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Giant Lite Brite

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I made a Giant Lite Brite for Instructables that has over 1,100 self healing holes and hundreds of multi-colored pegs that go inside and light up. It's an improved upon version of the original toy, at super-human size! Create any picture you can imagine in amazing 30 x 37 peg resolution!


 
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Step 1: Gather materials

Picture of Gather materials
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The Giant Lite Brite is made from:

  • two 40" x 40"panels of clear acrylic 1/8" sheet
  • one 40" x 40" panel of black acrylic 1/8" sheet
  • one 37" x 7" panel of orange acrylic 1/8" sheet
  • many feet (over 100') of colored acrylic rod (fluorescent colors work best)
  • three fluorescent light fixtures and bulbs
  • two 110 volt ac cooling fans (McMaster-Carr 1976K14)
  • several square feet of 1/16" santoprene rubber (McMaster-Carr 86215K22)
  • a good quality rubber cement designed for one-sided application. If you can get your hands on some Devcon Industrial Rubber Adhesive 14900, go fir it, it seems to work a bit better then other types.
  • assorted nuts, bolts, and wood screws
  • one 4' x 8' sheet of 3/4" sanded plywood
  • scrap 1" x 1" for supports

The santoprene rubber was purchased from McMaster-Carr.
All of the acrylic was purchased from Tap Plastics.
The rest of the pieces can be purchased at Home Depot or your local hardware store.
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madhops06206 years ago
GREAT IDEA!! I would definitely do this however its a bit out of my range of ability. Does anyone know where youcan get those floursecent rods though? they could be useful for a number of things. Also, about how much did this project cost overall?

The acrylic rods are actually the most expensive part! We have spent over $2000 on rods. They come in 6ft lengths and we cut them with a miter saw. You can get them at www.eplastics.com

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Fluorescent rods? Oh you mean the acrylic rods Have a look on ebay
haha I feel really stupid I found the answers to both of my questions in the 'able after looking again
hereJust found a Ebay store for acrylic rods
Check it out here
nmuzzatti made it!26 days ago

Here are a couple of things we did differently:

1. Instead of building the unit out of wood, I stumbled upon a 4x8 sign box, like the ones you see above storefronts. Since this box was designed to hold a 4x8 sheet of plexiglass, it made things quite a bit easier. It has 2100 holes (approx) and is backlit by 200+ LED lights.

2. Totally gave up on trying to block the light with the rubber. Biggest pain ever!

Thank you Instructables for the helpful info!

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I built two 3'x4' copies. I do appreciate the instructions and it is a neat project but be mindful about a few things if you try to follow the recipe.

