Introduction: How to Build the "Proof That Tony Stark Has a Heart" Gift Box

Following is my Instructable on how I created a replica of the gift that Pepper Potts gave to Tony Stark in the film Iron Man. My replica is composed of various parts from kits bought online to completely from scratch made parts.

This is a lengthy instructable, and requires wiring, soldering, gluing, and painting. Overall difficulty is moderate but I think most people with basic crafting know how can accomplish this build. I recommend reading the entire Instructable to get an idea of what all is involved before starting your build. The most important aspect throughout the build is to always dry fit and check assembly of each piece before final assembly. Very little about this build is irreversible, so don't worry if you make a minor mistake! Enjoy, and feel free to ask questions in the comments!

Supplies needed are as follows:

- Iron Man Arc Reactor kit, courtesy of ThrowingChicken from the rpf forum, can be purchased on Etsy at the following link

- 3D printed Heat sink, found at at this link

- "Proof" ring found on eBay

- Soldering iron

- Saw (hack saw and hand saw or power saw should work as there are only a few times when cutting is needed)

- Wire cutter/strippers

- 3V AC adapter or 2 AA batteries at this link

- DC connector at this link

- Plexiglass or glass at least 8"x8"x1/8"

- silicone (for gluing glass pieces together)

- Wooden board at least 8"x8"x3/4" (5 pieces)

- Dremel with routing bits and adapter or traditional router

-1.5" plastic tube at least 6 inches long

- 4" outer and 3.5"inner diameter PVC pipe

- 3.5" outer and 3" inner diameter PVC tube

- Metal duct hanger strapping (specific type doesn't matter)

- Large head screws (specific type/size doesn't matter))

- 26 gauge red wire, insulated

- 28 gauge gold wire, insulated or not

- Superglue

- Acrylic paint (Black, silver, red, medium to dark brown)

- Spray paint (silver and black)

Step 1: Building the Arc Reactor Proper

As stated in the initial description, the Arc Reactor itself is a kit I found on Etsy composed of various 3D printed parts, laser cut acrylic pieces, and 11 LED lights. Also included are die-cut brass transformer connectors. We will not be using these as intended in the kit. Instead a small portion of them will be used later in this Instructable.

Step 2: Building the Arc Reactor Proper: Prepainting Parts

In order to make assembly go smoothly and give a good, overall look, I prepainted all the parts before assembly with an initial basic color.

Chassis/Ring assembly: Silver acrylic paint on the inner aspect, black for the outer ~1cm

Transformer ring assembly: Black acrylic paint

Outer ring: Silver spray paint

Heat sink: Black spray paint

Vent ring assembly: Already cast in black

Outer vent ring: Silver acrylic paint

Step 3: Building the Arc Reactor Proper: Dry Brushing and Washing

After initial painting but before assembly, I aged the parts to look more natural and worn. This was done with a combination of dry brushing and washing.

Dry brushing is the technique whereby you get paint onto your brush, then wipe most of it off by brushing onto a waster areas (I used cardboard) until almost no paint is left on the brush. You then use this almost paintless brush and apply to the desired object. Doing so usually results in the paint coming off onto raised areas only. In the case of the vent ring assembly, this was done to make the hard edges look scratched up.

Paint washing is the technique of diluting your paint to a somewhat watery consistency. You then apply this "wash" to the desired object where the wash will fill in all the deeper spaces/crevices. Before it dries you then wipe excess wash from the painted object, removing it from the more raised areas. I used this technique on the chassis/ring assembly.

The transformer ring was painted black with acrylic paint only. No aging was done, as I allowed the paint to flake off naturally as I handled it during the build. The natural flaking left the transformer assembly looking very nice and aged!

Step 4: Building the Arc Reactor Proper: Assembling the Chassis and Ring Assembly

It is now time to assemble the arc reactor, starting with the chassis and ring assembly.

Around the chassis is a series of 9 holes. These holes are for the small capacitors that come with the kit. They are for appearance only and play no role in the actual electronics. Each capacitor has two small metal wires sticking from the end. Bend these wires 90 degrees opposite one another to form a T (the arms of the T are the metal wires, the body of the T is the capacitor).

Turn the chassis upside down and place one capacitor in each hole. The bent wires should suspend the capacitors in place. Place a dab of superglue on the wires to secure them to the chassis.

While still turned over glue the small piece of supplied screen to the opening of the small center of the chassis.

Turn the chassis back over and glue the four supplied "brass" rings to the steps of the premade chassis.

Finally, take various wires you have (it really doesn't matter what they are, this is again just for looks) and twist them around each other and into a generally circular shape. Then glue this circle of wires to the chassis using superglue.

