Iron Man MkV Arc Reactor

Introduction: Iron Man MkV Arc Reactor

This instructable will show you how to make your own arc reactor

Step 1: 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

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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    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Scalpel, but now I laser cut them.

    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


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    How do I determine the anode and cathode on the SMD LEDs?


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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?


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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?



    9 years ago on Introduction

    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........


    9 years ago on Introduction

    This is an awesome tutorial! Any chance of finishing it?


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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


    10 years ago on Introduction

    where can i find the leds you used and how do i circuit them?