Portal 2 "Pillar Button"




Introduction: Portal 2 "Pillar Button"

Edit: Instructable rewritten byJGWalrus

Hi! My name is Gaston Sueldo, I'm 16, I live in Argentina and yesterday I made this.

Step 1: Get Your Materials!

What I used: (Quite necessary)

1 meter (3.28 feet) of 10.16 cm (4 inches) of white PVC pipe
1m of blue LED strip 
1 electric converter
1 on/off switch
1 hamster wheel (I'll explain later)
A sheet of blue cellophane
A cap from a vacuum bottle (type of Thermos bottle)
A spring
Some wire
Wooden dowel or handle
Paint; Red, Black, Crystal Clear and White
Piece of 5cm x 5cm (2" x 2") lumber

Optional Items:
Cheap Mp3 player


Duct Tape
Electrical tape or Heat shrink tubing
Soldering iron and tin
Hot glue gun and glue
Dremel or Sand paper
Hammer and Nails
Tape Measure

Step 2: Making the Housing

After researching the button online, I started off with the PVC

(IMAGE 1-2)
Using the hacksaw I cut the PVC on an angle similar to the one in the game.
I then measured the surface of the pipe and divided it in 4 parts marking 2cm strips on the front and sides
After that I cut out the strips from the bottom of the pipe to 10cm before the end.
Once all the strips where cut I sanded all the edges with my dremel.

This was the most painful part of the build because I used a saw without a handle, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you use
something like a dremel with a cutting piece.

(IMAGE 3-4)
I cut some strips of the cellophane 10cm long and 3-4cm wide and attached them behind the cut strips with tape.

f your pipe does not retain its shape due to the strips you cut out:Use a surplus piece of PVC pipe to keep it open for the moment.


II decided to use the button to control a MP3 player. I cut a hole in the back near the bottom to store the MP3 in. I sanded the edges down with my Dremel.

this is optional, adding a MP3 player will raise the cost of the project. If you don't add an Mp3 player, just cut
a small hole for the wires

(IMAGE 6-7)
For the red button I just took a cap off a vacuum bottle and painted it red. While the paint was drying, I searched for and printed off an Aperture Science logo.
(The logo isn't on the button in-game, but I put it there out of personal taste.)
Then I cut out one of the triangles and made the same logo in cardboard, glued it to the cap and painted it as well.

When it was all dry I gave it several coats of clear paint to make the paint more durable.

(IMAGE 8-9)

To make the black border around the button I used an old half of a hamster wheel. Yes I know, it's hard to find one, but I did it and you probably can too.
If not you can get creative finding something similar (or even better). I painted it black to match the in-game pillar.

Step 3: Making the Inside

I cut a wooden board to fit from the bottom of the pillar to near the top. Mine was 80cm long, but yours may vary depending on the size of your dowel and spring.
The round piece on top keeps the pipe open. (If your bottom was closing in earlier, add one to the bottom as well.)
After all that I drilled two holes in opposite sides of the round top.

Paint the stand of wood with withe paint, that will make the ligth bounce more, i didn't do it and now you can clearly see the wood inside

(IMAGE 2-3)
The LEDS that I bought came with a strip of tape. I used it to attach the LEDS to the wood and passed the cable end through the hole I cut earlier. In the other hole I passed the end of my electrical converter
and attached it to wood using electrical tape.

(IMAGE 4-5)
I glued the on-off button in the center of the round using hot glue. The on-off button interrupts one of the cables do I cut 2-3cm of two of the four cables and striped them all.
Once that was done I just soldered the two long wires to each other with the soldering iron and protected it using heat shrink tubing. (Remember to put it on before soldering the wires)

(IMAGE 6-7)
I glued a large spring to the inside of the red button and I covered the end of it in electrical tape so it doesn't connect with any of the wires.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The spring needs to be long enough to get from the wood to the exterior, and wide enough o fit the switch inside.

(IMAGE 8-9-10)
Next, I cut the end off a broomstick (Or use a dowel) that was the length of the spring, minus the height of the on-off switch, so it could touch both ends.
Then I just made a small hole with the drill so the switch could fit nicely and glued the stick on top of it.

(IMAGE 11-12)
Finally I glued the end of the stick to the bottom of the red button and I also glued the base of the spring to the round plate in a way that it wouldn't touch any wires.
I soldered the wires to the switch and isolated them with shrink tubing.


Step 4: The End

Thank you for reading this instructable. I've seen that some people want to have a Portal themed room and thought this would be a nice addition.

To finish it off I made a simple wooden base and painted it black. I painted the PVC pipe white to cover any marks, and made some simple shelves for my speakers.

The pictures explain everything. If you have any questions you can contact me here or by my youtube channel.

Also thanks to the user JGWalrus for rewrite all the instructable to English. I really appreciate it


1 Person Made This Project!


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I feel compeled to make this this summer. Portal, and a way to make a big red button. What more could you want?

Dashing Rainbow Dash

you should add one of those sound recorders so it plays the sound when you push the button


7 years ago

for a portal themed room you could use it as a light switch. 5* great instructable!


7 years ago on Introduction

Lo podrías subir en español, también soy de argentina y no se nada de ingles.

big kahuna burger
big kahuna burger

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Usa un traductor como google translate y si tenes alguna pregunta especifica avisame y te ayudo.


8 years ago

How did you get ideas on how to build it?


9 years ago on Introduction

Beautiful in it's simplicity, it is a lovely instructable.

As Clazman asked (but not yet answered) what would I use this for? I've not seen anything like this before, nor have I heard of it. I'd love to know!

big kahuna burger
big kahuna burger

Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

i didn't fully understand the question but basically in the game: Portal and Protal 2 the button normally releases a cube or a gel and is pretty similar to the one i build. In real life my portal button gives ligth and plays music in my room. If you didn't ever play the game here is a video that has it:


You can see the button at 0:43. So yeah you can change a lot of things in it to make it better but i wanted to make similar to the in game button

big kahuna burger
big kahuna burger

Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

Also my next future project can be seen in that video at 1:19
Is the giant red button on the floor, that will open the door of my bedroom and will turn on a path of ligths from the button to the door, by putting a cube on it.

If you didn't play portal isn't really good to build this, i mostly made this instructable to help persons (like me) that want to have a "portal themed bedroom"


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

Ah, now I understand! Thanks for the clarification!


9 years ago on Introduction

Not being at all familiar with pillar buttons and their purpose so my thought might sound stupid.

Why not make the slots discontinuous? The ribs would help maintain the circular cross section of the tube.

A router and a fixture, i.e. v-block, could help make the slots more professional.

Nice job, for whatever this device accomplishes.


9 years ago on Introduction

Nice to see an argentinian here!!!

Nice project, keep them going on =)


9 years ago on Introduction

Awesome...Thats all I can say. I'll have to make this soon.


9 years ago on Introduction

Nice job... I really like that size button. I just turned 60 years and big is much easier for my hands and eyes. Thanks :o)