Picture of Make an Iron Man Arc Reactor

I didn't have a lot of time to make a great Halloween costume this year so I figured I'd do something relatively simple that was still eye catching and cool. I wanted my Arc Reactor to look pretty realistic, but not necessarily 100% movie accurate, so it's kind of a cross between a MkI and MkII version. There are some things I'd change on the next version (and I'll point them out) but overall I'm pretty pleased with it.

The reactor is attached to an old heart rate monitor strap and it's powered by a 3 volt battery pack that just slips in my jeans pocket. It's light weight and is comfortable to wear for several hours at a time. In the photos below you can see how bright it is- it easily shines through my t-shirt under normal office lighting conditions and is very bright at night.

Follow along and see how it's made.....

Update: see page six for the new style reactor!

Step 1: Tools and materials

There are a few necessary tools:
soldering iron
dremel tool
drill bits
metal snips/shears
jeweler's saw (or some kind of saw to cut metal and plastic)
needle nose pliers
wire cutters
glue gun

And for materials:
thin brass sheet
plastic sheet ( I used Delrin- you can buy Delrin and acrylic sheet from Colorado Plastics)
clear acrylic sheet
copper wire- 22ga and 24ga thickness solid wire
sheet metal- 22ga thickness (.025in or about .5mm thickness)
PCB (printed circuit board)- at least 4" square (Radio Shack sells some that measures around 4.5" x 6")
several small bolts - I used 10ea 2.5mm bolts and 3ea 3mm bolts w/nuts
3 volt battery
11 ea NTE30027 surface mount LED's - I bought them from a local supplier but you can order them here: http://www.cablesandconnectors.com/30000-30.HTM
battery hook up wire

As an option for LEDs and making a circuit board you could use these instead-

I'll make specific notes about the materials used and possible substitutes/workarounds on the specific construction pages.

Please note: be careful cutting sheet metal as the edges can be very sharp and it's pretty easy to cut yourself.
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nathantheone10 months ago

I have not done anything like this before but the directions are great I think. The only thing I don't understand is how to wire and solder the LEDs to the PCB. Can anyone please provide a link to how to do that or provide detailed instructions. Thanks.

Honus (author)  nathantheone10 months ago
Here's a good guide on how to solder-
nathantheone Honus10 months ago

Thanks Honus. Can you tell me how I connect the LEDs to the battery so they work? I understand how to solder them to the PCB now but don't understand how to connect them all to the battery. And where would I buy the battery hook up wire? I have never done any wiring or soldering before. Thanks.

Honus (author)  nathantheone10 months ago

If you look at the wiring diagram you'll see there are two wires from the battery- one positive and one negative. The positive battery wire goes to the copper trace that is connected to the LED anode (positive side) and the negative battery lead goes to the copper trace that is connected to the LED cathode (negative side.) You can buy battery hook up wire at Radio Shack or at some hardware stores like Home Depot.

nathantheone Honus10 months ago

If you have a link to a website that explains it that would make it easier to explain.

Honus (author)  nathantheone10 months ago

If you look at the top of the LED there is a small triangular notch on one of the corners- that is the cathode (negative) side of the LED. If you do a google search for "NTE30027 surface mount LED" you'll find a data sheet that shows it. By copper trace I mean if you look at the LEDs in the pictures you can see how they are soldered to two copper rings- these are the copper traces. There is a copper trace for the positive side and another copper trace for the negative side. The center LED also has a copper trace for the positive side and another trace for the negative side. The positive copper trace connects the positive side of the battery to the positive side of the LEDs. The negative copper trace connects the negative side of the battery to the negative side of the LEDs.

nathantheone Honus10 months ago

Thanks. And how would I connect all the LEDs so they are powered by the battery by the one wire running from the battery?

Honus (author)  nathantheone10 months ago

I'm sorry I don't understand. The battery has two wires- one positive and one negative. Each LED has a positive and negative side and the positive side is connected to the positive side of the battery while the negative side of the LED is connected to the negative side of the battery. All of the LEDs are wired like this- they are all connected to the battery in a parallel circuit so all of the LEDs have their positive side connected to a common positive copper trace (or wire.) All of the LEDs then also have their negative side connected to a common negative copper trace (or wire.) The electricity flows from the battery positive end, through the positive side of each LED (all at the same time since they are connected in parallel) then out the LED negative side and then back to the negative side of the battery, completing the circuit. Have a look at this simplified diagram that shows how ten of these LEDs are connected in a parallel circuit to a 3V battery. Does that make sense? Normally you would also add a resistor for each LED but in this circumstance it works OK without them.

nathantheone Honus10 months ago

I have never done any soldering or wiring before. I'm sorry but what do you mean when you say copper trace? I ordered the LEDs you had listed and it is a little square that has a "t" shape on one end. Is that end the anode or cathode? And how do I link them so they all are powered by the battery? Thank you for you patience and help.

