Top 5 Cosplay Electronics Projects

If you were impressed by a recent cosplay outfit, chances are it had electronic elements woven into the design. You’ve seen them, the costumes that pulse to highlight a plasma gun or glow red to mimic flames. What about the huge wings that open by themselves?

These costumes are powered by electronic components of all sizes using microcontrollers like those from Arduino or Adafruit. These projects are versatile enough to be used for any number of costumes and can be easily reused in future creations. But don’t take our word for it, check out these awesome projects for yourself.

1. Glowing Gems

As part of a costume or as an accessory, you can make your own sparkling gems straight from a fantasy world.

In this beginner project, the gems that are created are used for a World of Warcraft level 9 druid costume, adding a touch of magic to cosplay.

You will cast the resin gem and use nail polish and foil to make it look believable. On the electronic side, you will need an LED light, a 9V battery, and a switch to turn the light on and off.

It’s one of the simplest circuits you can create, but from this basic template you can start building more complex programmable LED arrays by connecting strips of LED lights to a microcontroller.


This project really shows the outstanding result of combining physical effects with electronics.

2. LED elaboration

Take a look at the incredible number of wicked cosplay outfits that use LED lights in this project from costume designer Svetlana, or Kamui, as she’s also known.

In this project you will create a basic electronic circuit powered by an Adafruit Trinket Pro 5V. You can then use this circuit again and again in future costumes by changing the color and animation of the LED to suit each new cosplay. This is a big step up from the previous project and will suit a beginner to intermediate maker.

In a YouTube video, Svetlana uses this circuit to power over 550 LEDs! The result: an epic Diablo shield powered by a small but mighty electronic setup.

In addition to the Adafruit Trinket Pro 5V, you’ll need the Adafruit LiPo backpack, three slide switches, five servo extension cables, and a 4400mAh 3.7V LiPo battery (two cells). You’ll also need to upload some code to your microcontroller via of the Arduino software (IDE); this will give you four different animations to play with your costume.

Connecting LED light strips to Arduino is definitely a skill you’ll want to learn.

3.Halo of light

Here is a project that is simple to build and looks awesome.

This illuminated halo is made from plexiglass with edge lighting made from LEDs. It is connected to a simple headband made of steel that sits on the ears and wraps around the back of the head. The placement of the band and wires at the back of the head makes the halo appear to float in mid-air.

You can take the circuit designs from the previous two projects and apply them here. Of course, you can keep it simple with an on/off switch, but with an Arduino, you can program animated light sequences to make it really glow.

By experimenting with different materials, you can also create something that is lighter and easier to build. Options include using thick aluminum wire instead of steel for a lighter headband, and swapping plexiglass for plastic or foam tubing.

The key point here is to work out how to diffuse your LED lights to give a soft, omnidirectional light source. You can do this by scratching the plexiglass with sandpaper or by covering the LEDs with synthetic white cloth, for example.

4. Motorized wings

Now to get into something really impressive.

Jonas Zibartas created this design to cosplay the Overwatch character Mercy. To recreate the character’s large, machined, angel-like wings, this project uses a combination of 25kg servos, linear actuators, and an Arduino.

Servos have a limited range of motion, but they can provide really high torque. To run them, you’ll need to send the servos some information, such as how much to rotate and at what speed; This is why you will need an Arduino. From there, connect the servos to the actuators to convert rotational motion to linear motion.

In this video, Zibratas talks about the design process to help you prototype your own costume. He also covers the basics of what servos and actuators do in mechanics. However, if he plans to undertake this project, he will need some prior experience.

A truly amazing build, but more suited to advanced makers.

5. Sound Reactive LED Mask

In this cosplay project, you’ll learn how to make the sound-reactive LED mask worn by Lady Gaga at the 2020 MTV Visual Music Awards (VMAs).

Natasha, a self-described craftsman and tech maker, will walk you through how to make the LED matrix, as well as how to program Arduino for the images. For this project, she will need nine Adafruit DotStar 8 x 8 LED arrays, a microphone, and the Adafruit ItsyBitsy M4 Express.

Soldering the die will require a bit of patience, but the detailed guide on Instructables will make it doable for a beginner and intermediate maker. Once completed, the entire circuit can be simply plugged into a USB power bank.

It’s not hard to imagine this circuit being useful in other cosplay costumes and its relatively compact size definitely makes it ideal for inserting into outfits and wearable accessories.

Electronic and cosplay pairing

A close up of someone in a Star Wars Storm Trooper costume

With these projects under your belt, you’ll have a solid foundation to start incorporating electronics into your cosplay.

As you can see, getting started doesn’t have to involve complex electronics. Some of the simplest LED circuits, when built into your design, can make your costume look amazing.

Start with the easiest designs that incorporate LED lights, then add code to create different animations. From there, you can start working on larger builds like the powered wings if you want to seriously upgrade your costume design.

best microcontroller boards

The 6 Best Microcontroller Boards for All Skill Levels

read next

About the Author