First I brought you my tutorial on making elaborate vertical LEGO mosaic portraits
. Then I dazzled the likes of you all with my popular mosaic LEGO lamps
. What happens when you combine the two? Why, you get a vertical mosaic portrait with illuminated components: a vertical mosaic portrait to display up against the wall, but with an internal grid of LED strips for light output, rather than light bulky bulbs!
This particular method of illuminated mosaic LEGO portraits is actually a refined experimental concept I've been tinkering with, by having a mosaic portrait with hollow innards and LED strips to provide the light output as opposed to low-wattage bulbs. The first experiment with an illuminated LEGO portrait was in October 2013 when I built two different revisions of a light-up portrait of my late cat Tiggs (Tiggs Portrait Mk.1
/ Tiggs Portrait Mk. 2
). As you can see in the photos, the eyes of the portrait use the original stained glass method as seen in my original Super Mario Bros. Coin Block Lamp
, whereas shortly afterwards, I came up with the method of using "Lite Brite" style dots to make more vibrant color outputs, as seen in my popular Mosaic LEGO Lamps
from December 2013. Using the same essential layout of building the Tiggs lamp, along with the dot matrix Technic brick and transparent plate rigging like the Mario block, I successfully came up with a method of having beautiful portraits with rich colors -- as in, the specific Legend of Zelda portrait shown here. The Tiggs lamp was actually made when I was still honing my skills with electronics and LEDs, hence the lighting supply uses a jury-rigged method of connecting two small E12 Candelabra bulbs in a parallel connection with a 120VAC cord. The Tiggs Mk.1 portrait uses two incandescent bulbs, which has the obvious dull yellow/orange glow, whilst the Mk.2 portrait uses two bright white LED bulbs of the same size for more accurate green and yellow eyes. Also, the Tiggs portrait was photographed with my old camera before I began using a DSLR, which means the photos of the eyes lit up are grainy and distorted, as there is no altering of the aperture or shutter speed. After I built this model last fall, I decided to experiment with dot matrix Technic brick and transparent plate grids for the "Lite Brite" design -- which is what you see here in the Link & Triforce portrait!
The initial idea was to have the portrait thicker and to have a parallel circuit of tiny E12 LED bulbs behind certain areas of the portrait, then I opted to use a grid of LEDs connected in an array behind the dots to make the portrait as thin as possible -- unfortunately, there are well over 500 dots, which would make soldering this sucker a chore and a half -- thus I ultimately and successfully came up with the idea of using flat SMD (surface mount diode) LEDs from a lighting strip reel! Controlling the lights is a small Radio Shack switch wired to a female DC adapter input, which connects to the array of LED strips. The whole project is then powered by a 12V/5 Amp AC adapter which plugs into the wall. The actual LEGO construction of the design (sans base) was completed over the course of a weekend. The base, however, was an evolutionary design that underwent several revisions around my numerous changes to the sizes.
Like my other LEGO tutorials, I won't give the specific explanation how to copy my design -- rather, I'll explain the fundamentals of this design scheme, the electrical components, the methodology behind the construction, and resources where to get parts, so that you can build your own similar creations using this overall suggestion. Also like my other creations, this isn't a cheap project to build (assuming you're tackling an elaborate design), nor is it something easily done by the novice builder with poor engineering skills. If you have the talent, patience, dedication, and ample funds, these illuminated portraits can be a fun and elegant creative piece to have around your house.