Introduction: DIY Lightboard

Picture of DIY Lightboard

Hi everyone! We made this project for out Physics 241 course at Estrella Mountain Community College. This was just one of the many projects we decided to build. The idea came from Northwestern University, but decided to build one under a students budget. The original lightboard from Northwestern University costs around 10K to build.... Well we decided to try and build a similar board, but for under $100. This board can be used to make videos of students or teachers explaining lessons and concepts. The idea is to capture the user and their work (would look backwards to the user), and then flip the frame so the audience can see the lecture (now it it can be read by the user).

Step 1: Materials!

Picture of Materials!

Lightboard Materials:


NEON Expo Markers

Strip of White LED lights


2x4 three 10ft pieces Wood

Wood screws

Weather Stripping 20ft

Steel Braces, 1inX1/16in thick, 12ft total

10+ bolts 4in long

Weather stripping glue

Tools Recommended:

Dw/ drillbits

Circular Saw

Grinder Wrench

Screw driver philips

Part Modification:

cut 2x4 into 6 pieces: two 6’ and four 4’ pieces

cut steel into 8 17 inch pieces

cut channel in 2x4

Step 2: Building the Frame

Picture of Building the Frame

We thought it best to make indents in the wood for the Plexiglas to simply slide in. This is also where the LED lights would be fed into as well. The LED lights make a great cushion for the Plexiglas to rest on.

Use two pieces of 2inx4inx10ft wood.

Cut one piece of wood into a 6ft and 4ft, and the other into 6ft 2ft and 2ft.

The two 6ft pieces use as the vertical side pieces, and route a T shape centered, into both pieces of wood starting at the top, the T channel extended 48.25in along the boards.

The 4ft piece is used as the horizontal support and had a T shape channel routes the entire length of the wood

Remove a half inch of wood from one end of the 4ft piece of wood so it would be a bit shorter than the plexiglass.

The two 2ft pieces are perpendicular to the vertical 6ft pieces and act as feet.

Step 3: The Build

Picture of The Build

We stuck to a simple support stand, as with many boards used in study rooms and tutoring centers. We simply make a "T" shape with the legs, but supported the "T" with the flat steel braces. The steel braces are in the middle of either side of the bottom wood support.

We used a 1inx0.25inx20ft piece of steel and made eight 17in pieces of steel. We used four pieces of steel as braces connecting the two 6ft pieces to the horizontal support. Each 'foot' had two braces connecting it to the vertical beam.
We drilled two holes into each end of each of the eight pieces of steel.

We drilled two tracer holes into each side of lightboard connecting the horizontal piece and the vertical piece (total of 4 tracer holes). To connect the vertical post and the feet we drilled three holes into each end of lightboard (total of six tracer holes on only the outside of the lightboard.

Step 4: Order of Assembly

Picture of Order of Assembly

Fit the plexiglass into the channel of one of the vertical pieces and begin pulling the LED strip through, have the end of the LED strip (the end that does not connect into the wall) flush with the top of the vertical post.

1. Begin pulling the led through the horizontal channel and once done connect the horizontal piece of wood to the plexiglass. 0.25in of glass should be available to connect the remaining vertical piece.

2. Wire the LED strip through the remaining 6ft vertical piece of wood and once done connect the vertical piece to the plexiglass. The LED strip will be hanging from the top of the lightboard, feel free to modify this so that the LED strip does not hang.

3. Use two screws to connect the vertical piece of wood to the horizontal piece of wood and repeat on the other side. (4 screws used)

4. Stand the lightboard up and drill three holes connecting the foot of the lightboard to the vertical post, repeat on the other side (total of 6 screws used)

5. Using a piece of the 8in steel connect the vertical piece of the lightboard to the horizontal piece using a screw, this should form a triangle, repeat on the other side of the same vertical piece. Now repeat the previous step onto the other vertical piece.

6. Connect a steel piece from the foot to the board to the vertical piece both pieces should form a large triangle. Repeat on the other side.

