I've had this idea for awhile that involves designing a tesseract in the physical world, at least some type of representation of it. One of the things that comes to mind are the very cool infinity mirror style designs and shapes. In order for those to work they need to be brighter on the inside than they are on the outside. Since I want this to be a small object, able to be held in the hand, I knew it would be difficult to use electronics. I decided to use tritium vials as the light source! This is kind of a first version, a prototype. Its difficult to put together because glue is required. Future versions should be easier. If you want to make this versions, follow along, watch the video. You can reuse tritium vials in future versions if you decide to make those as well.
Safety Notice: Please be aware of and in accordance with the Laws and Regulations of your current residing country with regards to the handling/owning/working with tritium objects. While these vials are safe in their intact form, tritium can be a dangerous element in certain situations, so please be aware and handle with care.
Step 1: Watch the Video
The video goes through the build process as well, if you prefer to learn that way!
Step 2: Get the Parts and Materials!
There aren't many parts to this one! Remember, if you get the parts from my shapeways link, you will be supporting my projects(I get a little off the top of the sale). If you have your own printer capable of printing this(most probably don't) feel free to print them yourself. Its thin, and likely wont work on FDM printers.
- 3D Printed Parts from Shapeways, or files from Thingiverse.
- 8 x Tritium Vials - 3.5mm x 25mm - I get mine from MixGlo (not affiliated).
- 12 x 12" Two way Mirror - Amazon Affiliate Link
- Thick Super Glue
- Glue Gun and Hot Glue(maybe)
- Table Saw or Something to Cut Acrylic
- Laser cutter if you have one(I wish I did!) - instead of saw.
- Ability to work with glue without getting finger prints all over acrylic.
Step 3: Cut the Acrylic to Size.
There are lots of ways to do this. You need to end up with
- 6 - 20mm square pieces mirror acrylic
- 6 - 56.5mm square pieces mirror acrylic
- Use the DXF File provided and use a laser cutter(Highly recommended!)
- Print out the PDF file and use a saw of some sort to cut it.
- Have someone else cut it... etc.
I cut out the guidelines for the squares and used spray adhesive to stick them to the protected acrylic, then cut them out on a saw. This was tricky, and the result wasn't great. Thinner acrylic doesn't cut so well.
Step 4: Add Mirrors to Center Piece.
I was lucky enough to have my center cut pieces of mirror have a snug fit, so I omitted the hot glue. If you're not so lucky you will have to hot glue them into place. You will have to remove the protection pieces of plastic on the acrylic. The blue side, once removed, is the side that will be on the inside(glue side).
Step 5: Stick in Tritium Vials.
Now it is time to support the center piece(the one you just added mirrors to) in the middle of the larger frame. The tritium vials are the support. There are small friction fit holes for the vials on each corner of each 3D printed piece. The 3D printed pieces, because they are printed in SLS nylon, are nice and flexible. You will need to carefully flex the frame to get all of the tritium vials in place. I started with the bottom, then moved to the top. I don't think there is any right or wrong way to do this. Just because not to break the vials!
Step 6: Glue the Outside Mirrors.
This time you want the mirrors blue side on the outside. You will need to add a small amount of thick super glue to the rim of the mounting location. Take care to not get any strings inside of the case, or they will be visible later. I hate glue and gluing things, so future versions will likely be screwed down. It still worked out but its tedious and easy to get glue finger prints on everything!
Step 7: Thats It, Your Done!
Time to turn out the lights!
Step 8: Turn Out the Lights.
The tritium vials are already pretty dim, and in order for the effect to work, the light on the inside has to be brighter than the light on the outside. Turn off the lights and see the magically effect take place. I love that this doesn't require any batteries and will glow for a long time(10-15 years). It works!
Step 9: Support These Projects!
Lastly, if you enjoy my projects please check out and subscribe to my YouTube Channel. There, you will definitely find more projects to make.
If you really enjoy what I do, consider becoming a patron on Patreon. SeanHodgins on Patreon - My patrons directly influence my ability to continue to create these open source projects.
Thanks for viewing!