Simplest Iron Man Arc Reactor

Hello internet! Today I will walk you through, in my opinion, the simplest Arc Reactor you can make. The Reactor itself is not very accurate, however, the main point of this project was to get the glow pattern through the shirt right. This can be done relatively quickly and cheaply, great for last minute halloween costumes or whatever else you want to be Tony Stark for. Lets get started!

Step 1: Tools & Supplies

In total, this build was about $24. This does NOT include the tools, the wire, the solder, tape, the ice breakers etc, etc, because chances are you have these lying around (or will use them again, if only to eat :P)


  • Soldering Iron (for the wiring)
  • Hot Glue Gun (for keeping everything in place)
  • Compass (for the perfectionists who want perfect circles)
  • Permeant Marker (for marking the holes and location of lights)
  • X-Acto Knife (for cutting the holes in the container)
  • Scissors/Pliers/Wire Cutters (anything you can use to cut and strip wires)


  • Ice Breakers
  • LEDs x5 (I used blue 5v) about $3.50 each
  • Battery Holder (Optional, see step 5) about $2.00
  • Switch (Optional, see step 5) about $3.00
  • Wire (Your choice of any type)
  • AAA Batteries x3
  • Electrical Tape

Now that you have all the required items, you can get started :D


I found out later that buying LEDs on Ebay is much better, because for less than I spent on 6 LEDs at RadioShack I can get 100 LEDs and resistors, both saving me money, and time (with the resistors, I can just use a 9v battery and not need the case or switch) Here are the links if your interested. LEDs & Resistors

Step 2: Draw & Cut the Holes

First, find an Arc Reactor photo (Here's the one I used) and resize it to fit you ice breakers container, then use your compass to replicate the pattern onto the container. Next trace with the sharpie. Finally, you cut the holes out with the X-Acto knife. You now have the shell that will allow light through in the pattern we want.

Step 3: Wiring the LEDs

Start by marking out where you want the LEDs to go, I derped and drew an extra dot, so just ignore that ;) Next, take your first wire (what will be the negative wire) and wrap it around the edge. After that, take another wire (what will be positive) and make a smaller circle in the middle. Then wire the shorter lead on the LED to the outer ring, and the other end to the inner circle. Trim the excess wire off. Repeat for all your LEDs. The center one is the only really tricky one, start by bending the outer wire towards the middle. Then wire the LED from the end of the outer wire to the end of the inner circle. As long as the LED is in the center and none of the wires cross each other, your fine. Finally, just punch a hole in the container, and let the wires stick out so you can test it.

Step 4: Fixing Light Bleed

Now that all of your LEDs are wired and light up, your are nearing the end. The last challenge is the light bleed. This can be solved simply by covering the top with Duct-Tape and cutting out the holes with your X-Acto knife. As you can see by the photos, the light bleed is severely cut down. And finally, just tape the ends to your AAA batteries, tape the batteries, and tape the reactor to your chest. You have an working Arc Reactor! Congratulations!

Step 5: Fancy Battery Case/Switch (Optional)

At this point, your Arc Reactor just works. You can put the stick of batteries in your pocket and walk around all day as Tony Stark. However, if you want to be able to turn the reactor on or off without removing the tape, you need a switch. I took a AAA casing that holds three batteries and hot glued the toggle switch. Solder the negative wire from the battery to one side of the switch, then to the negative end of the Arc Reactor. To finish your project for real, solder the remaining batteries together and you have a working Arc Reactor that can be turned on or off. :D Hoped this helped, and please leave feedback. This is my first instructable and any and all feedback is welcome!

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    16 Discussions

    Sorry for the late reply, but that looks sweet! What are you using to hold the battery? And did you spray paint the container or something? Either way, it looks much more professional than the heap of duct tape i have. :P


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I just used duct tape because I was pressed for time, but other ones I've seen have use an old heart rate monitor strap, or sewed a pocket on the inside of the shirt. As for the switch anything will work, I just went to RadioShack and got the first toggle switch I could find.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Could you send me a link to the switch? I don't have a RadioShack near my house and radios hacks are out of business because of bankruptcy

    It was just some 28 gauge wire I had lying around. I don't think it matters, though. Anything would probably work.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    So Soldering is not necassary in this project? If I did not have the tools, could i just use electrical tape to keep the negative wire and positive wire on each side of the switch?

    1 reply

    Maybe, but it probably wouldn't last as long, and might come apart. If you try it though, please tell me how it works :D


    4 years ago on Step 5

    This was pretty good actually. I might try it to get over my fear of soldering guns again :)