My Thoughts on an undersuit

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Vader

Member
I scratch made a Vader costume and wear it to various charity events and parades. I love wearing it, but it is hotter than... well it's hot.
I'm currently working on some Halo armor - not for me, but for my son. My Blog I want to make him a set for two reasons - so he'll have it, and so I can work the kinks out for when I do mine ;)

When I troop in my Vader, I lose about 10 lbs in sweat. It's because I didn't use the right materials. I used synthetics, vinyl, poly-cotton, etc, and they don't breathe. As a result, I look like death warmed over when I take of the dome. And that's a sight more scary that a flaming Anakin!

My advice for the MC undersuit -
1. Natural materials. Stick with cotton and leather for the undersuit. Leather's hot, but it breathes better than vinyl.
2. Comfort over Look. Don't sacrifice comfort for looking good. If you can't be comfortable when you wear your armor, you're not going to want to wear the armor. When I wear my Vader, I'm usually in it for about 3 hours. Parades are longer, but most events I attend are around 3-4 hours long. If it's uncomfortable after 10 minutes, it will be unbearable after 2 hours.
3. Don't go overboard. Keep it simple as possible. Put the accent pieces where the suit is exposed, maybe an inch or two under the armor to complete the look. The reason behind this is that the materials that the armor is made of don't vent well. You add leather, vinyl, poly-blends, etc. under that and the heat factor increases a lot. The less you have between the armor and skin, the more comfortable you'll be.
4. Wicking material. The new athletic attire that pulls the sweat away is fantastic. I highly recommend using this as the first layer of clothing. But it will be rendered useless if you cover it with vinyl. Trust me on this - my wicking shirt doesn't do jack under my vinyl sleeves and chest. So keep the undersuit as breathable as possible.

Cooling system - the ideas here are really good, but one thing that I see as a problem is weight. The armor is already going to add a few pounds, adding a coolant, a pump, and batteries will add even more weight. My cape is made out of a poly-cotton blend. Looks great, but it's heavy. I was able to wear a friend's wool cape and the difference was amazing! It was very light weight and was a lot cooler. Wool Cape - Synthetic Cape My question is, will the added weight justify the added cooling? I think if you can keep the weight under 3 or 4 pounds, it could. But I also think that if you stick with natural materials, you'll keep a lot cooler anyway.

The lights! Some people have talked about making the little lights work on their armor. That's a really cool detail that would add a lot to the costume. The problem is that if you wire each light individually it would add a lot of weight. To counter this, we could wire the suit so that each light plugged in to the undersuit. Have one battery pack and one switch. Plug the battery pack into the suit, then plug the lighted pieces to the suit. The wire could be hidden under accent pieces that are stitched into the costume. AND - the wire could be removed for washing. I can think of two ways to do this - stitch velcroed flaps that would hide the wire, or stitch fabric to the undersuit that the wire would slide in and out of. To help with the visual, look on the inside of a ball cap, there are little 1/2" wide pieces of fabric stitched into the hat to hide the other stitches. Open the ends and you could slide stuff in there.

I know this is long, but I have ideas, man IDEAS! heh heh...
And don't worry, I have a thick skin so even the worst criticism won't offend me, guess I've played too many bouts of Halo with the TIMMIES out there.
 

23Magnum

Well-Known Member
Wow, that was a lot. Also it was very informative, thanks for all the advice. I've thought a lot about this undersuit as you've probably already seen on the other topics. I've taken into heavy consideration the stuff you said here about the being comfortable, wiring, cooling, and weight factors. For someone like me who has very little experience in the actually builds yet, I'd like to pick your brain on these topics some more. Now onto the Q&A.

First off, the cooling system...and I'm sure you probably saw my drawing for my idea of this, if not...
UndersuitLiquidCooling.jpg

...as you see here, I put the pump and reservoir on the shoulders. I did this to hide them easily under the armor and to hopefully cut down on the weight that will hang off the undersuit. My question, do you think this will help with the weight problem of adding these 6 or less pounds of equipment?

Second, materials. If you use the natural materials, i.e. leather instead of vinyl, will leather's breath ability replace the need of a cooling system for long term use or do you think there will not be a difference? Reason being cost. Leather is sort of expensive and I found a pretty good amount of vinyl for pretty cheap here. I'd have to actually try everything out to figure out a cooling to cost ratio, but which do you think will end up being cheaper and still do the job.

Finally, as far as lighting and electronics go. In the above diagram, I have two batteries, the kinds of which I covered in another topic. One set will be for lights and whatever else, and the other for the pump. By the way, they do make quiet running pumps, I just don't know how small they get. I would use some sort of gear pump like you use in an aquarium. You would just need to make sure there is almost no air in the system.

