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Audio for cosplay suit
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Audio for cosplay suit

by mikebook91 on Mon May 10, 2021 11:01 am

First, this is my first time posting, so I'm not sure if this is the best place to pose this kind of question. If not, I'll happily remove it or post it elsewhere.

I'm building a cosplay of Master Chief from Halo. His helmet has built in lights which are easy enough to do with LEDs and a simple circuit. But I'm also hard of hearing, and I was hoping to put a microphone in the brim of the helmet that I could pipe to headphones so I could hear people while wearing the helmet. I'm guessing that doing this with any amount of control and quality will require at least use of a microcontroller. And at that point, I might as well add some control to those LEDs (maybe even get fancy with some Neopixels or something), and I've also seen tutes across the web for doing voice mods recordings and piping them through an external speaker for a costume. And it would be extra awesome if I could control them all from the same place, be it a couple of button panels on the armor or even a phone connection or whatever.

I have some basic experience with arduino, but mostly in using sensors and logging data points. I'm an experienced C (and its variants) coder. I know that with time, patience, and the right tutorials and helpful posts I could pull this off, but I don't know how to plan it out.

I know that's all too much for a single microcontroller to handle. I just don't know if it would be better to use multiple microcontrollers and link them all to one "control center" microcontroller, or if I should use something like a raspberry pi to do all of it from one place (or if that's even possible). I'm looking for the most cost effective solution, since the suit is already running up a pretty big bill, but I'm willing to pay more if it makes it significantly easier or is a better, more stable way to do it.

Thanks in advance for any insights or thoughts!

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Joined: Mon May 10, 2021 9:41 am

Re: Audio for cosplay suit

by blnkjns on Mon May 10, 2021 1:26 pm

A board like the Itsy Bitsy M4 should be capable of doing your requested things. Here's a STM32 doing real time pitch-shifting:
The Itsy Bitsy M4 is easier to program though, and more powerful, and it should be able to run the code with some light modifications.

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Joined: Fri Oct 02, 2020 3:33 am

Re: Audio for cosplay suit

by mikebook91 on Mon May 10, 2021 7:11 pm

Thanks for responding! I'm not familiar with that board and I'm still trying to find more information, but do you think it would be able to handle all three of those things at the same time, or is it more like an Arduino where I would need to plan for on for each thing?

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Joined: Mon May 10, 2021 9:41 am

Re: Audio for cosplay suit

by adafruit_support_mike on Tue May 11, 2021 12:32 am

You can probably isolate the hearing-assist piece from the other pieces.

A MAX9814 auto-gain microphone amp passing signal to a PAM8302 speaker amp should give you good audio inside the helmet:

You can put a 10k audio-taper potentiometer between them to control volume if you want:

The MAX98814's automatic gain control will adjust the output to keep the volume about the same whether you're in a quiet room or the middle of a noisy crowd, so you don't have to constantly fiddle with the volume by hand.

For lighting, we like NeoPixels:

They make the wiring simple, can be set to any color, and will hold a color until you tell them to do something else. They're good for animated effects, but are also handy for basic set-it-and-forget-it detail lighting.

Exporting most of the work for those two systems from the processor leaves resources free to do audio processing.. and you'll want them because things like voice modification require continuous number crunching. Our M4 boards can handle the job, but you might also want to look at Paul Stoffregen's Teensy boards. They're made for high-end processing, and Paul has written a nice suite of audio processing tools that you can use to build effects:

Audio processing is one of Paul's special interests, and he's a notoriously high performing uber-hacker.

The M4 and Teensy can handle polyphony (playing multiple sounds at once), but there comes a point where organizing the code is more of a hassle than dealing with the hardware issues. At that point, adding new microcontrollers for separation of concerns starts to look attractive.

That's a tradeoff you'll have to make based on experience with the hardware though. Start with one board and get a feel for what it can do, then add more if you think they'll be worth it.

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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.