L.E.D Arc Reactor for 'Iron' Man Costume




Introduction: L.E.D Arc Reactor for 'Iron' Man Costume

First and Foremost: I followed another Instructable to build the Arc Reactor. As stated in the other instructable, it was about a 9 hr build. This particular build is more than 9 hours long, as I wanted the lights inside the ring to do more then just turn on/off. I started this project by designing and building a 10 channel L.E.D. chaser circuit to put into the Arc ring. If you want to view the Arc reactor and circuit in action, go here.

Equipment Used for this project:

craft glue gun, craft glue

X-Acto Knife set for cutting, trimming

Drill and drill bits (sizes: 7/64", 3/16:", 13/64", 3/8")

Soldering Iron, Dremel, routing bit for dremel

Electronic Parts List:

10x 5mm bright L.E.D's (clear-white)

3x 5mm bright L.E.D's (clear-blue)

1x 10mm bright L.E.D (clear-white)

14x 1K ohm (1/4 watt is fine) resistors, 3x 100 ohm (1/4 watt is fine) resistor,

1x 10k ohm trim pot

1 555 timer, 1x 4017 decade counter

2x 10uf(16V) capacitor

1x 4007 diode (for reverse polarity protection)

22 gauge bare copper wire (for windings)

18-20 gauge bare copper wire (for internal rings)

22-26 gauge ribbon cable wire for the 10 channel output of the 4017 chip to L.E.D.'s

perforated board to solder electronic parts together

RJ11 female telephone jack connectors, RJ11 male telco connectors with wires

1x SPST switch

1x 9V battery, 1 9V battery connector


Craft Glue

homemade plastic mold (made from moisturizer lid-diameter 104mm), can of beans(diameter 65mm), wood base, screws to hold into place)

040"(1mm) thick PolyStyrene

Black tape

6x computer motherboard stand-off's, 3x motherboard screws (to hold the inner ring in place)

Optional Materials for Iron Man Costume:

4'x8' Durafoam to make a 'Iron' look for the Iron Man costume

2 rolls Duct tape

old back pack with straps

Industrial strength velco with double sided adhesive

Tear Drop template for steam vent cut-outs

Old pair of hockey gloves

2 under counter lights from a dollar store

6x 'AAA' batteries for the pulsar lights

optional Halloween color Velum paper(available on ebay) to put over the pulsar lights

shin pads, preferably back catchers shin pads

**PATIENCE** lol

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Step 1: Designing and Testing the Chaser Circuit

I took the circuit design and diagram from www.eleccircuit.com. I made a modification for the timing part of the circuit. I changed the values of the 2 resistors on either side of the 10K trim pot to 100 ohms because I wanted the 555 Timer to pulse as fast as possible to give the ring a glow affect when the pulse reaches it's maximum. To view the circuit in operation, go here. Click to view the circuit diagram.

I put the circuit together on a breadboard to make sure it worked properly. Then I left it all connected until the glue ring was ready for the L.E.D.'s. I put a picture of a finished circuit soldered to a perforated board and used the RJ11 female connectors and hot glued them to secure them to the board.

Step 2: Making the Arc Ring From a Glue Mold

This step was a little bit more difficult. The difficult part was the unmolding of the ring. I found a lid from a moisturizer container from the Body shop that I had lying around. This one had a lid about 104mm in diameter, it was perfect! You can find something similar too. The inner part is just a can of beans with a base diameter of about 65mm. In the above picture you will see them bolted together on a wood base. Finding center and it being accurate is very important.

Tip: I applied Vaseline on the mold surface to help separate the mold from the glue later.

Next, I melted about 15-20 glue sticks in a frying pan (I used an older one I didn't use that much, in case the glue didn't come off later) on low to medium heat. Stir the glue as it is melting to avoid burn spots. If you have burn spots, the ring won't appear as clear as you would like it to be. The next part you will(should) need some help with. Once the glue is melted, pour the melted glue inside the mold and turn the wood base as you're pouring. Make sure you pour right to the edge and level out the glue for a nice even finish. Now you can separate glue in a couple of hours, but I left mine over night.

