RottenKitten: Blog en-us (C) RottenKitten (RottenKitten) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:09:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:09:00 GMT Superhero Stickmen

It’s Fall, the leaves are changing, the days are getting shorter, and best of all... Halloween is near!

We had many queries about our Halloween plans, and our answer has been consistent: “Last year was our last big hoorah”... and TBH, last year was A LOT. It was multiple weeks of very little sleep for both of us, busy work schedules, and two very young kids. We had a totally out of this world run for the last four years (201220132015)


But, despite wanting to hang low, October 2016 has been BUSY for other reasons; over the last few months we have all been supporting Jeremy as he trained for the NYC Marathon at the beginning of November, he also had a relay race in Hawaii mid-month, and we had a family vacation planned just last week. But... as creatives, Jeremy and I never stop thinking of ideas. We often get carried away in our own heads, dreamers at heart, we find ourselves committed to projects well beyond our means; fueled by our passion to see our vision come to life, we run on reserves and fumes (avg 4hr/night sleep in the last week).

This ‘need’ to create coupled with us bearing witness to the explosion of creativity in Cooper (age 5) over the last few months, had me thinking a lot about Halloween. He has become completely obsessed with drawing and building (when less than a year ago I had naively resigned myself to the fact that he may never enjoy drawing the way I had as a child). This kid is FULL of ideas (I’m legitimately jealous of him at times), and I really had this desire to collaborate with him; I wanted to honor his independence (all any Kindergartener wants, right?!) and let him make some decisions, but really to conceive an idea as a team. So we TALKED and TALKED and TALKED, every day he had a handful of crazy ideas, some good, some great, and some just downright weird (I’m talking about you, cowboy with crab claws who likes hamburgers).

Eventually, reality sunk in and I realized I’d have to harness his creativity and direct his true passions toward an end result, and I would also need to come up with something that would be fun to build (incentive for Jer and I ;)) So... Cooper loves drawing and he loves superheroes, and Jeremy and I have been wanting to make something with EL wire ever since seeing this and playing with EL on the DeLorean, circa Halloween 2012.

I showed Cooper the same video that inspired Jeremy and I, explained the costume as ‘being a drawing’ and with that... He was totally SOLD.  I wanted to try and take the simple stick figure to the next level, and to program the ‘suit’ in some interesting way. This is where the idea of being multiple superheroes in one was conceived; and to be honest, being multiple people all in the same costume really felt like it was channeling Cooper’s authentic creative self haha. So, I started sketching and brainstorming with Jeremy about the technical details. 

After some iterations, Jeremy and I agreed we would take a stab at bringing our vision to life, we placed an order for EL wire and electronics components, jumped on a plane for a week of vacation, returned last weekend, and have been working into the wee hours of the night every day this week after work. We spent a few hours filming the end result in the street in front of our house, and Jeremy really sealed the deal with the music selection and video editing.

I hope you enjoy this year’s costume, it is always a labor of love. Halloween is a good reminder for me of how lucky I am to be part of this amazing creative little family. I get to do things I love with my best friend+husband+creative complement; and now we get to share our ‘joy of making’ with Cooper (who did an amazing job helping us get video footage, trying on the ‘suit’, and having a positive attitude about it all). 

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He is an amazing big brother, I ask a lot more of him than I realize, he makes a lot of compromises, and he is patient with an especially strong willed\opinionated little two year old sister*. This costume feels like something that is special between us but almost more important… it is TRULY HIM.

Until next year! Never say never ;) XOXO

*(read: She still has not worn her full costume due to losing her mind after only getting her half-dressed. Love yah Ziggy!)

Nerd Notes: Costume is using coolneon's EL with a blue fish inverter (probably over capacity...), and an EL Sequencer embedded arduino board from SparkFun.

]]> (RottenKitten) Mon, 31 Oct 2016 05:48:49 GMT
Cooper, Ziggy, and the Radio Controlled War Rig  

FI1C0172FI1C0172 This is Cooper (4yrs) and his sister Ziggy (11mo), their parents have been ‘makers’ long before the term was popular. Both software engineers by trade; his mom a mixed media artist, and father a photographer and electronics hobbyist have joined forces to create the most epic Halloween costumes they can imagine for the last four years. They spend months brainstorming and tossing around ideas but by the time October rolls around they put the metal to the grindstone and challenge themselves to out-do everything they’ve attempted before.

Year One (album here), Cooper travelled back in time as a mini Marty McFly in his push car DeLorean.

A lot of cardboard, tape, and paint went into this shell built over a hand-me-down red push-car complete with EL to achieve the fusion lighting effects.  Read more about it on Gizmodo.

DeLoreanDeLorean   DeloreanDelorean

Year Two (album here), Cooper fought ghosts and goblins in his Ghostbuster Ecto-1.

Cardboard is still the primary component in this build, but this ride includes the user of soda bottles, salsa cups, LEDs, working sirens, and a sound system to blast the Ghostbuster Theme Song from a Bluetooth enabled mobile app.  Also covered by Gizmodo here.

Ecto-1Ecto-1 Ecto-1Ecto-1

Year Three (album here), Mommy was 8 months pregnant, but Cooper still saved the day with his pal E.T.

