Hackit: Ironman/movie Inspirations?

I got a chance to see the new Ironman movie last night, and it’s exactly the kind of film that kick-starts my brain into considering new projects. I’m opening up today’s hackit in a few directions:
1) Get any project ideas from Ironman?
2) Got any projects that were inspired by movie/tv/comic tech?
3) What’s your favorite source of inspiration?

65 thoughts on “Hackit: Ironman/movie Inspirations?

  1. i was able to watch it over at:

    (its worth buying a copy, which i probably will)

    did anyone else catch the “50 gigajoules / second” quote describing the glowing white ‘arc reactor’?

    im pretty sure something that could source 50 gigawatt impulses could be used to power a bit more than a badass robot suit.

    otherwise, setting up an inductive aluminum furnace seems to be like a worthwhile summer project. its probably more eco friendly than a jerry rigged charcoal furnace we built at the rpi eclub

  2. The computer interface for the computers in the movie looked like it had some interesting bits that would be useful. Probably have to get a better look at it to figure out how to re-implement them in a real interface though,

  3. I echo the computer interface comment, but specifically liked the lasser-scanner room entry / terminal setup that displayed different screens based on context and accepted voice and keypad entries.

  4. The holographic projector was the coolest thing, I think it could be done combining a multitouch table, a wiimote, 3D tracking software and 3D CAD.
    He used a IR Led Pen to move things on the air.

    He also was wearing an hologram in his arm, How cool is that?

  5. the reactor under the shirt is cool…maybe a cool necklace?
    or…hey…maybe you cam built a remoted controller arm/robot like the movie…

    or….you can buy an audi…or become a terrorist :D

  6. Here is my question, inspired by his 3-d display for prototyping: How hard would it be to interface a program like SolidWorks to a multi-touch display? (It seems like these displays should be used for so much more than looking at a table-top full of photos). I spend a lot of time trying to look at assemblies at the right scale and angle to figure stuff out. Seems like multi-touch would move us a step closer to power-user design, Stark style.

    I might even be convinced to work on a project to interface CAD to multi-touch… for hackers, not big money. Any ideas? The screens would be easy. There are open-souce multi-touch drivers. Just need to interface those to the CAD…

  7. I think, the past couple of days I have been looking into building one of the parallax/lynxmotion robots with a basic stamp/servo controller and possibly an RC airplane receiver


    It looks like a ton of fun trying to start from scratch with basic code to get the thing to walk like a person or atleast walk fluidly with the ability to code some pretty neat sequences.

  8. I vote for the computer interface in Stark’s office. Judging from the desktop icons being on the right I’m guessing it’s Unix based *either OSX or Linux*. Sure it’s just creating a theme, but start small, then go big and try to create an interface that can track a “pen” across multiple screens and gaps in between.

  9. I’ve always wanted to make some stormtrooper armor, but just last night, I thought about making some ironman armor.

    As far as inspiration goes, I get inspired by the hacking community. I have idea after idea stored up in my head. Every single project I see on hackaday, instructables or anywhere else, I think about how I could use that.

    Too bad I barely have enough time to do one project.

  10. A friend of mine is working on building a vacuform table to make ironman armor.

    Yes. I’ve done a couple lightsaber duels. Does that count?

    I usually get my inspiration from discussions with classmates and/or teachers, though admittedly those projects usually fade out after a day or two.

  11. The thing that I’ll be working on, come summer, is the giant window display that was shown early on in the movie.

    It would be cool to wake up and have all of my daily RSS feeds displayed on my window across from my bed!

  12. #4 – The thing about that 300TW laser is that it only generates that high power for a few femtoseconds. One of the lasers in the optics lab I work in is actually rated at 3 watts, but is pulsed so that it’s putting out ~0 power most of the time, but some 500GW at peak power for about 9 femtoseconds. This, unfortunately, is a far cry from a consistent 50GW power output from something like this “arc reactor.” Someday, maybe…

  13. mr_mustash, i thought the same thing about a week ago. no promises, but if it all works out right i’ll definitely submit it to hackaday.

    anyway, favorite source of inspiration is either dr. who or the community around here. not so much original ideas, but ways of combining existing projects i’ve seen to make it even more useful or fun.

  14. I try not to get too glassy-eyed at cool movies like this, the workshop computer system is obviously extremely cool and inspired by the dreams of all UI designers.

    But a robotic arm assist would be a good start. Would be very cool to have a nice piece of machinery like that to speed up tasks on-the-fly that I have to do, like pulling wires or thread, or holding something heavy.. twisting stuff. Record movements and replay them, a network of sensors to help it determine what actions it should take..

  15. Obviously the most power consuming of the functions are both the flight systems and the strength enhancements.

    That being said, I was looking into building a set of weaponized gauntlets with various attachments including a set of oversized switchblades, flame thrower, tazer, and rapid fire low caliber machine gun.

    Very low power consumption rate. next to nil. and even then it may be possible to add in a back attachment to increase bicep and deltoid strength. Something to think about. But then youd have to have strong legs/strong back/strong hips etc to be able to lift anything.

    Can you tell I just got home from the movie?

  16. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m really excited about recent exoskeleton research. I’m trying to make a robotic arm (only the elbow joint for now, start simple). No power assist for now, but definitely in Mark II.

  17. #16 (ryan) – I’m not suggesting that this insanely fast powerful laser be used to power anything. Power levels like 50GW / sec aren’t going to be around anytime soon. It does little good to ignore current cutting edge technology and jump far off into the future. That 300TW pulse reveals more about physics and the world around us in a few femtoseconds than any CW laser could in 100 years.

