Modifying an Iron Man II Toy Repulsor Part 1

[25042010 0250]


The toy Repulsor is made up of three main items, the glove, the projectiles and the toy itself. Unlike the toy Arc Light and the Helmet, this one does not come with batteries and so, you will need to supply your own 3x AAA batteries. But like Richard said, this toy is quite loud. Louder than the Arc Light. And so, by some act of random insanity, it fell into my hands.....

"I am leaving this toy with you to tinker with but I want it back by next weekend.", "In one piece?", "That's a good question...."


1) How it works

Remember this: This is a toy and its meant for kids. The toy allows to you to be Iron Man (as far as kids are concerned and marketing people believe in them) which lets you shoot four manually operated lightweight plastic darts and also annoy everyone around with with replusor sound effects and "I am Iron Man" quips. But anyway, just to let you know, in the packaging is the unit itself, 4 missile darts and a small little red kiddy glove, printed both sides. In case you managed to get your Mom to buy two, that is.

OK, so I am a big kid. What you need to do is to strap the main unit to the forearm and then the repulsor unit to your palm. You have to adjust the fitting until you can flick your wrist comfortably upwards.


The moment you flick your wrist upwards, the action will activate the circuit which in turn activates the light and plays one of the two repulsor sounds. If the real Iron Man does this all of the time, he woud have some serious RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury)


Looking at the back or under the toy, the golden part wit the two nozzle like things are where you load the missiles. Then the two buttons on the left is where you release them. I dont have the pictures but the darts look very nice, as if they're some futuristic containers.

And at the side, there is a button (in other words, facing towards you) which when you press it, it plays a choice of robotic "I am Iron Man", "Repulsor Blast!" statements and some other sound effects whcih two were the same for the repulsors. Personally, they sounded more like Optimus Prime. I guess they employed the same voice talent.


At the rear of the toy, are the two holes where you can store the extra two missles. The grill houses the speaker, which in effect, faces you and hence is is loud. (Actually, later on, when I opened it up, it IS loud.)

I noticed one good thing (or bad) about the sound effects is that the moment you cycled to the 'wanted' sound, and while its playing, if you press the button/flick the wrist within a certain time limit, it will play back the same sound. But it only works for the repulsor SFX and that weird effect which starts with a "crack sound before the jet engine explosion". So, if you release the repulsor with the correct timing, you can set it up to play  multiple repulsor blasts.




2) Taking it apart

The toy is secured only by six screws. After you have removed it, you'be surprised why they did not make it any smaller. The whole of the construction was taken up by the battery housing and the shooting mechanisms. Personally, I am much happier without whole dart shooting thing. And so, the idea formed in me is to make the whole lights and sound as compact as possible, for 'Events' functions. Once this is finished, I am stuck with either to fit it to an actual cosplay costume or do a rough Iron Man Repulsor arm as seen in Tony Stark's lab/garage.

Briefly, the construction of the toy is shown above. And so, it is possible to take everything out and compact it.

One good thing about the speaker module is that it has its own echo chamber. But here, you might want to consider using (non-permanent) glue to keep the two covers together.


Now, let's see what Mr. Not-so-accurate-Meter says about the LED voltage. Ye Gods! Its more than three volts! This means, I can power the White LEDs but I might need some resistors! Or do I? Because in the Arc Reactor modification, I removed the resistors and this made them brighter.


And lets see what the six little fellas say about not having any resistors. Yep, they're happy without them. But in reality, these are 5mm white LEDs and so, is very different from the other SMD LEDs I am going to use.


Next is the Repulsor unit. I am not going to use the one from the toy as it was all glued up. Opening it would run the rsik of cracking the whole unit. So, rummaging stuff from my spares, I found these blue LED lights (for cars) which was for another project.


Opening one of them up, it was perfect although at about 30mm, its a bit small where Repulsors are concerned. But I wanted the user to close his hand to a fist. So, its going to be a very small repulsor unit.



3) Preparing the Repulsor Unit

In actual fact, you do not need to find the same blue lights as it is open to interpretation. I used these because it was the only dome/sphere available at that time. So, you can get your own repulsor design as the theory is the same. Below, I am going to show you how to construct the LEDs, the same way I did with the Arc Reactor.

Unlike the LEDs I used for the Arc Reactor, this time, they are smaller. Its called the 5050 series.


As usual, you will need to construct a circle using copper wires. In this case, I have to make sure the diameter of the ring fits snugly into the dome.


