Introduction: DIY Acrylic RGB LED Sign
Runner Up in the
Box Contest 2017
In this instructable, I am going to show you how to make a multi colored LED edge lit sign.The sign is engraved on a clear acrylic sheet by using a Dremel rotary tool and flex shaft attachment.I have used an A5 sized 5mm thick sheet. This was my first time attempting to etch the acrylic sheet, but I really satisfied with the final outcome.
To add a touch of colors, I used a multicolored RGB LED strip along with its controller. This combination allows me to achieve variety of colors and lighting effects.
It’s the perfect way to decorate anyone's desk at home or at work.This can also be used for advertising your businesses and products.
Step 1: Parts and Tools Required
Parts Used :
3. RGB Controller ( Aliexpress )
8.Wires ( Amazon )
9. Wood Filament (GearBest )
10. M3 x 12 mm Screw ( Amazon )
11. Heat Shrink Tube ( Amazon )
12. Wood Stain ( Amazon )
Tools Used :
1. Dremel Rotary Tool (Amazon )
2. Dremel Flex Shaft (Amazon )
3. Dremel Engraving Bits ( Amazon )
4. Table Saw ( Amazon )
5.Soldering Iron ( Amazon )
7. Hot AIr Gun (GearBest )
Step 2: Cutting the Acrylic Sheet
I purchased an A5 size acrylic sheet then drawn a rectangle of size 180mm x 150mm on the protective film and cut it out.I used my Rockwell Blade Runner and Bosch Plexiglas Bi-Metal Jig Saw Blade to cut the acrylic sheet. Then I trim the corner with curve shape ( 4cm fillet ) so that it can looks more attractive.
Step 3: Prepare the Stencils
Download the stencils of your choice from the internet and print it out on a paper.You can also make your own stencils by using any software.In my case the nice stencils are sketched by my wife who is a craft lover.
Remove the protective films from both the sides .
Then cut the stencils by keeping some margin and secured it to acrylic sheet with the tape.
Keep in mind to leave some space ( 25mm ) at the bottom that will be hidden inside the Base.
Step 4: Etching the Acrylic Sheet
This is the most difficult step of this project.If you are also new, I will suggest to practice on a scrap sheet first.I used Dremel 3000 rotary tool,flex shaft attachment and engraving bit to etch the acrylic.First follow the outline of the stencil by using a fine engraving bit then etch the middle portion by using a coarse engraving bit.Use a soft cloth to clear the dust produced during the etching at a regular interval.After completion, remove the stencil.At this stage you can correct if there is some mistakes during the etching process.
Step 5: Designing the Base
I used Autodesk Fusion 360 to design the Base of the LED sign. First I measured the dimensions of the components by a vernier caliper then the same were considered during my design.
The enclosure have two parts : Top and Bottom. The top part is the main part which is basically designed to fit all the components including the Acrylic Sheet. The Bottom part is for mounting the LED Strip and to provide support for the Acrylic Sheet.
You can download the .stl files from my Thingiverse page.
Step 6: 3D Printing the Base
After completion of design, it is time to 3D print the Base.In Fusion 360 you can click on make and slice the model by using a slicer software.I have used cura to slice the model.
My settings are:
Print Speed : 60 mm/s
Layer Height : 0.2
Fill Density : 25%
Extruder Temperature : 205 degC
Bed Temp : 60 degC
Step 7: Finishing the 3D Printed Base
After 3D printing the base, it is time to finish it.The wood filaments are normally more prone to stringing so we have to remove them by sanding. I used coarse, 120 grit sandpaper to start off and moved way up to the more smooth 320 grits. The result is a very smooth and soft surface finish that is very similar to newly sanded wood. But you’ll notice that sanding brings out the chalky white characteristics of the PLA. You shouldn't worry about that as it will be darken up once we apply the stain.Clean all the dust particles from the print surface by a cloth.
To give a natural rustic wood look, I choose Varthane Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain (Traditional Cherry Color).There are variety of colors available, you can choose your own. Before staining,stir the contents thoroughly. Some stain color may settle at the bottom of the can so it is important to stir thoroughly, just like you would for other paint.Then apply it with a brush or clean, lint-free cloth and wipe off the excess stain from the surface quickly before it dries out.Leave it for 4 hour to dry it out.
The final look is really nice,I am fully satisfied with the outcome.This is my first experience with Wood filament 3D printing, I hope I will do better in future.
Safety : Wear Nose musk and hand gloves during staining.As I was so much excited that time,I forgot to wear the gloves but you shouldn't do the same mistake.
Step 8: Install the Components
After drying the 3D printed Base, you can proceed to install the components.
Insert the toggle switch and the DC Jack in to their respective slots.Mount the RGB LED controller by using hot glue, be sure the IR LED should be visible to outside.
Step 9: Adding the RGB LED Strip
I have purchased this LED strip and controller separately from aliexpress. But you can get the RGB strip, Controller and power supply in a kit also.So you can buy it according to your choice.
Cut the LED light strip in the correct spot according to the manufacturer's suggestion.
Then remove the protective backing from the self-stick strip. Press the light strip on the projected portion of the bottom part of the base.To secure it tightly, you can paste a strip of tape at the end.
Step 10: Wiring
The wiring is very simple. 12V power come from the DC Jack , passes through the toggle switch and connected to the RGB controller by using an another DC jack with screw terminal.You can follow the above picture.I used 22 AWG wire for the wiring.Insulate the soldering joints by using heat shrink tube. Finally connect the LED strip to the controller, be sure the arrow mark on the connector are matching with each other.
Step 11: Final Assembling
Secure the bottom part with the top part by align the holes.I used M3 x12 nuts to secure it.
Then clean the acrylic sheet by using a clean soft cloth, and insert it in to the slot on top part of the base.
Step 12: Testing
Connect the 12V power adapter and switched ON the toggle switch at the back.It will lit up, now use the remote control to change the color and for different modes light. Make sure the bottom edge of the acrylic is smooth and clear so that the LED light can shine through nicely.
Thanks for reading my Instructable.
If you like my project, don't forget to share it.Please visit my YouTube channel for more fun projects on Solar Energy, Arduino and recycled stuffs.
Step 13: The End
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