standing still to hunt around for a specific button). More isn’t always better…one or two buttons hidden in a glove may suffice. Practice until your performance is natural and your technology is discreet.
This guide was first published on Oct 10, 2012. It was last updated on Oct 10, 2012. This page (Tips for Use in Costumes) was last updated on Apr 24, 2019.