When you separate, take your time as to not break or damage the newly made ring. As you can see from the pictures I got a nice even balanced ring, and I am able to make another ring later for someone using the same mold.

Step 3: Drilling Holes in the Ring for the 5mm Clear White L.E.D.'s

First I traced the ring onto a sheet of paper. Then you have to find center. Then using a protractor, I drew lines 36 degrees apart, making 10 spots for the L.E.D.'s. As you can see from the diagram, I centered the paper on the ring and poked 10 holes into the ring, then marked with a black marker to make more visible for drilling.

Pick the smoothest side for the front of the ring, the side people will see and use the other side to drill the holes. Next I drilled 10 holes using a 13/64" drill bit, but not all the way through.

Tip: after you make your first hole and your satisfied with the depth, apply a black piece of tape to the bit so you know where you have to stop for the next 9 holes. Also, you will have to clean the bit of glue every other hole as the bit creates friction and the glue melts some.

My apologies on the next step as I forgot to take pictures of the L.E.D placement on the backside of the ring. Push the L.E.D into the drilled hole with the legs of the LED perpendicular to the ring edges. You will see when you bend over the legs, they almost touch to the next hole(LED). Now you can tie all the negative(short) leads together with one 1K ohm resistor to ground. What I found worked better was 10x 1K ohm resistors on each negative lead for each LED. The lights actually work better for this circuit application as when the timer is pulsing to max, the lights are actually brighter. Use the 22-26 gauge ribbon cable wire to connect each LED on the positive(longer lead) to the output of the 4017 chaser circuit. Connect all LED's with temporary jumpers to the breaded circuit board and test. The above photos are what you should look out for. Apply narrow black tape to cover the newly wired LED leads and resistors to protect them from the winding's in the next step.

Step 4: Making the Wraps and the Copper Windings

Next, use the Polystyrene to make the base for the wire wraps. I cut mine 14mm wide x 49mm long strips and scored each one on one side only at 15mm, 34mm. Now these demensions will be different based on the size of your ring made from your mold, so take note of the width and depth of your ring and adjust accordingly.

The Polystyrene is easy to work with and is easy to cut. In another Instructable he bent them by heating with a lighter, you can do this, but I found much easier to score and use black electrical tape instead of paint them. It still gives it that deep black look. Put the black tape sticky side up and center the scored Polystyrene strip on top of the tape. Make sure you leave some wings on either end or side of your strip so when you bend the Polystyrene strip around the ring no white will show. Make sure the scored side goes against the sticky side of the tape, then you just bend around the ring over top of the LED's.

I found it easier to do the copper winding's at the same time, which holds the Polystyrene in place with no other material/glue required. The winding's are made by 1mm copper wire starting at the back of the ring, wrap the 1mm wire around the first black base 11x. Make sure the last winding ends up at the back side so you can attach it to the first winding then twist them together tightly which makes a cross on the backside holding it in place nicely.

Important: It is important to remember all the L.E.D leads and resistors will be underneath all the 10 copper wraps, make sure each signal wire is routed to one end/side of the ring without getting damaged.

Tip: you can do your first one without twisting the wire together and measure out the remaining 9 wraps. But, I found when you wind the wire around it creates a bend in the wire that is hard get out, which is aesthetics unpleasing to the eye, so I did 1 at a time and the look on the front is great. You will see what I mean when you start bending the wire around the ring over top of the tape covered Polystyrene.

Next: You can add 20 flat copper strips(14mm x 4mm) under the copper winding's as your winding, or you can add the strips later. I found it a bit difficult to add the strips later, so you could dab some crazy clue to hold the strips in place as your winding the 1mm copper around, just make sure you have an even placement of these strips before starting to wind the wire.

The last part: Solder each of the flat strips together with 1mm copper wire to give it the attached look.

Step 5: Backside Arc Mold

I forgot to take a few pictures of the backside procedure, so I'll try and explain the best I can, my apologies.

