LED Trophy

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Introduction: LED Trophy

As member of my sports association's tournament-organizing committee, I took responsibility of making the first-prize trophy because that is always cooler than buying one.

Our tournament called L.E.D. being an acronym for Legendary Eindhoven Derby, as well as a wink/tribute to our city's background in lights manufacturing, it was a logical step to make a trophy in the shape of an LED. Additionally, I wanted it to work, off course.

Step 1: LED Assembly

Boundary Conditions and research

First of all, let me write down my limitations/restrictions and design choices:

  1. I wanted to add one or multiple batteries in the base. Because of the voltage needed (Vf) of the LEDs, I decided to go with a 9V battery.
  2. Because of the size of the overall LED, I wanted to use either a large, high power LED, or make my own larger one.
    • Because I could not find one single LED to fit my budget, size and light divergence, I decided to make an assembly of multiple.
  3. Because of the size I wanted my "lead frame" to be, I chose 6 regular red LEDs.
  4. Because of the 9V battery choice, I needed to wire the LED's in two parallel paths.

Links I used to do my research were:

Materials and Tools Needed

Materials

  • 1 plexiglas/acrylic glass plate
  • 6 LEDs (5mm)
  • 2 resistors (150-180 Ohm)
  • 2 wires
  • Solder

Tools

  • Soldering Iron
  • Stripping Pliers
  • Saw or other way to cut acrylic glass
  • Grinding wheel or file to adjust the size of the acrylic glass
  • Power drill with 5mm drill bit (metal drills do fine in acrylic)
  • (TIP) use an awl or other pointy object to mark the holes

Actual Building

Below a simple list of the steps I took to make the LED assembly:

  1. Use ledcalc to obtain your desired cicuit. (Vf is usually 2.1V for standard LEDs, and desired LED current around 20mA)
  2. With a breadboard, check if everything is working: are the LEDs burning with the desired intensity? Make sure you attach the LED's according to their polarity: they will block current if they are attached the other way around.
  3. Mark the holes in the acrylic glass, and preferably pre punch/align for the drill
  4. Drill the holes in the glass. Check the size of your LEDs en test one hole to check the LED's have a tight fit and don't fall out.
  5. Possibly wipe away the markings made in step 3
  6. Optional: cut out the outside circle around the holes. I decided to do this step later, for more stable holding possibility during soldering. You can also do this at the end (see step 10).
  7. Place all the LED's in their holes, and align the legs for shorter/closer soldering paths: again, make sure to align the anodes/cathodes correctly, otherwise no current will flow
  8. Solder the parts and cut off excess wires. Don't use too much solder, it may make false contacts, but don't use too little either, you might need to re-solder some parts after moving the assembly around a couple of times. Keep the wires that should go to the battery long enough to be able to make changes later on.
  9. Test your assembly by attaching the two wires to a (9V) battery. If everything works you are about done.
  10. If you did not carry out step 6, you can now cut out the assembly: push out the LED's before doing this, though. Use a saw to cut a square around the holes, and use a grinding wheel or file to make the part round.
  11. Don't forget to place back the LED's in their acrylic holder.
  12. Optional: grind the entire top of the LEDS and acrylic holder, to make the entire assembly diffuse the light, and seem more like one light source instead of 6.
    • This cannot be seen in these pictures, but in a couple of steps.

If your not familiar with some of the techniques, there are a lot of good Instructables for just that:

Step 2: Base

Boundary Conditions and research

Again, I'll start by noting the limitations/restrictions and design choices:

The size of the base depended on several things:

  • The size of the LED I wanted to make (depending on the bell shape I had) In my case, the bell was from an old clock, which had 2 holes pre-fitted which I wanted to use as the legs of the LED.
  • The size of the battery, in my case 9V
  • The height of the LED, higher means broader/heavier base such that it doesn't fall over easily
  • The size of available materials, in this case wood.