  18. i’m probably going to try and make the arc reactor using screen shots to guage the size and to make the design and cut it out using the plasmacam we have at school, but i only have about a month left to do that as i’m a senior and the year is almost over.

  19. I’ve been trying to figure out how to control a powered battle suit simply. The problem with most suits is they require a fairly powerful setup of microprocessors to constantly take readings from sensors. I really want to figure out a simpler way of doing this. I love mechanical simplicity, so relying heavily on computers just feels unreliable to me.

    I’ve also been dreaming up designs for simple strength enhancement exoskeletons for the arms. Similar to the arm he is working on in the movie, but so far I’ve only tackled movement in one axis. I”m studying engineering, so its good exercises to just come up with these solutions, even though I’ll probably never build them unless I learn more about circuits.

  20. I’ve had several ideas from Ironman, mostly how to properly integrate different parts of other projects.
    My biggest inspiration for projects is usually video games. I’ve been working off and on on a powered exoskeleton since Halo first came out. It’s been interesting.

  21. I think either the holographic cam system, or the firefighter robot :).

    I think it would be cool to just make a mini arc reactor with an internal power source that you can just stick to your chest.

    If I get really really ambitious I may make my own suit and go a bit crazy with servo’s and actually try and get as many of the control surfaces as possible functional.

  22. I’m surprised noone has mentioned any of the brain-computer interfaces coming up this year. =O

    Emotiv Epoc


    After all, in the comic Tony Stark intergrates the suit with his central nervous system. I’m thinking about something a bit less ambitious, like getting my Arduino to interface with one of the gadgets mentioned above, to make a portable system that could be used to control an “armoured” arm with mind-controlled cigarette dispenser and lighter or something like that. ^^

    A suit could fairly mechanically be controlled by strategically placing pressure-sensors. If you try to bend/flex your arm f.ex., you push against a sensor and the “suit” takes the corresponding action. The force the suit applies (and the speed, of there is little or no resistance) depends on the amount of pressure you apply to the sensor. Should make for a fairly simple, intuitive control-scheme. =)

  23. The technology is coming online for dedicated microprocessors and sensors in MEMS technology. My company has a manuf. facility and we work alot in MEMS fab and sensor research.

    That being said, Id love to have the AI for assisting with tasks. Id be so much more efficient, just tell it to go look something up, find something, calculate etc.

  24. strangely…my biggest feasible idea (who doesn’t want to build the whole suit?) came from the bathroom sink in the theatre following the film. Are there any capacitive sensor-driven sinks? There are the IR ones, but I want to turn my sink into a theremin for water flow.

  25. A little bit of research can go a LONG way…


    I’ve been following this research for 8 years now. Many people are interested in the damage potential of something like an Iron Man armor, but there’s a LOT that could be done partway with modern technology. Build a head mounted display(enhanced reality would probably be best), add on an audio system that gives you direction sense to sharp or specific noises and you’d have the helmet. This could possibly be done with CMUCam3’s, but a laptop or small form factor PC would give you more data chugging capability. Voice command is nice, but IR camera or EOG eyeball tracking and blink commands may work for the less used functions.

    Build small ground or air (balloon? gldier?) ROVs for remote sensing that feed back via an analog or Wifi connection. Or put that cell phone “family plan” with high speed data access to good use!

  26. I have been trying to decide what type of engineering field I would like to go into. Iron Man helped me decide. A mix between a mechanical and electrical engineer, with robotics mixed in. I specifically want to become a weapons engineer.

  27. As to 50 gigawatt pulses: Duty cycle is key. I used to work with pulsed lasers that had a duty cycle on the order of 10^-8.

    They were more like 10 gigawatts when switched on, but the average power, when run at 10 hz with 3 ns pulses, was comparable to that from a lightbulb.

    Similarly, petawatt pulses are available from a refrigerator-sized machine running from normal wall power (and available off-the-shelf!), since they release light in bursts only a few femtoseconds long.

  28. Wow I liked it all, Although I can say if you build a real arc reactor all the rest will come! I liked the window in his bedroom with the displays and the 3-d cad-table a lot also.

    Am checking out how far fetched for the window now …I have a ton of overhead digital screens to play with. we will see!!

    And Any thing is possible just means someone has not thought of it yet

  29. I’m working on an Iron Man suit. I wired up a pinhole camera to a set of video goggles for vision. This was a necessity since I’m lighting up the eyes wiht LED’s. It also allows me to have nightvision and infrared(this’ll come later).

    I’m also making hand blasters as part of the suit. They’re set to solenoid valves that are hooked ot high-pressure CO2, like in a paintball gun. The same circuit operates a series of LED’s embedded in the palm, as well as keying a “blast” noise. The effect is pretty cool.

    Oh, and I’m working on a lift boot system. A screw dowel powered by an electric motor moves a clear Lexan mechanism not unlike a car jack that will lift me off the floor at the same time as a continuous CO2/LED blast comes out of my feet, hopefully sheathing the mechanism and achieving a ‘flying’ effect.

  30. do you guys remember the device that emits a high freq sound that induces paralysis. thats a cool project even though I doubt paralysis is possible I know high intensity ultrasonic, or intrasonic waves can cause people to lose consciousness

  31. The hi-freq paralyzer might be feasable, but it wouldnt work as in the movie. You could debilitate someone by interrupting the nerve in the ears. Makes them vomit and collapse (No balance). The nerve acts as a gyropscope in the ear and even very cold water can trigger the symptoms.

    Again quite feasable.

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