Introduction: Metroid: Samus Arm Cannon Plasma Ball Lamp (Wearable)

About: Create things is the most fulfilling way I enjoy spending my time. Mixing art with technology is especially rewarding to me.

Hi, welcome to my second Instructable!

For this project I wanted to re-imagine Samus' Arm Cannon from the Metroid video game series as a unique room lighting element (that is also wearable). The design for the arm cannon itself was specifically from the Metroid Prime series and the plasma ball "Charge Shot" element was inspired by the move of the same name that accompanies her appearances in the Super Smash Bros. series.


  • Access to a 3D printer (OR carboard mailing tubes/ pvc pipes and connectors)
  • Various sandpaper (180, 220, 320, 400)
  • Sand-able Spray Paint Filler & Primer
  • Green automotive spraypaint (two tones optional)
  • LED strip (with battery pack, connectors, and soldering equipment)
  • Plasma Ball (with optional 12 battery pack and connector)
  • Thin, clear plastic (optional, for light diffusing)

Step 1: Gather References and Build the Arm Cannon

This step was relatively simple with access to a 3D printer but is also very possible without one!

WITH a 3D printer you'll want to create or find a design a model of the Arm Cannon.

After printing, remove all the supports and begin sanding to get a smooth surface

WITHOUT a 3D printer you can utilize materials like cardboard mailing tubes or wide PVC pipes. PVC vent adapters are a great way to achieve the shape at the end of the cannon with.

To prep for LED strips

Cut out the 4 lined sections on the forearm piece (closer to the elbow) so the lights will shine through.

Step 2: Priming (and More Sanding)

If you 3D print the arm cannon it is likely you'll be left with print lines.

To get rid of them use a combination of sanding and filling. To achieve this I used a sand-able filler from Rust-oleum that works great wet or dry. I suggest using water and waterproof sandpaper as I find wet sanding to be much smoother.

After you have filled any imperfections and smoothed out print lines you can paint on the a few layers of primer.

Step 3: Painting

When painting intricate pieces I find it easier to paint the smallest section of one color first (here that is the darker green).

To do this cover the largest area with painters tape and then spray paint the exposed area.

Paint on several coats until you're happy with the color and coverage.

After at least a day remove the tape then cover the painted area with painters tape.

Spray paint the rest of the exposed area with as many coats as you need.

Once it dries to the touch, remove the tape and add an optional protective clear coat.

Step 4: Prep the Electronics

LED Strip

The Arm Cannon has 4 parallel rows of lights so you'll want to cut off 4 pieces of an LED strip at appropriate lengths. To reconnect them all back to the same power source use 3 pin LED strip connectors. You can strip the other ends and wire them all together or if you have a small breadboard you can neatly wire them that way (3rd picture).

Plasma Ball

Before working with the plasma ball make sure it's powered down and unplugged.

Begin by unscrewing the base and unscrewing the circuit board from the base. When you remove the circuit board the wire should come right out.

To remove the ball carefully use a hand rotary tool and cut around the plastic neck of the base were it connects to the ball. Be very careful to not hit or crack the ball! Plasma balls are filled with neon and sometimes other gasses like argon and xenon. While they pose no real threat to you this gas is what causes the ball to light up like it does and if it escapes you'll have to get a whole new plasma ball.

Step 5: Install the LED Strips

To install the LED strips you need to cut through and hollow out the section of the 3D print where you want the lights to show through.

If you're using cardboard tubes or PVC pipes this process is even more straight forward.

You'll want to position and fix the electronics along the walls of the tube if you wish for it to be wearable as well.

Step 6: Install the Plasma Ball

Once the plasma ball has been carefully removed from it's base you'll just need to cut out a section in the barrel of the Arm Cannon (if you 3D printed).

Measure the diameter of the base of the neck on the plasma ball and draw an appropriate sized circle on the barrel of the Arm Cannon. Use a hand rotary tool to cut out the circle until you have a hole that allows the plasma ball to fit snugly.

Reinstall the circuit board by reinserting the wire into the exposed hole of the plasma ball neck.

Step 7: Assemble and Light It Up!

I chose to attach the separate 3D printed pieces with hooks and elastics that will allow me to disassemble it should I need to access the electronics. Once the Arm Cannon is connected and the ball is connected to the barrel plug in your electronics to the power sources (battery packs for mobile use or wall powered for stationary display). Depending on the LED strips you chose it may come with an app that will allow you to control it from your phone remotely as well as program and customize a wide variety of colors and patterns!

Thanks for ready and enjoy!

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