1. The pitch for the holes ("holes spaced an inch apart") does not match the file provided to have the rubber cut (exactly 1.04" spacing in both directions). That sounds minor but the mismatch accumulates across the panel until there is no overlap between holes and plus signs in the rubber.
2. Cost is higher than it sounds initially. The rubber is $8/sq ft plus shipping and water jet cutting rubber cost me $205 (12 sheets stacked and cut at once) and I only got that price after calling around extensively. Laser cutting quotes came in as high as $700 because they had to do it four sheets at a time and some refused the job despite my assurances that this rubber does "play nicely with laser cutters". Each peg costs 50 cents plus shipping (from TAP, 1/2 inch rods in 6' lengths) and that assumes you cut them into pegs and polish and/or torch smooth the ends yourself. The fans specified are $50 each (I went cheaper), the glue, the black acrylic is around $100/sheet, the CNC setup and machining is $70/hour, light fixtures $20-30 each x two or three, 4.5" hole saw plus arbor was $50 where I could find it locally, etc. Get a quote for all material, labor and shipping from every vendor in advance if you might be concerned about cost.
3. The *.cdr file in the article isn't accepted by job shops so I download the free CorelDraw X5 demo and saved As DXF. I would have been better to draw my own array of plus signs, or at least check dimensions twice and cut once to avoid issue #1 above.
4. Tools: Also, you'll need a good table saw for long grooves and bevels. And a miter saw for chopping all the acrylic rods.
5. Peg color selection is limited. In October 2011, I couldn't find half inch extruded acrylic fluorescent rods online in very many fluorescent colors. Yellow does light up as does clear but there is a strong brightness mismatch between fluorescent and not if you try blacklight as lighting instead. Never mind hand-painted blue ones. Some fluorescent blue ones look clear on the side and blue only on the circular tip.
6. The 3/4" plywood back makes it a lot heavier. I switched to a thin back panel.
How about this?
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Wow. . . . O_o
The pegs in this one are translucent Solo cups glued top-to-top and placed in the board. the black areas are Solo cups painted black. it is lit by 8 old florescent lights.
phoe6 years ago
it'd be interesting to see if this could be done with LEDs too, just alternating the +/- rails (just wondering how you could get them to "stick" in place...)
jongscx phoe6 years ago
...MAGNETICS!!! If you could find some way of making insulated traces on a bare sheet of metal, you could energize just those and have the metal plate be the ground... then you won't be limited to a grid... OOH... conductive paint on top of regular paint! *runs off to experiment...*
It's been done before.
Actually, it hasn't been "done before" What you linked is just a modern version of the lite bright. What they did is a larger version of the lite bright. There is a difference. But I do have to say the modern version of the lite bright is pretty cool. I may end up having a go at both of them and put them in my house. :) I'm a lite bright dork.
But this one is WAY cooler! the world wouldn't evolve if we didn't cheat off each other at some point!
Great idea but what about the resistors every colour has a different voltage And people won't notice that the LED's need to have the polarity correct and throw them out.
hmmm... well, resistor-wise you could solder it together so that it kinda wraps around the led. You're right, how would you figure for that? would it be parallel connections? I'm sure there's a voltage range that will overlap for all the LEDs you're planning on using, so that it falls under the maximum of all, but above the minimum... that, or just limit your color palette.
just had a idea that incorporates a SM resistor on the side of a LED and only fits into socket one way I was too lazy to do it better quality
On a day when totally bored and having access to a junk bin and a case full of old phono plugs/jacks and a sheet of that perforated board, I made a patch panel with a LED & resistor mounted in each plug and wired the sockets in parallel. Down side was that you didn't know what colour you had in hand until you plugged it into the panel. Would have looked better if I had painted it flat black as well .... or taken pictures .. oh well. Its the thought that counts right?
Yeah
Jayefuu3 years ago
Regarding step 7, you can buy "light gathering acrylic" that would have done exactly what you wanted in lots of different colours.
Wow! This is So Cool! I saw it the make faire and loved it. I have to say it would be awesome to have a giant 100 ft long 1/8 inch diameter piece of acrylic. Imagine the possibilities.
Imagine turning the lights off in a big room after building a massive picture with the 100ft light brite!
Rimwulf4 years ago
would it have been better to use LEDs? you could get a bag of 100 for a few dollars these days.
The whole idea is that people can remove the pegs and put them back in to make their own picture. As opposed to having to program a giant LED matrix.
not what I meant. use individual LEDs to light up the pegs and make it so they light up when the pegs are inserted that would tone down the heating.
boris_19814 years ago
AWESOME idea!
GREAT instructable!  :D (thats actually the biggest smiley i can do with ASCII).
deaker4 years ago
If you could get the laser to cut each slot at a slight angle there would be no light getting through the cross slot. This may not be a problem anyway. Great Instuctable, great toy.
noahw (author)  deaker4 years ago
The laser beam itself has a kerf.  I'd say that it's only about 1/64", but it's still very much there and lets a very small amount of light through.  Cutting at a slight angle would be pretty cool to see if you could miter the joint and reduce the kerf, but since the laser beam head is fixed on that axis, I don't think that it's in the cards using this method.
Sorry for the muti posting but my internet connection died then it would not show the posting on this page or my account. I tried IE and FF??????
 Chrome!  

A great browser by Google and an even better song by Trace Atkins!


erosser5 years ago
Awesome. You guys win at life. Forever. I agree with your proposal to add a drilled sheet of steel behind the rubber--it would definitely do the trick as far as holding the rubber in place. However, one should perhaps worry about steel getting really hot. Why not make two of the drilled clear acrylic sheets you used, then use one of those instead of steel? Just an idea. Again, thanks for posting this--utterly illuminating! (No pun intended. Okay, maybe, but a bad one, I concede.) Cheers...
motleyjust6 years ago
Wow! What a great idea for Halloween, Christmas, etc. decorations! Thanks!
Awesome! I've been working on something like this for a while only smaller but with real lite-brite pegs(hence the "for a while"). My plan was to just use black posterboard but it would be one use. I really want to make a sophisticated picture like the Mona Lisa. My big hang up has been creating a computer program to convert a picture to lite-brite peg colors and spacing. My initial idea was to filter the picture in Photoshop to the peg colors then put it in a program like rasterbator to figure out where the pegs go. I don't know how to use photoshop though so I've had trouble getting help with that. You may be able to do it all in photoshop with some kind of dot filter too. Anyone up for a "make your own lite-brite pattern in Photoshop instructable?
darkmuskrat6 years ago
you got my vote ;D
pyromonkey6 years ago
that is so phreaken awesome!!! :D :D
I love this I'ble so much! Truly cool idea.
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Doveman6 years ago
So awsome! Noahw, about how much did this cost to make?
noahw (author)  Doveman6 years ago
The major cost was the acrylic sheet and rod. I tried to salvage as much of the wood as possible from scrap, and relatively speaking, the lights and fans are inexpensive, but there's no getting around the price of all that acrylic. I don't have an exact number of what we spent on it, but it's on the order of several hundreds of dollars.
Doveman noahw6 years ago
Wow... more than I thought! =/

Thanks for telling me, one day (if I save up a few $100), I might build this. Its awsome!
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