Grafx4Life10 months ago

Looks good. I'm trying to make a simple one but I like the design. The link to the kit on The RPF seems to be dead, unless you need to be logged in to see it. There are some nice kits or reactors for good prices on Etsy too.

Honus (author)  Grafx4Life10 months ago

Thanks! I checked out the link and it's dead so I removed it. The seller probably just stopped making the kits. I have another friend that sold a really nice kit on Etsy but his his shop is also now closed. Lots of people I know have been getting C&D letters from the movie studios.

adlowe071 year ago
I'm not Creative can I just pay you for the new style reactor
Honus (author)  adlowe071 year ago
Sorry but I don't sell them!
adlowe07 Honus11 months ago

To bad you could make so good money cause you have one of the best ones i've seen that can be worn

lmoreno h1 year ago

honus son leds azules o blancos

Honus (author)  lmoreno h1 year ago
I used blue but white will also work.

okey gracias honus entonces son mejores azules que blancos

alopez741 year ago
Does the metal ever get rusty?
Honus (author)  alopez741 year ago
Not if you use stainless steel. Otherwise just spray some lacquer on it to protect it.
fbwman15471 year ago
Could you post a list of all the materials that you used in the second build please? Great design by the way, really inspired!
Honus (author)  fbwman15471 year ago
The outer casing and center ring are turned Aluminum, the back plate and spider are thin stainless steel sheet (22 gauge I think) and the LEDs are the same as used in the first reactor. The lenses are acrylic just like the first reactor but I used a thinner 26 gauge magnet wire to wrap each section. All of the small brass bolts are size 0-80 thread. The circuit board material is the same as the first reactor but I added some small 100 Ohm surface mount resistors to protect the LEDs.

If you have any other questions just let me know!
Where were you able to customize those aluminium parts?
Honus (author)  fbwman15471 year ago
I made them at home- I have a small bench top lathe. There are some online services that will machine parts for you like Big Blue Saw or you could try maybe a local Techshop or hacker space.
lmeyers31 year ago
hey Honus i am planning to build this as a school project for my end of the year assignment and i am wonder what is the ring of clear maybe plexiglass? im not sure please respond.
Honus (author)  lmeyers31 year ago
Yep- you can plexiglass/clear acrylic to make the ring. If you have any other questions just let me know!
lmeyers3 Honus1 year ago
Hey im at the point where i need the LED's and i was wondering what did you use for lighting i was thinking of using NeoPixels so i can change the colour based on the voltage iw as just wondering what you used and how u got it to look so damn good haha

Honus (author)  lmeyers31 year ago
I used surface mount LEDs- the exact LEDs are listed on the tools and materials page.
How long did it take you to get all the parts and put it all together
Honus (author)  game2freak281 year ago
I think maybe one week. I had most of the materials on hand.
dadema1 year ago
Hey Honus I love these designs but I'm running into a couple problems.
One thing is that it would be great if you could include a wiring diagram because my circuitry is rusty. Secondly I am using tin snips to cut out the spider legs and it's proving to be quite a challenge because of the minuteness of the leg. Are there any tips you have? Thanks
Honus (author)  dadema1 year ago
For circuit diagrams for LEDs check out http://www.ledclaculator.net

You can enter in any value you like for battery power and LEDs and it'll give you a simple wiring diagram.

Tin snips are hard to use because the metal tends to curl at the edges. For cleaner cuts use a jeweler's saw or nibbler tool.
ssmith1751 year ago
what is the inner diameter of the clear acrylic ring ??
Honus (author)  ssmith1751 year ago
The inner diameter is 2.65" - the drawing shows the outside diameter is 3.15" and the wall thickness of the ring as shown in the cross section is .25" so subtract .50" total from the outside diameter.
ssmith1751 year ago
How did you cut the slots in the slot ring.Can u plss name the tool. And what to do if i dont have surface mounted LED's plss reply fast i need to make this before 25th sept .
Honus (author)  ssmith1751 year ago
Most all of the metal parts were cut using a jeweler's saw. If you don't have surface mount LEDs then you will have to adapt the design to fit a different type of LED- maybe try drilling holes in the clear ring and insert the LEDs.

Please be patient- I'll try to answer questions as quickly as I can. Right now I'm dealing with flood damage from a brutal storm here in Boulder County so I may not be able to answer questions right away.
can we put normal LED's .Does it affects the light of the reactor ??
Honus (author)  ssmith1751 year ago
I don't know for sure- you'll have to try it out and see how it works. I would first measure the height of the LEDs to see if they will fit.
ssmith1751 year ago
Can u tell what was the thickness of your both acrylic sheet??
Honus (author)  ssmith1751 year ago
Those dimensions are shown on the drawings.
ok Thanxx :)
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