I like the many gamers LOVE Portal. It and its sequel are my top two favorite games. So it would come naturally that I would want to build something portal related. As I was playing one day I looked over at one of the signs outside each test chamber and looked really closely at the little icons that tell you what you are going to come across in that chamber. Then it hit me! I can make a sign like the one in the game!
This is my first instructable so any constructive criticism is appreciated.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
Plexiglas or Regular Glass
Wood (3"x 3/4" plank & 1/8" plywood sheet)
Spray Paint (Black and White)
Gloss Black Paint
Silver Paint or Other Shiny Material
Standard Bulb Socket (w/o switch)
LED or CFL bulb
Standard Home Electrical wire (preferably w/ plug end)
Splice-in switch (Rotary or Rocker will work)
Dowel Joiners (optional)
Masking/ Painters' Tape
Routing Table (optional)
Computer w/basic image editor (I used MS Office Publisher)
If you didn't realize it by the annotations I like Craftsman tools.
Step 2: Choose and Edit Picture
Step 3: Cut the Plexiglas and Wood
For your frame it's best to choose a board that is wide enough that when assembled into a frame it will be deep enough to have some breathe room around the light bulb, the Plexiglas and the back cover. (So basically anything that is at least 3" wide) I figured that for a sturdy hold it was best set the edge of the Plexiglas just slightly deeper into the wood than its thickness. My glass is just less 1/8" thick so I set it about 1/8" into the board. (Simple enough, huh) Although for thinner more flexible sheets of Plexiglas I would set it a little deeper into the board just to take away some of the flex. For support I set the Plexiglas about 1/4" back from the edge of the frame. These numbers will vary based on the thickness of your Plexiglas the width of your board and how you want to set your glass in the frame.
Step 4: Paint the Plexiglas
Sand the Plexiglas on one side, make sure to do this very thoroughly, it will help to keep the paint from coming off. Doing this with a rotary tool or fine grit sandpaper will probably turn out better than trying to do it with the coarse grit paper that I used. Once thoroughly sanded, align and apply your stencil, this may take a couple tries to get it just where you want it but its worth taking the time. Just remember that if you put the stencil on wrong peel it off slowly and carefully to avoid ripping it or leaving pieces of the adhesive side behind.
Once that's finished, begin cutting the black parts out of the stencil with your X-acto knife, I used #11 blades for this. They work a little better for this fine detail work than some of the other blades I've used, and they are relatively inexpensive.
If your picture is pixelated (like mine) there should be rather distinct layers of shading around the black parts. If you start cutting on one level of the shading make sure you continue along the same line or your stencil will have uneven and unintentionally curvy lines. When painted, this will be unnoticeable from a distance but up close it will show a little bit. Once you have the stencil cut out, lift up the edge of each of the black parts with the tip of your x-acto knife and peel them out.
Now tape some masking to the other side of the Plexiglas. This can be as simple as a piece of paper but is necessary if you want to keep from getting paint on the other side of the glass. Start by painting the black paint on the stencil; after doing the first layer of paint hold it up to a light source. If you see little pinpricks of light poking through the paint do another layer and check it again. Any little holes will leak white paint through and your warning sign will have mini polka dots. After the black paint is thoroughly dry slowly remove the stencil. Next, paint the white over top of the black paint. This only needs a thin coat, thick enough to not leave any holes but thin enough so that light still easily passes through, this is most easily achieved with spray paint. Once dried it's time to move onto the next step.
Step 5: Assemble the Frame & Paint
Step 6: Wire the Socket & Switch
Now that you have your socket working it's time to wire the switch. Depending on the switch you get the way you wire it is going to be different, but they should each come with a set of directions on how to go about splicing them into the wire.
Step 7: Cut, Paint and Attach Back Cover
Once you have the back cover cut out attach it in whatever way you want. I plan to attach the cover with hinges and some sort of latch. Just for ease of use it's probably better to have some sort of easy access to the bulb.
In order to spread the light around in the case better it's best to paint/cover the inside of the back cover with some sort of reflective material, it might help alleviate the issue with the CFL electronics blocking the light. When I actually get time to make the back cover I'll add some pictures.
If you've built this I would love to see some pictures, please post them below.
Thanks for reading.