Building an infinity mirror

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Introduction

An infinity mirror creates an optical illusion of an infinitely long tunnel. It actually consists of two mirrors — a regular mirror and a one-way mirror — with light emitting diodes (LEDs) sandwiched between them. When the LEDs are turned off, the infinity mirror acts just like a regular mirror. But when the LEDs are turned on, the infinity mirror looks like a brightly lit tunnel that stretches off to infinity. This engineering design project will show you how to build your own infinity mirror.

Materials and Equipment

You need to do some design work before you purchase your materials (see the “Design Your Infinity Mirror” section in the Procedure). The list below is a suggestion for general parts you will need. The exact parts you purchase will depend on things like the size, shape, and type of LEDs you want for your mirror.

Here is the short list of parts you will need to build an infinity mirror. See the full list below for details and suggestions about where to buy each part.

  • Mirror
  • Plexiglass or acrylic sheet
  • Mirrored window film
  • Cardboard box or other container
  • LEDs
  • Power supply
  • Tape or glue
  • Cutting tool
  • Safety glasses or protective goggles

Details and supplier suggestions:

  • Mirror
    • Small mirrors of a variety of shapes and sizes can be purchased at arts and crafts stores or online vendors like Amazon.com
  • Plexiglass sheet
    • Plexiglass sheets can be purchased at a hardware store or online vendors like Amazon.com
    • Plexiglass sheets are available in different thicknesses. 1/8 inch plexiglass should work well for this project. Thicker plexiglass is harder to cut.
    • Note: You will need to cut the plexiglass sheet to size to fit your mirror. Adult supervision is recommended. It is relatively easy to cut a rectangular piece of plexiglass, but cutting a circle can be more difficult (see Procedure).
    • Note: Several different brand names and materials are commonly called “plexiglass,” such as acrylic and polycarbonate. Some of them have a different hardness or resistance to shattering. All that really matters for this project is optical clarity — make sure the plexiglass you buy is clear and not translucent or opaque.
  • Mirrored window film
    • Window film can be purchased at a hardware store or from online vendors like Amazon.com.
    • Window film is usually sold in quantities much larger than what you will need for this project, because it is intended to cover entire windows in a house. You could try asking a hardware store for a small sample of film.
  • Cardboard box or other container
    • The size and shape of the container you use will depend on the size and shape of your mirror. Papier mâché boxes are convenient, and can be purchased at an arts and crafts store or Amazon.com.
    • You could also build your own custom-sized container by cutting up pieces of cardboard and gluing them together.
  • LEDs
    • The type of LEDs you use is up to you, depending on how you want your mirror to look. There are several different options that can change the difficulty level of the project.
    • Regular Christmas lights are easiest to use because you can plug them directly into a wall outlet. You can find a huge selection of LED Christmas lights at a department store or Amazon.com.
    • LED strips can give a different look to your mirror than Christmas lights. Some LED strips offer additional features, like remote-control color-changing options. But they may be slightly more complicated to set up, and some (but not all) require soldering to attach them to a power supply.
    • Individual LEDs can give you complete control over the customization of your mirror, but they require soldering to connect them and also to attach them to a power supply. You will also need to include a resistor in your circuit to prevent the LEDs from burning out. This option is recommended only if you are familiar with electronics projects or have an adult who can help.
  • Power supply
    • Most Christmas LED lights can plug directly into a wall outlet.
    • Some LED strips can plug directly into a wall outlet, but others may require a separate DC adapter (similar to the charger for your laptop or cell phone).
    • Important: In purchasing a power supply, be sure to buy one that matches the specs for your LED strip.
    • If you are wiring a circuit with individual LEDs, you will need a battery holder. This has the advantage of making your mirror portable, so you can hang it on a wall with
    • Important: The number of batteries you need depends on how many and what type of LEDs you use. You will also need resistors to prevent the LEDs from burning out, and hookup wire See the Procedure for details.
  • Tape or glue
    • You will need to assemble all the different components of your mirror and hold them in place. How exactly you do this is up to you, and it may depend on the exact materials you buy. For example, you could use duct tape, electrical tape, super glue, or craft glue, depending on the details of your project.
  • Tools
    • You will need a craft knife or a utility knife and scissors to cut various materials like the papier mâché box, the plexiglass, and the window film.
    • If you are wiring your own circuit, you will need a soldering iron and solder.
    • Safety goggles for cutting the plexiglass.
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