Introduction: You, As Tony Stark, As Iron Man

About: I am a mechanical and electrical double major at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In addition to doing what college kids typically do, I build robots, Battlebots(tm), and practical inventions like personal…

Have you ever wanted to feel like the greatest technology based superhero of all time?  Then look no further! This Instructable will show you how I made my Tony Stark / Iron Man costume based on a particular scene from Iron Man 1.

This Tony Stark / Iron Man costume is different from others in that the armor plates are actually made of metal instead of plastic. Additionally, the armor and reactor do more than just light up; the suit actually fades in the LEDs in the hand RT when you tilt your hand back, looking as if you were charging up to blast one of Iron Man's foes!

Do you want to have a Tony Stark / Iron Man Costume or THE BEST Tony Stark  / Iron Man Costume at the party? Amaze all your friends, acquaintances, and random people you pass as you raise your hand and change up your hand repulsor! Very popular at costume parties, fraternity parties, or walking around at night.

Step 1: Materials

This costume has three main components:
1) Clothing
2) The Arc Reactor
3) The Right Hand Repulsor Thruster and Forearm Armor

Materials required for the costume have been divided into their respective partitions:

1) Clothing:
- a muscle shirt
- a pair of dress slacks
- a pair of dress socks (optional)
- a pair of dress shoes

2) Arc Reactor:
- Computer with image processing capabilities (design software like Solidworks is a better option)
- Surface mount (SMT - surface mount technology) LEDs (light emitting diodes)
- about 8 feet of thin gauge wire (22 - 24 gauge is fine)
- electrical connectors
- soldering iron and solder
- tape (masking, electrical, duct are good choices but only one type is needed)
- a wire coat hanger (preferably without the clothes on it)
- basic hand tools (hole tapping kit, drill, pliers, etc)
- aluminum foil (or anything reflective)
- glossy red spray paint
- scrap plastic (from food containers is a cheap source)
- scissors or cutting device
- batteries and battery holding device
- small electrical switch
- 24 gauge red magnet wire

3) Hand Repulsor Thruster and Forearm Armor
- gardening glove (latex glove not recommended because it will get hot and sweaty very quickly)
- computer with image processing software (design software like Solidworks is preferred)
- cardboard
- soldering iron
- craft glue (amazing goop, E6000, hot glue gun
- about 10 feet of thin gauge wire (22 - 24 gauge is fine)
- electrical connectors
- Arduino programming board and programming cable
- scrap plastic
- scissors or cutting device
- batteries and battery holding device
- small electrical switch
- resistors (1k ohm or less)

 Many of the materials and tools used in the project are shared between the other portions, so if you decide to build this it may be a good idea to read through the entire Instructable to know exactly what you will need.

Step 2: Clothing

Although it is hard to tell what exactly Tony is wearing in that scene of the movie (with the exception of the muscle shirt) but since we know Tony has just returned from a formal event we know he must be dressed in formal wear.

For the muscle shirt, I bought a cheap pack of Fruit of the Loom muscle shirts for less than $5.  The black dress pants were purchased on the clearance rack of a department store. Be sure buy dress pants without vertical stripes!

For footwear, I assumed Tony was wearing dress socks and dress shoes. If you don't already own a pair, you can get a good deal at places like Target.

Step 3: Arc Reactor: Intro

Before I begin describing the building process, I would like to clarify a simplification I made. Because I knew the arc reactor would (in most cases) be hiding behind my muscle shirt, I elected to design parts that would cast the characteristic arc reactor patterns on the shirt instead of making a ridiculously accurate model. Not only would this be more cost effective, but it would build quicker and probably be more durable than extremely detailed models.

The breakdown of the Arc Reactor section is outlined below:

Step 1: Design
Step 2: Fabrication
Step 3: Construction

Step 4: Arc Reactor: Design

After browsing a few pictures of arc reactors, I was able to design a model of an arc reactor in a design software called Solidworks.

In this model, the outer ring (3) and the inner piece (1) are made of 6061 aluminum. The inner ring the the notches (2) is made of acrylic, polycarbonate, PETG, or any clear plastic. It is important that this ring be slightly transparent so that light from the LEDs can pass through. Additionally, the notches that appear on the inner ring are used to help organize the magnet wire that will be wrapped around it.

The total diameter of the model is 3".

At the same time, I designed mounts to hold the batteries. I used some spare Lithium Iron Phosphate cells I had laying around, but two AA Alkaline batteries in series should also work fine.

Step 5: Arc Reactor: Fabrication

Since I had 3-D models of the parts, I elected to use the services of Big Blue Saw to machine them. They specialize in small orders of parts using laser or waterjet machining.

In the model I have two different types of materials at two different thicknesses. I decided to have the metals (6061 Aluminum) waterjet machined, and the plastics (PETG) laser cut. For the time being I ignored the outer ring because it would not have been cost effective to machine an additional part at that thickness.

Step 6: Arc Reactor: Construction Pt1.

Now it is time to put those machined parts together!

I bought a bunch of LED boards from my local surplus store with the intention of prying the beautiful surface mount (SMT) LEDs off. I had to remove them from the boards by heating up the positive and negative terminals with a soldering iron and carefully prying them from the board. I have decided to use three LEDs per arc reactor, spaced 120 degrees apart.

Rubberized glue secured the LEDs to the underside of the aluminum center fixture.  I also spread spread a light layer of glue across the underside of the metal to add a non-conductive barrier. This is a helpful safety barrier for when I begin soldering the LEDs together.

I wraped some magnet the magnet wire around the PETG inner ring for that authentic feel even though people will never really see it. I cut about 4 feet of wire length and begin wrapping between the tabs. I ended up with 10 aesthetically pleasing complex winds of wire.