I love all the ideas man. Keep them coming. I think with all of us interested in this we can come up with a decent and functional idea for an undersuit to please all. Thanks again Vader.

-Magnum

By the way, awesome Vader costume.
 

Darth Malevelus

Active Member
Nice vader Man!!
I am a vader with the 501st legion, (SL-8582) And I know what your talking about with the vader costume, Ive stood outside in 30 degree weather wearing it, and it felt like it was 80 degrees out. The vader costume is by far the hottest cotume out there I think.

Check out this link:
http://www.texascoolvest.com/cvd.html

I dont think the Mark VI armor will be too hot, I mean I think it would be comparable to storm/clone trooper armor. With all the breaks in the suit around the joints it should allow decent cooling. But given the size of the chest armor it should easily accomidate a cooling vest. Dont get me wrong you will sweat wearing the armor, thats a no brainer. But it will not be as hot as the vader costume.

Wearing the vader suit with the cooling vest (4 stick) on during the emerald city comic con, I wore that costume for 8 hours with no problems. I actually was very comfy the entire time.

Alot of people have tried in the 501st to make elaborate cooling systems using cpu cooling devices, only to find they really dont cool as well as the cooling vests, are heavy, and make the costume difficult to put on and take off.

Its great design, but I think for simplicities sake, a cooling vest would be all you would need.

Good luck and I look forward to seeing your results!
 

Vader

Member
23Magnum said:
My question, do you think this will help with the weight problem of adding these 6 or less pounds of equipment?
The lighter the better. More weight equals more stress. More stress equals more heat. More heat equals more cooling. More cooling equals more weight. The more elaborate you get, the heavier it gets. What Malevelous is talking about is about as simple as you get. Putting ice in your pockets! When it comes down to it, you only need a couple of spots on your torso to be cool in order to feel the effects.
23Magnum said:
Second, materials. If you use the natural materials, i.e. leather instead of vinyl, will leather's breath ability replace the need of a cooling system for long term use or do you think there will not be a difference? Reason being cost.
Vinyl is a poor choice for clothing. It's heavier than leather, and it is suffocating. It is cheaper, but how much does it cost when you pass out from heat exhaustion? Fortunately, I think with the MC undersuit, you could get away with making a jumpsuit using light denim or heavy cotton, both of which will breathe. In small portions, vinyl is alright. You ever wear a shirt with a big iron-on on it? In the sun, that thing sticks and makes you sweat. Vinyl is just like that. Leather isn't much better, but it's not as uncomfortable. And with the scraps I've seen available on ebay, you could probably buy enough leather to really do up a nice MC undersuit and not break the bank.
23Magnum said:
Finally, as far as lighting and electronics go. In the above diagram, I have two batteries, the kinds of which I covered in another topic. One set will be for lights and whatever else, and the other for the pump. By the way, they do make quiet running pumps, I just don't know how small they get. I would use some sort of gear pump like you use in an aquarium. You would just need to make sure there is almost no air in the system.
I think you could get away with powering the LEDs or EL with those small N batteries, or that other one, CR123? Those are small and higher voltage, so you could keep things light. Again, I think a pump based hydraulic cooling system would defeat the purpose. Lighter is better.
23Magnum said:
By the way, awesome Vader costume.
Thanks, man!

And Darth Malevelous - you know me as Brood over at the STT! Ain't that GB something? I really hope that he can turn that Fett bucket into a trooper. He does things that I can only dream of!

edit to add: It's unnecessary to cool much more than just the torso, and even then you only need to focus on your chest and upper back. Think of it as the opposite of a vest. Vests can keep you warm without having to cover your arms and legs. Cooling just a few spots can go a long way. To keep the weight down, you could just run tubes around the chest and upper back area - less water, less power to pump, less weight.
 
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crackhead09

RCO
405th Regiment Officer
to Darth-Malevelus

which vest shoud i buy for an mc costume because i live florida where the humidity sucks and its always hot
 

23Magnum

Well-Known Member
Vader said:
edit to add: It's unnecessary to cool much more than just the torso, and even then you only need to focus on your chest and upper back. Think of it as the opposite of a vest. Vests can keep you warm without having to cover your arms and legs. Cooling just a few spots can go a long way. To keep the weight down, you could just run tubes around the chest and upper back area - less water, less power to pump, less weight.
Makes sense, I think I'll redesign with just the torso in mind, and that may mean no pump require. It still may require a water reservoir of some kind though. I sort of don't like the idea of the vest with cool packs in them. I would think it might make you too cold initially, and after a while they would loose there effectiveness. Either way, I'll still look into it a lot further, and update as I go for more advice. Thanks for all the help so far.

