Christmas Party costumes

From 2011 to the present I have worked at Dyson. Every year Dyson organises a fancy-dress Christmas party for its employees, with a broad theme to allow for inventive costume design; accordingly there is a tradition of extravagant costumes, many constructed from Dyson parts and/or corrugated cardboard. My contributions tend to involve LEDs and (arguably) unnecessary levels of electronic sophistication…

2016: Fascination (Dyson video)

This year my concept was “snakes hypnotising their prey”, an early meaning of the word “fascination”. I built a corrugated-cardboard cobra’s head attached to a backpack frame, with discs of WS2812B addressable RGB LEDs as “eyes”. The eyes were controlled by an Arduino Pro Mini microcontroller (using the FastLED library) running a number of different effects.

2015: Luminescence

As a very literal interpretation for the theme, I made a costume of an enlarged version of a standard 5mm LED using a transparent umbrella and PVC sheet for the exterior, a corrugated cardboard structure supporting the internal electrodes, and an inward-facing RGB LED strip to light up my head to represent the LED die. The colour of the LEDs was Arduino-controlled and could be set manually or to cycling rainbow mode.

2014: Flights of Fancy

I and three team-mates made costumes that formed a Heath Robinson machine when arranged in the right sequence. My costume was the finale: a rolling marble hit a button that triggered a light pattern spiralling up a mast made from Dyson wands to a 3d-printed lightbulb at the top (again using addressable RGB LED strip, an Arduino and the FastLED library). This year, for the first time, my costume had other display modes selected by onboard DIP switches!

2013: Topsy Turvy (Dyson video)

For this costume I chose to represent “antimatter” – by wearing silver-painted clothes and a cardboard representation of a magnetic bottle, with yarn to show magnetic force lines. This year the only electronic component was a flashgun rigged to a microswitch on my finger: if I reached out of the “bottle” and contacted “normal matter” there was an “annihilation event”. (I had intended to use addressable LED strip to represent the circulating currents in the magnetic bottle coils but it was not delivered in time!)

2012: Power

This year I took part in another group costume with my team: Greek gods. I chose Aether, the god of the upper air, represented as a starry night sky made from a toga with underlying white LEDs patterned after constellations (Orion and Cassiopeia).

2011: Regeneration

For my first year at Dyson, I joined my fellow team members in a group costume: people wearing formal attire with flower pots on their heads. (The, admittedly tenuous, link to the theme was that plants are capable of regeneration.) To add interest to my costume, I built an Arduino-driven Persistence of Vision display into the stalk of the flower which itself showed a simple icon of a flower.