Fifth Element Stone Mood Lighting

Our glowing mechanical stones will rock you.

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We're creating the complete set of four elemental stones from the movie, each with an actuator inside that will push the hinged triangular wedges along the top to "open" them. The upper portion will contain several RGB LEDs that will glow enough to brighten a room. We are also planning to have the stones activate once they're set down on a flat surface, via photo resistor. We'll also investigate more theatrical ways of activating them...

Mark and I are using a few different materials to build the actual stones themselves, but the majority of the design will be made in CAD and 3D printed.... the files of which will be open to download incase you want to turn your living room or bedroom into an alter like I do.


First of all, if you haven't seen The Fifth Element, all you need to know is that we're making replicas of these fancy things below which will operate with mechanical and electrical parts instead of spooky earth magic like in the movie =]


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  • Troubleshooting

    Sarah Petkus05/08/2014 at 04:35 1 comment

    Elemental Mood Lighting : Troubleshooting - YouTube

    I played around with the moving parts of the stones today to see if I could get the desired effect I was aiming for. After some assessment (above) I've concluded that our problems seem to be a mixture of having too weak of motors, too much friction between the moving parts, and just enough slop with the internal mechanism that the combination leaves for some inconsistency. The wedge bits don't move a whole lot to begin with, so any amount of inaccuracy/slippage is super noticeable. LAME! 

    Maker Faire is next weekend, so after that hurdle I might reevaluate my pulley system on the inside and pick up some motors with a bit more umph. They'll still look nice in my booth, so if you plan on being up in San Mateo next week, be sure to come see the stones (and my robot army). 

    -Sarah & Mark

  • Finishing Touches

    Sarah Petkus04/28/2014 at 21:23 1 comment


    Since my last update, I took the four complete 3D printed stones and gave their surface a rather sharp makeover. All those years in art school came in handy again. It surprises me just how many techies have never heard of gesso … so I'm tapping this apparent art secret for the sake of painting on an otherwise stubborn surface. ABS will take acrylic paint, however instead of priming it with anything you might get from Home Depot in the paint section… you can go to Blick and grab a pint of clear gesso (canvas primer). It may be a little more expensive, but it's less volatile, doesn't have any fumes, and has the best tooth when it dries for painting on… you'll be thankful you spent the extra money.

    So, I gessoed my rocks… and painted them over with a nice solid undercoat of dark muddy brown. The lighter color was dry brushed on top with a healthy amount of baby powder added to the paint to give it a matte, chunky appearance when it dried. The final texture is pretty sharp :


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  • The Moving Bits

    Sarah Petkus04/23/2014 at 20:39 1 comment

    First I have to show off how nicely the prints turned out! Some of these larger pieces were printed over night for nine-hour periods and were completed without fail (which is surprising). In the morning there would be a loaf of stone sitting on the printer bed :


    Mark is responsible for creating these seamless linear designs on the face of the stones :



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  • The Earth Stone

    Sarah Petkus04/15/2014 at 05:32 0 comments

    First of all, if you haven't seen The Fifth Element, all you need to know is that we're making replicas of these fancy things below which will operate with mechanical and electrical parts instead of spooky earth magic like in the movie =]

    Mark and I decided that regardless of what the outer facade was made of, the inside of our stones needed to have a solid but light core which would give them structure and keep a consistent size throughout the four. Foam core will do the trick for this. As such, we modeled the shapes in their final dimensions in CAD and then worked our way inward to determine the measurements for the core.

    The foam core bases were kept as one whole piece, scored in the areas where it needed to fold in on itself. Easy enough :

    I must note that initially we were going to glue floral foam to the outside of these, carve the markings into them, plaster the surface, and then paint them to look like stone, but lets face it...... we have a 3D printer.

    Mark modeled the facade of the stones in CAD. We decided for the sake of printing in safe bursts (incase of fail), it would be smart to break the model into many ring shaped pieces which would stack onto one another. The lower green section is actually six separate smaller pieces :

    So far today we were able to complete the ‘Earth’ stone... because it has straight lines carved into it instead of wavy ones and is thus the easiest one to recreate. Mark and I printed six rings for the carved bottom half, and two slightly thicker rings for the solid upper half :

    It took the whole day to print all these pieces... but once they were done, I jammed them rather violently onto the foam core centerpiece (tight fit) :

    Each ring sits on a small groove/lip of the piece below it, so they lock together like puzzle pieces. The added pressure of the foam core forcing outward keeps them all firmly in place. The final structure is solid and extremely light weight :

