April was the Month of Suck

SHE BON: the Suck Choker & Squeeze Choker

This month, I began developing my first new SHE BON augment of the year! I haven’t really decided on a name for it yet, but for now I’ve been referring to it as the “Suck Choker”. As the title suggests, it is a device worn on the users neck which replicates the experience of someone’s lips tangent to the skin creating a small oscillating vacuum… but from many angles all at once!

This all means I’ve been particularly obsessed with suction… and how to create the sensation of being sucked on! weeeeee!

This particular device has presented three separate design questions to address:

  • how it is driven: the manner in which suction is creation 
  • suction cups: the surface body making contact with the skin
  • sensing: what will this augment be acting in response to?

Over the past month I’ve bounced around between all of them quite sporadically, which has made documentation somewhat non-linear and difficult. Some days have involved designing molds for my suction cups, or pouring silicon into one of them. Other days I’ve focused primarily on methods of creating adequate suction using syringes, as well as deciding how I’d drive those syringes mechanically to produce a steady and consistent pressure gradient!

MY CHALLENGES

The device has to be safe. So, preferable I don’t get strangled by the device, or sucked so hard that my little blood vessels pop! This is why I’ve chosen to stick with syringe driven suction, rather than a full on vacuum pump… or any other type of pump. I want this to be gentle……… and realistically, when we’re talking about having our necks sucked on, I personally prefer to relate the experience to something deliberate and gentle, than fast-hard and immediate; but that’s me.

she bon shebon suck choker hickey

Driving the suction. I chose to use tiny metal-gear servo motors to drive my syringe via rack and pinion. I plan to control each suction cup individually, soooo that means each will need a dedicated motor and therefore, its own mechanical assembly. I spent a week designing them to be SMOL! This video shows me building up four individual rack and pinion assemblies (there will be 8 total in my first prototype):

Orchestrating the moving parts. The assemblies all mount onto a singular plate. This is where I was allowed to get a little creative with their layout. It occurred to me very quickly that the long blade-like aesthetic of the rack+pinion+syringe made them look sort-of like feathers once they were lined up in parallel. Since a “rack” of four assemblies will be mounted on either shoulder blade, this very much suggests “WINGS”:

she bon shebon suck choker hickey

If I rotate the assemblies a few degrees from one another, this pushes the wing aesthetic even more so:

she bon shebon suck choker hickey

As of yet, I’m not sure which layout I’m going with, but some things I need to keep in mind are: the fact that the plungers will be moving in and out and should not interfere with any other SHE BON augments…. or my arms. Also, there will be silicone tubes coming up and out of the end of the syringes, so if they’re all angled in the same direction, it might get a little busy-looking.

The device should be comfortable and look nice. I managed to create somewhat of a juxtaposition between the string of suction cups, and the drive system of syringes.

she bon shebon suck choker hickey

The choker is somewhat of a deconstructed tentacle. It looks elegant, understated, and fairly innocuous, even when in use. It is almost like a string of pearls.

she bon shebon suck choker hickey

The bank of servo driven syringe pumps looks like it might be part of a fuel burning engine in an old roadster…. or part of the black gate from Lord of the Rings! It is quite sinister in appearance!

MOLDING

I created four different molds for my suctions cups before I made one that I was completely happy with. Molding silicone is a sticky business and therefore, something that I typically avoid in projects unless it’s super necessary I make my own shapes from scratch… In this case, I swallowed hard and got through it… pouring molds twice daily until I at last had (8) suction cups that were all the same and without flaw.

*what I’ve learned*

The suction cups I’ve made all pretty much look the same, but there is a major difference once you flip them over and look at the inside of the cup itself. The syringes have to remove all of the air inside the middle area of the suction cup before they start creating any meaningful suction…. So if the area within the circumference of the sucker is too large, the syringes wont suck enough air our of the cups by the time the plunger is fully extended.

On the flip side- if the area inside of the suction cup is too little, then you risk the chamber inside collapsing in on itself, at which point the air pressure is cut off and no suction will occur. I had to find a happy medium!

*something else I learned*

The best way too get a smooth, consistent lip on each sucker was to mold a sleeve that was double the length and then fold it completely in half (the unfolded suction cups look sorta like mini-flesh lights-lol)

she bon shebon suck choker hickey

Folding an elongated sleeve in half also made the outer wall more taught and stiff, which helped to create better suction.

she bon shebon suck choker hickey

I’m calling the completed suckers “scallops” – because they look like sea scallops as you’d get them in a restaurant: plump and marshamallowie.

THE CIRCUIT-WORK

I created two separate and unique circuit boards especially for this device. Just like all of the other SHE BON augments, it has its own dedicated brain, yet this augment also requires a satellite board to provide a decorative element locally to each individual scallop. The main brain is called the TAKO, and the satalite board is called the CALAMARI…. Because it looks like calamari…

she bon shebon suck choker hickey

The TAKO is responsible for driving the servo motors of the syringes:

she bon shebon suck choker hickey

The CALAMARI will light each of the scallops from within. The silicone material I used to mold the cups is a nice light defuser, so I figure it would be silly not to take advantage of this aspect and add some visual feedback to the suction:

she bon shebon suck choker hickey

SENSING?

Every SHE BON augment exists to sense something from the body… all of this mechanical stuff is merely fancy indication of that which the device senses. It might seem like I’m getting very ahead of myself by designing the indication first, but realistically that has been my design process for mostly all of these augments so far. Don’t worry, this thing will be reacting to stimuli, that part is just being developed separately.

So, what will this “Suck Choker” be reacting to? For this augment I have chosen to key in on respiratory rate. That is, how many actually breathes per minute you’re taking. The suction will happen in parallel to my breath: so when I breathe in, the cups will also “breathe in” and create suction… and when I breathe out, they too will release their air. 

To this end… you could almost think of the Suck Choker as a pair of symbolic gills!

WAIT, I MENTIONED “SQUEEZE CHOKER” IN THE TITLE!

That’s right. In addition to this sucking choker that makes use of pressurized suction cups to simulate hickeys… I’ll also be creating the spiritual opposite of this device; one which constructs the neck slightly.

The squeezing choker will use air pressure to inflate little nodules worn around the neck… so visually, the devise will look very similar to its sibling, it will however be creating a complete different sensation however.

I’ll have much more to say about this device once I get closer to having a working proof of concept. This won’t happen until I finish printing a whole lot of parts… and those circuit boards I told you about come back from fab! This all should happen within the next couple of weeks. Until then, I’ll be streaming my build progress as always on my youtube channel: ROBOHEMIAN! So check it out and cheer me on if you have the chance <3

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