Introduction: Dichroic Infinity Box
This instructable will show you how to make a dichroic infinity box and base. It will teach you how to assemble a plexiglass cube, wire CCFL lights, and create a wooden pedestal.
We would like to credit the others who have inspired us to create this instructable. Firstly, one of our favorite artist collaboratives Numen for Use. They have have done extensive experiments with different geometric infinity boxes. Their research method can be found here.
Another artist currently exploring these infinite dichroic forms is Sean Augustine March. His objects explore various formal iterations and are constructed with beautiful precision.
Step 1: Materials, Parts, and Tools
6 Pieces of 3/8" Plexi cut to size:
- 2 x 6-13/16" x 6-1/8"
- 2 x 6-13/16" x 6-13/16"
- 2 x 6-1/8" x 6-1/8"
6 Pieces of Dichroic film 6- 1/8" x 6-1/8"
Plexi glue and applicator. I recommend Scigrip 4 fastset solvent cement.
Tools and materials: Solution water and 1 drop of Jonsons Baby Shampoo, Vinyl applicator or credit card covered in a rag, Ruler, Razor, Drill, Blue tape
12 x 140mm x 2.0mm Full Spectrum CCFL lights such as these
AC to DC 12V 29A Power Supply such as this
2 CCFL Tester Inverters such as these
22 AWG Wire, in Black and Red
Black Heat Shrink
Tools & Materials: Soldering Iron, Solder Wire Strippers, Flush Cutters, Lighter or Heat Gun, Electric Tape, Acrylic Cement, Acrylic Cement Applicator. Jig made of 1/4" MDF
3 Pieces of 3/4" plywood
- 2 x 6-3/16" x 15-1/4"
- 2 x 5-3/8" x 15-1/4"
- 1 x 15-1/4" x15-1/4"
1 piece of 1/8" white dibond 6-3/16" x 6-3/16"
- 1 L bracket
- 16 x 1-1/4" wood screws
- 2 x 1/2 inch screws
- electrical tape
- 2 small zip ties
Step 2: Plexi Glass and Dichroic Film
You will require 6 pieces of 1/4" Plexi glass cut to size. Plexi is hard to cut by hand. You can either use a laser cutter or get your supplier to cut to size for you. I have made a cube that is 6-13/16" large, below I have listed the sizes for each face.
Parts and sizes :
1. Left Side - 6-13/16" x 6-1/8" plexiglass. 6- 1/8" x 6-1/8" dichroic film centered left to right
2. Right Side - 6-13/16" x 6-1/8" plexiglass. 6- 1/8" x 6-1/8" dichroic film centered left to right
3. Bottom Face - 6-13/16" x 6-13/16" plexiglass. 6- 1/8" x 6-1/8" dichroic film centered
- drill 4 x holes with a diameter of 3/16" centered at 1/2" in from each corner.
4. Top Face - 6-13/16" x 6-13/16" plexiglass. 6- 1/8" x 6-1/8" dichroic film centered
5. Front Face - 6- 1/8" x 6-1/8" plexiglass. 6- 1/8" x 6-1/8" dichroic film centered
6. Front Face - 6- 1/8" x 6-1/8" plexiglass. 6- 1/8" x 6-1/8" dichroic film centered
Dichroic film is manufactured by 3M and can be purchased by distributors or online. It comes on a vinyl that can be easily adhered to clear acrylic. To apply vinyl, first clean the acrylic. Create a solution of water and Johnson's baby shampoo, about 2 cups of water and 1 drop of shampoo. Spray the solution over the face of acrylic. Peal back protective film from dichroic vinyl and carefully apply to acrylic. Use a credit card covered in a rag to work out any bubbles. Use a window washer type motion to push any air bubbles from the center out to the edge. Trim off any excess film that may extend over the edges of the acrylic.
Step 3: Assemble Dichroic Cube
- To fill the acrylic cement applicator, gently squeeze the bottle applicator to release some air and insert the needle into the acrylic adhesive tin. With the needle submerged, wait for the glue liquid to slowly be drawn up into the bottle. Do not try to pour the glue into the bottle as it easily spills.
