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Iron Man's Hall of Armour

We've really gone all out on this one - our customer asked us to light up set 76125 - Iron Man Hall of Armor.  And not just one set - but three!

That set is a lovely simple idea with a pretty hefty price tag - mainly due to all the minifigs included.  LEGO even show on the box that you can assemble it in whatever shape you like - it's made of modular 'pods' which can be stacked and clipped together.

The idea was to use three sets to create a curved wall of pods like Tony Stark's basement as seen in the films.

Hold on tight for our biggest even blog which shows exactly how to achieve this effect.

What to light up?

Okay so the basic idea is pretty obvious - we want to light up all the suits!
And there's some other bits we can look at:

  • The screens on Tony's desk
  • The 'Dressing Platform' (Sorry but that's what I call it!)
  • The coffee machine
  • The Jetpack thing in the middle
  • The satellite dish

How to build it?

We started having a little fun with the layout to see what the options were, and took feedback to decide on the final design.  There's loads of ways you can assemble these modules and though I'm rather fond of the pyramid style I can't argue the final look is pretty awesome.

 

Lighting the Pods

Putting lights in each pod has to be the most fundamental part of this project.  Three layers, 9 pods each, so 27 lights needed.  Wiring will be a challenge.

To make this easy to copy we've take a modular approach - each layer gets a dedicate 12 port expansion board and links run between each layer.

Putting the lights in the pod was pretty easy using our much loved 2x2 Inverted Tile pieces.  These hold one of our bit lights nicely and give an even light.  And they look great too.

After a few tests it was clear that the centre five pods can all be wired with 15cm Bit Lights and have enough cable to get back to the rear of the middle pod to hook them up.  Then two on each end of the row need a 30cm cable.  Using shorter cables saves money and reduces the amount of excess wire we have to hide.

For each pod we dismantled the top section, added a 2x2 tile with a light to the underneath of the top, and fed the cable out to the side.  

We started at the end of each row and fed the cables through together into the next pod along, trapping the cables neatly between the large window panel and the tall wedge pieces.

As you can see this keeps it pretty neat.

Lighting the Desk

The desk features four computer screens made with flag elements attached to small bars.  We light up those bars very well in our Light Saber range so we tried to achieve a similar effect.

The trick to lighting up a bar/rod is to fully enclose the LED at the end, so the light is only able to travel up through the inside of the rod. 

To do this we placed a single stud with an open top (1x1 Round Plate) either side of the desk and trapped a bit light underneath.  The rods that support the computer screens then fit nicely inside the hole and light up.

The hope was that some light would pass into the screens and make them glow too.  And they do, but it's not very bright and most of the visible light is in the support rods.

This part didn't turn out quite how we imagined but we think it's still a nice feature.

The two bit light wires were easy to hide underneath the bricks that connect back to the main platform.  Just carefully remove the bricks all in one piece, lay the cable flat between the studs, and lower the bricks back down.  This does of course mean the sections can no longer be removed easily as they're designed to do, but that's a small price to pay.

Lighting the Platform

The aim here was to make the whole platform glow with light from beneath, so any figure on top would be lit up nicely.

We used two Strip Lights to achieve this as they're super bright and easy to position.

To simplify the wiring we ran a 30cm Connecting Cable from the back of the centre pod, all the way under the walkway, and into the platform.  The easiest way to do this is to turn the model upside down (carefully) and remove the base plates that way, then re-attach with a cable trapped inside.

Inside the platform we squeezed a little 6 port Expansion Board and ran the strip lights and the desk lights from that.

We didn't actually stick the strip lights down - they're held quite nicely anyway - but you could consider sticking them to 1x6 plates and then attaching to the floor using 1x1 round plates as spacers.  

Adding the finishing touches

In the end we couldn't find a great way to light up the coffee machine.  The pod it sits in has a light and anything we did to the coffee pod was drowned out by the pod light.

Similarly when considering putting lights in the jet pack it just didn't work.  The jetpack wouldn't be turned on whilst sitting on its stand and it just seems to be overkill.

The roof level did look a little tame so we used some of our Mini Spotlights there.  These come attached to a 2x1 plate to allow you to fix them to models but the LED component is held in a 1x1 plate with clip, making them perfect for attaching to the safety barriers along the roof.

These don't create a huge spotlight effect - they're not that bright - but they really add something to the model when lit up.

Finally the satellite dish with it's trans-light-blue pieces was just calling out for a light.  This couldn't be easier - a single bit light between the dish and that 2x2 round brick did the job perfectly.

Hiding the wires

We've already shown how we hid the wires between each pod, and this results in a central pod with four wires on one side and five on the other.  Plus more at the roof level of course.

We twisted the wires together to make neat bundles and then connected them to a 12 port board fitted vertically behind the centre panel.

To hide this from the front we grabbed some shiny silver craft card - available from WHSmiths or similar - and cut to fit the back of the large window panel.  With the silver side facing forward this is barely noticeable from the front.

When we built the pods we left the center pods with the larger base plate - most have a 4x4 plate but the middle uses a 4x6.  As such we have a bit sticking out at the back we can build on.  Looking back we could have swapped those 4x6s for 4x4 plates and had more space to fit our expansion boards in.  

The final part was of course to really tidy up the back so we used some handy bricks and built up a little containing wall at the rear to enclose the wiring, with bricks missing where needed to let the wires out.

This was just a quick test and you can adapt and improve on this to make it tidier.

The End Result

How it's Wired

Here's our standard block diagrams to show how we wired up the lights.  You can see how we kept this modular and that also made it easier to hide the wires behind each layer of the model too.

Note : When assembling this I changed the link cables between each 12 Port Expansion Board to 15cm cables.  This made it easier to hide the wires inside the brick wall at the back - 5cm fitted but was a little tight.

Parts Used

We've split the design and the parts list so you can recreate this regardless how many sets you have in your build.

Base Layer - 9 Pods + Platform + Desk

Roof - Satellite Dish + Spotlights

  • 3 x Elegant Bricks Mini Spotlights in Black
  • 1 x 15cm White Bit Light (Satellite Dish)
  • 1 x 6 Port Expansion Board
  • 1 x 5cm Connecting Cable

1 x Upper Floor - 9 Pods (Double this for two upper floors!)

To build this design we also added 8 x LEGO 2x1 Slopes with 4 Slots as the kits don't come with enough to make all the pods completely on the upper floors.  We used these in Light Bluish Grey as we had them handy, though the originals are Metallic Silver which looks even better. They're only about 25p each on Bricklink so worth doing.

We also used a small amount of various bricks to make the pods and to hide the cables at the rear.

Next Steps

The end result is pretty awesome.  There's lots of variety possible though.  We kept the original 9 pod design from the standard set and added extra parts to make the upper floors 9 pods.  You could make a taller 4 level version with just 7 pods very easily too - You just need the parts for one extra pod.

Demo Video

Just to show this off we made a little demo video.  We slightly cheated here and used three separate power supplies so we could turn the lights on in sequence!


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Iron Man's Hall of Armour