Materials and Tools Needed

Materials

  • Wooden beam

Tools

  • Measuring equipment
  • A saw to cut the beam to size
  • A router (to mill wood) with several bits
  • Power drill and several drill sizes (wood)
  • Optional wood-glue

Actual Building

Below a simple list of the steps I took to make the base:

  1. Make sure the wooden beam is wide enough for the LED to come on top
  2. Measure the width and cut of a "square" piece of the beam (as seen from the top)
  3. Mark the middle, and drill holes evenly distanced from the middle. I chose to place the two holes on the center-line as opposed to the diagonal, to align the LED to the future inscription plate.
  4. Drill holes just smaller than the LED legs are, such that you can tightly fit them in later
  5. Turn around the wooden box and outline the hole for the battery.
    • make sure the holes for the LED legs coincide with the battery hole.
  6. Drill a hole wide enough for the router bit to fit into, and deep enough for the battery to fit. This will be your starting point for routing.
    • I made the hole just small enough to hold the battery in place. You could also consider milling more, and placing in an actual battery-holder. If I was to do it again, I would consider making a simple jig, to make sure the hole was rectangular.
  7. Use the router to mill a hole for the battery.
    • Don't route too much depth in one time, you will need too much power to move the router around
    • Do route about 1/2 the depth of the router bit, and repeat until deep enough.
  8. Optional: Mill a nice border on the top of the base.
  9. Optional: Fill the sides of the wood with glue, if the surface is very rough, to even it out.

Unfortunately I couldn't find a basic Instructable about how to use the router, so look it up on the interwebs, and be careful while using it. It's not easy routing without a jig (one of the reasons my battery-hole is so ugly-shaped) and the router can easily shoot out of the hole in the beginning.

Step 3: The Legs of the LED

Boundary Conditions and research

Again, I'll start by noting the limitations/restrictions and design choices, this time it's rather short:

  • Decide on the length you want the legs to be to match the size of the LED
  • Make sure the material of the legs is either conductive, or hollow for cables to run through.

Materials and Tools Needed

Materials

  • 2 Metal rods, preferably square profile to resemble LED legs

Tools

  • Metal saw
  • Grinding wheel
  • Power drill
    • Small metal drill (1mm or less)
    • Wire brush or other way to polish/clean the surface of the rods
  • Tap/die set
  • Safety:
    • mouthcap
    • gloves

Actual Building

Below a simple list of the steps I took to make the legs:

  1. Cut the rods to the correct length (about the same height as the LED bulb was OK for me)
  2. Use the grinding wheel to make one end of the rods round
    • Make this as round as possible to be able to thread it
    • Make sure at least 1cm is clear, such to have enough thread
  3. Thread the end of both rods
  4. Use the grinding wheel to make the other end somewhat round such that it can be forced into the holes of the base.
  5. Drill a hole near that rounded end, in which you will make a connection for the battery
  6. Use the wirebrush (or grinding wheel) to remove the surface finish of the metal rods. This will leave the nice and shiny metal to bling.

Caution: the metal might get hot while threading, grinding and polishing. Also use a mouth/nose cap and good ventilation to reduce the amount of dust you inhale.

If your not familiar with some of the techniques, there are a lot of good Instructables for just that:

Step 4: Other Materials

Besides the three mentioned sub-assemblies, there are other items necessary. These materials will come back in the next couple of steps.

Materials

  • a "bulb" or plastic/glass bell, I used an old clock, and I could also reuse it's base
  • an old beer can (only the bottom part)
  • a 9V battery (already mentioned, but not as material)
  • a 9V battery connector (for easy replacement of the battery)
  • Wire ends/crimp rings of the correct size for your thread on the LED legs
  • a little switch (to make it possible to switch the LED on or off)
  • some tape
    • electrical insulation
    • Masking (paint)
  • some transparent glue
  • some spray paint (I used black)
  • 2 nuts of the size of thread on legs

In the first image, you will find an overview of all these materials, accompanied by the previous made parts:

