Saturday, August 21, 2010

DIY Lady Gaga's Disco Stick

Top: Reference pic.  Bottom: our version with Lady Linda Gaga ;)   I think our discostick is better haha!
It's good to have engineering buddies. Last Halloween a friend of mine wanted to go as Lady Gaga, so my engineering buddy Tim and I said, hey, let's make her Lady Gaga's disco stick! Why? BECAUSE WE CAN. And so we did. And it was Awesome! Words and pictures just can't really capture how sparkly the sucker turned out to be. With 11 ultra-bright white LEDs and tons of arcylic vase-filler gems it was quite something to behold. Note, this is based on her first disco stick from her Love Game music video.

Screencap from LoveGame
We got together to brainstorm and develop the design. Tim did the soldering of the LED circuit board and the handle and I did the handle switch and hot glued all the damn gems on the thing. You can check out Tim's post in the Replica Prop Forum so i won't repeat his words & pictures here, but compliment with some more detail.

Here's the schematic:
Click to zoom!

I used a plastic ball (~$1) from Joanne Fabrics for the underlying structure of the headpiece. It's got a split down the middle so you can seperate the two halves, so I trimmed the circuit board edges until it fit and hot glued it in permanently. Then i cut out a hole so the handle-pvc pipe can fit through. It's kinda thin plastic and can shatter easily so the best way was to score and break pieces off from the edge of the two halves to make the hole.
We used mostly the diamond shaped pieces and the tiny bits to fill gaps. Didn't use the round ones that often because i didn't like the look. Splitting up all the sizes into piles helps you evenly use the pieces to build up the shape. There is an ugly hold at the bottom of the gems which i hid with other gems.

We covered the entire pieces with arcylic vase filler gems. I bought this 17oz canister variety large sizes from Target (picture) and another bag of variety small sizes and pretty much used up all of them. Spent at least 3 hours hot-gluing all of them on. The idea was to build up the layer of gems, arranging them in such away to get the desired tapered outline, which we got from reference pics. To get that random, rocky look some of the larger gems were put jutting out every once in a while. To provide headpiece support, the gems were arranged around the base of the head-piece so that the gems would rest and interlock with the gems on the handle. The sheer-strength of the hot-glue was plenty strong.

Wiring schematic for the switch. Needed 4 connectors because both battery pack and the head piece had to be removable. Either 3 AAA or AA batteries in the pack.

The rocker switch has a very tall base, but instead of cutting a rectangle-sized hole in the PVC pipe, i just drilled holes for the wires and hot-glued it to the surface. The wires may have been outside, i don't really remember. The switch stuck out a lot, but i painted it silver along with the rest of the handle and covered up the sides with gems so it wasn't readily visible.

To keep the headpiece from flying off but still make it removable for changing batteries, i used the plastic loop that was already on the plastic ball, and looped a wire around the rocker switch. However, disco stick was pretty top heavy when all said and done due to the sheer number of gems, and it was not recommended to swing the staff around. It was just strong enough to point upside down and hold it in place. Since everything was built on a thin plastic ball, dropping the disco stick would probably shatter it, maybe (there was A LOT of hot glue on it). If you watch Lady Ga-ga's videos, you'll notice that she also doesn't swing hers around probably for the same reasons.
Left: On and boy was it sparkly!  Right: Off but with reflection from camera flash.

So there you have it! it was really quite something at night time, truly like a disco ball mounted on a stick! Our Lady Gaga was quite impressed with our handiwork. ;) If we were to make it again probably try to counter-balance the weight by adding some into the bottom of the handle, and also making the batteries replaceable from the bottom would have made it easier because then the head-piece would not have to be removable (and so secured with hot-glue for strength). I also considered using something more robust than the thin plastic ball for the inside structure, but i couldn't find anything cheap and suitable at the time. Maybe like those oil-filled decorative balls or clear acrylic contact juggling balls.


Lady Gaga said...

You have no idea how much this article made me smile :) Wow, so I just learned the engineering aspect of how to make a disco stick!! God you had no idea how awed and shocked I was when I was gifted this disco stick... seriously it looked authentic and people were like oohing at it for a part of the night (I had to put it down bc it was heavy and I was afraid of shattering it!) I still have it! And I think of all your effort and work every time I look at it!! :-)

Tim said...

That stick is sick! Disco sticks were banned at the concert in July. :(

Now where's my autograph, Gaga? ;)

Monkey said...

Glad you liked it Lady Gaga! =D

Douglas maxweel monteiro carvalho said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Douglas maxweel monteiro carvalho said...

Hi, I love your work
can you explain me in detail how you made ​​the circuit of wires which led, as you called cells led us, these interrupitor coisa.Porfavor much I need you to send me pictures explique.Se power LED board on the back and othercan ângulos.que type of resistor was used?
thank you so much!!