Ben Heck's Deployable Mask Is a Cyberpunk's Dream

Wearing your mask has never been cooler.

Stephen Hawes
2 years ago

In recent months, wearing a mask has become a part of daily life. Ben Heck found that his masks would frequently fog up his glasses, so he decided to solve this problem with his mechatronics expertise. Inspired by intricate robotic masks and helmets from superhero films, Heck set out to build an automatically deployable mask.

Heck has made a couple iterations on this idea, both of which are fantastic in their own right. His first attempt consisted of two "mandibles" which open laterally and a cloth covering which comes up to meet them, all powered by four servos. He integrated magnets into the mating areas of these three parts so that they stay together once deployed. Heck is using an Adafruit PowerBoost and an ATmega328P breakout of his own design to control the motors. He even integrated fans into the mandibles to ease the added strain of breathing through a filter!

Heck mentioned that this design proved to be heavy and uncomfortable, despite looking and sounding quite cool. His second version greatly simplifies the mechanism, using only two servo motors configured as racks and pinions by each ear. The mask section is attached to the end of each rack on a free-rotating hinge that allows it to fall out of the way. Once the servos pull the racks inward, a creative slot geometry rotates the mask upwards and tightens onto Heck's face. He also changed his power system, simplifying to an off-the-shelf rechargeable battery bank instead of a standalone LiPo and a PowerBoost. The whole thing is quite a bit lighter and simpler, and seems to be a more practical solution than the first iteration.

You can check out Heck's videos about the project below!

Stephen Hawes
Engineer, Maker, Easily Excited. When in doubt, connectorize.
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