- Lay top panel with it's dichroic face up.
- Starting with the left side panel, align its outer edge with that of the top panel. Place the panes so that they are perpendicular to each other ( see image). Make sure that the dichroic filter on the left panel, is facing inwards.
- Apply blue tape to the outer edge to help support the face and keep it aligned.
- Starting at one end, place the needle applicator right along the seam. Hold the glue applicator at an angle until the glue starts to bead and then gently and consistently run the glue along the seam.
- Press down on the side panel so that the glue is drawn into the join. Clean up any excess glue that may have leaked out from the seam. Allow to dry for 2 - 3 mins.
- Repeat this process with the other 3 sides, working from the adjacent sides and finishing with the right side panel. rotate the cube when necessary to apply to side seams.
- Do not attach the bottom face. This will be left free so that the inside of the cube can be accessed while installing the CCFL wires into the base. It also allows you to replace any lights or fix any wiring should you have any issues later.
Step 4: Solder CCFLs
To create the sections of CCFLs solder together 3 lights in a series.
First trim the wire leads at both ends of the light to 3/8" long
Overlap two of the wire leads so that the leads nearly touch the neighboring light's glass tube.
Using a soldering iron solder two joints one close to each light tube, leaving a wired gap in the middle. This wired gap will allow the wire to bend at 90 degrees while allowing the solder connection to stay secure.
Step 5: Create CCFL Sections
With your 4 sections of 3 lamps soldered together cut sections of heat shrink to cover the solder connections. The heat shrink should also extend about an 1/8" onto the light tube itself.
In the pictures above you will see that we made a jig to bend our CCFLs around. This jig was made from two pieces of 1/4" thick MDF. It does not matter how big the bottom one is, just as long as it it bitter than the top one. The top square is 1/4" smaller than the inner dimension of the acrylic cube. It's dimensions are 5-3/4" x 5-3/4". This is so that after bending the CCFLs they will fit within the cube.
To bend the connected CCFL first start by aligning the center CCFL tube with the bottom edge of the jig as show in the picture above. If your heat shrink is over the joints slide these out of the way so you know the middle tube is centered with equal amount of wire leads at either corner of the jig.
Once the middle tube is aligned, move the heat shrink back to cover the joint fully, being careful to not change the alignment of the tubes.
Place a finger on the one end of the middle tube pressing it towards the jig holding it in place. With your other hand gently begin to push the adjacent tube at it's closes end around till it bends the joint and the adjacent tube meets the edge of the jig. Be very careful as to where you press on these tubes as they easily break if too much stress is on them, the best is to bend them by applying pressure to their ends nearest the joint you're bending.
Continue to bend the opposite side of this section around the corner.
After you have bent the two corners lift the section off the jig and touch up your bends to perfect 90 degree corners by over bending the joint carefully.
Continue to bend the other 3 sections of soldered CCFLs
After all 4 sections have been bent into form, solder wire leads onto each end. We chose to make our one end a black wire lead at 12" long, and a red wire lead at 6" long. The black wire lead end will sit towards the top of the cube, while the shorter red lead will sit close to the hole at the base. Both wires will pass into the base.
Step 6: Place CCFL Sections in Cube
Placing the CCFL sections is a tedious process, but just takes patience and a bit of fines
With your acrylic cube upside down so its open bottom faces up, begin by placing the first CCFL section. Again the black lead should be placed on the top surface of the cube (now the bottom in this orientation) with the red lead at the bottom (near the open end).
Place your next CCFL section so that its middle tube is in the corner of the previous section's black wire. Ideally, the middle tube will cover the black wire, allowing the wire to run up behind it in the corner.
Place your next CCFL section, agin with its middle tube in the corner of the previous section's black wire. And again for the final section.
If you find that the CCFL sections are not fitting in the width of the box, you may need to carefully re-bend the joints so that a the length of the tubes is shortened.
