Today, I am going to show you how to make your very own backlit poster. This makes a great project for several different reasons but mainly because it very customizable. You can change everything from the design on the front, to the color(s) of the frame and/or LEDs, and even the size and shape of the frame! You could light-up the logo of your favorite fandom, make your favorite quote shine like never before, or even display your own unique work of art to brighten up your bedroom! The possibilities are endless!
Also, this project is fun and easy to make! Not too skilled at woodworking? No problem! Oddly enough, the main ingredient to this frame is LEGO bricks! The structure of this project is quite simple actually. Basically, you construct a frame of LEGOs, whatever size and shape you choose, and add a switch to the frame and connect it to the LEDs. Then, with the aid of an electronic cutting machine, you create a design of your choice and adhere it to the frame. When the LEDs are on, the light will shine through your design, causing it to omit and elegant glow and make you smile every time you walk by.
Step 1: Supplies
To make this backlit poster, you will need:
- A Battery Powered LED Light Strip
- LEGOs (Mainly standard bricks, small plates, and tile pieces)
- A Power Switch (I got mine here)
- A Dremel
- Wire Cutters
- Soldering Equipment
- An 8 1/2" by 11" Sheet of Colored Cardstock* (Same color as Legos)
- White Copy Paper*
- An Electronic Cutting Machine (I used a Silhouette)
- A Glue Stick
- Scissors (Or you can use a paper slicer like I did)
- 1/2" Wide Double Sided Tape
- Fine Sandpaper*
- A Clamp* (Optional, but recommended)
*Not Shown In Photos
Step 2: LEGO Assembly
Using LEGO bricks with a width of 2 studs, construct a 34x26-stud lego frame that measures 2 bricks tall. Add a thin layer of flat LEGO plates to the back of the frame to ensure that it will be secure. Also, make the thin backing extend into the frame a little bit at the bottom to create a "pouch" that will later help hold the battery pack inside the frame. Then add a layer of smooth tile pieces on top trying to keep everything the same color. (See photos.) Be sure to leave some room for the switch that you’ll be putting in later.
If you’re using the switch I used you will need to leave a space that measures slighlty taller (actually 2 tile bricks taller) than a standard 2x2 brick and use a Dremel (See step 3) to shave off the LEGO bricks to the left (or right) of the space for the switch.
If you happen to find a switch that fits perfectly in your LEGO frame, that’s great! You can skip right ahead to Step 4.
Remember, this is how I constructed my frame, you however can create whatever size and shape frame you would like.
Step 3: Dremel Time!
If you're reading this step, you must haven chosen a switch that doesn't quite fit into your LEGO frame without some modifications. So if that's the case, use a Dremel to shave the switch and/or necessary LEGO pieces just enough for them to fit together.
To avoid shaving them too much, periodically check to see if they fit together. Once they fit together nicely, its time to turn off the Dremel and proceed to Step 4.
Step 4: Wiring It Up
Turn on your battery powered LED strip and locate the first LED on the strip (the one closest to the battery pack). Once you find it, turn them off again, and clip either one of the wires (positive or negative) leading to the LED a couple of inches before it. This is where you will insert the switch.
Next, you'll want to solder both ends of the wire you just cut to the switch. However, before you can do this you MUST sand the ends of the wires with some fine sandpaper because there is a very thin coating of plastic around the wires. If you do not sand off the plastic, the solder will not stick to the wires.
Once you have removed the thin coating of plastic, you can go ahead and solder everything together. I found that using a clamp to hold the switch in place while I solder was very helpful. Before you put the switch into your LEGO frame, check the connection and make sure that switch properly turns the LEDs on and off. After you have checked to make sure it works, open up the LEGO frame and add the switch to the empty space you left for it.
Step 5: Creating Your Design
Tracethe size of your frame onto an 8 1/2" by 11"sheet of colored cardstock. (I chose a color that matched the color of my frame.)
Trimthe design along the lines you had just traced so that it matches the size of your frame.
Cuta design of your choice out of the cardstock using an electronic cutting machine (I used a Silhouette, and if you have one too, you can use the attached ".studio3" file available for all Silhouette users.)
Weed your design off of the mat, being sure to keep all of the necessary pieces, in my case that meant not to throw out the insides of the Ds and Os.
Adherethe back of your design to a standard sheet of 8 1/2" by 11" white copy paper using a gluestick. Do not forget any of the pieces of your design, again this usually refers to the insides of letters.
Trim off the excess white copy paper that is left around your design, so that is the same size as the cardstock.
Step 6: Finishing
Lastly, apply strips of double sided tape all around the surface of your frame. Then, while trying to keep it centered, carefully place your design directly onto the frame and gently press it onto the tape. That's it! You're done!
To hang it up, simply hammer two horizontally aligned nails into the wall about 9 inches away from each other. Make sure the LEDs are all inside of the fame and that the battery pack is being held in the pouch we made earlier (see photos). Then hang the frame on the nails and give yourself a pat on the back because you just made your very own backlit poster!