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We needed some edge lightning for an edge-lit sign we are making for #HackBergen hackerspace.

To make the sign easier to make I would like the LEDs to be on a strip which is as slim as possible. NeoPixel strips+chips for sale appear to be 10mm or wider. However ws2812b 5050 chips are 5mm wide, allowing me to create a custom LED-strip covering the 4mm acrylic inlays avoiding excess.

I also wanted to have some control over placement as the letters on the sign are not all the same size and the spacing is not even. I could of course design & etch a PCB or have someone make one professionally, but it turns out it is fairly easy to make small DIY strips with perfboard.

From another member of HackBergen I got some rolls of the bare ws2812b chips. I already had perfboard, and wanted to connect them to the awesome SparkCore. The SparkCore has 3.3V logic and ws2812b´s need >3.7V. So I had to level up the output from the SparkCore for the ws2812b´s to function properly.

Step 1: What Is Needed

    • Spark Core
    • Perfboard made of the easily cut type (pertinax, brownish type. Glasfiber is hard to cut) - I prefer those with 3-hole pads for the LED strips and full line pattern for the tiny Spark Core shield, but what ever type you prefer will probably do.
    • Wires with 3 different colors - I used FKUX 0,08 from Clas Ohlson nr 49.126-25 Wires
    • Soldering iron, lead and de-soldering pump. I prefer the leaded type as it is much easier to get a nice connection. I do not do this for a living and do not even solder once a month, so I am not afraid of dying from lead poisoning, however soldering should always be done in a very well ventilated area or under a fume hood.
    • ws2812b 5050 (4 pin type)
    • Capacitors 0.1uF (100nF)
    • Resistors (2 * 10K, 1 * 4.7K, 1 * 270 ohm)
    • Bc547 or equivalent NPN small signal transistor
    • Cheap socket type
    • Olfa sharp knife (or something like it)
    • Metal Ruler or something straight and solid to aid cutting perfboard
    • Multimeter with continuity tester for checking for short-circuits
    • Lupe or magnifying glass
    • AdaFruit ws2812b NeoPixel datasheet
    • Spark Core pinout
    <p>How did you get the light to diffuse so well? What material are the LEDs shining through, and how is it so bright?</p>
    <p>On the picture at the top, there are no material. Just the surrounding wood.</p><p>I did mill out pieces of plexiglas afterwards and sanded it with 120 paper on one side, to make the light a bit more even. That was because when the sign is mounted high up on a wall and you can look directly into the LEDs.</p><p>Those ws2812b's are very bright on full power, so now it is usually turned down a bit.. :)</p>
    <p>Could you include some more description of what the sign does? Do the lights change color or flash based on some event?</p>
    <p>Right now it is just flickering to show what it can do, in hope that people would be inspired to program fancy animations.</p><p>The plan is that is lights up the number of letters of the number of people that is going to be at the workshop (Verkstedet) that day, as they click &quot;like&quot; on a Wordpress webpage.</p>
    <p>Very interesting!!!</p><p>Want to follow it!!</p>
    <p>Thank you! :)</p><p>There will be another Instructable on the same sign, but focused sending some number from a Wordpress page.</p>

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