Picture of Iron Man MkV Arc Reactor

This reactor, like my previous reactor, is available for purchase, visit my website and email me from there, the paypal links are now available for both styles of arc reactor

Feb 2012 Green Arcs Kit's and Assembled
Having just seen the trailer for the new avengers film out this year I'm now pleased to offer the MkV in green for kit versions and fully assembled versions

May 2010  DIY Kit available
This arc reactor is soon to be made 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.
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Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials
The Materials
Resistors 180R and 330R
Polymorph plastic
4mm plywood
Red and black wire twisted into a length
Kynar Wire
9V battery clip
An old DVD case

The Tools
Hot Glue Gun
Soldering Iron
Wood Router
Needle nose pliers
Wire Cutters, side cutting

Step 2: Wooden Disks

Picture of Wooden Disks
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The LED's for the arc reactor are hand soldered to a wooden disk. This forms the base for the whole reactor. I've looked at PCB's and other materials instead of the 4mm ply but this comes in at the cheapest base cost and with a bit of practice you can hand wire and solder the LED's in 45 minutes.

To make nice round disks I use a wood router. The routers tend to come with an attachement for making circles but these only work for larger type circles so some lateral thinking is required. Instead of holding the wood and turning the router we can hold the router and turn the wood.

Affix a flat piece of wood to the router plate.
Place a bolt through the wood at the desired radius from the router bit, this will be the centre of the circle.
Drill a hole through the ply at the centre of the desired circle, the same size as the bolt.
Slowly lower the wood down over the bolt until the router has cut a hole through the wood.
Rotate the wood through 360 degrees, being careful not to run your fingers through the router bit.
Repeat as many times as needed, I tend to do 10-20 in one sitting.

Photos to follow tomorrow when it become daylight outside again.

Step 3: Wiring the LED's

Once you have the wooden disks it's time to begin wiring the LED's. You'll need some good pliers and cutters, one wooden disk, the LED's and resistors and a large blob
of blue tack.

Take the surface mount led's and cut the right number off the end of the packing. Turnthis upside down over the blue tack and slowly peel the cover off from under it.

This will leave your LED's all neatly lined up on the blue tack. Push the gently down before they all start to move.

Tin the pads of the surface mount LED's. Apply just a small amount of solder to each of the legs of the LED.

Next line the surface mount resistors up to the LED's, press them lightly into the blue tack too. Heat up the pad that you want to attach the LED to and gently push the
resistor towards it. This will ensure the resistors are attached firmly to the LED.
Using the template you'll read about in the next step, place it over the wooden disk and use it to mark the desired locations of all the LED's. The central LED will be
placed over the bolt hole.

Warm up the glue gun. Use a very small spot of glue to hold each LED in place on the disk. Don't worry too much about accuracy because when you solder the LED the
glue will melt and give you a chance to realign it.

Strip the end of the kynar wire while it is still on the roll. Hold it up to the desired gap on the board and cut a piece to the desired length. Hold the wire with the pliers
(usually a small length) and strip the other end of the wire.

Now when you dab the wire and LED pad with the soldering iron, the solder already on the pad should melt and the two will stick in the desired place, don't forget the glue
melts though so be careful not to nudge the LED before it sets again.

Imagine the wiring as a spiral, there are 8 LED pairs, each pair connected with a 180 Ohm resistor.
Apologies for the arc reactor with Green LED's, next time I make a white one I'll update the photos

Step 4: The front panel details

Start with a template for the desired shape of the details. This is a little easier for you as I have provided one in the images below. Print this detail and cut out the bits that are not required.

Take the DVD case, preferable black, and remove the cover. This should give you a nice flat surface from the front of the case.

Draw round the template, and mark the front of the case, with a pencil

I chose to cut the shape out roughly at this point so that the plastic would lie completely flat on the cutting board.

Using a very sharp scapel (new blade) cut the template details out from the plastic, until you are left with a circle of the deisred size. Make sure that it fits into your polymorph mould (see next step).

Step 5: Polymorph Moulding

The previous arc reactor had a mould that pretty much disintegrated when the polymorph was removed from it. This is obviously no good for making multiple disks so I needed a sturdier solution.

Using the 4mm ply I made the wooden disks from I fashioned new mold. The polymorph should be 12mm deep so the mould is made up of 4 layers (the bottom one doesnt have a hole in it).

Cut 4 pieces of ply all the same size. Line them up one on top of the other and drill holes in all 4 corners, put a bolt through the top 3 pieces to hold them all in place. Using a hole saw, or the router again, cut a hole through those three pieces. This ensures that all the holes line up with each other.

Assemble the mould and place the plastic details in the bottom. Calculate the amount of plastic needed by filling the mould up with granules. be sure to pile the mould high to account for the gaps between the granules.

Heat up the polymorph using hot water from the kettle, you need to work the polymorph a little to ensure all the grains are stuck together and there are no fold lines left in the plastic.
Squeeze the polymorph over a sink because there will still be water left between the granules (which will be hot too)

Push the polymorph into the mould working it right down onto the detail. and once it is looking smooth and is right up to the edges then place the LED disk down on top of it.

