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Everything has to start somewhere, and for the E.T. Virtual Reality Flying Bike Project it was locating an authentic  Kuwahara KZ BMX Bicycle (The same Elliot rode in the movie).


Much more on this to come.

Imagine you have to save your little extraterrestrial friend by putting him in a mike crate on your bike and pedal him to safety. That’s what I wanted to recreate, but as a Virtual Reality experience.

There were many parts to this puzzle, and the first was to research what type of bicycle Elliot had used in the movie. E.T. The Extraterrestrial was released in 1982, and what I found out was, Elliot rode a Kuwahara KZ1, and it was a REAL production bike, so I set out to try and locate one. I started scouring the internet and it was fascinating how popular this bike was and still is. Some searches returned sky high prices for a restored E.T. Bicycle, some bikes are in museums, and others are kept for personal collections. I thought I’d have to settle on an old KZ1 frame, all rusty from sitting outside that I’d have to do a lot of work to restore it for this project, when I found somene that had an authentic Kuwahara KZ1 re-issue for sale… still in the box! BAZINGA!!! I stopped what I was doing and grabbed this gem. (picture above).

Elliot’s bicycle had a very characteristic milk crate attached to it, and I wanted this very look. I began searching the internet again this time for a circa 1970′s/1980′s milk crate. I found out that in the movie the crate was painted white, so I knew I’d probably not be finding a white one. After many days of searching I found one that was close but not an exact match, so I ordered it. I continued my searches with hope that I could find the exact one, and the searching paid off, I found the exact style milk crate as in the movie!

When I first received my GearVR, knew I wanted to do something cool with it and what better than an augmented and virtual reality magic wand experience. I started by deciding on the functions of the hardware in the wand, and the software functionality in the game. I wanted players to experience Dementors attacking them as they could see the real world around them, and then magically enter a castle and continue the fight. A mix between Augmented and Virtual Reality would be the route I’d take. The next phase consisted of simultaneous development of the wand, electronics, and the software.


Here’s the wand being 3D Printed at Full Sail University on our Stratasys Polyjet Connex II. For flexibility the wand was printed with a mix of Vero White and Tango Black+, the tip was printed with Vero Clear, the end cap with Tango Black+, and the electronics housing in Vero Clear.


The finished 3D Print.


Testing the haptic feedback circuit. Not pictured is the arduino,/bluetooth module and the circuit board fabricated on a LPKF.

More build pics to come…

The software was developed using Unity3D with a Bluetooth connection to the wand. In Augmented Reality the player sees the REAL environment around them which Dementors frightfully appear. Wherever you look there’s a gaze dot, and you aim the dot on the Dementor and flick the wand to banish the Dementor… till the next one. As a player holds a magical card a 3D Castle appears. It can even be rotated to see a small battle inside the castle walls. By staring at the castle, the player is transformed to Virtual Reality and they are inside the castle walls and the battle continues.



Samsung Gear VR (2015) Retail Mod for Note 4
Photo Dec 18, 11 30 51 AM

VR is here, and it’s here to stay. It remind me of the “Wild West” days that 3D software packages had decades ago. Companies like Softimage, Maya, 3D Studio Max, and Lightwave were all “Shooting Out” for a stake in the claim, and it was very exciting to see the technology advance. Roll forward and this is happening again with every large company investing in the VR Headset market. What happens when the technology moves this fast is some get left in the dust. I have been developing and creating content with a Samsung Note 4 with the Samsung Gear VR (Innovator Edition) for quite some time. I was excited to hear of  the new Gear VR (2015) Retail Version, but was disappointed to learn that it wouldn’t support the Note 4.

Photo Dec 18, 11 31 28 AM

I picked up the $99 release version and wanted to take a closer look and see if a mod could make this work with the Note 4. The (2015) Retail Version has spring loaded pins that support four different phones (Samsung Edge6, Edge 6+, Note 5).

Photo Dec 18, 11 31 15 AM
After taking some initial measurements, it looked like the Note 4 was about 2mm to big vertically, and it would fit on the horizontal.

Photo Dec 18, 11 31 11 AM
I already knew the headset would fire up from earlier tests when I plugged the phone in to the headset and even though it was on a angle and wouldn’t fit in, I did see the phone start up with the Gear VR App.
Photo Dec 18, 11 32 49 AM
I thought I could easily use a Dremel to remove enough plastic to make it fit as I’d only have to remove approx 1mm from the top, and 1mm from the bottom. The tricky part would be to Dremel and not cause any damage to the spring loaded pins. Tape was used to prevent plastic shavings from getting inside the unit.
Photo Dec 18, 2 07 48 PM
I used an exacto knife to hold the pins down as I dremeled away at the plastic. Slowly I dremeled away at the plastic and did each of the four corners. I also dremeled away in the middle.
Photo Dec 18, 1 41 42 PM
After cleaning up the edges with an exacto knife, it was the moment of truth and see if this works. I put the Note 4 into the newly modded Gear VR, and it worked. The first thing I noticed was it was brighter than my Original Innovator edition. The camera correction isn’t perfect, the video seems a little large, and there are some ripples in the stitching, but overall this thing ROCKS!!!

