Design work continues. Reformed the head base and considered the overall design in more detail. I also received electronics for testing and started exploring Arduino programming.
Started off by adding some saber fangs to the head, but they didn't exactly look good length-ed out. Shortened up seems to look fantastic in my opinion, so I'm going to run with it. The front lips had to be flared to provide the appropriate space without thinning out the bottom jaw too much. Brought the overhang of the skull back to give a surface for the ears to connect to. The jawline back to the cheeks was shifted and made more pronounced. The cheeks themselves should be more like a wolves now, but still slightly toony.
I have more forming to do before moving on to the next design steps, but it should be close, more or less.
For material, I am now leaning closer to ABS rather than PETG. After a bit of discussion with Liquid Sunshine Studios for advice on traditional head making, it seemed like I have been underestimating the importance of material weight. While I have personally not purchased from them, they seem to know what they are doing regarding fursuit construction. Check them out.
The ABS I have used in the past is extremely light by comparison to PETG. Although it is super hard to print properly by comparison, it will likely worth the effort in the end. Also the ABS I have used has had higher layer adhesion, meaning I will likely need to do less perimeter layer in general /thin out the parts to use less material in general. The downside with ABS functionally is that it does not like to bend. It will snap rather than bend, where PETG is good with a decent amount of flex. This means I will absolutely have to be sure that the parts are thick enough where possible flexing may occur, and use enough internal padding, as the head will not give way in an impact like it would with other materials. The ears, teeth and decals will still be printed in flexible TPU and glued to the ABS base for safety and floppy ear reasons.
The head will have two 40mm fans that draw in fresh air from within the eye recessions and push it into the cheek areas. These will be printed channels that are mounted to the inside and printed as a part of the eye assembly. I am also considering dedicated channels that run out the surface of the skull to improve hearing. These will probably be printed in flexible TPU to avoid hurting your ears (when) the head is bumped.
I have fallen in love with the Arduino nano. I should have probably tried Arduino a long time ago, but this will be my first experience with them outside of Marlin and 3D printing. This one will connect to a Bluetooth module and powered off of the same 10,000 mAh battery pack as the fans. If all goes well I will be able to control the LEDs via an iPhone app.
I spent a lot of time this weekend re-teaching myself C++ and setting up the eeprom storage methods on the nano. Its honestly been a while, but the serial output of Arduino IDE helps a lot for debugging. The Arduino nano has 1mb of eeprom storage on the processor addressable by the byte. For those unfamiliar, eeprom storage is non-volatile and will allow data to be retrieved after a power cycle. For my purposes this will be needed.
The proof of concept electronics board works well so far, and the battery seems solid driving all the components. The fans push a good amount of air without being audible to the ear. My improvised 10 led strip has been good for testing.
I plan on having four different sets of LED groups running at a time with their own patterns and colors that can be set. I ended up allocating twenty eight bytes of storage per primary display mode, with seven bytes for color and pattern data for each of the four LED groups. The seven bytes contain three bytes for each of two stored colors, and a single byte for the pattern number that group is set to. The first primary display mode memory is dedicated to remembering the last primary mode the device was set to, along with the last brightness setting.
The four planned LED groups will be eye pupils, eye sockets, teeth, and decals specifically. The pupils, teeth and decals will be printed in clear TPU and lit from the inside of the head. The teeth might be painted in a semi clear white to make them white instead of transparent.
I think I'm going to have a single button in the suit's nose. I haven't decided what this will do for sure, but I think it will either have an alternate effect per pattern, or cycle through to the next mode in the lineup.