Inspired by the movie “The Fifth Element”
This article summarizes my efforts to create a set of interactive elemental stone replicas based on the iconic props from the movie “The Fifth Element.” I may have been a bit too ambitious, but I wanted the stones to have an authentic look, be relatively cheap, and have some level of interactivity. This project was a great learning opportunity and I’m very please with the final outcome.
My initial efforts began with hours of scouring the Internet for quality screenshots from the movie. In the process I stumbled upon a variety of like-minded souls which had previously made their own set of elemental stones. There were concrete stones, wooden stones, 3d printed stones, the assortment is nearly endless. There’s even an Instructable. I chose to build my stones from carved rigid styrofoam. This material had a variety of benefits as well as detractors. It was cheap, lightweight and generally easy to work with. The main drawback was its fragility and inability to hold fine carving details. Through trial and error I feel I was able to still make it work.
- Styrofoam Boards
- ATTiny85 Micro-controller
- 8pin IC Sockets DIP IC Sockets Adaptors
- 9V Battery Connector with wires
- Double-sided Prototyping PCB
- DC-DC Buck Converter
- 3-Pin Vertical Slide Switch
- Metal Ball Tilt Switch Sensor
- WS2812B RGB LEDs
- 22 gauge wire in assorted colors
- Ribbon Cable
- Mod Podge Sealer
- Hack Saw
- Dremel with assorted bits
- Soldering Iron with solder
- Assorted clamps
- Paint and paint brushes
- AVR Programmer or Arduino
- Large Solderless Breadboard
Best Laid Plans
My initial plans included an Arduino Nano for the brains, three multi-colored LEDs, and three moving flanges driven by a single miniature servo. I was quickly forced to revise my plans because of two big issues. The first issue arose when I realized that I had underestimated the interior space required for all of the planned components. There just simply wasn’t going the be enough space for an Arduino Nano, a servo (plus linkage), the LEDs and a 9V battery. The second issue involved the non-durable nature of styrofoam. To reduce the space requirements, I decided to eliminate the miniature servo, permanently fix the flanges, and use a custom board with an ATTiny85 as the brains. This freed up a good bit of interior space and eliminated the potential wear and tear on the flanges.