Flashing Paper Lightning Bolt

About: A lowly geologist who likes to build stuff.

My psychedelic Zeus costume required a flashy lightning bolt. I initially considered making one completely out of sheet metal, but it seemed far too dangerous to carry around, so I switched to a steel tube wrapped in card paper. I played around with many geometries before settling on the result you see here; and I am very pleased with the result. You get zigzag cross section no matter which way the bolt is turned, and the steel core gives it a nice solid feel. The steel core was also useful to mount the magnetic LED lights.

For this project you will need the following supplies:

  1. 1 sheet of yellow card paper (1$ from the dollar store)
  2. 1 four foot length of square steel tubing (half inch diameter) 8$ from hardware store.
  3. Some battery powered LED lights such as these.
  4. Scissors
  5. Ball point pen and pencil
  6. Clear packing tape
  7. Glue gun

Step 1: Wrap the Tubing

Hold the tubing along the edge of the card paper and roll it 5 times. Draw a line along this edge, and cut. Repeat one more time. These strips will be used to wrap the steel tubing. Scoring the card paper with a ball point pen prior to folding helps to guide the folds and make a cleaner finish. See the pictures to understand how I finished the ends. I then had a set of extra hands to hold the card paper tight around the bar while I applied some clear packing tape.

Step 2: Preparing the ZigZags

I played around with some plain paper until I got the geometry I was looking for. The length of the arrowheads were 24cm and the height was 20cm. After you've cut the first one, you can use it to trace the 5 others. Cut them out and score the center line with a ball point pen before folding it.

Step 3:

Glue the arrowheads onto the tubing with the glue gun, alternating their directions. You'll note that the short edges of the arrowheads will line up to create a nice overall pattern. Attach your lighting system, magnetic attachments make this even easier.

That's it, make sure to use your new-found electric powers for good!



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    3 Discussions

    deus ex

    2 years ago

    reminds me of darks souls. would go great for some cosplays

    1 reply
    deus ex

    2 years ago

    reminds me of darks souls. would go great for some cosplays