Instructables
Feb 2012
A long time in the making but I'm finally pleased to announce that this arc has be superseded by a newer design which I'm calling the MkII. The MkII features laser cut parts from a metallic coloured acrylic and avoid copious hours of bending and cutting small pieces of wire. These are available as kits of full arcs from my website. 
http://sites.google.com/site/msraynsford/ironmanarcreactors


May 2010
I've updated this arc reactor design based on the recently released sequel. This newer instructable features better tips on how to make the fiddly parts and an easier to build design.
http://www.instructables.com/id/Iron-Man-MkV-Arc-Reactor/


The Mk1 arc reactor is now available in kit format. So if you ever wanted to make your own but couldn't make the parts yourself, now you can buy a kit containing all the parts, instructions and shaped polymorph.
http://sites.google.com/site/msraynsford/ironmanarcreactors

Iron Man Arc Reactor
This instructable is one of two parts detailing how to build an arc reactor and an iron man mask. Both work together but are written as seperate instructables for clarity. This part is for the Arc Reactor the Iron Man Mask can be found here: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-an-Iron-Man-Mask/

My costume was built for a fancy dress party but it is so cool I'm thinking about wearing it else where.

First I needed something to copy, I work best when I'm copying someone elses ideas so I used the following screen shot of Tony Stark in Iron man as a basis for my arc reactor. As you can see it has 10 well defined sections and a glowing centre. I'm also going to use the sleeveless T-shirt and I attempted to grow my own facial hair in time for the party.

I'm rather pleased at my attempt to make the arc reactor and very happy with the segments of light that eminate from it. I'd also like to pay respects to the other arc light reactor on instructables, imagine my horror as the weekly round up arrives in my inbox only find out that I had been beaten to the write up for the same project.

Update - September 2010

Halloween is coming rounnd again and yes I'm still making them so order now in time for halloween.

"Will you make me one of these?"
I finally got round to making myself a webpage about these and all of my other projects, it's still a work in progress but I think it covers the basics for now.
http://msraynsford.googlepages.com/start

"I live in X where can I buy Polymorph From?"
I get this question a lot, sadly I don't live in x so my insight is never very helpful. Google is your friend as always but if that fails or you don't feel you can create a mould to shape the polymorph contact me and I will happily sell you some polymorph and/or a shaped disk.

 
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Step 1: The materials

Picture of The materials
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I wanted to make something a bit more substantial for this project and I remembered I had some suitable plastic in my cupboard. This is the key compenent for the project. This stuff is called polymorph and can be bought from places such as Ebay. It's a thermal plastic that melts around 60 degrees C and it becomes something resembling plastacine. From there it is simple to mold it into the desired shapes.

The next thing we will need is a light source. I wanted the whole thing to be quite thin when it was finished and sat on my chest so I opted for some surface mount white LEDs. Surface mount LED's have a very wide viewing angle and being white they produce quite a lot of light so they are perfect for this application. I bought mine from Rapid Electronics, I would plug them with a link but they charged me more for P&P on the LED's than the LED's cost, so I'm not going to. These LED's are in a PLCC 2 package which means they are still large enough to be soldered by hand.

You may also want some surface mount resistors to go with those LEDs. I used the amazing program at http://LEDCalc.com/ to work out exactly which values I need. As I am running these LED's from a 9V battery and wanted 20mA of current to flow throw them. They suggested how exactly they should be wired and what values I needed (incidently I have stolen the circuit diagram from them too). For my LED's I required 5x 180 Ohm resistors and 1x 330Ohm resistor.

I mounted the LED's on a peice of plywood, anything will do as you are glueing the surface mount components down for ease of soldering. A 9V battery and battery clip are providing the power for the system. These can be bought from any electrical store as required.

Finally you'll need some wire for the detailed decoration. Wire coathangers could be used but I used tin copper wire of 22 AWG gauge. There is nothin special about the wire, it's just hard finding something chunky enough for the job.

Step 2: Wiring of the LED's

Some assembly is required for the LED's. I took my round piece of wood that I was using to mount the LEDS on and I started to glue the LED's in the desired places. The circuit from LEDCalc suggested I used 5x 2 LED's and 1 single LED in parallel. This ties in well with the arc reactor so I had the single LED in the middle and the pairs arranged around the edges.

As you can see from picture I made two rings of wire around the edges, the outer wire is 9V and the inner wire is 0V. This ring has the added advantage of providing an secondary route for the power should something go dramatically wrong in construction.