Step 5: Building the Arc Reactor Proper: Wire Wrapping the Transformer and Light Assembly

Take the transformer assembly (previously painted black) and turn it upside down.

Seat the clear acrylic ring into the transformer assembly and push it in all the way. This piece can be glued into place or not. Even without glue it tends to seat quite firmly.

Place the frosted diffuser ring into place WITHOUT gluing yet. It is important to dry fit this piece first, as you need to make sure the holes for the lights line up with the transformer blocks. Doing so will allow the lights themselves to be hidden rather than show through the clear acrylic ring. Once you know how the diffuser should fit exactly, glue it into place using a small dab of superglue between each light hole.

Before gluing the lights into place, I then wrapped the transformer blocks with 26 gauge red, insulated wire. This is a hand done process that took approximately 2.5 hours. To do so I started by anchoring the wire to a random, inconspicuous area of the chassis. I then started to do a tight wrap around each transformer block. As you'll notice, this will result in the red wire covering the holes in your previously placed diffused ring! Don't worry about this...

... now take superglue and spread it liberally around the wire around each transformer. The idea here is to bond the wire together and then bond the wire to the transformer assembly itself. Allow to dry for several hours.

Now turn the chassis over and, using an x-acto knife, cut the wires along the edges of the acrylic ring and remove them. This will leave the wires on the transformer on the visible parts of the reactor, but now will expose the light holes on the bottom.

I then dry brushed a mix of brown and red acrylic paint (to appear rusty) over the red wires to give an aged, real world appearance.

Step 6: Building the Arc Reactor Proper: Placing the Gold Connecting Wires of the Transformer and Light Assembly

Turn the ring back over as we will now be placing the small brass tabs and connecting wires between each transformer. Measure and cut ten pieces of a length sufficient to span the lower transformer to transformer connection, and then ten to span the upper transformer to transformer connections.

Take the die-cut brass connector tabs from the reactor kit and cut the thin wire section out of the center, leaving only the small, rectangular tabs. You should end up with approximately forty of these. Take each small tab and glue it directly to the red transformer wire, one each near the outside of the transformer and one each on the inside. There should be a total of four small tabs on each transformer. Now glue each wire into place using a small dab of superglue so that the wire spans the space between the transformers, going from the brass tab of one transformer to the brass tab of the adjacent transformer. Allow to dry, and then place a thick dab of silver acrylic paint onto the small brass tabs to mimic solder. Allow to dry thoroughly.

Step 7: Building the Arc Reactor Proper: Placing the Lights and Connecting the Chassis/transformer Assembly

At this point the main transformer ring and chassis are assembled.

Take the previously assembled chassis. You should see a series of 10 sets of two small, incomplete holes in the bottom of the chassis. Drill these out carefully with a small drill bit.

Take the transformer assembly and carefully turn it upside down (take care to not destroy your delicate, previous work!). Place each light flatly into the light holes of the diffuser ring. Be sure each prong is lined up properly (all long prongs lined up, all short prongs lined up). Now, press lightly on each bulb to bend the prongs at an ~90 degree angle.

Now take the transformer assembly and fit each light and its two prongs through the corresponding set of two holes in the chassis. Once each set of prongs is through each set of holes, then bend the prongs 90 degrees so they lay flat against the back of the chassis/ring assembly (I have included a small graphic to illustrate this, as it can seem complicated, though it isn't). There, the lights are now attached to the chassis in a way that should line up with the holes in the diffuser ring! To secure them somewhat in place twice the ends of the prongs of one light with the prongs of the next light (this is how they will eventually be soldered into place).

Two additional lights should be placed directly onto the small diffuser ring that was previously placed on the screen and glued into place.

Step 8: Building the Arc Reactor Proper: Soldering

In the previous step the lights were placed and the prongs were twisted together to secure the lights into place. Now you simply have to place a drop of solder at each connection. Be sure that solder doesn't drip between the long and short prongs and create a connection. This could short out your circuit! The lights in the middle have a small wire connection to lead to the positive and negative side of the parallel circuit at a random location. A small positive and negative wire were the soldered into place to allow for connection to either battery or outlet power. This can then be wired to either 2 AA batteries or to an AC adapter.

Once all lights are assembled and wired up, I then placed the inner vent ring using super glue.

Step 9: Building the Arc Reactor Proper: Combining the Transformer and Chassis Assemblies Together

You should now have two main parts: the previously completed transformer assembly (should consist of the transformer ring, the clear acrylic ring, the diffuser ring, and the red and gold wiring) and the chassis which now has the lights attached to it and soldered into a circuit.

