Introduction: Make an EASY Infinity Mirror Cube | NO 3D Printing and NO Programming
Everyone likes a good infinity cube, but they look like they would be hard to make. My goal for this Instructable is to show you step-by-step how to make one. Not only that, but with the instructions that I'm giving you, you'll be able to make one of any practical size without doing complicated math or calculations. I'm also doing this without a 3D printer, and I'm not doing any kind of programming.
If you would like to see a video version of this Instructable, you can see that here: https://youtu.be/kKO4VUDaLxw
If you're interested in the smaller Infinity Cube I made a year earlier, you can check out that Instructable here: https://www.instructables.com/Make-an-Infinity-Mirror-Cube/
- Precision Tweezers
- Soldering Iron
- Hot Glue Gun
- LED Alignment Jig
- Wire Cutters
- Straight Edge Ruler
- Jig Saw
- Jig Saw Plexiglass Blade
- Utility Knife
- Bit #EZ406-02 (Metal Cutting Disk)
- Bit #115 (Carving Cylinder)
- Small File
- Drill Bit 1/16"
- Drill Bit 1/4"
- Drill Step Bit
- Custom Screwdriver
- Addressable SK6812 LEDs, RGB+W, Natural White
- Addressable SK6812 LEDs, RGB+W, Warm White
- Addressable SK6812 LEDs, RGB+W, Cool White
- Wooden Skewer
- LED Wire Connectors
- Addressable RGB LED Controller #1
- Addressable RGB LED Controller #2
- 5v Power Supply
- Plexiglass, 3/16" Thick (minimum 8" x 11")
- One Way Mirror Window Tint, Silver
- 1/2"x1/2" aluminum angle
- Box Corners
Step 1: Choose Your LEDs
For this project I'm using RGB-W LEDs that are close together. You don't have to use the same LEDs or dimensions that I'm using. I'll show you how to find the measurements you need for your design as we go along. Make sure you know what voltage and connections your LEDs use. Whichever LEDs you choose, you'll need to cut them into 12 pieces that are all the same length. LED strips usually have specific places where you can cut them.
Step 2: Prepare the LEDs
You can see copper solder pads on the front of the LED strips, but we're not going to use those. Instead, we're using the same copper pads, but on the back of the strip. The adhesive on the back is actually on a thin sheet of clear plastic that you can peel off the strip. It also helps to add a little bit of solder onto the copper pads you're going to use.
You also want to stiffen the strips. You can tape down the strip and use hot melt glue to glue something (like wooden skewers) to the back of the strips. I didn't do this until the end of my project, but it would be much easier to do that at this step of the process.
Step 3: Strip Layout and Wiring Sequence
Next we have the layout. This is the most complicated part of the project, but I have this diagram to follow to make it easier. I numbered all of the strips, and the arrows in the diagram match the flow of the data. The green lines show the actual data wire connections I made between each strip. 3 of the strips have a longer wire to bring the data back. It's important to remember that the data needs to go through all of the strips in a single, continuous path following the arrows.
Step 4: Jig for Soldering
I made a jig to help me hold and align the LED strips as I solder them together. It's basically a block of wood with grooves in the corner edges for the LEDs. When you tape the LED strips to the jig, pay attention to the arrows on the front of the strips. These arrows show the direction of the data flow through the strips and different corners will be configured differently.
Step 5: Soldering Wires
When soldering the wires to the LED strips, I do the joining data wire first. Next I solder the power wires together. The data wires need to connect in a specific pattern (shown in a previous step) but you can solder all of the positive(+) wires together at each corner and also all of the ground(-) wires together. Pay close attention so that you don't accidentally solder a positive and ground connection together. This will short out your power supply when you power it up. Double check your connections with the markings on the front of the strips.
One thing to remember when soldering the wires: You can solder the power wires on the second row of solder pads, but the data wires need to be on the first row.
Step 6: Support the Corners After Soldering
As you finish soldering each corner, it's helpful to give them support while you're working on the other corners. This will help prevent your wires from pulling off while you're working on the other parts. A good way I found to do this is to leave the tape on the strips when you remove the jig, then add tape to the inside of the corner. (See pictures for examples.)