The power wires are passed through the back plate through a small hole, this will allow me to power the LED's when they are encased in the plastic.

Step 3: Making the plastic shape

Picture of Making the plastic shape
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Figure F.jpg
This is the key stage of the make. The polymorph plastic behaves like plastacine when it is heated to temperature. This allows it to be pressed into a mold and form the desired shape. As always I wish I had more photos of the stages involved but I dont and it's too late to go back (let this be a lesson for budding instructable writers)

The mold is formed using balsa wood again on a more solid plywood base. The outer circle was cut out of balsa to be the required depth of the arc reactor. Thinner strips of balse were used as relief pieces and provide the detail in the plastic (These are roughly the same depth as the wire I used)

I heated the plastic using water from the kettle, once ready it becomes transparent and maleable. Care was taken to make sure it was pushed right into the mold to reach all the corners of the mold. Once fully pushed into the mold the LED disc was then pushed into the back of the plastic. The plastic pushes slightly around the disc which holds it in place. The disk must be alligned with the slots in the mold so that each LED is directly under a raised piece of plastic. (There are no photos of this because it was all done with some haste)

The final picture shows the plastic once it has been removed from the mold. You can clearly see the raised sections of plastic and the gaps that are due to be filled with wire. Under each bump there is an LED, the plastic adds to the diffusion of each LED and really adds to the overall effect.

Step 4: Adding the details

Picture of Adding the details
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The final step of the Arc reactor is to add the wire details. Holes were drilled in the plastic to hold the wire around the edge of the device. Each piece of wire was bent into a C shape, it was then hooked into a hole on the edge of the plastic and again into the holes in the centre (see photo). This was enough to secure them in place. Finally four wire rings were shaped to go around the centre of the reactor. These are held in with PVA wood glue, although any clear drying glue should do the job just as well.

As you can see from the third photo the device lights up very well and looks really good, now onto the final stage to bring it all together.

Step 5: Bringing it together

Picture of Bringing it together
As the previous stage finished the arc reactor this final stage is about bringing it all together in a costume. I brought a sleeveless T-Shirt from the local store for a few pounds. I carefully sewed a pocket on the inside of the shirt to hold the reactor, this proved to be a very good idea due to the number of people that wanted me to take it out and show them during the evening. The wires from the reactor run down the T shirt and into my back trouser pocket.

After a weeks worth of effort I officially had nearly zero facial hair so I ended up padding it out with some black shoe polish. I'm particularly proud of the whole chubby Tony Stark thing I had going on but then this photo was taken at the wrong end of the evening after quite a lot of good food and drink, normally I'm only half as fat.

I hope you find this useful and encouraging for your own projects. I hope to add a plan with some dimensions to this instructable in the future which will help anyone trying to replicate my attempts.
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vijithjithan4 months ago

AM VIJITH, from india,(tamil nadu) ,,. if i mistake any word's iam sorry... sir i say that movie,. after i say that ,my mind is telling that to make it ,.,,. so i got a plane with that,but i can't produce becouse i can't buy the sutable objects (substance) ...,, i want to know that any one really produce any arc reactor///? plz tell me the truth,,,... plz..,,,,

jcarey81 year ago
with all due respect. I agree with you for the most part but you cant look at the movie as a factual point.. i know you said its fictional but, the detail of your comment made me think that you have given this a lot of thought, well planed thought.. but i wanna say this.. the arc is not that far away as you think, of course the actual " movie Arc reactor" is.. but its not impossible to make one.. the focal point would have to be the "cycle" cycle per minute.. once you create a power source or at least an idea of what kind of power source you want and can use.. then concentrate on the power cycling so it can be self sustained.
in closing i would like to say thank you majidkhan536 for shearing your thoughts because i can tell the intelligence in your Analise.. it was awesome.
Just wanted to thank you for the instructable. I plan on making one of these with my grandson next week. You have made it easily understandable and it looks simple to build. I live in the states and so I had to purchase my plastic from sparkfun. I got the resistors from radio shack (they do not have flat ones in the store). Everything should be here next week and we are putting the mold together this week. Thanks a bunch for the great instructable.
Stark seems to use Palladium isotope from his missiles as the reactor's fuel. Once the reaction starts, the energy harnessed is enourmous at 3 GJ/s or equivalent to 3 GW. (That's more than twice energy required for time-travelling (which needed only 1.21 GW of power) in Back to the Future films).

This power can be used to power up his suit for a long time for his enhanced reactor, not the first one.

To make this extremely efficient power supply, I believe we can. And I believe it is possible. But I think that it can be done only in a few hundred years.