Photo Dec 18, 8 40 39 PMa

SoftRobotic 5 Sided Gripper. This robot is an adaptation of PneuNets and the amazing work from the Harvard Whitesides Research Group. The SoftRobot is a Multi-Material Pneumatic Actuator and is powered by a small air pump. The process is completely automated using an Arduino, air pump, solenoid valve, and a stepper motor. The SoftRobot can easily lift the Sphero (18.1 grams). To assure even wall thickness and reduce blowouts, five molds were designed and 3D Printed.





The Iron Man Mark IV Hand has been deployed to Iron Kid. The Mark IV has the same functionality of the Mark III plus many new High-Tech Features. The goal was to help a child by giving him the most awesome hand. The Mark III Hand was given to “Iron Kid” Tyler on his eighth Birthday and seeing him put it on and light it up made this one of the best days of my life.

Iron Kid used his new hand for awhile, and it came back for an extensive upgrade to the Mark IV Hand Armor. Tyler’s relatives were concerned that he wasn’t exercising his hand enough, and I thought it would be a great addition to add a Mobile App that could integrate with a Game Controller like device right in his hand. Therapy Game Play that’s fun to do I say. The game app is in the initial development, but all the hardware is in place. There’s also a nifty Control Panel App that allows diagnostics and control of the hand. It also has a Remote Alert System that lights up the repulsor and vibrates the hand with haptic feedback, so Iron Kid will never be late for dinner. Many new High-Tech and fun features were also added including, more info to come…

Photo Feb 06, 2 07 51 PM   Success! A Flexible Printed Circuit Board. These boards are not easy to make, so I thought, and with a little work you can make a nifty Flexible PCB. I used Adafruit’s Pyralux Flexible PCB Material. I first tried to CNC it on my engraver. As awesome as my engraver is (similar to a LPKF machine), I couldn’t engrave the copper enough without going through the backing material. I had high hopes of engraving it, and I tried small steps in my cut depth, .002″, then another .001″, and another .001″, then poof! I went through the backing. The backing is only 1 or 2 mils thick, and this was too hard to mechanically engrave without inadvertently cutting through, so I decided to take another route. Next I tried by cutting a stencil on my Roland Vinyl Cutter. First results were pretty good (for a vinyl cutter, though I needed to add more time to the etching process). Inexpensive Vinyl Cutters are quite quite popular, and I’d imagine even a Cricut would do the job. I had to delete any fine text I would have had on the board as the cutter wouldn’t hold that resolution. Photo Feb 05, 6 04 05 PMPhoto Feb 05, 6 20 13 PMPhoto Feb 05, 6 46 40 PMPhoto Feb 05, 7 28 26 PMPhoto Feb 05, 7 52 28 PMPhoto Feb 05, 9 08 51 PM Using transfer film, I applied the vinyl to the board as a resist, and after a 20 minute bath in etching fluid the board was etched to the backing material.  I cut more vinyl for the pads, and hand placed them on the board. Then I covered the PCB with a cool red epoxy polymer to act as a solder mask and protect the board. I have one more to make like this. This is a great technique prototyping Wearable Technology! ~Pat Starace

After reading the many touching requests for the 3D Printed Iron Man Child’s Prosthetic Hand a perfect child was found. 12 hour drive to Texas, it was given to Tyler for his Eighth Birthday. Seeing Tyler put the Iron Man Hand on and light it up, and the huge smile on his face made this the best day ever.

yler was soon High-Fiving, and shaking hands.



The Iron Man Hand was custom designed to fit Tyler, and a few cool features were added including NinjaFLEX Finger Tips for Super-Hero Grip.

The build process faced many challenges, Tyler’s hand required a 90% reduction from the original prototype I created. Scaling down 90% sounds easy, but not so quick. While scaling down the 3D Printed parts for the hand wasn’t too big of an issue, the electronics don’t scale with the hand. I had to rework the design and scale up the electronics in CAD, so that when I scaled down the hand model the electronics would be the appropriate size.

The FIRE! One week before delivery, I noticed the stepper motor mounts for the 3D printer starting to tilt. WHAT! The steppers were overheating and the mounts were melting. I stopped the print and went into damage control. I thought if I just tightened up the belts, I could finish this up and deal with new mounts later. While tightening up the belts (I wasn’t near any electronics) I saw something bright out of the corner of my eye. The controller was on FIRE! I blew it out, and it came right back. I blew it out, and it came right back again, so I pulled the plug. It was a driver board on the controller that had given it’s life for this noble cause. I had a spare and crossed my fingers that the controller wasn’t fried. This seemed to work, but I knew the controller was probably compromised and might not make it to the end, but thankfully it did. (Thanks Deez).

Finishing was another story, but I’ll leave that for another time.

