Introduction: Miniature LED City

Picture of Miniature LED City

This miniature city is made using the ready made full color 3D printed buildings, printed and shipped by Shapeways. They are called Ittyblox. You can find them in this webshop. They are designed in such a way that when you light them from underneath, some windows will light up. This instructable also includes adding miniature snow to the scene. I hope you like it!

if you want to see more pictures of these miniature cities, follow me on instagram: or twitter

if you have images of your own, feel free to share them with me!

enjoy the rest of this instructable! I'll keep it updated based on your feedback below.

Step 1: Optional: Order Ready Made LED PCBs

Picture of Optional: Order Ready Made LED PCBs

Off course there are many ways (and instructables available) to make your own LED plates. For anyone who wants to focus on the city building, and wants ready made LED plates: here is how to get the LED plates delivered ready made (in my case from China):

1: download the digital drawing plans for the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) including BOMlist (Bill of Material list) here

2: order a basic PCB using a manufacturer that allows instant orders based on this upload. I used www.3pcb.com

3: once your PCB is ordered, order the required LEDs and have them shipped to your manufacturer and ask for an assembly quote (I used these ones: http://ledz.com/led.datasheet/130PWC.pdf )

Step 2: Get All the Required Materials

Picture of Get All the Required Materials

For this instructable you need:

  1. a flat box to put the city on
  2. a collection of Ittyblox buildings
  3. a few Ittyblox baseplates
  4. a stanley knife
  5. a soldering iron
  6. a (12v) adapter
  7. a small sifter
  8. a bowl of flour
  9. some electric wire
  10. a roll of tape

Step 3: Find a Box and Choose a Lay-out

Picture of Find a Box and Choose a Lay-out

step one is finding a right box to build your city on. In this case I used a flat box that was used as packaging of a shirt I ordered online. As a lay-out I combined 5 standard 8x4 Ittyblox baseplates (available here) because the width of three plates aligns nicely with the length of two plates.

Step 4: Replace Baseplates With LED Plates

Picture of Replace Baseplates With LED Plates

place the LED plates on the position of the base plates, check their alignment and then remove the baseplates again. From now on, try not to move the LED plates.

Step 5: Outline the LED Plates Shapes

Picture of Outline the LED Plates Shapes

outline the shapes of the LED plates with a stanley knife. Make sure the lines are clear enough, so you can see them when the LED plates are removed.

Step 6: Carve Out the Outlines

Picture of Carve Out the Outlines

With the outlines carved, remove the LED plates and carve out the rectangles with a stanley knife.

Step 7: Open the Box and Place LED Plates

Picture of Open the Box and Place LED Plates

Now that the holes are cut out, open the box and turn it upside down. Place the LED plates. Make sure the LED plates are placed with the LEDs side down.

Step 8: Fix LED Plate Postion With Tape

Picture of Fix LED Plate Postion With Tape

Now since this part wil never be seen, this doesn't have to look too good. Do make sure it gets fixed enough to make sure the plates stay up, when it is turned back in the right position.

Step 9: Check Every LED Plate Before Wiring

Picture of Check Every LED Plate Before Wiring

Now before we start wiring the plates together, make sure they still function. Cut the plug of an existing 12v adapter and place the positive wire somewhere on the outer line of the plate, and the other wire on the inner line.

Step 10: Wire the First Plate

Picture of Wire the First Plate

In the first image you see the basic principle of the PCB: 8 strings of 4 LEDs with two poles (the wires). Once each wire is connected to a wire of a 12v adapter, the next PCB only need connections between the blue and the red wires of the previous PCB. In the next image you see the actual PCB, wich is basically the same, only with extended poles in a way that the PCBs can be connected much easier (more possible connecting points). Now the idea is to make a sequence, a chain of PCBs, not a loop.We'll start with that in the next step once you have soldered the wires of the first one onto the wires of an adapter.

Step 11: Wire the Second Plate

Picture of Wire the Second Plate

Now that the first plate is wired, it is time to connect this plate to the other plates. We start with the one next to it. In order to connect them together, the outer line of the first plate has to be continued on to the second (I used red wire for this). I coiled the wire to make sure I have enough dilatation without too much tension on the wire, making it easier to solder. Once, the outer line is connected, the inner line can be connected using same principle. I used blue wires to connect the inner lines.

Step 12: Wire the Rest of the Plates

Picture of Wire the Rest of the Plates

work your way all the way through the plates, linking them like a chain.

Step 13: Close the Box and Place the Plates Back

Picture of Close the Box and Place the Plates Back

Step 14: Build Up Your City!

Picture of Build Up Your City!

This is one of the most rewarding steps :) There isn't much to it other than building the city you want.

in case you don't have any buildings, you can get your buildings here

Step 15: Add Snow (flour)

Picture of Add Snow (flour)

And now: let it snow (flour)!

The fun thing about (wheat) flour is that it catches the scale of snow. Fine salt also does the trick from a distance, but it gets to grainy from close by. In order to equaly distribute the flour, use a sifter. Shake it a little (vertically) to get the flour out of the sifter. Don't mind spilling over the edges, well get to that in the next step.

Step 16: Remove Spilled Flour

Picture of Remove Spilled Flour

now with a small (hand) vacuum cleaner remove the spilled flour.

Step 17: When It's All Clean: Light the LEDs!

Picture of When It's All Clean: Light the LEDs!

that's it! it's hard to take good pictures with little light, but you get the idea. Please share your own results!

Step 18:

Comments

Whovian123 (author)2016-08-03

I like it. reminded me of philidelphia

Mr AbAk (author)2015-01-21

Nice Ible....

MsSweetSatisfaction (author)2015-01-20

That effect is so striking, it really does look like little people are going to come walking out of those buildings at any time! I think my favorite is the snow, although I love your color choices for the LEDs. Welcome to instructables!

Thank you so much!

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