7. You're done with your personal lightboard

Step 5: Camera/ Program/ Etc

We are currently working on trying to figure out what kind of media player to use. If you look at the Northwestern University lightboard, you can see it is pretty advanced. Currently, the lightboard is in a small studio here at school. We have it available for students and mostly teachers. I will get you the information as soon as I know how the media process works. We do the a black backdrop for this board in order for the information on the lightboard to POP! It really does help a lot. We have not discussed lighting, and are currently trying to figure out what are the best lighting methods in order to capture the information on the lightboard and the instructor.


mabazluki (author)2017-06-12

What kind of video camera do you use?

wambs8 (author)2015-12-22

Cool project. Just like the control board they write on in the control room of a aircraft carrier. If you sand and then flame polish the edges of the Plexiglas you will get better light transmission.

Eh Lie Us! (author)wambs82015-12-23

Whoa, wait. Huh? I'm curious to build one. Does a clear edge help with this or would a opaque edge create a more solid line? I'm thinking of one in glass which I can easily polish to a shine. Pray tell.

ScottG204 (author)Eh Lie Us!2017-05-22

a clear edge should help with light transmission. As Wambs8 said, polishing the edges will help. Using 1/4" thickness, plexi may be a tad more expensive than glass, but it will be tons lighter to move around and if it falls over, less chance of a shattered, dangerous mess. Use 150 sand paper (on a flat sanding block and sand the edges smooth. Then repeat with 180, and 220 grit. After the edges are sanded, they will be smooth and somewhat white still. Then use a small torch, and lightly graze the edge with the flame. Keep it moving and don't stop in one place. The heat will glaze the edge and make it clear as glass. Sounds complicated, yet a very simple process that looks and performs well.

Eh Lie Us! (author)ScottG2042017-05-22

Got it. thanks for the heat tip.

warriorethos2 (author)2016-01-31

NikkiL6, great job on the lightboard. Your instructions and pictures make it easy for anyone to build a light board. What holds the top from coming apart? Any good tips on maintenance of the board? Good luck in the contest.

Jonathanrjpereira (author)2016-01-20

Very cool Nerd board

ErnestoP5 (author)2016-01-05

I like it. The only thing to be weary of is that almost any smudge will show on the board. It must be cleaned very very well for it to be so clear when the LEDs are on. I wonder how well the eraser works cleaning the marker off.

killbox (author)2016-01-03

if you are using this to video talks or whatnot, either reverse left/right the video, or point the camera away and put a mirror up. that way you dont have to learn to write/draw backwards

NathanB36 (author)2015-12-19

Dont hate on me for saying this but coudnt you half lap joint the horizontal and vertical pieces together e.g. the one on the floor and the one that comes of that to make them flush and them make supports out of more 2x4 removing the need for the steel and keeping cost down just saying as where I am steel is hard to come by

Eh Lie Us! (author)NathanB362015-12-23

I like it. Spoken by a person who knows hunger. that's what makes better design and my friend you got the eye for it. Build on!

carlhoffman (author)NathanB362015-12-20

I agree! Half laps are a simple and strong joinery option.

@NikkiL6 does have an excellent design here. I've been thinking about something like this to replace the whiteboard in the woodshed.

deluges (author)2015-12-18

Sweet project ! But how awful is this reaction mechanism :D What are you going to do with a three legged carbon ? And I don't really think it has anything to do with Markovnikov's rule.

The board looks great !

stpeter955 (author)deluges2015-12-21

Isn't the "missing leg" on the carbon the double bond to the oxygen?

Nice project - if you could find a flat screen as used on construction/agricultural equipment in a scrap yard, it would be safety glass and make a scratch resistant surface with finished edges..

deluges (author)stpeter9552015-12-21

Were it drawn without the arrows, yes the carbon's valence would be good. But the arrow (representing two electrons invested in the double bond) is signifying that these electrons are leaving to create a single bond between the oxygen and the proton it is attacking. Yielding [R-C(OH)2]+ in purple (bad valence for the carbon) and R'-OH in green.

stpeter955 (author)deluges2015-12-21

Ok! It's been a long time since my last Chemistry lesson (and I wasn't too hot then) - thanks for updating me. I'll stick to the scrap yards!