First: I took the template I drew from a previous step and transposed it the bottom of a plastic food container from the Bulk Barn. Then I measured from the center of each line 15mm wide(7.5mm left & 7.5mm right). This 15mm is slightly wider than each of the copper winding's. I did this for each of the 10 lines. As you can see from the picture, there is a slight ridge on the bottom of the plastic container. I cut a 15mm x 9mm(~width of ridge) hole oneach of the 10 lines. This is so the container sits as flat as possible on the backside of the ring itself and the winding's will align into these holes made.

Next: Once the holes are made, get someone to help hold the ring while you hot glue the container on the backside of the ring, then let cool. Once the glue is cool, cut the container on the side about 18mm high. Cut as level as possible using and exacto knife. I cut the excess of container off because when I melt more glue inside, I just melt until it gets to the top outside ridge and then stop.

Step 6: Adding 3 Bright 5mm Blue LED's and One 10mm Bright White LED

After the backside glue is cooled and complete, first find center. Once you find center, draw one line across and using a protractor draw 3 lines 120 degrees apart. On these lines, mark a dot about 18mm from the edge. Then drill 3 holes using a 13/64" drill bit. Drill with a depth of the same as the main ring. Also at centre, drill another hole using a 3/8" drill bit approximately the same depth. This one will be for the 10mm bright white LED.

Next: Cut 4 'V' grooves from each LED and connect 4 x 1K ohm resistors. Here you could use just 1 resistor for all 4 LED's, but I find the LED's brighter using 4 separate resistors. These backside LED'S are connected directly to +12V, so when the LED's are chasing around the outside, the center ones will be on solid all the time. As you can see the affect is sweet!

Step 7: Making the Inside Front Ring, Center Ring, Risers and Mounting

For this step: You will need a stanley knife(or exacto), dremel or drill, approximately 20mm over flow pipe, and some PolyStyrene. I cut out a ring 55mm ouside diameter, and 35mm inside diameter. After I cut this out, I used a dremel with a 1/8" routing bit to route out oval holes around the ring to give it that tech look. In the one picture above you can see the routed out ring before it was painted black. Also I drilled 3 holes located ~120 degrees apart from each other. I used the ring template to help locate the mounting holes. Before I proceeded to any other step, I took the made ring and put it inside the outside ring and marked the bottom plastic of the backside container where my computer stand-offs will go for the risers and ring mounting. Then I drilled 3x 7/64" holes for the computer motherboard stand-offs. Screw 2x motherboard stand-offs together tightly and then screw into the 3 holes.

I then mounted the ring on the stand-offs and measured out and cut PolyStyrene for the risers. I cut 3x pieces 5mm wide and 33mm long. This time I used a lighter to heat up the spots at the bend points(10mm & 23mm) and used straight edges to get a more 90 degree bend.

Once the 3 were made I mounted these risers with the ring. The bottom 10mm piece will stick out to the center. I then cut about 10mm in length of 20mm diameter of over flow pipe for the center ring. I placed the inner ring of flow pipe in the center (might have to do some eye-balling) atop the bottom part of the rise, and marked on each piece where to cut the excess. I actually stole a bit of over flow pipe from my purge pipe on my water heater.. worked well.. lol I then painted the ring, risers and inner over flow pipe ring semi-gloss black paint. I gave the paint over night to dry.

Lastly, sand the top of the newly painted overflow pipe to be able to glue plumbers solder (which is thicker solder) to the top of the inner ring. Then let it set for a couple of hours. In the one picture there is 3x 2.5mm copper wires that straddle over the plumbers solder. I measured from the bottom of the overflow pipe to the top of the plumbers solder(about 12.5mm), cut 3x 2.5mm diameter copper wire 25mm long. Then I bent the copper wire over the plumbers solder and glued these into place. It gives the actual look of those wires connecting to the inner rings.

The next step is making the inner copper loop rings.

Step 8: Making Inner Copper Wire Loop Rings, and Completion

In the diagram above you can see several 1mm copper wires wrapped together. I used the outside of a can of control cleaner(about 50mm in diameter) and wrapped 1mm copper wire about 5-7 times. I tapped these strands together to make it look like the inside winding of a generator.

