Podcast - Adam Savage Project

Building a Cooling Suit – 8/12/2014

This week, Adam, Will, and Norm discuss the challenges inherent in cooling some of his more elaborate costumes, including strategies suggested by the users, alcohol/dry ice chilling, and using off-the-shelf PC cooling components to move heat out of a closed system.

Comments (42)

42 thoughts on “Building a Cooling Suit – 8/12/2014

  1. BTW, this is totally my favorite series you guys do, though the various builds are a close second. This one wins because it’s more regular 🙂

  2. The sooner guys realise that the more respectful of the ladies who want to cosplay they are the more the ladies will do it, the better.

    Also, pause the vid when Adam says “what’s the hobbit?” at around 29:45, the look of horror on Norms face before he realises its a joke is hilarious.

  3. I realize you guys are going to get a lot more suggestions on cooling again but…

    – If you use an automotive type antifreeze it’ll get you down to almost -50F, “waterless” types are non-toxic.

    – Less moving parts leaves less room for failure. If you soldered copper tubing around a copper sleeve creating a heat sink (heat exchanger) it would allow you to use appropriately sized reusable cores such as frozen water bottles allowing several quick change cores available.

    – Use a cool shirt and quick disconnects (non dripping kind) and a small pump to circulate the coolant. Run it on a variable speed switch and you would have a simple compact cooling system.

  4. As an occasional costumed performer myself, I cannot WAIT for you Tested folks to bodge up a “fanny pack” cooling system so I can yell, SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!

    Excellent episode, folks! As always

  5. The most recent helmet build we’re doing includes a Miller Coolbelt Heat Stress Protection Unit built into the helmet with rechargeable power mounted on belt with a control panel on forearm. It will provide all-day comfort, eliminates stagnant air and reducing fogging with multiple airflow speeds. You can change batteries and through the control panel manage power for helmet lighting, targeting square, directional lighting and more.

  6. Adam and Will,

    I believe your best cooling suit option would be a liquid CO2 (not dry ice) system built into a shirt. It would be self-contained, pretty simple, and would work. I have some knowledge in this area. I live in Cupertino and will help you build one.

    Let me know you’re interested and I will start working out the details of the design.

    Love the show.

  7. DAMN YOU GUYS! After hearing about Adams heat issues at comicon I promptly ran to my lab (aka the basement) and made a proof-of-concept if a liquid cooled peltier driven cold shirt! Using LIPO power and Arduino thermostatic control and battery management. I then ordered a bunch of parts and intended to send it to Adam upon completion. As always out of the box minds think alike. I would love to help out on the project in any way! please let me know

  8. Alcohol will still freeze when used with dry ice, even at a close to pure concentration it will turn into a sludge/rock. Which is good in a way you can get the solution to stop at around -50c – -60c , Instead of down into the 70’s to 80’s if you used something like acetone.

    You could also pack around it in water, and let it turn to ice, and then the ice will act as its own insulator to prevent the temperature pulldown. Then run your system past the outside of the water ice.

    Keep in mind too that a cooling loop should be regulated in a way that you control the temp before the loops to a degree, since the loop will reach an equilibrium. So you almost need two loops, one between the cold source and the heat exchanger. Then another between your hot point, and the heat exchanger. So that you can then change the circulation rate for the cold sources. But leave the hot loop at a constant speed.

  9. When I made my comments about putting the coolshirt system into the backpack of the costume, I didn’t think about all the other things that Adam may have already put in there. So for the first half of this I felt like Adam was talking directly to me about my not-fully-thought-out suggestion for the cooling system.

    As some other people have already said, there are some drip-resistant connectors for PC water cooling systems (that it sounds like Will may already be aware of):


    On one project I was working on a few years ago, we used some of their (Koolance’s) products for auxiliary cooling for cameras on a telescope and since it needed to be able to sit outside during a New England winter, we filled it with RV antifreeze (for potable water). However, I ended up leaving the project before the next winter, so I don’t know how well it worked out.

    Another great episode, it’ll be great to see what actually comes out of the build.

  10. Once again, I am left wishing that this post Comic-Con video just kept running for an hour or longer. I love these chats.

  11. Yeah, it’s what I thought too. Gragas… But I didn’t find a skin with a mohawk. I think it’s more a dwarf from Warhammer fantasy. Some squad have mohawks (slayer command).

  12. Is air cooling out of the question? Then water-tightness isn’t a problem anymore. IIRC, Nike tested air-cooled football jerseys with the University of Colorado a few years ago, where they wore tubed undershirts that could plug in while sitting on the bench. All that you’d have to add is a small battery powered air pump.

  13. Having a project like this, I would watch the extras on the Hobbit an Unexpected Journey. They have a nice piece of documentary on the dwarves cooling systems… Weta’s workers are geniuses! And they didn’t had backpack… but I honestly don’t remember what they used.

  14. I haven’t been to comic-con or any other costumed event like it, but I have been to raves and I’ve never really understood why girls have the desire the get as naked as possible while still wearing clothes at these types of party gatherings.

    Not doubt its wrong for men to treat the women at these events improperly, but I do think women dressing a bit more… conventionally would go a long way.

  15. For some inspiration on cooling suit ideas, (if you haven’t already seen it) may I recommend watching the documentary “Moon Machines” It’s a six part documentary that interviews the scientists and engineers that worked on the Apollo program. There is an episode just about the space suit. They highlight and talk about design challenges and methodology of developing the suit, including the cooling system.

