Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Iron Man Arc Reactor build.

I wanted to do something a little different for my next project and with my friend starting his Iron Man helmet, I wanted to make an Arc Reactor. I used 2 main references and kinda went with my own design, so It's not screen accurate. I checked out an "instructable" by Honus, and a build by ThrowingChicken on his website for some tips.  I printed out a picture from TC's website as a blueprint to start, and cut a ring 1" deep from 4" pvc pipe for the outer bezel.

I then cut out 2 rings from Sintra for the inner ring the same size as the one in the blueprint

Next it was time to cut out an acrylic ring for the light lens/diffuser. I started with a 3\8 inch (aprox) thick of acrylic and traced the outer and inner lines on both sides with a sharpie. I then cut out the center section with my rotary tool. The cut was kinda gnarly so I needed some serious sanding to get it round and smooth.

I wrapped some medium grit sandpaper around a tube around the same diameter as the hole, this trick make a perfectly round hole that looked like is was done on a bandsaw by someone who knew what they were doing !

and again for the outer cut

I scuffed the acrylic ring with some fine steel wool to hopefully diffuse the light some.. I made a template to use so I could make sure the copper wrap would be evenly spaced

I cut some little squares out of Sintra to put between the copper wrap and the clear ring to simulate the tops of the transformers, then I took some light guage power wire left over from car audio installations and cut them into about 2 foot lengths. I layed the wire flat and carefully using my hobby knife, sliced off a strip of the casing lengthwise and pulled the bare wire out. I wrapped the wire tight around the Sintra square and clear ring and trimmed the end of the wire to be on the bottom of the ring, then superglued it in place.

Based on a tip from a youtube video, I checked out the cheesy car accessory aisle at Autozone and found a package of blue LED lights that came with a little 12 volt battery box and switch so people could try the lights out in the package. I thought this was perfect and saved me alot of time and headache soldering led's and trying to wire my own contraption.

The Arc reactors similar to mine on screen had 10 lights around the outer ring and 1 in the middle. The lights I bought only had 10 led's total so I cheated and put 9 on the outer ring and 1 in the middle, it turned out good for the spacing in the final product. I mounted them to another thinner acrylic ring the same diameter as the main ring, which fit nicely on top.

I took one of the inner rings I cut from Sintra and drilled holes in it, keeping them "grouped" in 3 even sections , and used some small screws and spacers saved from a fried computer I painted the top ring black and the bottom ring silver and mounted the 2 together as shown.

I used a faucet aerator for the center bit. The one I bought from Lowe's was a pain in the behind to cut apart too.

Here you can see the 2 inner rings together, and the back plate of the reactor. I used a dvd shiny side up thinking it would look cool, but you really can't see it, so that was a waste. I glued little pieces of Sintra between the wires so I could mount the center part above them and not damage the wires. I hot glues the wires in place so as not to pull them out from the lights from the back, that string of wires is bound to catch on crap occasionally when showing off.

I glued the backplate into the bezel first, then the light ring, and I also cut a short piece of chrome 1 1/4 sink tailpiece to put in the middle for mounting the whole center section, it fit perfectly inside the rings and the sink aerator fit right on top. Before mounting this however, I glued the last led into the sink aerator.

 In the previous picture, you can see the 12volt battery box and switch that came with the lights. The last thing was to make a trim piece for the back, cut from a sticky foam square from the craft store.

 All finished !!


  1. Really turned out great, and for mostly inexpensive parts too. You seriously get better with every project.