PhilW16 (author)deluges2015-12-20

Great observation. I had up the rule.

Verticees (author)2015-12-21

Sweet idea!

CRAZEDCLAM (author)2015-12-21

This is really cool! Don't think I could make one though, nice work!

Jedi_zombie85 (author)2015-12-21

dude this is so epic, really nice effect, really want one of these now

gregdavid (author)2015-12-21

In your instructions you describe 2 different builds. One only uses 2 10' 2x4's and has 2' feet. The other specifies 3 10' 2x4's and has 4' feet (as listed in your bill of materials). In the pics it appears the 4' feet is the right one. You should edit the instructions to remove the confusion. Also would have been nice to see more pics of the assemply, esp the routing of the light strip.

masoon (author)2015-12-20

Cool project! Could you give me a link for those white LEDs? I've only been able to find red blue green. Thanks!

jamesabt007 (author)masoon2015-12-20

Based off the image provided, the author seems to be using 5050 type led strips. This article does a pretty good job of explaining what the numbers mean when looking for led strips. If you want something say a little dimmer and requires a smaller current draw, I'd consider looking at the 3528 led type strips That being said, I recommend looking on Deal Extreme. Specifically, here:

These look good:

Additionally, keep in mind that this only includes the strip and not a power source (or remote). Just keep in mind that if you want the type of white you associate with the "bright" or "cool" white, you want to look for strips that have a light color range of 4000+ kelvin or else you'd end up with weird, Christmas colored lights (aka warm colors). Happy shopping.

Tanzer26 (author)2015-12-20

I've been planning a smaller one of these for a while. I was planning a dark background, but I think I may not need it. Also, I hope to find a piece of thick tempered glass to use for its scratch resistance over plexi. Thanks for sharing.

EstebanK1 (author)2015-12-20


XTL (author)2015-12-20

Plexi comes in several thicknesses. The cheapest you could use is 3mm but its too wobbly and in large spans will sag. Also it will bend when you press against it.

The LEDs will all sidelight 4.5mm and up which wil be just firm enough to write on.

No one can probably afford 10mm. A complete sheet is expensive but will be very rigid and easy to write on.

So go for > 4.5mm but less than 10 and whatever you can afford.

I made mine in 6mm. Something this big would be best at 8mm. IMHO.YMMV

sosclosetsandfurniture (author)2015-12-20

Nicely done! Looks like 1/4" on the plexi. Does that sound right?

tmv22 (author)2015-12-20

brilliant! thank you

HarshS32 (author)2015-12-20

plz advise minimum thickness of plexiglass, what for a mounted one.

EnriqueD9 (author)2015-12-20

HOla, muy buena idea , gracias.

Y los Marcadores, en donde se consiguen?


richardhan (author)2015-12-18

Wow, I need one! What was the thickness of the plexiglas? Cheers.

TeddyBear1970 (author)richardhan2015-12-20

I wouldnt like to know the thickness of the plexiglass also.

zaikami (author)2015-12-20

Pretty colourful

zaikami (author)2015-12-20

I thought this would only come in my dreams!!

But it is real !!!!

_Boltz_ (author)2015-12-19


PhotoMaster (author)2015-12-19

Spectacular design! Very, very well done!

DIYgiveaways (author)2015-12-18

Nice! I'm building one of these in the next couple of months. Thanks for sharing!

LuisiJ (author)2015-12-18

This is great design!

nodcah (author)2015-12-18

I've never these before, but they look awesomeeee. Thanks for sharing!!

reallover2702 made it! (author)2015-12-18

i love it

theblckwlf (author)2015-12-18

very cool!

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2015-12-18

This is really fun. I should make one of these.

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