The movie is purely fictional and I believe that the writer are just fantasizing about the perfect energy source. (Dreams mostly become true eventually). If we are living in 19th century, people won't believe you if you can send sound wave and pictures accross the globe. Now, it's possible. So what makes an arc reactor impossible?

It can be done. But not in recent time.
but is it possible if the reactor power source being replaced by a car battery?
what does a nine volt battery look like or what is its symbol?

Its the rectangular one.
thanks
sequret962 years ago
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afsn71yqTP0 heres mine
monsterlego2 years ago
shutup.jpg
what colour LED did you use?
check out the stark reactor on this chick.
l_ef2c584365ca9d15b026ffc3b63e6732.jpg
whoa 8X
i can make it
you sure look cute
cool im making 1
Nice...so now everyone has an excuse to stare at your chest. "Wow, nice arc reactor!".
AHA HA HA AH. Nice.
TheSniper2 years ago
How many would you say you've made thus far, msraynsford?
msraynsford (author)  TheSniper2 years ago
A better question would be "how many people have managed to follow these instructions to make their own?"
I've made a fair few now but I did post this several years ago so it's a slow and steady trickle.
What I never understood about iron man was why did he not get the shrapnel removed when he got back? He walked around with a power source in his chest...
Is there a type of clear polymorph?
kijo93243 years ago
go on google and look up"circuitry basics" or something.
i had half a course in high school on it and i was probably not there often before i dropped out.
easy stuff
Colonel883 years ago
Quick question, how deep is the wood cutout thing? Im guessing around 10 mm deep, then some 5 mm for the other portions to stick out.
althor0153 years ago
Hope some one is still reading these and commenting on them. I am trying to build one of these and am unsure of the wiring schematic.

Which symbols are the resistors and which the lights and how do the outer wires follow the ring?

Bah! Wish I had taken electronics classes!
msraynsford (author)  althor0153 years ago
Still reading and commenting, sadly it sounds like you'd be better off googling for some beginner electronics tutorials.
ironman223 years ago
nice job man i would like to try to make one like these
itjmiller3 years ago
I'm very new to this, but I have to ask. Are the resistors supposed to be on the negative side of the circuit? Do resistors really work that way? In the wiring diagram, it shows that the positive current goes through the LED, then through the resistor, then to ground. Is this a mistake, or does it not matter which side of the LED they are placed. The first diagram (from ledcalc.com) shows the resistors on the positive side....
How many grams/ounces of polymorph did you use?
msraynsford (author)  MrEvolution473 years ago
I use 35g of polymorph but this will obviously depend on your mould and I'm managed to eek mine down to the smallest amount possible now.
dalangalma6 years ago
I have a question - where are the resistors in this photo? Are they the little bumps next to each LED? If so, are they soldered together or did you just glue them in contact? Fantastic instructable, by the way. I'm really excited to try it myself.
msraynsford (author)  dalangalma6 years ago
They are the little bumps next to each LED. I pressed the led and the bump into blue tac to hold them roughly in the right place before I soldered them together. It makes it a darn sight easier with these small components.
so yeahhh...my iron decided to not work right plus i couldnt find a tip sharp enough for this small of work. couldnt keep a tin for anything. ended up killing 2 leds.

shouldve just bought the complete thing. there went 30 bucks. haha my suggestion? buy the complete and leave it to the professional. :S
ramboboy4 years ago
awesome what about the batteries
those you put in an Altoids container or anything else that can house 1 or 2 9 volt batteres

http://www.instructables.com/id/Iron-Man-Arc-Reactor-prop/ (this isn't his but it's really useful)
Neogarex3 years ago
thanks
Jason Amigo4 years ago
Since you used one resistor for every two LEDs, did you double the ohms of the resistors?
Here is an image of an arc reactor that I made using this Instructable as a guide. My more complete build out instructions can be found here: http://www.instamorph.com/?p=14 Used a new brand of polymorph called InstaMorph, which you can buy on Amazon or their website. http://www.instamorph.com They are Prime eligible too which was nice since I got free two day shipping as a Prime member The LEDs I got a Fry's electronics. They have the perfect stick on surfacemount LEDs for this project.
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cool where did u buy everything
I got the outer ring (plumbing fixture), plastic washer and copper wire at the hardware store.The batteries, clip, and LEDs I got at Frys Electronics. The plastic I got from http://www.InstaMorph.com. The harness I made from velcro and elastic fabric from Jo Ann's Crafts. Hope that helps.
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