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And in Year Four (album here), Cooper (Mad Max) teams up with his little sis’, Ziggy (a mean Imperator Furiosa), to fight Immortan Joe.

A couple of cheap second-hand PowerWheels Jeeps (Wrangler, and Barbie) form the base plus the usual cardboard, electronics, and paint. Powered by four motors, a smooth starting throttle, power steering, keyed ignition, sounds effects with pull cord truck air-horn, and the ability for 11 month old Furiosa to drive via an overriding remote controlled iPhone app.

Nerd Alert! Some of the tech details:

  • Most parts were from other projects here, some came from Amazon, and others took 3 weeks shipping from China.
  • Based on a yellow Power Wheels jeep, with parts from a Barbie jeep.  Both found cheap on craigslist.
  • Two Arduino Nano's control the system; one for the main car, and a separate one to drive audio.  Audio was causing some lag and we couldn't have the local car controls unresponsive.
  • Running all 4 motors from both jeeps, using two PWM 5V motor controllers from eBay.
  • Steering was done using two Hitec HS-805BB servos.
  • Keyed ignition from a electric scooter.
  • Sound is from a VS1053 based MP3 board from eBay, controlled via a Nano and output through a tiny 2 channel amp and speakers.
  • Air Horn Cable was an awesome find: Cole Hersee - Momentary Pull Switch.
  • Existing throttle, and Forward/Reverse switches, were connected and a smooth start throttle was added programmatically.  With the extra 2 motors it's a lot of initial torque, so the smooth start and throttle speed limit makes it comfortable and safe for small kids.
  • A 10k Potentiometer is used for the steering wheel.
  • A couple of LEDs were added to the dash; Power to show when it's running locally (triggered by the ignition key), and Override to show when it's being remote controlled (thus local controls disabled other than audio).
  • Bluetooth 4.0 BLE is using an HM-10 module to a basic iPhone app.
  • When in remote override mode, the iPhone app is not limited in controls, so it can open up to max speed or control anything else on the car.  A heartbeat signal was added to ensure the car stops when losing connection or out of range (otherwise the kids would drive uncontrollably on forever!)


From the creators:

Working on these projects is truly a labor of love. It’s an opportunity to stretch our creativity and surprise even ourselves at what we can achieve both individually and together. We actively encourage imaginative play in our house, Cooper is a LEGO lover just like my husband and I were as children, and he loves, stories, movies, and most of all make-believe. Halloween is at least one day of the year where we can guiltlessly live vicariously through our children in a world of wonder and fantasy, and revel in the smiles it puts on their faces.


Thanks a lot and Happy Halloween!!!

The Newton-Smiths (Cory, Jeremy, Cooper and Ziggy)

]]> (RottenKitten) arduino cooper costume furiosa halloween iphone mad max power wheels radio controlled war rig ziggy Mon, 26 Oct 2015 03:19:51 GMT
Y U NO CALL?? Before

This is Cooper. He’s a funny guy. He has a great laugh, and has frequently been described by others as ‘silly’. He’s too little to understand it, just yet, but as it turns out… his parents are insane. They are the type of folks that would set out on a mission to “out-do” the surprisingly popular Halloween costume that made little Cooper the Absolute Best Kid of 2012 in just TWO WEEKS!


While the cardboard DeLorean all started with Coop’s red puffy vest and a side comment from his dad, this year’s costume started a bit more deliberately with a brainstorming session between his parents as they recalled things they loved as children of the 80s. Both software engineers by day, they are creative tinkerers by night, and when they have an idea they can become fully consumed by it. His mom, an artist, and his dad, a photographer\videographer; they figured they MUST combine their forces to conquer Cooper's second Halloween and with nothing more appropriate than the beloved Ghostbusters!!!!

Ecto-1 ParkEcto-1 Park

Armed with a hand-me-down Step2 push car, cardboard boxes repurposed from their recent move, spare electronics from an old vehicle, salsa cups from Mexican take-out, empty pop bottles, LEDs from the local electronics store, and some paint and tape they were well equipped. Coop’s costume wouldn’t be as easy as buying a red vest from Old Navy; his mom searched for help among like-minded geek artists and collided with Etsy seller JezebelRose. Two weeks of late nights and long weekends and Cooper’s parents saw their vision come to life. They had the GB theme stuck in their heads countless times, their little Cooper can now answer the question “Who you gonna call?!?!” with an enthusiastic “Ghostbusters!!!”, and they managed to build a pretty legit Ecto-1 and fully armed mini-Ghostbuster to scare any right-minded ghosts immediately into submission.

y u no cally u no call


Cory Newton-Smith (mom): Cardboard Ecto-1 construction and painting; Ecto Goggle construction; Costume assembly;

Jeremy Newton-Smith (dad): Ecto-1 electronics (head\tail\accessory lights, Bluetooth audio driven by Windows Phone app playing Ghostbuster’s theme and Ghostbusters’ sound effects)

JezebelRose (TheSubtleGeek): Amazing Felt Proton Pack and Ghost Trap


]]> (RottenKitten) Mon, 28 Oct 2013 05:36:24 GMT