So my biggest problem in-costume (outside of not being able to use the bathroom easily, or itch my nose) is that I can't talk on the phone with my helmet on. Now my helmet is crammed full of electronics, so taking it off and on isn't quite as easy as an empty bucket. With that in mind, I needed to figure out a way to make and take phone calls when necessary without having to remove my helmet.
A light bulb when off a few weeks ago, and I realized that I could wire bluetooth up to my helmet's external audio amplification system. So with that in mind, I had to figure out what type of bluetooth headset would work the best for me to accomplish this. Traditionally, most people who use bluetooth ear pieces use the single ear piece. However it's not easy for a gloved hand encased in armor to access buttons on such an ear piece, and it's also not possible for me to wear it under the helmet since I have speakers piping in sound from outside directly into my ears. So I figured I would need a 2 speaker solution with minimal tiny buttons.
Enter the Alpatronix USB headset
This is a $30+ dollar USB headset I purchased off Amazon. It has 3 buttons: Power/sync/volume/accept/deny, Next, and Previous.
So the first thing I had to do was de-gut all the electronics and wires. Because these things are so small, everything is super-delicate.
I removed the external casings (careful not to damage them so I could re-use them for mounting) first. That consisted of removing 1 screw and releasing all the little micro-snaps by gently sliding a precision flat-head screw driver between the case seams. Then I had to remove the thick plastic sheath covering the heat-shrink wire harness. Lastly, I clipped off the speakers and removed them from the ear-buds for future use in other projects.
One thing I didn't want to do was re-invent the wheel. So I took an easy route and tied the speaker output the right side into my helmet's internal right audio speaker.
At this point, I wanted to go ahead and run a test to see how It sounded. So I synced the headset to my Iphone and started up some music. Something really cool happened that I didn't expect...the Bluetooth audio turned the external helmet audio off automatically while the music was playing. As soon as the music stopped, the external audio started picking up again. With that info known, I decided to wire it ONLY to my right ear (the dominant ear for me) and leave my left ear receiving external audio.
Next, it was time to work on the left side. I wanted to keep the "Next/Previous" button functionality, plus the 3.7v battery is housed on the left also. The wires just weren't long enough to reach without cutting, so I had a wire bundle from an old laptop screen that was a similar gauge. Keeping the wires similar reduces the line resistance, which keeps the battery from discharging faster. So I soldered all those little wires together, wrapped them in electrical tape, and then covered it all up with heat-shrink tubing.
***To be continued***