    Aside from the design on the outside of the stones, we needed to plan for the moving parts at the top. The upper portion has 15mm wide slots in the center of each face. These are the parts that “open” at the end of the movie when the stones activate. We modeled three triangular slices that swing out on some wire as hinges :

    These metal wire bits slide into slots Mark made in the wall of the main piece :

    The wedges fit in place like so :

    These pieces will actuate via servo and wire pushrod. I plan to start on the servo and LED mount tomorrow while the pieces for the next stone are printing :

    So yeah... this is our Earth stone so far. Like I said, technical part comes next... and I'll post an update as soon as I get this one activating and glowing all pretty-like. =]

    I think we're doing 'water' next btw. Stay tuned.

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Enjoy this project?



Mx. Jack Nelson wrote 07/13/2023 at 07:19 point

This is my favorite project ever. Thank you for making something this cool!

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b6806487 wrote 10/11/2022 at 09:51 point

So, how can you keep mosquitoes from taking over your bedroom? Start by checking out where they like to hide and take steps to eliminate those places. If you have a lot of natural vegetation around your home, trim it back and get rid of any standing water. Make sure your screens fit well and use mosquito netting when necessary. 

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joe wrote 02/09/2021 at 14:10 point

would love to see any updates and changes you’ve made since this was completed (and as lordKiCAD said, files would be lovely if they’re still an option). These are great!

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AVR wrote 06/25/2018 at 15:24 point

Willing to share design files? I'd love to print a set.

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At24kau wrote 07/23/2017 at 06:54 point

Any chance of making a set for sale?  And, if so, how much would they be?  Thx

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sibero80 wrote 07/05/2016 at 23:48 point

you just need to add this to your living room.. 

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joecar42 wrote 03/27/2016 at 03:59 point

Great Project.

How much $ for a Set?

You can actually take theseveral to Hollywood and work something out so you sell these.

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DivaPlavaLaguna wrote 08/27/2015 at 03:52 point

Will there be a possibility of cordless?

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Ryan Schoolcraft wrote 09/17/2014 at 13:32 point

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origamimavin wrote 09/05/2014 at 19:19 point
OMG I love this! I may have to make a set of my own!

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Jaime wrote 07/21/2014 at 15:45 point
Mark, Sara,

I think this is a great project! Can you please share the CAD drawings with the rest of us?

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Jaime wrote 07/07/2014 at 13:49 point
Great project. Can you share the CAD files with us?

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Jaime wrote 07/07/2014 at 13:49 point
Great project. Can you share the CAD files with us?

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Mike Szczys wrote 05/07/2014 at 22:10 point
I like the moving parts, did you get the calibration to work a bit better? Those hobby servos can be tough with that.

Also, the stone finish on the enclosures turned out great!

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Sarah Petkus wrote 05/07/2014 at 22:30 point
Danke! The servo motors we had on hand weren't strong enough to consistently push the pieces out on cue once everything was said and done (the paint added just enough friction to cause them to snag sometimes), however the mechanism inside otherwise works as it should. I'll grab some new footage tonight and post.

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jeromekelty wrote 05/02/2014 at 04:54 point
Wow- very cool project!

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kittan wrote 04/16/2014 at 22:28 point
When considering ideas for projects for the sci-fi competition, we briefly talked about doing The Four Stones but passed on it. Definitely gonna be paying attention to this one.

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Bruce The Hoon wrote 04/15/2014 at 20:20 point
Like the Earth stone for sure. Do take a minute before making any more to chuck a nice bright flashlight in there and see if you're getting any light bleed through the foam core and plastic. I once had a nearly 1" thick combo of FC and ABS and there was a lot of bleed. Given that I'm guessing you're painting this in the end, it's likely not an issue, but I personally use spray glue and adhere aluminum foil to the insides of things like this. First, it reflects heat, letting you use larger LEDs inside without deforming the FC. Second, it kills the bleed, then finally it allows light to bounce around inside and diffuse so that the light looks more natural coming out of whatever transmission medium you end up using.

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Sarah Petkus wrote 04/16/2014 at 02:54 point
Thanks for pointing this out! Yes, they do glow a little bit.... which actually looks sorta nice, but isn't what we want for this project. Since they are going to be textured and painted over, I'm hoping this wont be much of an issue, however if it is I'll take your advice!

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Jasmine Brackett wrote 04/15/2014 at 01:08 point
Have you got any pics of the work in progress?

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Sarah Petkus wrote 04/15/2014 at 04:15 point
Just about to make a post tonight.

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