Instructables
Picture of Chuck TV Intersect Cube DIY working model
PC Screen Shot.jpg
User Interface Instructions.jpg
the real thing.jpg
Background: In the TV show “Chuck” (NBC Monday 8 PM EST) the hero, Chuck down loads all the governments’ top secrets as a series of encoded images from the Intersect computer.  

In season 2 (2009) we got to see the Intersect - a white translucent cube spinning inside a long vertical cylinder, its called the "Intersect Cube. "

Motivation: As a fan of the show I wanted my own working Intersect Cube - but for a lot less money than the official TV show version. 

Design Approach: Based on the images from the TV show - a white cube spins inside a long plastic cylinder with two nicely machined aluminum caps top and bottom.  Cube and cylinder assembly sits on a round metal base with four blue lights shining on the cube as it spins.  

It probably cost the show producers several hundreds if not thousands of dollars to make and required a good machine shop.  For my replicate I down sized to 9 inches diameter by 12 inches tall (probably about 2/3 the size of the one used on the TV show) and simplified the design so it can be produced for less than $100 using commonly available materials & tools.
 
The simplified model uses a craft store $5 glass cylinder “flower vase,” a paraffin wax cube, small 6 VDC gear motor, and 4 blue LEDs.
 
Build Options: This Instructable shows how to build the basic hardware and 2 versions of the Intersect controller. 

[1] The "Simple Controller" includes an on/off switch and speed control knob.  It requires just a little bit of soldering.  The total material cost when built this way is probably < $70.

[2] The "Full Function Controller" features a PICAXE 08M micro ($4) talking to your PC,  touch to activate sensor, and programmable speed  control.  It requires construction of a more complex electronic circuit.  Using a Visual Basic  App running on your PC, it can more or less simulate the entire "Intersect uploading sequence" as seen in Chuck TV episode Chuck vs the Ring.  This includes uploading and playing an Intersect image video on your PC screen ... see if you "flash" afterwards. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRGJXG5yQCA
 
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spylock12 months ago
I like this project very much,it inspires other ideas,thanks for taking the time to show us.
propfreaks2 years ago
Wonderful tutorial and DIY! I will definitely be posting about this on my Prop Freaks site and Facebook. Thank you!
- @propfreaks
tinker2343 years ago
wow wish i could upscale
reskill3 years ago
EHEEM i want just the program and not the cube so it that possible .... i downloaded the program but it is just saying TIMEOUT .. i think its becouse i have no cube.... can i fix that????????????????????>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> :S
e024576 (author)  reskill3 years ago
The VB code expects to be talking to "the cube" over the computer's serial port port. If that is not, the case the program will have to be modified.

Inspect the code, look for statements like "call serialtxrx" .... these statements will have to be removed AND the data that was expected to be received from the cube will need to be provided in some other way ... perhaps from keyboard input.

I can't provide much detailed help as my own level of VB expertise isn't very high.
nexnox4 years ago
 Oh yeah, I programmed 2 Basic Stamps for this. One controlled the pulsing of the cube via PWM, and the other controlled the "lightning" traces in the base.
HowardC4 years ago
I don't mean to insult your work at all as it's quite impressive, but apparently you either don't have a hi-def tv or didn't pay close attention during the episode.  The intersect cube is a translucent blue rubik's cube knock-off.  You can buy them off the shelf, as did the prop masters.

Also you are gravely mis-informed about the budget of chuck's prop master.  Judging by some of the things on the show, until recently his budget per episode was probably around 100 bucks.  They often use off the shelf items for props that are so obscure only a total nerd would recognize them.  I think it might be an inside joke of some sort.

So just look on the net for the rubik's cube knock-off in question and you'll have an authentic replica!
nexnox HowardC4 years ago
 It amuses me that you are so sure of yourself and yet so wrong. I assure you that the intersect device here in question is 100% fabricated, well aside from the LEDs, Screws and other obvious hardware.
e024576 is quite right about the cube, each panel is cut out of a milk plex (gavarelli 2447 if I remember correctly) and the grid is a V angle cut that was put in by a router. The cube also had a small cluster ball of LEDs hand wired and surrounded by cotton batting and other diffusion materials.

if not obvious by now, I worked on the project. ;-)
e024576 (author)  HowardC4 years ago

I based my assessment of the cube on a few images were the intersect cube is shown with the blue lights turned off, please see attached jpeg file.

To me it looked most like a piece of white plastic with a 4X4 grid cut into each cube face.

It is important to point out that there are three requirements for the spinning cube to look good: right optical characteristics, square form geometry, and "centering" of the cube on drive shaft.

Based on my experience, producing a long, small diameter, hole in the exact center of the cube running between opposite corners is quite difficult - at least with a simple drill press. The idea of using wax allows the hole to be "cast-in" place which makes it a little easier.

The reason that the spinning images don't look quite right is that there are small errors in the cube shape as well as the center hole location ... it's the best I could do - for now at least.  I'm still looking for a better solution.

I have not been able to find a source for a 4x4 Rubik's translucent cube. Additionally, a Rubik's cube has a special fastener arrangement in the center of the cube which would further complicate the center hole drilling process.

It the end of the day, if you or anyone can demonstrate how to more easily produce a better cube, that would be great.

Thanks for your interest.

Ev e0245764 years ago
How about starting with a larger piece of material it can be an "easy" drilling? Then cut to the shape you need. So you'd drill into the middle of a bigger cube, then cut off the corners of the cube so the hole will be at the smaller cube's corners.
e024576 (author)  Ev4 years ago
Thanks for the idea. 

Right now I'm working a simple fixture to better hold the cube for drilling - so we'll see how that works out ...
JohnJY HowardC4 years ago
 That was an "authentic" replica, and this is Instructables, we don't buy our crap! We make it!
true, this is instructables, and we are makers, not buyers.
well put. =)
HowardC JohnJY4 years ago
He would still have to make the container.  And if you are making things that take more time, effort and money than buying the original, then you are just wasting your time, no offense.

I'm trying to improve the prop here.  The case is fantastic, but the cube just doesn't look right and that can be easily fixed.
JohnJY HowardC4 years ago
 True, but if someone says, "Wow dude, thats sweet, what's the cube?" 
Your answers could be 
* "Dude, I made that." 
* Or, "Rubik's Cube." 
Building your own stuff is just so much fun too. But you are right that it does take more time and money.  Lets be real though, what else could you do with your time. Sit and be bored. 
Goodhart JohnJY4 years ago
And it isn't only the fun involved, one learns a LOT more from making then from buying, so the extra cost is towards one's education :-) 
 
pkingair4 years ago
Awesome job...A cube out of aerogel would be awesome...with it's almost smokey edges it would light up way too cool.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerogel
garavin4 years ago
Nice!  Now if only someone would write an instructable for producing my very own Agent Walker...
Haven't your parents covered that yet?
oddree4 years ago
Nice job.  Next, can you show me how to make one of those ring shaped cell phones that Fulcrum agents carry?  :-D
I can't seem to find the translucent knockoff cube online.  Anyone have a link?
Sinnott4 years ago
Very cool!  Just finished season two last night and then this was featured in the weekly Instructables e-mail.  I'll have to try this out when I have time.
 OMG !!! This is an amazing instructable. Bravo, j'adore ^^ 5*