Assembly of these two pieces is simple: simply take the transformer assembly and fit it over the chassis with the lights. Because the lights were not superglued into place, they should have a little "wiggle" to them. This will allow them to seat into the small holes of the diffuser ring as you press the chassis and transformer assembly together.

Step 10: Building the Arc Reactor Proper: Wiring the Arc Reactor and Attaching the Heat Sink and Outer Ring.

Before any new wiring is done, the arc reactor needs to be dry fitted into the outer silver ring. Once a good positioning is found, superglue is then applied to the inside of the back of the outer ring to secure it to the reactor without putting any glue on the visible, front surfaces.

Though this kit can be run off battery (allowing you to perhaps use it in a costume) my needs were of a static display piece, so I wanted outlet power. I chose to wire a removeable connector so the arc reactor can be removed from the display if I ever desired. To do so I used the DC connector linked to in the initial description.

As you can see in the image, the red and black wires I previously soldered to the reactor are long enough to feed through the heat sink even before any wiring is done. So feed them through so you have a free end of a black and a red wire each.

Cut the DC connector in half at about the midway point. Next simply strip the positive/negative of one side of the DC connector and splice it with the small positive/negative that I was previously soldered to the reactor. You can either solder this or, as I did, just use electrical tape.

The heat sink is just glued into place on the back of the reactor itself. Just sort of dry fit it and find a place where it sits relatively flat, then super glue into place. Feed the excess wiring into the heat sink. It will sort of messily/loosely coil around and provide a nice look. I left about 3-4 inches of the wiring hanging out of the back. The arc reactor is now done!

Step 11: Building the Stand: the Base

The base is made of a single piece of wood cut to 7 and 1/4 inches by 7 and 1/4 inches by 3/4 inch.

The center of the board was found by drawing an X from corner to corner. A 1.5 inch hole was then cut into the exact center of the board. This will accommodate the stand for the reactor once it is built.

A small channel should then be routed into the bottom of the stand that points toward the back of the stand. This is to accommodate the wiring so the base sits flatly against the surface it is resting on. The size and depth of the channel is not specific, as long as it is wide and deep enough to fit the wiring.

Once the center hole and the underside channel or done set the base aside for now. It will be painted and routered again in a later step.

Step 12: Building the Stand: the Arc Reactor Mount

Now it's time to build the stand. Before painting the pieces you'll need to cut them. As stated at the beginning the following parts are being used:
- 1.5 inch outer diameter PVC pipe at least 6 inches long

- 4 inch outer/3.5 inch inner diameter PVC pipe (I used a pipe connector with a beveled inner edge as you see in the picture)

- 3.5 inch outer/3 inch diameter PVC pipe (I used an elbow joint. The specific piece doesn't matter as long as it has the right dimensions)

- The outer ring piece included in the original kit

Cut a 1/2 inch wide section of the 4 inch outer diameter pipe. Cut a 1 inch wide section of the 3.5 inch diameter pipe.

Prepaint all pieces and allow to dry:

The 4 inch outer diameter piece should be painted black

- The 3.5 inch outer diameter piece should be painted silver

- The outer ring from the kit should be painted silver

Once painted the 4 inch piece should be fitted around the smaller 3.5 inch piece and glued into place. It is fitted with an overlap of only ~1/2 of the width of the outer ring (See picture).

Step 13: Building the Stand: Reactor Mount Post

The post that the reactor and it's mount are on is made of a single 1.5" outer diameter plastic pipe. The inner diameter of this pipe does not matter.

The plastic pipe is cut to a length of ~ 6" initially. It will be cut down to a specific length a little later.

You should then cut a notch into the top of the pipe that will seat the reactor mount. I free-handed this notch so that, when mounted, the arc reactor would tilt back at an ~25 degree angle.

Finally a couple of pieces of duct hanger straps should be applied. These are for cosmetic purposes only. I cut two pieces about 1 inch long, and a single piece about 5 inches long. Round off the ends that will be pointing up and down the reactor mount and the post (done with tin snips), and angle the ends of the 1 inch piece off that will meet at the junction of the mount and the post. You'll want to sort of bend the hangar straps of the 1" pieces on the long axis in a gentle curve so they mount flush to the round mount post. Screw the 1" pieces into the mount post and secured into place. The longer 5 inch hangar strap piece should be wrapped around the bottom of the previously made mount and screwed into place. Remember... these are COSMETIC ONLY, so exactly how this is done doesn't really matter. I just wanted something with a hand done feel to it.

Once the mounting strap is attached cut the mount post to a length of 2 and 3/4 inches.