  • The LED assembly
  • The Base
  • The LED legs

Tools

  • Pliers to crimp the wire ends (regular flat pliers will do the trick, but specific crimp pliers exist

Preparation Needed

The following steps are necessary before going on to the final assembly of the LED trophy:

  1. Cut the bottom part of a beer can (only metal color)
  2. Drill a hole in the bottom of the can large enough for the wires of the LED assembly to pass
  3. Add some insulation tape around the hole, such that the LED assembly will not make short circuits with the can.
  4. Pass the wires through the hole.
  5. Attach the wire ends/crimp rings to the wires.
  6. Spray paint the parts necessary.

Step 5: Bottom Assembly

This part consists of combining the Base and the legs, finishing the base, and adding the battery.

Materials and Tools Needed

Materials

  • The Base
  • The Legs
  • Electrical components
    • Battery (9V)
    • Battery connector
    • Switch
    • Some wires
    • Optional: Wire holders
  • (Spray) Paint
  • Masking Tape

Tools

  • Hammer
  • Soldering Iron
  • Stripping Pliers

Actual Building

Below a simple list of the steps I took to make the Bottom Assembly:

  1. Push and or hammer the legs in place in the base.
    • make sure the holes on the bottom are aligned towards the battery hole such that you can place the wires in them
    • Glue them in if needed
  2. Tape off the legs to spray paint the base
    • TIP: paint the bottom of the LED at the same time if it requires a paint-job
  3. Find the holes of the legs, and place one wire of the battery connector in one of them.
  4. Heat up the leg significantly, and fill the hole with solder
    • Option: you could consider making the bottom the same as the top. Read on to understand
  5. Attach the switch to the other side of the battery connector and attach the switch to the other leg in the same way as step 4.
  6. place everything in place in the battery hole, and attach with wire holders (and or other means) if necessary.
    • I used regular nails to hold the switch in place

Step 6: Top Assembly

This part of the build sequence consists of adding the LED Assembly to the Bottom Assembly, and adding the bulb. I first attached the LED assembly to test it, before finishing the top part.

Materials and Tools Needed

Materials

  • Bottom Assembly
  • LED Assembly
  • Bulb
  • Can bottom (and wire ends, if not already attached in previous step)
  • 2 nuts of size of thread

Tools

  • Wrench of size of nuts

Actual Building

Below a simple list of the steps I took to make the Top Assembly:

  1. Attach the base of the bulb on top of the rods.
    • I used the same holes that were already present, but you might need to drill some holes or make a plate yourself
  2. If not done in previous step, follow steps 3 and 4
  3. Guide the wires of the LED Assembly through the hole in the bottom of the can.
  4. Attach the wire ends to the wires of the LED Assembly with some pliers
  5. Slide the wire ends over the threaded end of the leg, and tighten the nuts on top to make contact.
    • This should fix the bottom plate to the legs. If not, add rings or other nuts below to make sure it does.
  6. Glue the bottom of the can on the base, and make sure to center it well.
  7. Make sure the LED Assembly is centered as well.
    • Optional: glue it, to make sure it does not move anymore.
  8. Glue the bulb to the bottom plate as well. After this, you cannot change anything to the LED.

Step 7: Final Steps

While you already have a working LED now, the finishing touch will make your trophy complete:

Legs

I added "legs"to make sure the Trophy would stand stable (Actually I had to, because the battery would not fit, even though I meticulously measured the hole... not!).

These legs are made of simple screws, on the one side to give it the home made style, on the other hand because they are easily adjusted to make sure the trophy does not wobble.

Plate

I added a plate with the name of our tournament and the year. This on itself makes it look professional, but also gives it the unique touch: There's only one of these.

Such a plate can be made at most metal workshops or key/shoe-makers (at least in the Netherlands)

Enjoy

The last step of this (and every) Instructable is simple:

Enjoy your work and share the pleasure!

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