Introduction: Iron Man Arc Reactor Video Tutorial, DIY Wearable
Here are some instructions to help you build Tony Stark's Arc Reactor from the Iron Man movie. I read / watched a lot of other DIY Arc Reactor tutorials and took parts of each in order to build my own in the size and style that I wanted. The goal of this instructable is to be more detailed than other tutorials with a final Arc Reactor that is built around the design that I want, not an Arc Reactor simply built around materials that are cheap and easy to find. So the materials and tools list is very long, but they are what I used, you can use whatever works for you. I don't mean to steal anybody else's ideas or work and will try to link to original work whenever I can.
Here are some links to tutorials I used for ideas on this design:
printout of Arc Reactor layout from this youtube video
1/4" thick black foam (Michaels)
1/8" thick black foam toy visor (Michaels)
copper colored wrapping wire (Michaels)
3" PVC cleanout adapter (Home Depot)
Key Ring variety pack x2 (Home Depot)
socket cap screws #6-32x1/2" pack x2 (Home Depot / Lowes)
velcro patches, peel and stick (Home Depot)
Bracelet mold (Newegg or ebay sold from beadaholique) Search online for "Resin Epoxy Mold For Bangle Bracelet 2 1/4In Id X 5/8In" (could try cutting circles out of plexi glass instead)
Epoxy / Resin for bracelet mold (ebay or amazon)
1206 SMD Blue LEDs x11 (buy a few extra just in case, unique-leds.com)
2032 button battery holder (radioshack)
2032 button battery (walmart)
Bulsa wood (Michaels or something similar)
small amount of Copper wire for soldering (or something similar)
small piece of strong cardboard (or something similar)
small piece of thin sheet metal (or something similar)
small piece of window screen (or something similar)
Steel / Metal color paint
Copper / Gold color paint
Soldering Iron with solder & flux
Dremel rotary tool (very helpful, but might be able to do without it).
Tin snips for cutting sheet metal
Drill and drill bits for sheet metal
Plyers (needle nose and regular)
Hot glue gun
Step 1: Layout and Preparations
Print out a couple of the arc reactor layouts. They are from another arc reactor tutorial. The important part is to make sure the printout is the size you want to build it. I printed it from photoshop scaled to 86% of original to match the size of the bracelet mold I purchased from ebay.
I used a 2 1/4" inner diameter by 5/8" wide by 1/8" thick bracelet mold and checked that the layout matched the proper size by laying it out as seen in the picture. I also layed out the key rings on the paper to check that the sizes looked good. Then you can also check that the 3" PVC pipe fits the bracelet mold well.
I also layed out two copper wires, one circle inside of the other, on the printout and taped it down. Solder the ends of the wire together to keep the circle together. This will be where the LEDs will be soldered. The LEDs are to be placed where the black copper wrapped "transformers" are on the outer clear ring.
Step 2: The Back Plate, Battery Holder, and Center LED
The 3" PVC is the outer casing for the whole thing, so I placed it face down on the bulsa wood and traced out the inner ring. Then cut the circle out of the bulsa wood. Lay out the battery holder over the center of the bulsa wood circle (use the printout to line it up if necessary) and cut out a shape so the battery holder sits in to the back plate. Do the same thing for a piece of velcro. Paint the bulsa wood with black spray paint. On the battery holder, use the X-Acto knife to shave off any plastic pieces that stick up (want the back plate parts as slim as possible and bend the metal prong over or trim it down.
An LED is going to be placed right on the back of the battery holder which will light up the center of the Arc Reactor. Solder two very small wires from the prongs to the middle and carefully solder an LED in to place. The LEDs only work when wired facing in the proper direction. Touch the positive and negative wires to one of the LEDs to test the proper direction so you know before you start it in to place. Use a bit of hot glue if you want to help hold things in to place.
You can then place the battery holder in to place on the back plate and place the velcro on the back as well. (The velcro is how you wear the arc reactor with the other half of velcro being pealed and stuck to the body)
Step 3: LEDs for Clear Outer-ring
I layed out two copper wires, one circle inside of the other, on the printout and taped it down. Solder the ends of the wire together to keep the circle together. This will be where the LEDs will be soldered. The LEDs are to be placed where the black copper wrapped "transformers" are going to go on the outer clear ring. Some tutorials have the LEDs between the transformers, but I like when the light diffuses out so you don't see the bright LED directly.
I used 1206 SMD LEDs because they are big enough to handle and solder, but small enough to not take up a lot of space. Also they require about 3 volts to light up, and the 2032 button battery puts out 3 volts. This allows me to solder all LEDs in parallel without using resistors for a very simple circuit. (I know this is not exactly the correct way to do it, I should probably still have 1 ohm resisters or something for each LED, but it works fine without it for now).