The reactor mount should now be glued into the notch cut into the mount post using superglue. Allow to dry for 24 hours and set aside until later.

Step 14: Building the Glass Case

There are a number of routes you can go here to build the case. You can build out of plastic or glass or acrylic. I chose glass.

The case dimensions are 6.25" x 6.25" x 7.25".

Because glass can be difficult to work with and leave shavings and debris that can be dangerous, I had the help of a glass company to cut the pieces for me. Just remember that if you go about cutting the pieces yourself, you must take into account the width of the glass itself into your overall dimensions. This means, for the diameter box listed above, you cannot simply cut 4 pieces of glass 6.25" x 7.25", and one piece that is 6.25 x 6.25. If you do this you will end up with a box that is ever so slightly out of proportion and bigger than anticipated. I gave the dimensions of the desired box to the glass company and they cut all the pieces for me, taking into account the width of the glass itself.

Once the glass pieces were cut silicone was used to bind the glass panels. All edges of the box were then sanded down (with the help of the local glass company) so no sharp edges were left.

Step 15: Preparing the Base for Assembly

Back to the base that was previously cut...

Now that the glass case is assembled you need to make a small channel for it to sit in so that it is not just resting on the base. To do this router a 3/8 inch wide channel into the stand with an outer dimension of 6.25" x 6.25". The channel should be routered ~3/8 inch deep.

After the channel is routered test fit the glass case. Make note of any areas that may be catching and stopping the glass from seating well, then sand or route these down further. This is almost necessary to do in the corners due to the silicone holding the glass together. When everything is sanded properly the glass case should seat comfortably and somewhat snugly within the channel. Nothing is used to attach the glass case to the base... this will allow you to remove the case at any time.

As you can see in the pictures my routing job is NOT perfect, but it works!

Once all routing is completed paint the base with silver spray paint. Be sure to sand before the first coat and in between successive coats. I didn't do this as well as I should have and the wood grain can be seen through the paint a bit, but this didn't bother me too much. Allow to dry 24 hours before handling for final assembly.

Step 16: Final Assembly: What You Should Have

You should now have 6 main pieces:

1) Arc reactor proper with outer ring attached and DC connector wired in

2) Reactor mount and mount post attached together

3) Wooden base with center hole, channel for glass case, and channel for wiring underneath

4) Glass case

5) "Proof" ring (has not been used yet but was mentioned in the "Supplies needed" section)

6) AC/DC adapter (has not been used yet but was mentioned in the "Supplies needed" section)

Step 17: Final Assembly: Putting It All Together

The last steps here are relatively straightforward.

Before you glue the mount post and mount into the base, cut a small notch into the bottom of the mount post tube. This is to feed the wiring through cleanly. Next, glue the mount post into the hole previously cut into the now painted base. Be sure you have it oriented so the front of the reactor will face the FRONT of the base (in a previous picture you can see I labeled "front" so I would not get mixed up) and that the notch cut into the mount post lines up with the channel routered into the bottom of the base earlier. You don't want to have this accidentally switched around. Allow to dry.

Next take your AC adapter and strip the ends so you have a positive and negative lead. Feed this up through the mount post from underneath and just behind the opening left between the mount post and the reactor mount (see picture). Take the other half of the DC connector (remember it was cut in half earlier), strip the ends, and splice these ends with the AC adapter. Now you are wired for power! Excess wiring was fed back into the mount post to hide the connections, leaving ~3 inches of the DC connector dangling from the back as in the picture. Once the wiring is done secure the wiring into the channel routered into the underside of the base. I did this very simply by just taping it down.

Now that everything is wired take the fully assembled arc reactor and place four pieces of double sided tape around the outer silver ring (you could also glue it in, though this means it will not be removeable later). Seat the arc reactor into the reactor mount, pressing firmly to get good adherence of the double sided tape. Connect the DC connector from the arc reactor to the portion sticking out of the back of the mount post.

The "Proof" ring has an adhesive backing on it. You can remove this and place the proof ring around the outer silver ring. I did not use the adhesive and simply placed the "Proof" ring around the outer ring silver ring where it stayed in place on its own. This makes the ring removeable so the arc reactor remains removeable as discussed previously.

Gently place the glass case over the reactor and seat it into the routered channel.

Step 18: Plug in Your Awesome Piece and Enjoy!

Your "Proof That Tony Stark Has a Heart" gift box is done!

Make it Glow!

Runner Up in the
Make it Glow!

Enchanted Objects

Participated in the
Enchanted Objects

Superheroes and Supervillains Contest

Participated in the
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