hacks_afChewComp_v001_21273

As you may have already heard, longtime Make: contributor, John Edgar Park, recently left his full-time job as a Hollywood animator to become a full-time maker pro. As part of that work, he’s now doing videos and project documentation for our friends over at Adafruit. We’ve been anxiously awaiting what creative, and possibly creatively-kooky, build John might come up with for his first project. And here it is: a sound-hackable Star Wars Chewbacca Electronic Talking Mask.

In the above video and in this Adafruit Learning System doc, John details how he removed the baked-in sound chip on the mask and replaced it with a sound-programmable Audio FX Mini Sound Board and Audio Amp, controlled by a rotary switch so that you can select from stored banks of audio files that are triggered as you open your mouth to talk with the mask on.

Here's the new sound circuit that John shows you how to install.

Here’s the new sound circuit that John shows you how to install.

You may find yourself a little confused trying to follow along with the video and the sped-up/jump-cut soldering and component assembly sections, but John does a very meticulous job of photo-documenting all of these steps in the project docs, so between the video and the documentation, I can’t imagine you having significant problems in accomplishing the build.

John has always been a masterful video educator. He was one of the hosts of the Daytime Emmy-nominated Make: Television, which ran on PBS in 2009, and he always did such an impressive job there of explaining complex ideas and builds in a way that made them seem approachable, doable, and downright fun. Check out, for instance, this still-popular segment on building a digital TV antenna from a coat hanger.

John shows similar clarity and patience in this new Chewie mask video, which he also shot and edited himself. This ability to run through a fairly complex build in a video tutorial and to make it clear, entertaining, and useful to those actually undertaking the project, is no small feat and John is one of the best at it that I’ve seen. I’m thrilled he’s going to be doing more such videos and can’t wait to see what else he comes up with.