There’s a viral tweet that has been making the rounds and has captured the internet’s imagination. The tweet features a short video from Fur Fest 2018 and shows a delightfully-glowy fursuit called the Gem Raptor. The tweet was made by Tweeter ikani, but was created by Chris of Made2Glow. We got a chance to speak with Chris, AKA mBlade_Akita, about how the fur suit was constructed.
Yes, we are talking about a costume for furries. We’re inclusive of all makers here at Hackster, so feel free to move on if that bothers you for some reason.
Alright, just us reasonable people left? Great, let’s talk about how Chris built this awesome suit. The suit itself, sans lights, was built by Dandylions, LLC. They’re a small company based out of Washington state that specializes in custom realistic or toony-style fursuits. In December of 2015, Chris and Dandylions were commissioned by CyFurSuit to make a special fursuit, and the Gem Raptor is the result.
The process started with Dandylions making the bulk of the suit like any other, which was then shipped off to Chris. Over the course of more than a year, Chris added a total of 479 WS2812B individually-addressable RGB LEDs to the suit. Those were mounted all across the body, head, and wings of the suit, with 4mm optical fiber and 2 LEDs going to each of the wings. All of the LEDs were wired with either 20 or 22 AWG wire through sleeves and have Futaba connectors, so disassembly, cleaning, and maintenance would be easy.
The LEDs are controlled by a Teensy 3.2 with a modified OctoWS2811 shield, and the coding was done through the Arduino IDE. Power comes from three 3000mAh 6.6V LiFePO4 (lithium iron phosphate) batteries, which is fed through a YEP SBEC 20 amp DC to DC switching power supply. The LiFePO4 batteries only have about 80% of the energy density of a LiPo battery, but they’re non-flammable — an important consideration in a suit like this.
Whoever is wearing the Gem Raptor has a couple of options to choose from for the LED animations. There is a MAX9814 auto gain microphone connected to the Teensy, which allows for sound-reactive lighting that syncs with music and other sounds. The wearer can switch between modes using four buttons located in the hand paws, with lights in the left forearm acting as the interface.
The result is both a work of art and a wonderful means of self-expression. Gem Raptor’s wearer can switch between lighting animations on the fly, and — as you can plainly see in the video — it looks amazing. Chris is accepting commissions, so check out Made2Glow.com to get in touch, but keep in mind that there is a backlog.