The closest I could find was a 20sen coin, which I wrapped the wires around its wall then secure it with duct tape. Slowly solder a bit to the ring so that the copper wires won't release by itself. Turn the coin a bit and continue to spot solder until you get a solid ring. Beware that the coin is hot while you're soldering.


Now, prepare a soldering rig as shown. Secure the coin with a piece of duct tape and then, secure the whole thing with more duct tape. The tape is to make sure the coin does not move when you solder and also, to make sure the SMD LEDs are in place when you tin their legs. To tin the legs, stick the LEDs upside down to the duct tape and then melt the solder onto the legs. Do not melt too long as this will burn the LEDs.


For every spot that you need to solder the LED, tin it first. Here, I am using six White SMD LEDs. The coin is also useful as a 'seat' and heatsink for the LEDs while you solder them. Remember the orientation of the LEDs, Here, I am positioning the LEDs is such a way that the first outside ring is negative. If you look closely at the LED, the cut in one of the corner signifies negative terminal.


Once you have done this, examine the ring to make sure the solder between the copper ring and LEDs are solid. Slowly remove the ring from the coin. As the coin is made of alloy, it would not react with the hot solder and you can remove it easily with just a little bit of push/force. Do not try to pull the ring as it will warp the whole construct. And that would be very bad.


Now, look for something that has a smalller diameter to create a smaller ring. It must be exact size so that the positive legs of the SMD LED can touch it without much problems.


Again, using the same duct tape, place the first construct on it. Now, let the inner ring sit level in the middle. Solder the first connection for any of the six LEDs. While you are soldering, make sure the inner ring does not 'move' or else you will have a lot of problems when you solder the remaining LEDs as the ring is not level.


Using a pair of crocodile clips, carefully place one of each into the two rings. Remember their polarity and the colour of the crocodile clips. To test it, just lightly touch the 'flick' switch.


Here is a closer look at the circuit. In this case, Yellow clip (and outer ring) is Negative while Green clip (and inner ring) is Positive. About the test pads (round flat area such as T5, T6, etc) probing them did not yield any result apart from the usual Sound Effect cycling between Repulsor and other sounds. I was hoping it would let me select one particular SFX.


Using a pair of coloured cables, solder it to the LED construct, while remembering which colour is for which polarity. Short test in the dome. So far, so good. Do not worry if the LEDs are dim at this stage.


Now, lets continue with soldering the bigger White SMD LED. Returning to the duct tape once again, solder a copper wire to the larger SMD LED. Remember the polarity.


Bend the copper wire into shape so that when you solder it, the LED will sit in the middle of the inner ring as shown above. Once that is done, solder the other end to the remaining outer ring. Again, please remember the polarity of the LED, which you can test with the ring.


When it is complete, slowly insert the whole LED construct into the dome and test it. Before you seal it off completely, tie a knot in the wires inside in case you accidentally pull it. This will prevent the pulled wires from destryoing the whole ring.


Success! To make it brighter, you can put a piece of tracing paper above the LEDs just like the Arc Reactor.



Going back to the circuit board, locate the SMD resistor marked R1. This is a 24 ohm resistor which controls the current to the LED in the toy repulsor. Remove it with a soldering iron and solder a piece of wire in its place.


This are the LEDs before the modification. I used the flash to make sure you can see the difference.


These are the same LEDs after the modification. It looked dim because the camera auto-adjusted the brightness.



4) The Switch

The next item is to modify the switch so that you can activate the repulsor as if there is a sensor from the glove or something. Putting a switch to the glove unit would not make it look convincing. It does work but sooner or later, everyone is going to wise up your tricks. And so, I used reed switches (in theory, the same switch which is used for the Star Trek Tricorders Mk VII, Mk IX and Mk X). The theory is, if you are going to use a switch, you have to close all your fingers for the thumb to press the switch at the side. But with the reed siwtch, you just have to spread your fingers wide open, which in theory, is more dramatic.

Putting a button for the thumb or anywhere else is not going to be very convincing. But this magnet switch has three legs, which you can use either NO (normally open) or NC (normally closed). I got confused and so, I think I used NO. So, magnet nearby, its 'OFF'. Magnet away, its 'ON'.


Anyway, you can test this with a meter set on resistance. If there is a short or a closed circuit, the needle would move right. Out of the three legs, I used the two that were 'together'. You must test this before you buy because once you got it home and it does not work.....



OK, so what we have done here is to open up the toy, create a new repulsor usnit and then modify the PCB to have more power to the LEDs. Next, we are going to create the armour skeleton. OK, this is embarassing. Not only do I not have a drill and a metal shear, I have less than a day to complete this before 29th April.


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