The CCFL's will be tight in the box, this is what keeps them all positioned. They should be positioned in a way where one section stands behind the next, each neighboring section pinching the previous one into its corner.
When all the sections are placed in their appropriate corners use strips of electrical tape to tape over the corners. This tape will keep the sections tucked into their corners. Next take the bottom section of the cube and carefully feed the wires through the holes in the appropriate corners. Pull the wires through until the bottom panel fits flush agains the cube.
Step 7: Assemble Base
1. Left side - 6-3/16" x 15-1/4" 3/4" plywood
2. Right side - 6-3/16" x 15-1/4" 3/4" plywood
3. Front face - 5-3/8" x 15-1/4" 3/4" plywood
4. Back face 5-3/8" x 15-1/4" 3/4" plywood
5. Base plate - 1 x 15-1/4" x15-1/4"
6. Top Plate - 1 piece of 1/8" white dibond 6-3/16" x 6-3/16"
- In back face drill a 1/4" hole near the base to allow for power cable to pass through. Drill 6 gridded (3 x 2) 1/4" holes towards the top end of the panel to allow hot air to escape.
- Assemble wooden sides 1, 2 and 3. be sure to keep them square. Use wood glue on adjoining edges and screw together with 1-1/4" wood screws. Use two screws for each side, centered 3/8" in from the edge and 1" down from the top and bottom. Pre drilling the screw holes will help with accuracy and ease of assembly.
- Use the base plate to hold the three sides square. Fasten it leaving 1/8" gap from the bottom edge.
- Temporarily screw back face on.
- Attach Top plate with three screws centered as shown.
- Mark 1/2" in from each corner and drill 1/2 " . These holes are so you can easily feed the wires from the acrylic down into the base.
Step 8: Connect Cube to Pedestal and Wire CCFLs
- Remove the back face of the pedestal
- Lay the wooden base on its front face. Lay the acrylic cube on its front face.
- Feed the wires from the acrylic cube through the matching holes in it top face. Connect the wires from CCFLS's to the Tester Inverters matching the black to black and the red to red.
- Cover the alligator clips in electrical tape so that there can be no metal to metal contact.
- Connect the wires from the test inventors to the AC to DC 12V 29A Power Supply. connect the red wires to the positive screw terminal and the black ones to the negative screw terminal.
- Feed the power cable through the hole in the back panel and connect the wires to the screw terminals. The green to ground, black to L and white to neutral. ( note that this may vary from region and model)
- Lay the Power Supply down on the front face ( see picture) and adhere in place with a l bracket.
- Neaten up CCFL and test inverter cables with a zip tie and secure with a screw to inside face.
- Reattach and screw in the back face Carefully stand up the lamp, making sure to hold onto the plexi cube.
Step 9: Finished !!
Turn on and enjoy !
5 months ago
I am still having the problems of bubbling in my acrylic. Is there another way to get them out? I tried soap. You specifically mentioned baby soap is that formula better ?
Thank you for this post
5 years ago
Do you think you could use different lighting? What about a decahedron? :D
Anyways awesome look, i'll try this someday for sure
6 years ago
thank you for the shout out! Keep up the good work
6 years ago
I didn't know dichroics exist in films, I was pretty sure it was only a glass coating. You know you can make cool effects with dichroics by changing its angle with the source beam. I hate CCFL, they're cold (by def.), they need high voltages and moreover, their color rendering is very poor, specially compared to new generation of LEDs.
Reply 6 years ago
Thanks for the information about the new generation LEDs we will have to give it a go ! The CCFLS definitely have there difficulty and if we were to remake this we would want to have a more simplified lighting system. To get the color changing effects you can either change the angle of the source beam, or the viewing angle. This piece looks best when you walk around it and catch it from different angels :)
6 years ago
Now I thought that infinity mirrors were cool but this is excellent - good job - awesome effect!!!!! I G
Reply 6 years ago