IT HAD TO LIGHT UP!!! We left at 3:00am for a 1,200 mile drive to Texas, and with the time zone difference we would gain an hour. We would be cutting it close but we were up for the task. Did I mention that the electronics weren’t finished yet. I had promised myself that Tyler would be able to put the Iron Man Hand on and ‘Light It Up’, and there would be no compromise. So, while driving through Louisiana I took out my butane powered micro torch/soldering iron, and started to solder up the hand while we were driving on I 10. I was soldering as my friend Dan was driving and calling out “Bump” every time we would run over a seam in the road. These are 30 gauge wires we’re talking about, and for those of you that unfamiliar with the term, it’s pretty small. After a couple of tedious hours, the Iron Man Hand “Lit Up”, was complete and ready for deployment to Iron Kid.

What made me want to spend the hundreds of hours to creates this? The answer is simple, I wanted to help a child. Tyler is an AMAZING Young Boy, and I look forward to continue development of the Iron Man Hand with Tyler, and his awesome family.

~Pat Starace



IRON MAN 3D Printed Child’s Prosthetic Hand.

How can we help a child that faces everyday challenges with a disability? My answer is to give them the most awesome prosthetic hand, and raise their self esteem to Super Hero Levels. The vision was to create a hand, so that a child can have something that solves a mechanical challenge, is affordable, and mostly Looks Awesome!

Design goals:
1) It had to look awesome
2) It had to perform awesome
3) Hide all the strings, so nothing distracts from the magic.

Thank You,

Your pal,
Pat Starace
(The mechanic)

I’d love to be part of a Research & Development Group that’s shaping the future.


 My Goal is to give this hand in the video to a child  for FREE, and collaborate with e-Nable a group that advocates for 3D Printed Prosthetics. .


If you’re a kid or a parent of a child that needs this, please contact me

Requests have been streaming in, and I will reply to everyone.



Laser Beaming, Thruster Equipped 3D Printed Iron Man Kids Prosthetic Hand – Full Length Story - 3DPRINT.COM ( This was my first article. It’s in-depth and complete with much info)

3D Printed Prosthetic Hand Turns Kids Into Iron Man – KGW.COM () (THIS IS A MUST WATCH - Portland TV News did an AMAZING What’s Trending Cover Story)

3D Printed Iron Man Child Prosthetic Hand – CNET Tomorrow Daily Video Review (ANOTHER MUST WATCH) Thank you Ashley Esqueda and Rich DeMuro.

Artificial Hand Makes Kids Feel Like Tony Stark - KOTAKU.COM

3D-Printed-Prosthetic-Iron-Man-Hand-Not-Grown-Built/ -

3D-Printed-Prosthetic-Makes-Kids-Feel-Like-Iron-Man/ - ATMEL CORPORATION

3D-Printed Prosthetic Hand Could Make Kids Feel Like Iron Man - MASHABLE.COM

Iron Man Hand Will Make Kids Feel Like SuperHeros – GIZMODO.COM

3D Printed Goes Hand In Hand With Iron Man Inspired Prosthetic – HACKADAY.COM

3D Printed Prosthetic Hand Lets Kids Feel Like Iron Man – 3DERS.ORG

3D Printed Iron Man Will Make Kids Feel Super – WASHINGTONPOST.COM

Tech Info:

How long did it take? It took me a little over a month from start to finish. I started by modeling the hand in Maya, and ZBrush using a Wacom PL500, the geometry was then imported into Solidworks for surfacing, mechanical design, assembly, and simulation. It was then output as a series of .stl files.

People have been asking what type of printer I used.

Printer: Bukobot Vanilla V1

Extruder: Budaschnozzle 2.0c w/ 0.35mm nozzle

Filament: Makergeek ABS 3mm Red/Gold

Extruder temp: 230c

Bed temp: 110c

Print speed: 40mm sec, I could go much fast, but wanted to play safe.

Repetier Host was used for short prints.

Pronterface was used for longer prints using the SD Card.

Slicer: Cura



Photo Aug 21, 5 37 13 PMxPhoto Aug 22, 1 45 15 PM


Google Cardboard showed up at the door today. I bought the DodoCase, and the first impression is that the cardboard could be a little thicker, but all in all it’s a pretty well constructed kit. We’re really interested in the quality of the lenses, and I’ll have more on that as the process continues. I’m planning on using this with the iPhone, so I might have to overcome a few obstacles, but none of which I’m too concerned about.

Photo Aug 22, 2 20 31 PM

In Unity3D, I created a quick scene with two cameras, and connected them up to the gyro/mag of the iPhone and it didn’t take long before I had a working demo. The field of view is much smaller than that of the Oculus Rift. I first thought that might be a bad thing, but after using it for awhile I didn’t get ‘sim sick’ (and I usually do).  The disconnect of the user from having a full immersive field of view could be a positive in not getting ‘sim sick’.

More testing to come.


Leap Motion SDK v2 Realtime Performance in Unity3D. This is a demo showing the major improvements in the new sdk. This is a marionette type puppet created and rigged in Maya. The controller is coded in C#, and is a mix of IK and FK in Unity. The controller drives the strings that control the limbs. Two hands are used to control the puppet, and the results are stable, reliable and very fast.

Below is the Leap v1 driving my animatronic learning kits using processing, and an Arduino.