The LEDs only work when wired facing in the proper direction. I made the inner ring negative, and the outer ring positive and soldered all LEDs accordingly. Touch the power to one of the LEDs to test the proper direction so you know before you start soldering. Also as you solder them in place, you can touch the power to the corresponding rings and test as you go.
Solder 10 LEDs in place and then solder it to the battery holder on the back plate making sure to line up your positive and negative correctly.
Step 4: Middle Ring With Cut Out Circles
This step was a lot of work and took a few tries because cutting out the oval shaped circles was a pain and sometimes I wrecked the piece and had to start over. I tried a few different materials, but since I actually didn't have a dremel rotary tool at the time, I used cardboard and an X-Acto knife. (I also had a very small hole-punch that my wife had from scrapbooking that I used to cut some holes out) You could use sheet metal or plexi glass for this part if you have the tools to do the cut-out.
I cut the middle ring out of the layout and traced it on to a piece of cardboard (mine was scrap from something I bought from radioshack, but any hard cardboard will probably work, maybe the back of a notebook for example). After cutting it out, place it on the layout to double-check the size. Then spray paint it with steel / metal color spray paint.
I then used some scrap sheet metal I had to cut small pieces to hold the center ring in place. You can use a drill to cut holes in the sheet metal before you cut it out. The holes are for the 3 hex screws that go on this part. After cutting the sheet metal pieces, use two plyers to put the bends in the pieces so that they go inward about an 1/8 inch. Then lay it out on your printout to double check. Spray paint the 3 sheet metal pieces. Then put the smallest key ring in the center and the 3 hex screws in to the cardboard ring and super glue it together.
Step 5: Center Ring With "filter" and Gold / Copper Rings
The very center of the arc reactor has a glowing ring and "filter" over it. I used plastic from the bracelet mold and some window screen for this. Use the smallest size key ring (that is why you need two variety packs of key rings, because you need two of the smallest size) to trace out a circle on the plastic. Cut it out and use some fine sand paper to scratch up the surface really good which will diffuse the blue LED light. Paint the key ring you just used, along with the next two sizes up, a gold / copper color. Cut a small piece of window screen and push the plastic and screen in to the center of the smallest key ring. It should fit pretty tight and then add some super glue to help hold it in place.
Use the printout of the arc reactor layout to trace out a circle in the black 1/4" thick foam just small enough to fit inside the bracelet mold. Also trace out a circle the size of the smallest key ring. Cut this piece of foam out and lay it over your back plate. It should line up well with your LED and you will want to cut a "trench" in the foam for wires to go from the battery to the ring of LEDs under this foam when it sits in place.
The 3 gold / copper color key rings will sit so that each ring is smaller in diamter and sits in further inside the arc reactor as you approach the center ring. Place the very center, smallest ring pushed in to the foam and then the next size sits on top of the foam. The biggest of the gold / copper key ring actually gets super glued or hot glued to the bottom of the bent sheet metal pieces from earlier. Then line up the middle ring with holes cut out on to the black foam and cut holes out for the screws to sit in to the foam. Add some glue to hold in place.
Step 6: Copper Wrapped Wire Inside the Arc Reactor
Take a piece of copper wire like speaker wire or maybe even a metal coat hanger, and wrap it with the small copper colored wire. This will sit under the middle cardboard ring with holes cut out.
Step 7: Outer Clear Ring and Transformers
Mix 50-50 of the resin and hardener and pour into the bracelet mold. Let it set-up and harden over night. Use the fine sandpaper to scratch up the surface of the "bracelet" to diffuse the light from the blue LEDs.
Cut foam strips and glue to the bracelet per the printout / layout. Use a hot knife or screw driver to push on the foam to create a set-in shape if you want. Wrap copper wire around a stick of proper size, I used some small piece of trim that was in the garage. Put super glue on the sides where you are going to cut the copper wire. This will keep the copper wire pieces stick together when you cut it. Also put some tape on it to hold it together. I used a rotary tool to cut the copper wire. Then place the cut pieces over the black foam transformers.
Step 8: Put It All Together
Put each piece in to place using super glue or hot glue. Make sure you test the LEDs before final assembly. Then hold it up to your 3" PVC pipe (3" PVC cleanout adapter) and mark the "depth" of the arc reactor on the PVC. Cut the PVC with a hax saw, and paint it steel / metal color. Glue the arc reactor in to the outer case and your done. When you cut the PVC, you can sand it down to try to slightly shape it to your chest.
The battery easily is put in or taken out to turn it on / off. Use peel and stick velcro to stick the other half of velcro to your chest and then you can wear it.