Build Your Own Flux Capacitor
written by: Cory Q
What you will need:
A fuse box (small)
14x14" piece of 1/4 inch Lexan (plexiglass)
Silicone caulk, black
90 second epoxy
6 ft rope light
Red tape for label punch
14x14 piece of Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
Can of black spray paint
Skil saw (jig saw)
So, like all persons of my generation, I grew up thinking "If I only had a DeLorean, I could totally make a time machine!" I watched Back To The Future too many times and became obsessed, like many, with the idea of making a flux capacitor. Sure, I would need 1.21 jigawatts to power it, but that was secondary to the glory I would get the crazy adventures I would have in 1955.
Flash forward (we time travel each night when we sleep) a bunch of years. Snake Eyes Johnson and myself are sitting around cooking up bad ideas, as we often do. He points out that we really need a DeLorean if we are going to get on this time travel thing. So, like all unsupervised guys who just thought of something too crazy to work on, we went to eBay and looked for a DeLorean. And we found a couple. One very nice 1981 vintage vehicle was going for $13,000 but the kicker was its location: North Carolina. Dang it, skunked again. As this crazy internet deviance was propagated in the latest days of Summer, I had some time for this project to take further shape in my mind. I would build Snake Eyes a Flux Capacitor for Christmas. Then he would have to buy a Delorean!
I started watching Back To The Future again and again, pausing the disc at the scene where Dr. Brown says that "This is what makes it all possible" while pointing to the Flux Capacitor. To save you the trouble, I will tell you what the labels on the unit say. In red punch label tape, the top one says "Disconnect capacitor drive before opening" while the bottom one says "Sheild eyes from light". Accuracy is key in this kind of thing after all. From these repeated viewings I was able to make a sketch of what the Flux Capacitor (FC for short) looked like and what it might be built out of.
From these sketches, I went to Home Depot and bought a Square D brand home fuse box. It was a smaller box that would handle 4 fuses. A bigger box would be too bulky. What I did with this box was take the front cover off (do not get one with a swing open door!) by removing the 4 corner screws. Next I scratched a square into the front using a straight edge and nail. Next I drilled a hole in each interior corner of this scratched square. I then cut the square out with a jig saw. This is a long and highly vibratory process and is the least fun step of this thing.
Once the front cover has been modified to have the hole in it, I sanded the rough cut edges down a bit. I then measured the cut out hole. Using that measurement, I cut a piece of thicker Lexan on my table saw to fit behind that opening. I attached the Lexan to the back of the front panel by means of 90 second epoxy. If you lightly sand the hidden piece of Lexan and corresponding metal the epoxy holds better. Once the epoxy has bonded, run a bead of black silicone caulk around where the Lexan and metal meet. Run this bead on the front of the panel. Let that dry before attaching the red punch labels.
So, now the front panel is all built and drying comfortably. Next is the lighting section. The key here is drilling the right holes. Take the piece of MDF that I mentioned earlier and cut it to fit snugly in the fuse box. It helps to cut two small pieces on which the main MDF panel will rest. These two little wooden pieces sit between the main piece and the box itself providing a space for the rope light to wind around. Once you have a piece of MDF cut to fit, drill this type of pattern using a 3/4 inch speedbore.
The 3/4 inch is to accommodate the end of the rope light which is much larger than the lighted part of the rope.
Here in the process is a good time to take care of two unrelated things. Spray paint the MDF back board black. This will give it time to dry while commencing on the next step. There are weak spots (these little concentric metal circles on the side of the fuse box) on the fuse box. Pick one in the corner and knock it out with a hammer and nail. This will give a spot for the rope light plug to go. This step isn't as clean and neat as it sounds unfortunately.
Now is the part when the rope light is threaded through the drilled holes. Once the rope light is tucked snugly in place and the plug has been threaded through the side hole in the fuse box, lay a bead of black silicone around the edge of the backboard to seal between the board and the fuse box. It is also a good idea to caulk up the large space left in the center where the three ropes come together. Gives it a more finished look.
When you are done the lighted strands should look like a "Y". Once the caulk dries, attach the front now see-through panel via the corner screws. You should now have something that looks roughly like this.
Snake Eyes was thrilled with his gift but he still doesn't have a DeLorean.
There is an interesting post script to this story. I met one of Mrs Q's coworkers at her company's holiday party. Jennifer was passing around her cell phone with pictures of her car. Turns out that car is a 1981 DeLorean bought off of eBay from a state down south. What are the chances?! So I mentioned that I have built a FC and could be persuaded to do so again.
I did and here is the outcome of that.
We didn't get up to 88mph, so I don't know if it works yet, but I'll keep you posted.
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