This Cardboard Boba Fett Helmet Includes a Raspberry Pi-Powered Thermal Vision Mode and Mini-Map

Using an Espressif ESP8266 and a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, "Residual Entropy" has built a kinda-functional cardboard Mandalorian helmet.

Gareth Halfacree
4 months agoSensors / Displays / Wearables / Art

Pseudonymous Mandalorian fan and maker "Residual Entropy," hereafter simply "Entropy," has built a cardboard helmet prop with a difference: it's powered by a Raspberry Pi, offering an augmented reality display with thermal vision capabilities.

"So, last Halloween I followed [Dustin McLean's] tutorial on how to make a cardboard Boba Fett helmet, but I stopped short of the part with the little rangefinder thing — because, for that, I had other plans," Entropy explains of the project, which combines the cardboard replica with very real electronics.

What's cooler than a cardboard replica Boba Fett helmet? One with thermal vision, of course. (📹: Residual Entropy)

The heart of the build — outside the helmet itself, of course — is a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B single-board computer. "It's not technically necessary," Entropy admits, "but it's convenient, and there's also other future stuff that's going to depend on it." The Raspberry Pi talks to a Espressif ESP8266-based development board, which is linked to an infrared array sensor on the top of the helmet.

"Basically, it's kind of like a thermal camera," Entropy says, "except in exchange for not being $10,000 or more it only has a resolution of 8×8 pixels — so, yep, 64 pixels total." Finally, the microcontroller also links to a small OLED display held in front of the wearer's eye on an arm.

The 64-pixel input from the camera is interpolated and displayed on the screen, providing a real-life thermal vision capability — but that's not all Entropy's helmet can do. By getting the Raspberry Pi involved, the helmet can also pull down map imagery from OpenStreetMap, dither it suitably for the one-bit display, and provide a live mini-map display above the thermal vision overlay.

"Obviously, there's a ton of lag, 'cuz it has to use the slow phone connection to talk to the computer, then get the image, then transform it, and then send it over a very slow USB serial link," Entropy admits. "I just don't feel like I'm getting through to you about how awful and sketchy and terrible and glitchy the link between the microcontroller and the Raspberry Pi is.

Despite this, if you fancy building your own you'll find the source code on GitHub under the reciprocal GNU Affero General Public License 3.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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