The Pareto Principle — also known as the 80/20 Rule — is the idea (originally from economics, but now applied in many ways) that 80% of results stem from 20% of the effort.

Devoted film fans will spend countless hours and hundreds of dollars (occasionally even thousands) to create flawless replica props for their personal collections. The iconic eye of HAL 9000 from 2001: a Space Odyssey is one such object of desire…popular enough that detailed (and pricey) licensed reproductions exist. This is cool stuff! But if we relax our criteria just a bit, you or I can turn out a pretty decent, recognizable facsimile in a weekend for just a small fraction of the cost. The 80/20 rule in action!

We’re not selling a prop or even a kit here…that would raise a big licensing stink, so please don’t ask. What follows are some ideas on creating one yourself. Much like our not-a-Back-to-the-Future-clock project, the concept came about when customers noted that a component already in our shop resembled an unrelated film item — in this case, our Massive Red Arcade Button and HAL’s distinctive lens.

Before you Begin…

This is not so much an electronics project as a craft project. The former would actually be easier to explain…a concrete matter of “connect wire A to point B,” period. The craft element though…what’s described here as “affordable” or “simple” might be contingent on a lot of techniques, tools and materials that I’ve amassed over the years (for example, getting access to a laser cutter may be a tall order). You’ll need to adapt the process to suit your skill set and the particular assortment of tools and materials at your disposal.

As described here, this project involves among other things: laser cutting, spray painting, inkjet printing, sanding, soldering (if adding voice) as well as patience, a well-stocked junk drawer and a willingness to improvise. Before buying any materials, read through the guide, see how it matches up with what you have and know.

This guide was first published on Apr 29, 2013. It was last updated on Apr 09, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Apr 22, 2013.

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