-Magnum
 
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Vader

Member
23Magnum said:
Makes sense, I think I'll redesign with just the torso in mind, and that may mean no pump require. It still may require a water reservoir of some kind though. I sort of don't like the idea of the vest with cool packs in them.
You'll still need a pump to push the water around - it has to absorb heat, then dissipate heat, and that can only be done by moving it from the heat to the cold. So still need a pump, but a smaller one could work. Depending upon how you dissipate the heat, a resevoir may or may not be needed.

And Darth Malevelous does have a point - the MC armor seems to be ventilated enough to be cool without having to need additional cooling. Vader is just naturally hot - all that black doesn't do well in the Texas sun. I think that MC armor may be better at venting - first it's not all black, second, the armor doesn't cover the body as much as the Vader armor does. In Vader, my upper body is totally encased, from the sternum all the way to my head. There's more room for air in the MC stuff.
 
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23Magnum

Well-Known Member
Vader said:
You'll still need a pump to push the water around - it has to absorb heat, then dissipate heat, and that can only be done by moving it from the heat to the cold. So still need a pump, but a smaller one could work. Depending upon how you dissipate the heat, a resevoir may or may not be needed.

And Darth Malevelous does have a point - the MC armor seems to be ventilated enough to be cool without having to need additional cooling. Vader is just naturally hot - all that black doesn't do well in the Texas sun. I think that MC armor may be better at venting - first it's not all black, second, the armor doesn't cover the body as much as the Vader armor does. In Vader, my upper body is totally encased, from the sternum all the way to my head. There's more room for air in the MC stuff.
True about the pump, perhaps the fish tank pump but I'll look into that more later. As I've read, you would probably need either the reservoir or a radiator, but not both.

The only reason I thought of doing a cooling system in the first place is because of how hot people said it got in their suits. Maybe they were just talking about the helmet. Sean said something about it once I think. I don't remember where at the moment.

I guess I could always try out the suit to see if I need any cooling first, then alter it as needed. That way no money is wasted after it's all said and done.

Thanks again.

-Magnum
 
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Vader

Member
23Magnum said:
Maybe they were just talking about the helmet.
I think that's the main thing there. Heat from your head can't escape, you're breathing hot air in there, if it's hot out, and if you're in the sun are all part of what makes the helmet so unbearable at times.

Here's what I think would really help cool the helmet - cut out the ridges on top, the ones that face backwards (only good for the H3 bucket) and cover them from the inside with screen (can paint the screen to match the paint). Cut out the two holes at the back of the helmet (on the ridge thing, not the dome), screen those and put a couple of small fans there. Cool air will be pulled in from the back and then can push the hot air out the vents on top.
vents1.jpg

vents2.jpg

vents3.jpg


For that matter, you could do the same to other parts of the armor as well -
vents4.jpg

And if you still are looking to do the liquid cooling, you could incorporate this to help with the cooling process.
 
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23Magnum

Well-Known Member
Oh, I got a good idea now Vader, thanks. It'll take a little while till I get to draw it up, but I'll share when I'm done.

-Magnum
 
I love the ideas in this thread! I agree with Vader as far as natural materials that breathes. But I do have one concern about leather. I have worked with leather for a while. Making everything from leather armor (sca people) to Leather sheaths. And one thing bothers me about use of leather in a MC under suit. You cant machine wash leather.
If you make your under suit out of cotton and have leather stitched to it I don't see an easy way of cleaning it. I have a solution however. Make the leather pieces removable with Velcro. That way you could remove all leather panels, care for them properly and machine wash the under suit.

Also being an ex solider I know all about weight = stress = heat and sweat lol. So to a point I agree with Vader again about trying to keep things light. But I think we should all give a cooling system some thought. I would have killed for a cool shirt type cooling system when I was wearing full MOPS gear in 95 degree heat. I am not saying an MC suit will be that hot. But to paraphrase an old military saying "Better to have and not need than need and not have."

Magnum there are small portable pumps made for camping showers that may work for a cooling system. I have been looking at several ones just for that purpose.

Vader your idea for venting the top of the helmet in the Mohawk area is a great idea I plan on using. I also plan on making a neck seal that will tuck into my undersuit and is a perminate part of my helmet. Making the head gear a closed system. The only change I have is this. Rather than cut vents in the back of the helmet and put fans there. Why not just cut or poke some holes in the wire loom near the jaw of the helmet, install fans there. That way you would have airflow across your face. This way you get a chimney effect as the hot air escapes out the top and fresh air comes in from the jaw across your face. Doesn't sound like much but having ridden for many years a nice breeze across the face can make a huge difference. Plus I think that type of directional airflow would help prevent fog up in the face shield.

Keep up the great Ideas everyone. Threads like this one are the whole reason I love this board so much!
 