 Next step I soldered the LEDs together in a parallel circuit. Minimizing the amount of wire used to connect the LEDs was difficult but worthwhile. If the wires were not minimalized, they would leave unwanted shadows from the wire on the muscle shirt.

One complexity to the construction of the arc reactor was the viewing angle of the LEDs. Because my arc reactor is projected to be about 1/2" tall, I would need an extremely wide viewing angle to illuminate the entire arc reactor if I were to mount the LEDs to the back. However most LEDs have viewing angles of about 50 degrees. To solve this problem, I shined the LEDs in the reverse direction and used a reflective back panel to double the effective distance the light would have to travel. This increased the illuminated area of the arc reactor significantly.

For the back panel, I cut a circle of aluminum foil and glued it to the back of a conveniently sized butter tub lid. The arc reactor was then glued on top of that reflective layer.

Step 7: Arc Reactor: Construction Pt2.

Next I devised a method of mounting the arc reactor to my body. I used pliers to bend a metal coat hanger into something like a miniature hot dog vendor's pack. First bend the wire into a V shape and then make two large diameter bends perpendicular to the V-shaped bend. The first bend is used to hold the arc reactor and the next two bends wrap around your shoulders. I had to empirically determine the optimal width such that the wires would hide under the shoulder straps of the muscle shirt.

I adhered the arc reactor to the wire frame mount by making an adhesive backing. Rip a few strips of your favorite tape, and stick it to the backside of the wire frame such that the sticky side is facing forwards. Trim the excess lengths of tape to about 1/2" an inch from the edge of the wire and then wrap these remanding lengths around the wire to ensure a secure grip. Now you can stick your arc reactor into the sticky plane formed by the sheet of tape.

Last but not least, solder the arc reactor's LED power leads to your favorite power source. I added a single pole, double throw (SPDT) in between the battery and the LEDs so I could turn them on and off as I pleased. For longevity of the LEDs and your batteries, it is usually a good practice to add a resistor in the circuit. I used a 47 ohm resistor but be warned; adding a resistor will affect your brightness!

Step 8: Right Hand RT and Forearm Armor: Intro

The arm pieces were created in a similar fashion to the arc reactor. Many of the steps overlap with the arc rector and should be done simultaneously to reduce setup time and machining costs.

Step 1: Design & Fabrication
Step 2: Construction

Step 9: Right Hand RT & Forearm Armor: Design & Fabrication

Making any parts to fit around your body can be complicated. Rather than waste materials, I employed geometry and cardboard to make a test model before creating the final designs in Solidworks.

I used a ruler to measure the diameter of my forearm at my wrist and near my elbow and used that data to calculate circumference. Knowing the length of my forearm and the length of the circles spread out, I designed two metal frame pieces that would clamp over my arm. The armor plates also mount to this frame.

Also using cardboard and visual cues, I created models for the armor panels surrounding the frame, and the panels on the back of Tony's hand.

Once again, I employed the services of Big Blue Saw. I had these parts cut in the exact same order as my arc reactor parts to save money. The fame and outer panels are made of 6061 Aluminum.

Step 10: Right Hand RT & Forearm Armor: Construction Pt1.

Now that the parts are machined, it is time to put them together, First thing I did was add bends to the sheet metal parts like in the model. I accomplished this by clamping the parts to the edge of a cinder block and hitting the overhung parts to create a bend. Unless you have a vice, I recommend clamping the parts between two solid materials in addition to the cinder block to get a cleaner bend.

Next I began bolting armor panels to the frame. I ended up using a piece of scrap plastic to cover the majority of the forearm because it was easier to machine and form than the metal plates. It also allowed me to implement a quick and easy removal system so I didn't have to be encased in armor the entire party. Removing one bolt allows the frame to split in half; this allows me to slip my hand out of the frame instead of unscrewing every bolt. A rubber band from some produce was used as a spring tensioner to keep the panels together.

The hand was built around a latex/cloth glove I bought from Lowe's. I cut out more sections of scrap plastic and glued them to the finger tips, back hand, and palm of the glove. Note that the metal plates on the back hand are not rigidly attached to the glove. I bent a few pieces of scrap plastic and glued them between the metal plates to act as a spring loaded hinge. This will be used to facilitate the repulsor blast switches discussed later in the Instructable.

Then I added that glossy apple red color to the armor with a can of spray paint. First remove the armor panels from the forearm frame (since the frame is still gunmetal color) and spray in a well ventilated area.

Now I added some random wire to add visual complexity to the props. All sizes welcome, variations in color are encouraged. Glue one end of the wire near the wrist of the armor, run a length of it down the forearm, and then loop it back near the starting point. Do this as many time as necessary to make it look complex.

Step 11: Right Hand RT & Forearm Armor: Construction Pt2.

With the armor physically complete, it is now time to add functionality! First install some LEDs in the palm of the glove. I used two of the same LEDs I used in the arc reactor. A metal ring from a scrapped hard drive organizes them in the palm of my hand.

The coolest part of the costume is the use of the Arduino to give it special effects.
I used an Arduino developer board to make the LEDs in the palm of the glove fade from zero to maximum intensity when the wrist is cocked back to make it look like I was about to blast someone with the RT.

I placed a magnet under one of the flexibly mounted back hand armor panels and a reed switch under the armor panel of the fore arm. A reed switch is a switch that is activated by the presence of a magnetic field. When I tilt my hand back, the armor panel slides up the forearm and trips the switch. This tells the Arduino to begin pumping voltage to the palm LEDs with an continually increasing amount.

Here is a video demonstrating its function:

Step 12: Trifecta

After a long 4 weeks of work, it is time to put them all together.

I hope you enjoyed reading this Instructable and feel inspired to build something of your own.

Follow along my other insane projects at my blog:

Thanks for reading! Cheers!

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