Tasked with making us look fancy at our first trip to SiliCon with Adam Savage, our Maker in Residence, Toby, whipped up multi-coloured lightsabers, mini robots, and a Pico-powered Arc Reactor. We were inundated with requests to share the build details, so Toby dutifully produced a comprehensive step-by-step tutorial to show you how to make your very own Arc Reactor. Just in time for Halloween.
Toby’s full tutorial is, by design, exponentially more grown-up than my blogs in tone, so a lot of his SNL‑worthy jokes were self-censored. I saved my favourite one, though, and present it to you here, for adulation:
“Raspberry Pi Pico is an affordable, robust, and compact microcontroller built using RP2040, Raspberry Pi’s own silicon, making it the perfect choice for this project. Wait a minute: Affordable? Robust? Compact? — ARC! Perhaps Raspberry Pi is the real-life Stark Industries!”New Toby — Maker in Residence
- Raspberry Pi Pico
- Flexible strip of colour pixel LED lights (Toby used this WS2812B strip and cut it down)
- 3mm thick acrylic sheet
- Self-adhesive flexible mirror tile sheet and one-way mirror self-adhesive film
- Rechargeable battery
- Slide toggle switch to turn the lights off and on
All the STL design files for the 3D-printed enclosure parts are available for free here.
Simple visual tricks to make your Arc Reactor pop
The 3D infinity effect produced by the LEDs might look fancy, but it’s actually super easy. The adhesive mirror sheet and one-way mirror film work together to stretch the 31 individually addressable LEDs further.
The Arc Reactor case also looks really authentic, and you can achieve the exact same look by using the publicly available STL design files. Toby put on the finishing touches with black and copper-tone craft paint.
If you’ve not had a look at our Raspberry Pi tutorials page yet, you’re missing out on being lovingly hand‑held through making all sorts of Pi-powered projects that you might feel a little daunted to try on your own. Each tutorial tells you exactly what hardware you need, as well as taking you through each step using jargon-free language.
Toby’s Arc Reactor tutorial is no different. You’ll learn how to install the firmware, programme your Pico, and construct your hardware. Then we’ll walk you through how to assemble everything and do some final checks before the big switch-on.
Check out the tutorial and give it a go!