Since the dawn of man, we have looked to the stars in awe and wonderment. Gazing into the heavens has inspired age-old questions like "Why am I here?", "Are we alone?", and "What's it like to get sucked into a blackhole and travel at hypersonic speeds through a wormhole?" Well, with an Arduino, 120 LEDs, an infinity mirror, and some old-school NASA-inspired hardware, CLAW Amusement Technologies is at least pretending to have an answer to that nagging last one, if it were posed to a team of NASA engineers in 1960, with the Wormhole Actualization Machine (WAM).
The Infinity Mirror
The first step in building the Wormhole Actualization Machine was designing the infinity mirror assembly and sourcing the materials. After reading lots of Instructables and watching lots of YouTube videos of previous attempts at building an infinity mirror, I knew optic and reflective quality were the most important factors in getting a convincing tunneling effect. TappPlastics.com sells custom-cut sizes of both two-way mirrors (the front one you can partially see through) and regular mirrors (the back one). They were rather expensive (30 and 15 dollars), but worth the better quality achieved than by applying reflective window film to plexiglass, the most common DIY method. Since I'll be drilling holes in them, I bought them both in 1/8" acrylic. I wanted the ability to control the direction which the wormhole "fell" away – if the 2 mirrors are exactly parallel, the vanishing point will be in the center of the wormhole. Offset the angle slightly, and you'll get a nice 3d tunnel with the lights slowly bending into infinity. After doing some sketching, I came up with a design that incorporated 8 threaded rods and bolts that would allow the planes of the front and back mirrors to be precisely adjusted to the desired effect.
Both mirrors needed support to keep them true to flat (another important factor since every imperfection gets multiplied), so I needed to find something rigid to enclose the assembly. McMaster-Carr sells flanged angle rings made of 1/8" steel in different diameters that have a clean, simple industrial look. Since these would determine the size of my wormhole portal, I decided to go with two 12-inch rings.