Raspberry Pi inside wearable tech and cosplay

Did you notice that The MagPi’s Features Ed Rob Zwetsloot likes to write about wearable tech and cosplay? There’s a good reason for that.

For a very long time, I’ve been into dressing up. I vividly remember being 17 and going to every charity shop in town looking for a specific type of striped trouser I could wear for an Ace Ventura outfit. It wasn’t even for a specific or important event. It was just fun.

Rob and his Pico-powered Luigi’s Mansion cosplay at SiliCon with Adam Savage

Fast forward several years, and suddenly I’m attending comic cons and anime conventions, and seeing a lot of people having fun dress up as their favourite fictional characters, so I join in. The more I participated and learned about cosplay, the more I noticed the creativity and craft behind it – and the impressive electronics people were installing.

As the internet, YouTube tutorials, and making in general, has blown up over the last decade, so too has the complexity of costumes and props. A friend of mine has 3D-printed a Buster Sword from Final Fantasy VII, complete with glowing Materia orbs from the game, something you just wouldn’t see in the 2000s.

Getting stuck in

As a maker myself, and writing for The MagPi, I have definitely been wanting to make some great and grand things for cosplay with Raspberry Pi. My first foray was some flashing NeoPixels on Raspberry Pi Zero for my friend Freya and her Sans (from video game Undertale) cosplay. It ended up working pretty well.

Make NeoPixel cosplay eyes with Pi
Rob’s first foray into putting Raspberry Pi inside cosplay

Programming NeoPixels has come a long way since then, and is far easier on Raspberry Pi Pico. However, I did learn some limitations. Buttons in Python scripts need to be very carefully managed to make sure each press is registered – something GPIO Zero is mostly successful with, but can be easier with Pygame due to the way it threads stuff. Also, soldering NeoPixels correctly can be very tricky if you don’t have much soldering experience. Despite having done this and helped other pals work on their own cosplay electronics, I still haven’t got around to it myself, despite my previously mentioned grand plans.

Into action

Last week I made my way to the Bay Area in California for SiliCon with Adam Savage. Raspberry Pi had a booth there and, as well as showing people Raspberry Pi projects on the stand, I walked around in Pico-powered cosplay. I basically upgraded a Luigi’s Mansion costume to be a bit more of a spectacle, and I’m really looking forward to showing it off to you in the next issue of The MagPi, including a tutorial on how to replicate it!


Thank you so much for having us at siliconwithadamsavage. We had the BEST time.

♬ original sound – Raspberry Pi

It’s really cool how making is becoming so much easier and more accessible to include in your other hobbies.

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