Step 7: LEDs Test
Once the LED cube is all soldered together, it's a good time to do a test to make sure the wiring works. Solder some wires to the beginning of the first strip in the sequence. (Refer to the data wire sequence again.) For the LEDs and controller that I'm using, the red wire is positive(+), the white wire is ground(-), and the green wire is data. Your connections might be different, depending on your LEDs. Connect to an LED controller to test it. If all of the LEDs are lighting up, your connections are all good. Now you can start building the box of mirrors.
Step 8: First Cut for the Mirror Plastic
When cutting your glass or plastic for the mirror, do not cut it into a square. This first size we are measuring will be the first size to cut. The next size will be a little bit bigger. I'll explain how to find that size in one of the following steps.
Measure between the outer edges of the cube (see pictures,) that will be the size for the first cut. I only marked one sheet of plastic, then I taped it to 5 others and cut all 6 at the same time using a jigsaw.
Step 9: Assemble the Box (temporarily)
Now you should have 6 rectangular pieces. To find the next measurement to cut, assemble these pieces together into a box, but with the long ends sticking beyond the cube. This description is a bit confusing, so hopefully the pictures in this step help.
Step 10: Second Cut for the Mirror Plastic
After test fitting the LED cube, we're ready to find the next measurement. Turn and rotate the box to a side that does not extend past the cube, then measure that side. This is the next size that you need to cut the plastic. It should be a little bit bigger than the first cut. Now you can disassemble the box and make that cut.
Step 11: Apply the Mirror Film
Now that the pieces are all cut, let's add the semi-transparent mirror film. You want each piece of film to be a little bit bigger than the plastic. When applying the film, it's important to have a dust free work area. Static from the film can attract the dust and affect the final result.
Remove the protective film from one side of the plexiglass, spray the surface with some slightly soapy water, then apply the film. One quick not about the mirror film that I used; it has layer of plastic over the adhesive. You can use 2 pieces of tape (one piece stuck to each side) to help separate that plastic from the film.
After laying the film down on the surface, squeegee out all of the bubbles, then trim the excess film from the edges. I found it helps the film stay down if you trim it a little bit short. You can now reassemble the box, with the mirror film on the inside.
Step 12: Making a Frame for the Box
You may or may not want the box to have a frame. It will look better with one, and you can check out my previous Infinity Cube Instructable (click here) to see me do a quick and easy one. I'll show another option here, using 1/2" aluminum angle bar.
Use the angle bar with the box to mark how far it covers the box. Mark 3-4 edges on one side of the box. Measure between 2 of those marks, this is how long you want to cut the angle bar. (See pictures for examples.) After cutting 12 of these pieces, tape them into position on the box.
To hold the frame together, I used some corner guards and glued them on with some epoxy. For now, only do 4 of these on the bottom of the frame. We still need to do a bit more work on the box.
Step 13: Bring the Wires Out
You need a way to bring the wires for the LEDs out through the box and the frame. After the epoxy sets, remove the box from frame. Then pick a side of the box to be the lid and take that lid off. I used my Dremel to carve a groove in one of the sides of the box, and another groove in the lid of the box so that both groves make one hole for the wires to go through.
Next I drilled a hole in the side of the frame for the wires. I deburred that hole with a step bit and a tool I made in an older Instructable (click here)
Step 14: Final Touch-Ups and Test
You could leave the temporary tape on and just trim it shorter than the frame, but I chose to change it out for some aluminum tape since that's stronger. Before taping the box up completely, put the LED cube inside, running the wires through the opening you made. Remove the last of the protective film from the plexiglass and slide the box into the partial frame, running the wires the hole you drilled. Solder a connector to those wires and do one last test. I had to take it back out and stiffen up the LED strips, so hopefully you did that when I mentioned it earlier.
Step 15: And That's It!
If that last test was good, you can glue on the final 4 corner guards and that's it! Always make sure it tests good before the final seal
If you use actual 2-way mirrors instead of the stick-on mirror film like I did, your infinity effect will work much better and look more crisp. You could also use an Arduino or Raspberry Pi for programming the light patterns, but commercial LED controllers like the one I'm using here have many pattern options to choose from. Just make sure you get a controller and power supply that will work with your choice of lights.
I'm going to be using this infinity cube in an upcoming project, so watch for that Instructable. And if you have any tips or suggestions, or any projects you would like to see me build, please share your thoughts in the comments. Thank you for checking out this Instructable!
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