Next: I took 2.5mm copper wire and wrapped 1 strand around a acrylic bottle of hobby paint (about 41-42mm in diameter). I didn't solder the open end together, instead I bent the wire back and it acts like a spring with tension and just put it inside atop the lower of the motherboard stand-offs. From the picture it looks like its just sitting in place, but I then took hot glue and glue this ring and the outer ring in place.

Finally: I placed the routed black ring atop the stand-offs, then put the risers and secured them using the stand off screws with washers. I set the inner ring in place and hot glued this ring in place and VOILA, complete!

**If you want to build the 'Iron' part for a Halloween costume, then go to the next step.

Step 9: The 'Iron' Creation

I seen a photo online of possible male funny Halloween costumes and decided to make this one as it is a play on words. Got lots of funny chuckles and reactions when I went out last weekend Oct 29,16. When I got the Arc Reactor completed I thought to myself, what kind of material am I going to use for the Iron?? Well I thought maybe pressed particle board, but that would be too heavy. Then I got speaking with my younger brother who does some home construction and renovation's for odd jobs. He mentioned to use Styrofoam SM. I went out looking and I found some, but it was like $50 bucks a sheet not, a little too high as I was trying to keep the price of making this costume as low as possible. So I kept searching, then I was in Home depot one day and found a piece of Durafoam, 1" thick with chrome siding heat barrier on the one side. I thought, hum.. I had to leave, then I came back another day and found the same Durafoam but it was available in a 1 1/2" as well with a light grey barrier on one side, bingo! The 4'x8' sheet was only $21.94 Cnd before tax, I'm in!

I got a Home Depot rep to cut it to a length that would fit in my small car.. lol

First thing First: I had to figure out how tall and wide I was going to make the Iron, so I could still fit through doors lol. I looked at the picture I had and the bottom of the 'Iron' came just below the knees and there was about ~4-7" above the head. I made the total length 58 1/2" x 30" wide. From the bottom I went up 12" and drew a horizontal line. Then eye-balling it, I drew smooth arc from the 12" line to the tip, then another arc on other side as well. I used a utility knife to cut out the Iron shape because I didn't want to damage the light grey plastic on the opposite side as I didn't want to paint the foam. I could have opted to paint it, but regular oil based paint doesn't work as it will eat away at the foam. I looked at acrylic paint or water based paint and it was almost double the cost.

Tip: When cutting the foam with a utility knife, adjust the blade to it doesn't go all the way through. Take a couple of shallow cuts first, then a deeper cut to almost the other side. This will take a bit of time. When you do this, the foam will break when you bend the cut piece, then you can just take the knife and cut the plastic creating a smooth cut with barely any jagged edges.

So, once this was cut out, I measured from just below my knees to my chest (about 33" from the bottom to center of Arc), found center and used a compass to mark the circle(about 4" in diameter) for the Arc Reactor installation into the foam.

Tip: Once this hole is cut out, press in the Arc Reactor into the hole from the front. If it is stiff to do this, trim some foam out with an exacto knife for the winding's to pass into the hole. Don't quite put the Arc level with the surface, just let it stick out a bit, then use hot glue from the backside to hold it in place.

I had to come up with how to cut the steam holes and where to position them. I followed the picture I had and all I did was google tear drops and then printed out a picture of a tear drop from a craft website. I inserted the tear drop picture into Microsoft word and using tables. I made the tear drops 2 1/2" at its widest x 4 3/8" long. I printed them out and made 8 steam holes located approximately 1 3/4" from the outside edge. I made the two other steam holes aligned with the Arc 1 1/2" from the outside edge.

Tip: I used the dremel with the routing bit from the plastic grey side to start a hole, then used a fine cutting blade and handle from a carving set I had. I did this for all 10 steam holes. This took a long time, so take your time.

After I cut all 10 steam holes I had to figure out how I was going to cover up the exposed white foam inside the holes. I thought I could color match the plastic at a paint store and buy latex paint and attach a compressed spray canister. Again, the cost was too high, so I opted to use silver duct tape. This took a long time too, so take your time when doing this as well.