Vader

Member
Spartan 161 said:
wearing full MOPS gear in 95 degree heat.
Oh man - you aren't kidding! I had forgotten about MOPS. A question I get a lot with the Vader is, "Aren't you hot?" I just say yes. But now I should say, "It's better than wearing full chem gear!"

I didn't think about leather not being washable. D'oh! Vinyl is, and it actually looks nice and worn after a few washings. I think if the accent pieces aren't too big, then use vinyl rather than leather. I use velcro, but I don't think velcroed leather would look very good - the corners would curl, people would tug at them, they'd sit a bit higher and look 'added' rather than part of the suit.

As for the fan in the front, sure. I personally don't like fans in my face, dries my eyes and mouth. I don't have fans in my Vader helmet, but occasionally the wind blows in from the back and really cools me down. But the Vader helmet is shaped differently... I suggest mouting them in the back for a couple of reasons - first, there's room back there. There is probably room in the front, but I don't want to get my beard caught in the fan blades. Second, aesthetics. People are going to see the front and they're going to notice if it doesn't look 'right' to them. To make a kind of analogy - if you get a tatoo on your face, people notice. Put the same tatoo on the back of your head, it's less noticable.
 
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lol yup the dreaded chem gear! We had to wear full MOPS in Panama during our green hell training run. 95 was considered a cool day with close to 50% humidity, No fun at all!

Yes good point you can machine wash Vinyl. And true about the Velcro.

As for fans in the face, lol its a biker thing loving that wind in your face. But I didn't think about my beard! D'oh! lol Funny we both have beards lol. But as for seeing it, I think I can hide it if I only make small holes in between the wire loom. I will have to wait and see after I get the helmet I am working on now all glassed up. I agree with what you are saying about tatoo on the face drawing attention to one area. But I think if someone sees a MC Armor they are going to be to busy being shocked to notice some small holes in the wire loom.

I have an idea I have been mulling over and I will toss that out to the thread now and see if anyone has some further ideas. If you look at the MC boot you will notice a accordion like black seal that connects the boot to ankle type piece??? When the mc walks it flexes in and out like an accordion. I remember a thread that pointed to a guys web site and how he used foamies to make that part.

Just one problem with using foamies, the life of it is not very long. So I was thinking on using leather for that part with robogenisus high quality boot pep. What I am wondering is if anyone knows how they formed leather into shapes like that. It is beyond my experience. Or barring that a similar technique and material.
 

Vader

Member
For the boot - here's what I'm thinking.
Heavy black Denim.
Boning (used in dresses and purses - flexible, but supporting)

Stitch the denim so that you can slide the boning into place, similar to the stormtrooper neck seals. Boning can be shaped and is durable.
Use snaps or velcro to attach it to the two boot pieces and you're good. If it gets dirty, you can detach it an wash it. You could also stitch elastic into it so that it wraps around your foot and helps keep the boots straight.
 

Vrogy

Well-Known Member
23Magnum said:
Wow, that was a lot. Also it was very informative, thanks for all the advice. I've thought a lot about this undersuit as you've probably already seen on the other topics. I've taken into heavy consideration the stuff you said here about the being comfortable, wiring, cooling, and weight factors. For someone like me who has very little experience in the actually builds yet, I'd like to pick your brain on these topics some more. Now onto the Q&A.

First off, the cooling system...and I'm sure you probably saw my drawing for my idea of this, if not...
...as you see here, I put the pump and reservoir on the shoulders. I did this to hide them easily under the armor and to hopefully cut down on the weight that will hang off the undersuit. My question, do you think this will help with the weight problem of adding these 6 or less pounds of equipment?

Second, materials. If you use the natural materials, i.e. leather instead of vinyl, will leather's breath ability replace the need of a cooling system for long term use or do you think there will not be a difference? Reason being cost. Leather is sort of expensive and I found a pretty good amount of vinyl for pretty cheap here. I'd have to actually try everything out to figure out a cooling to cost ratio, but which do you think will end up being cheaper and still do the job.

Finally, as far as lighting and electronics go. In the above diagram, I have two batteries, the kinds of which I covered in another topic. One set will be for lights and whatever else, and the other for the pump. By the way, they do make quiet running pumps, I just don't know how small they get. I would use some sort of gear pump like you use in an aquarium. You would just need to make sure there is almost no air in the system.

I love all the ideas man. Keep them coming. I think with all of us interested in this we can come up with a decent and functional idea for an undersuit to please all. Thanks again Vader.

-Magnum

By the way, awesome Vader costume.
Liquid cooling is indeed very neat, but one thing that's very important is surface area for heat exchange between your body and the tubing. Cooling garments I've seen have it snaking back and forth. Is your diagram just an overall routing sketch, or the actual placement? If it's the actual placement, there probably isn't enough contact between the cooling tubing and the wearer for it to be viable.
 
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