  16. Talking about cooling suits reminded me of a TV show i used to watch called Rough Science, On one of the episodes they were tasked with building a cooling system for a spacesuit.

    Although the system they built was rudimentary and would not be practical for cooling you down in a costume, But it does explain the Science behind it which is awesome.

  17. Thought of peltier plates? Not amazingly efficient, but active cooling powered by USB powerbanks for short bursts could be a way to go..

  18. The discussion about the treatment of women at places like Comic-con (and in general) is so damn important. It saddens me that cases of sexual discrimination are still so plentiful in this day and age, but it’s even more depressing when it happens at events like Comic-con.

    I have had the pleasure of visiting Comic-con once (so far), and the atmosphere there is truly a sight to behold. It’s a place where everyone is passionate and enthusiastic and, for the most part, deeply respectful of everyone else – a place where you can make new friends with the most bare minimum of effort.

    Furthermore, it’s place where some of the older generations can go and embrace what they love without fear of ramification. How many people here, I wonder, grew up with others around them berating their interests in ‘nerd’ culture? I know I did, and while the culture has become more widespread and accepted these days, it can be hard to shake some of those experiences in the past when it was more of an ‘outsiders’ thing.

    To have anyone go to Comic-con and not get that same, inclusive and respectful experience is, in my mind, an utter travesty. I didn’t hear about that Kimmel bit, but you guys are absolutely right: it just doesn’t help.

  19. The Trooper unit of females I believe were based on the Joker Squad and Jes Gistang.

    Maybe that’s one solution to the inappropriate behavior problem: Have the Badass Trooper Women act as beat cops.

  20. The dwarf on barrels would likely be from League of Legends.

    Naw, that was a Warhammer Dwarf. LoL doesn’t have a Dwarf champion that I know of.

  21. I thought it was a Warhammer dwarf as well. From Bugmans Brewery or something like that. I was into 40k more than Warhammer itself, so I can’t be too sure.

  22. Hey, I was wondering whether it would be possible for you guys to provide links to referenced videos? I gave a friend of mine a link to this because they were interested in cosplay, but the actual product being used wasn’t mentioned here and was apparently in another video which wasn’t specified. It seems like it’d be much easier for new viewers to get into this kind of content if they could actually dig down into the related stuff more easily

  23. I’ve been thinking about the problem of overheating too for a rather elaborate full body costume and I was thinking about using some kind of shirt that circulates water and uses a thermoelectric aquarium cooler like the CoolWorks IceProbe or maybe a water cooler unit from one of those office water coolers. Problems with those would be battery usage and how many degrees they could cool the water and adding a pump.

  24. Does walking around followed by Will and Norm and a camera crew tend to let people know you’re someone famous?

    -Paul E Musselman

  25. The basic science of cooling states that the heat molecules want to move from ‘hot to cold’ so I think the way to go would be a shirt or gillet with a fabric/foam tube system, similar to a self inflating mat, that allowed cooled air to be circulated across the body (bypass points would be useful in case of pinching). The heat would transfer from the body into the shirt joining the cooler molecules and transit out. You would need air in and air out points, but not sure on the best heat transfer fabric for next to the body yet. This would also help to reduce any leakage and condensation problems across the body using liquid systems.

    Using kit similar to what you get in the lids of these in-car 12v coolboxes you could put together a reasonably small cooling unit that the ‘shirt air’ passed through to complete the circuit. You could of course use ice pack type modules but the weight would be huge in order to carry enough. The tricky bit will be finding a 12v or 6v fan capable of pushing enough air, and probably need a temperature control fan speed controller to avoid chilling the body too much and triggering the bodies own response to cold.

    Really elaborate but with far higher duty would be a cooling unit with an evaporator, condensor, compressor and metering device system but I think that might be too bulky and expensive for most costumes.

  26. As a former member of the US Army Bomb Squad I would like to give you a small bit of info while wearing the Bomb Suit itself there are many ways that are used to keep us cool that are made by the same company being MEDENG out of Canada. They also make a cooling suit that is used under level A Chem Suitss

  27. look into a demolet device, they were used in a system developed for the military, our gunners wore them on a heat sink mounted on a cool shirt like device to exchange the heat, worked at 130deg in desert

  28. Re: Evaporative Cooling…

    You soak a porous material in the shape of your choice in water. You “snap” the item (like shaking out a throw rug) to “activate the cooling effect.” Wear the porous material on the item to be cooled.

    This only works if: 1) Air can flow over the porous material. 2) The air temperature is warmer than the desired temperature. 3) There is low humidity in the air so the moisture in the porous material can be evaporated.

    If these rules are not met, you will just become wet from the moisture in the porous material, no matter how hard you ‘snap the item to activate the cooling effect.’

    –Paul E Musselman

  29. I’m so glad Will brought up how few characters have beards. I have a massive beard and can’t think of any characters to cos as other than vikings (I’m also 6’1″ and football player sized). It’s the only reason I’ve never bothered to get into cosplay.

  30. I want to see this build! I know Atam used an ice water cooled shirt in one of his incognito videos and I hope that’s not the end of this. The peltier cooled concept Will had seems like a great idea. You wouldn’t even need a tank, you could make closed loop with a fairly low profile heatsink, some fans, and a battery. You could even fill it with that colored coolant you can get for CPU cooling.

    Man, this could be such an awesome build and with summer here and this year being particularly hellishly hot I would honestly build along and make one myself. PLEASE revisit this concept!

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