Welcome! This is my first instructable, so please bare with me. I viewed several while preparing to build my Flux Capacitor, and I thought I'd share my build, in case it might inspire others to tackle one of their own. This project ran me $60 in actual used parts (some had to be scrapped because they didn't work, others because I ruined them.) The purpose of this instructable is not to give a step by step instruction, as these parts were sourced through dollar stores, and are unlikely to be easily found. It is meant as inspiration. A little planning and I would wager just about anyone could build something similar. The following is a parts list of what I used (and where I can remember, where I got it.)
1. Key Box (housing for Capacitor) - Harbor Freight
2. Paint (Gray Primer, Red Gloss, Yellow Gloss)
3. 3 - Soap dispensors - $.99 store
4. 1/4" hose - Lowes
5. Shelf Mount nubs - Lows
6. Glow sticks (These didn't work, I ended up changing them out of 3/16" acrylic tubing)
7. LED Flashlight (will be stealing the LED's) Harbor Freight
8. 2 sheets 1/8" x 12" x 8" Acrylic sheets - Lowes
Not Shown in Photos -
1. Arduino Uno (I highly recommend getting the Uno starter kit if you have no experience with the Uno, it helps you get started into the world of micro-processors, it will increase your cost, but is totally worth it. Otherwise, any micro-controller will work.) - Radio Shack
2. Project box (Ended up not having room to hide the arduino behind the board, had to push the wires out the back and encase in a project box.) - Radio Shack
3. 1" x 2" x 24" wood - Lowes
4. 16g wire - Radio Shack
5. Momentary switch - Radio Shack
Step 1: The Build Begins
I started by cutting these wood risers (light bars,) and drilling out a place to run wires. These ended up being a little shorter than I had originally planned due to space constraints inside the box, but it worked. I drilled the holes in the acrylic tubing before checking the spacing on the wood. I highly recommend you drill out the wood first, then the acrylic to match.
Next, I took the LED flashlight apart and de-soldered all of the LED's. This part was time consuming, but at $3 it saved some cash on LED's from Radio shack. I re-soldered them to new lead wires. These ended up being far too long, you can always cut them back, it's better to start too long. I ended up rolling them and tucking behind the panel.
For the Solenoid, I took the caps of three soap dispensers, removed the guts and hot-glued shelf mounting nubs (don't know the correct term, but they can be found in the specialty hardware section of Home Depot/Lowes.) I then spray painted the top red, and hot glued it into position (Before gluing, make sure you have the right alignment. I had to pull these off and re-align them later. When in it's final position, the yellow tubes should line up over/between these nubs.)
Finally, you put it all together. Again, I want to stress that you want to ensure the correct placement of the risers/capacitor tubes/nubs. They'll be oriented differently on each. On the top two, the capacitor tubes will face inward at a 45 degree angle, with the nubs and hosing facing down. The bottom solenoid will have a capacitor tube that faces up with nubs and tubing that face right.
Step 2: Prepping the Board.
Originally I had planned on mounting everything on a sheet of acrylic. While drilling the holes, I completely destroyed it. I had some spare wood flooring, so I used it. I would recommend getting some thin plywood or similar as the board.
Starting from the center, I measured the length from the tip of the capacitor tubing to the rear of the solenoid and drew lines Vertically and on 45's on the top. The holes drilled through the risers weren't perfectly vertical, so as you can see, I had to measure out the spacing for the wires on each and every hole. This is all hidden, so not to worry. Once mounted, there was plenty of wire coming out the rear.
Step 3: Getting Close...
This box ended up being perfect in nearly every way. I hope you end up as lucky. The opening was cut from a pre-existing indentation in the box. I used an angle grinder to grind it from the inside until the center just fell out. Made for a very clean opening. Also, you'll notice in the second photo (on the right side,) there's a little ledge on the inside. This ended up holding the board in the perfect position. I spray painted 4" sections of tubing with Yellow paint, slid them over the end of the soap dispensers, then hot-glued the acrylic on the inside of the box. At this point, it is pretty much a "good enough" Capacitor replica. It's a static prop, with no lights, and that might be good enough for some. If that's the case, stop here, and save ~$30. I couldn't bare the thought of not having a light show, though.
Step 4: But First Some Electronics.
At this point it should be said that though I do have some programming experience, it was 12 years ago, and a single semester. I might as well have no experience at all. I will attach the arduino code that I used, in case it might be helpful for anyone, however, I highly recommend you try to figure it out on your own. The possibilities with micro controllers are nearly endless, and this is a good easy project to get you started down that track (I'm at the beginning, but already planning on using one in a Proton Pack build I'm currently planning.)
In essence, this is just 4 sets of lights (3x3 and 1 center.) I grouped the outside lights, Centers, and inside together. Hooked up a button, then programmed a light sequence. This, by far, took the longest. In the end it ended up being a single word that had me stalled. Pay close attention to your wording.
Above is my first attempt at lighting. It wasn't particularly stellar, but it was a good starting point I think.
Step 5: 1.21 JiggaWatts!
With all of the programming complete, Stickers added to the front, On/off toggle (as this thing goes through batteries!) and a momentary switch (for the actual activation of the lights) and you're all set. This is by no means a "Movie accurate" model. But it's clear the second you see it, what it is, and the lights really set it apart. The whole thing took me just over a week (full weekend sourcing parts, and building, then several nights trying to work out the code.) I really hope this inspires someone to build one, as other instructables inspired me. Anytime we can use our hands to create something, it is special. It also goes to show, that you don't have to spend a million bucks to have a pretty cool little toy.