Eyes: Now, how to do the eyes and small mouth. I drew a line from the center of the Arc up and drew another horizontal line about 8 1/4". This was the approximate distance from the middle of my chest to the middle of my eyes with my head level. I took a picture in of my exact measurements for the eyes. Make sure you do all the measurements from center line outwards. Note: I found the eye measurement brought my actual eyes to the bottom of the hole for the eyes on the Iron, this worked fine and I was able to see very well. Of course yours will be slightly different measurements, but the size of the holes for the eyes should cover it for you as well.

Mouth: I put a picture in of my exact measurements for the mouth. Make sure you do all the measurements from center line outwards.

Mounting the Iron on your body: My apologies, I was outside raking up the leaves and realized I forgot to add this step. You can do this one of two ways: 1: Bristol Board. 2: Backpack. You can use Bristol board and tape it to the sides from the tip of the Iron and then cut semi-circles in the Bristol board so the Iron can rest on your shoulders. This solution is a lot more work. I went out and bought some Bristol board anyway from the dollar store, when I got home I thought, why can't I use Velcro to attach the backpack. Important: You can't use hot glue directly as it will melt the Styrofoam too much for mounting the backpack. So what I did was, I duct taped the back of the Iron instead. I used industrial strength Velcro and attached the Velcro to the backpack then the opposite side of the Velcro to it, then I placed the backpack on the Duct tape approximately where I thought the Arc would line up with the middle of my chest, and voila! Mounted! Tip: later on, you can use hot glue on each of the corners between the two Velcro strips to add extra strength to hold the backpack on the Iron and the Iron to you.

Step 10: Pulsar and Front Leg

Pulsar: I didn't make it too complicated as there is a lot of things you can do technically with this and making an actual Iron Man suit in general. There are a lot of smart people out there that also have the available resources to go much further in the design. I purchased and old pair of hockey gloves at a yard sale for $10 bucks. I was going to paint them and the shin pads, but again I wanted to keep the cost lower, so I just duct taped the gloves. Some of the tape might not stick very well, so I just crazy glued the edges a bit. For the actual light I used 2 under counter lights from a dollar store. They take 3x 'AAA' batteries to power. I had orange color Velum paper(available on ebay) in a filing cabinet from when I made table lanterns from Martha Stewart website. The nice thing about Vellum paper is, you can print practically any image or text on it, put a light behind it and voila! I used this paper to give it a more Halloween look and it also blocked some of the LED light as these lights are bright! When you take a picture of it, it gives it a solid pulsar look.

Tip: When you tape the Vellum paper in front of the LED plastic, make sure you cut the paper large enough so you can still press this plastic window to turn on/off the lights as it has a push button switch behind it.

Front Legs: I searched for a few days on buying catchers shin pads and couldn't find any cheap enough and also I was running out of time as Halloween was approaching. If you can get catchers shin pads, that is preferred as the bottom of the pad sits over the ankle and rests on top of your shoes.This gives it a more suit look when painted. I couldn't find any pads for under $30 dollars, so I purchased hockey shin pads from a locally non-profit store called Value Village instead. You can find a store similar in your area or purchase online on E-bay, Kijiji, etc..

Final Thoughts: This costume took quite a bit of time to make, but I had fun doing it. I found planning it out first really helped and of course having good proper tools available as well. I already had a Dremel, but I didn't have a routing bit. I had to buy a bit ($9.95, this was a cheaper one), to do some routing on the Arc and the Iron part of the costume. So keep this in mind when your making a costume or what ever project you plan on building. For other Videos, tech tips and repair, go to my YouTube Channel, AskTheTechGuyz. Have fun!!

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    3 years ago

    Thank you for commenting, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    Anirudh Ralhan
    Anirudh Ralhan

    3 years ago

    Awesome!!! I will definitely make this :)


    Reply 3 years ago

    That's great! Let me know if you have any questions.

    DIY Hacks and How Tos

    That is seriously one of the best arc reactors that I have seen. I am definitely going to try to make one for my son's Iron Man costume.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Thank you so much! Let me know if you have any questions.