Introduction: Total Recall: Start the Reactor (I Mean Car)

About: I whistle while I'm at work.

One of my favorite Sci-Fi blockbusters is Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall. I loved it when I was 12 and I love it now. It's got Arnold, aliens, action, over the top violence, and slight sci-fi cred since it's based (however loosely) on the Philip K. Dick story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.

Spoilers! Near end of the film Arnold is tasked with starting a reactor that Martians built thousands of years ago. What will happen if he "starts the reactor?" Is it better to stick to the status quo or start that puppy up?

Of course he's gotta start it! And now you can too, though maybe not wholesale.

In this Instructable I'm going to show you how to turn your car into a martian reactor!

Note, there's a very small chance that once the reaction starts, it'll spread to all the turbinium in your car. Your insurance company might not cover the subsequent meltdown.



Step 1: Measure the Engine Start/stop Button

The first thing you have to do is figure out how big the engine start/stop button is on your vehicle. It's very handy to have an inexpensive digital caliper. This is probably my most used tool and if you don't have one I highly recommend that you get one.

I have a Mazda CX-9 and the diameter of the button is about 30mm. That's if you wanted the button to be completely covered. I knocked a couple millimeters off so that the button wouldn't be covered.

Step 2: Find the Alien Hand

The reactor button in the movie has a deep indentation for an alien hand.

It conveniently also fits Arnold's hand almost perfectly! This is the shape the hand needs to be for the button we are making. It's best to find a straight on copy of the button (you'll understand why in another few steps).

I did a bunch of google searches and eventually found this cover from the Steelbook Blu-ray. This is the perfect image because it's black and white AND it's straight on.

Tuck this image in a folder because you'll be using it later.

Step 3: Make a Quick Button Blank

I used Rhino 3D to make this button blank. Basically all you do is revolve a polyline around your measured circle to make a dome. If you don't have Rhino you can download it and get a 30 day free trial for Mac/Win. Save it as an STL.

I originally started this project to make a tiny paperweight or similar desk tchotchke. Because I thought it was just going to be on my desk I put a quote from Kuato on the back, "start the reactor, free Mars." This message won't be necessary for the button cover, but it's still neat to have.

Step 4: Sculpt the Hand

Remember that Blu-ray cover? We're going to make an alpha out of it that can be used in another program, ZBrush.

Alpha Maps are greyscale displacement or bump maps. The gray intensity of an Alpha Map (its dark or light areas) represents the height or depth of the bump or displacement. Alphas can also be used for applying masks or to lay down colors and materials in the shape of an Alpha.

We are going to use it to basically stamp the blank we made in Rhino and then clean up that stamp.

  1. Open the blu-ray cover in photoshop or something similar. Use the lasso tool to select the area around the hand. Refine the edge and then invert the selection. Delete the selection. If the background isn't white already, make it white now. Save as a PSD.
  2. Open up Zbrush (free trial here for Mac/Win) and use the 3D print exporter plugin to actually import the STL and dynamesh it (because Rhino meshes geometry weird) and then divide the model to get a high resolution mesh.
  3. This is probably the most confusing part. Import the hand alpha you made then invert it. Change your brush to drag dot. Then play around with the draw size and z-intensity and stamp the model.
  4. It'll take a little fiddling to get something you like but once you do just use the smooth brush to, well, smooth it out.
  5. Now you've got to decimate your model so it can be 3D printed.

Step 5: 3D Print in Metal!

I used Shapeways to 3D print the finished model. I wanted it in metal. If plastic works for you Shapeways has you covered too or check out your local library or makerspace and print it in ABS or PLA.

Wait for it to arrive!

When it arrives (or is done printing) stick some double sided tape on the back and stick it on your car!

If you want, I also made an automated customizable blank that is up on Shapeways HERE. All sorts of materials are available and you can use all sorts of pictures.

I also made a "Zoom Zoom" and a Universal Power Symbol cover. But I honestly can't get enough of this Martian Reactor button.

I love "starting the reactor" when I get in my car!

Sci-Fi Contest 2016

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Sci-Fi Contest 2016