Step 1: Get all the materials
4 sheets of 1/8" thick 18" x 24" acrylic - (not 1/8 but close enough) http://www.menards.com/main/building-materials/sheet-acrylic/clear-acrylic/100-18-x-24-clear-acrylic/p-1458022-c-7552.htm
super glue or acrylic adhesive (if using super glue watch for finger prints)
4 "AA" battery holder (this one includes a switch which is nice) http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062253
2 ( or how every many you want) LED's http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3060980
resistors ( i used 270 ohm, may change on your set up)
preprinted circuit board,i used this one because it cut down on some soldering http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2102845
one can of spray glass frost http://www.menards.com/main/paint/paint/spray-paint/decorative/rust-oleum-specialty-frosted-glass-spray/p-1482521-c-8046.htm
Step 2: Background info
ok so lets get started.
Step 3: Build the 3d model
i wont go too in depth in the design development stage because this is a step that is different for each modeling program.
These are the basic steps i used when modeling in Rhino
start with determining the size of the lamp- ours is basically 6"x6" by 18" tall
next determine the size of the battery pack and estimate room for the LED's on top of the - ours is 3" x3" x 1.5"
( you have to include room for this at the base)
determine and height and size of the light shaft - ours is about 3" x 1.25" by 18"tall ( dont make too small or the lamp may become too unsteady )
now develop a general form for the lamp. The attached laser files are for a "twisting" cube form
now use the "contour"command and contour your model at every 1". the spacing can be adjusted to fit your needs
this gives you the lines needed to create the laser cutting file. export these to your favorite CAD program and prep them for the laser cutter
for those of you using Rhino i have attached the working file for you to refrence as well as a 3ds file if you prefer 3ds MAX
Step 4: Prepping the laser cutter files
this will vary depending on your laser cutter as well how your generated the shapes.
*if you don't use a 3d modeling program you can start in a cad program and work in flat 2d shapes, all you need is rectangle that remains in the same spot as this is what acts as a light well.
also at this step you need to draw the pieces that will glued together to make the spacers and creates the light well in the center.
The attached cad file is set up for a laser cutter that has a 18" x 32" tray. The CAD file also has each of the 4 sheets (18"x24" w/ .25" margins) layed out and ready to be printed.
Step 5: Laser cut the pieces
DO NOT REMOVE THE BLUE FILM. IT IS DESIGNED TO PREVENT FINGER PRINTS BUT IT ALSO PREVENTS THE ACRYLIC FROM BURNING DURING THE CUTTING PROCESS.
i found it was beneficial to place each type of piece into its own baggie to make sure they dont get mixed up
now you just have to assemble pieces and build your light source!
Step 6: Spray frost the spacer pieces
Now is the time to remove the blue film for those pieces. This might be the most time consuming part as there are lots of little pieces and each has two sides of the blue film.
Once all the film is removed spray each side about 2 or 3 times. The more coats you put one the more opec the pieces will get, meaning the part will glow more but allow less light to transmit through it. So if you want it to glow alot spray many of coats, if you want it to be brighter stick to 2 or 3 coats. each coat only takes about 15 minutes to dry.
Step 7: Assemble
Starting from the bottom build the rectangular risers and glue them one on top of the other with the large contours between. repeat till finished.
also at this time sand the edges of the contours, this will rough them up and allow the edges to glow bright.
Step 8: Light source
this is about as simple of a circuit as you can make. you will be soldering two LED's in parallel each with there own resistor.
you can see that the circuit board i bought and linked, has some of the holes connected. this allows current to flow through those rails and this reduces amount of wires and soldering. if your board doesnt have this you will have to make sure that you wire it correctly.
this doesnt require any advanced soldering and is pretty easy. if you are worried you can practice on other parts of the circuit board as you wont need the whole thing. infact i cut mine in half to conserve space.
once the board is all soldered splice the positive and negative wires to the wires that are attached to your battery pack.
to attache the circuit board to the battery pack i simply used electrical tape to hold it.
put batteries in and enjoy your LED's. don't look straight at them they are bright! lol