Slowly depress the LED disk into the polymorph, it will give but it is a slow process. As the polymorph cools you can release it from the mold and take the opportunity to gently fold the edges over the disk. this holds the disk firmly in place.

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007619Ali1 year ago

What Kind Of LEDs Did You Use??

can you tell me how you cutted it??? thanks
msraynsford (author)  Robine007hawk1 year ago
Scalpel, but now I laser cut them.
EdisonGuo2 years ago
Could u please tell me how u wired the LEDs?u stuck them on the wood and then used solder iron right?
How the heck did you cut that thing out. I have tried with the exact same dvd case and a brand new exacto knife blade. I have also tried a dremmel, but I couldn't get the same accuracy. If you have any tips of cut the template out of the plastic please respond
msraynsford (author)  cheesecurd18992 years ago
Cut slowly with multiple passes and a scalpel will get through it eventually. Also note the difference between a scalpel and an exacto knife. Scalpel blades are uber sharp, go careful or lose a finger. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scalpel
buick882 years ago
How do I determine the anode and cathode on the SMD LEDs?
msraynsford (author)  buick882 years ago
The cathode has a notch off one of the corners
Oof, thank you so much. You wouldn't believe what a hard piece of information that was to track down.
3 Questions:
1 Why do you need two types of resistors and 2: where did you get that twisted wire and finally 3: what do u do with the heat shrink?
msraynsford (author)  PaulioAwesome2 years ago
1. Because the middle LED is on it's own, all the others are in pairs.
2. Take red and black wire and twist it (you can use a drill to twist it really quickly)
3. The heatshrink covers the electrical joins in the wire join and stops your battery shorting out
This is probably going to seem like a derp question, but is polymorph plastic the same as friendly plastic? I've been looking it up and have seen people saying it's the same thing or it's completely different. Is InstaMorph the same thing?

DemonKing973 years ago
Nice Reactor. But i kinda lack of the wood to hold the LEDs. Can anybody tell me other materials that can hold the Leds in place. I thought of foam but if solder, it will give out some Chemical thing........
msraynsford (author)  DemonKing973 years ago
Wood is handy because it doesnt melt and it's easy to get hold of.

The much better option is a PCB (like the ones I include in my kits) 

luseylottay3 years ago
This is an awesome tutorial! Any chance of finishing it?
msraynsford (author)  luseylottay3 years ago
This one has kinda had it's day now, I keep meaning to write one based solely upon the kit. Now that there is a PCB for the electronics and a laser cutter to make the details the standard has improved quite a lot and things are quite different
Aww, okay then.
sweet arc reactor. you know what I going to make it
Awesome arc reactor
elemastur3 years ago
where can i find the leds you used and how do i circuit them?
jcordova33 years ago
someone can help me? would you translate me the materials and tools thank you
AlexJ085 years ago
what if your a child

what if your a bean

Onay914 years ago
How do you suggest going about attaching this thing to your chest? I was thinking a necklace, sown onto a shirt, or possibly some sort of body glue. What do you think?
I found on other instructables they stick it on belts
monkeys984 years ago
Would glass work for the light to shine through on the front because i have a piece of glass that is the perfect size and shape.
uvesh4 years ago
interested in this thing give more details about it
msraynsford (author)  uvesh4 years ago
Lots more details can be found here https://sites.google.com/site/msraynsford/ironmanarcreactors
benha945 years ago
ok, couple of questions. they look to be wired in series, do you need the resistors to keep them all the same brightness or can you wire them in series without any resistors and have them all the same brightness? would mounting them on balsa wood work? thats all, thanks
just kinda cool but mine is better
msraynsford (author)  Warmachine115 years ago
Sounds like a good challenge to me, I look forward to reading your instructable then.
Where's the rest of the instructable?
msraynsford (author)  MITisNOTHINGtoME5 years ago
Actually, you are right it does seem like a short instructable. It's currently more of a "How to improve the Mk1 process" instructable than a "How to build a MkV". Stay Tuned, will be improving shortly which will be of special interest to the people who've just bought MkV kits
trauma-d5 years ago
Do you have to use surface mount leds or would regular ones work?
You can use standard LED's but as msraynsford said they have a lot more depth than the surface mount led's....I made a couple of arc reactors using some white water clear led's and just made sure to sand them down so that the light was properly diffused and they looked pretty decent....if you would like to see how a sanded led looks in comparison here is how mine turned out www.afreeland.com/node/29 ...hopefully this helps

I also must say that this is an amazing tutorial and must admit that your work is amazing!!!! Keep the great LED content coming =)
thanks, looks awesome.
msraynsford (author)  trauma-d5 years ago
Surface mount LED's generally have a wider field for the light it outputs and are only 2mm thick meaning the whole thing can be thinner
ok great, when will the pay pal link be up for the mkV kit? you did a really excellent job putting these together
msraynsford (author)  ITAstallion135 years ago
The MkV kits are now available, sorry for not getting them sorted faster but had some issue with getting the parts laser cut (yes, laser cut for much better accuracy than my Mk1's)

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