Introduction: The Ultimate Sports Fan Sign!

Picture of The Ultimate Sports Fan Sign!
Are you a sports fan and attend games? Tired of cheesy posterboard signs? Do you want to make the ultimate fan sign? Here it is...the World's First Flashing LED Fan Sign!

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

Sign Supplies:

1 Sheet of 3/16" Foam Core. I chose black for the contrast effect
1 Package of matte or glossy sticker paper for inkjet or laser printers
Hot Glue gun or Elmer's Glue "
Color LED's (The colors are your choice based on your own taste.)
330 Ohm Resistors
A few 9V Batteries with clips
Rubber Stoppers or Bushings
Flashing Circuit (See schematic)


Computer and printer
Word Processing or graphic design software
Scissors and X-Acto" Knife
Soldering Iron and solder
Ruler and pencil
Single Hole Punch

Step 2: Preparation

Picture of Preparation

The first step is to decide what message you want to display and how large you want your sign to be. Make it large enough to be seen but small enough to carry in the venue with you. Most stadiums and arenas require that signs be able to be put out of the way so they do not interfere with other fans sight lines of the action when not in use. Check with your venue before you attempt to build this.

After I decide what message I wanted to display, I designed each individual letter in full color at 8 1/2" X 11" in the landscape format.

I started by putting small dots where you want each LED to go. Space them evenly apart. (The dots are not essential but I decided to use them to create an additional wider area where the LED's would go and also to further enhance the reflection of the LED's off of the letters. Plus, it gives it a "Broadway" style look.)

Step 3: Finalize the Letters

Picture of Finalize the Letters

1. Print the graphic of each letter on a full sheet of 8 ½" x 11" sticker paper in the best quality your printer will allow.

2. Cut out each letter carefully.

3. Using the hole punch, punch out a hole in the center of each of the small dots.

4. Lay out each letter on the foam core the way you want the sign to look.

5. Use a ruler and pencil to mark a straight line for each word.

6. Carefully peel back the adhesive for each letter and apply the letters to the foam core.

7. Using a soldering iron, carefully burn through the foam care at each dot. This will be the hole for the LED's.

Step 4: Build the LED Circuit...

Picture of Build the LED Circuit...

1. Wire all of the negative terminals of the LED's together for each letter

2. Add a 330ohm resistor to each positive LED terminal and wire all of the positive leads together.

3. Join the positive contacts and negative contacts of each letter in the word to form a group or section that you want to flash.

4. Build the flashing circuit and hot glue it in place. Add your 9 Volt batteries, 1 or 2 to power the LED's and 1 to power the circuit. I found that one would light the sign for a long time and the LED's will run on as low as 4 volts.

Step 5: Final Steps...

Picture of Final Steps...

1. Use the rubber stoppers as standoffs and hot glue them in the corners of the foam core base.

2. Add a back made out of foam core to cover the electronics and protect it. I reinforced mine with black tape to make sure it stayed together.

3. Turn it on and amaze everyone!

Hope you enjoy this Instructable!


LastDevil (author)2009-04-12

could this be made to have a DC power for indoor use? sorry for the silly question i'm new to electronics

samshim99 (author)LastDevil2015-04-22

I know this is about 6 years late but did you mean AC power? (the wall)

legoskibike (author)LastDevil2010-10-12

The "9v Battery Saver" will do that :p
youtube .com/watch?v=k3IWxBFNAVs&feature=player_embedded

metalhead8711 (author)2013-08-10

This circuit is a bust. Not only is finding this relay very rare. Looked online and said it was discontinued. Schematic is not properly labeled. And it not clear what kind of capacitors it requires. My electronics store doesn't carry it. Waste of time.....again. Tried contacting author. No dice.

yankee2442 (author)2013-03-26

Awesome, I used to watch your weekend project videos on YouTube.

meowsugar (author)2013-02-25

Your sign is amazing! I'm making a dance costume for my daughter, do you think this would work on a smaller scale with material? How long did your batteries last?

mikyMonster (author)2012-10-06

what is a relay and where can i buy it? link please. Noob alert

Dream Dragon (author)2012-09-13

With Halloween and Christmas fast approaching, it doesn't really have to be a "Sport's Sign".

Just saying.

Thanks for sharing another EPIC effect with a very SIMPLE solution.

How critical is it to have the same number of LED's on each side or the same resistance or what not?

Do you have to do ANY balancing at ALL?

Xperiment98 (author)2012-08-08

Hi how do you use Photoshop or other software to write giant letters a4 size and put the dots.

ajax18 (author)2011-10-07

what kind of relay i should use?
because when i went to shop just to buy the supplies needed in this project,, the vendor ask me what is the voltage of relay that i needed..tnx !!

ajax18 (author)2011-10-02

where shall i connect the negative and positive wire from flashing word 1&2 to circuit board? tnx for the reply..

goober6 (author)2011-01-11

why do you need to attach the resistors??

dog digger (author)goober62011-04-21

So the LED's don't go POP

The Bulldog (author)2010-11-16

Epic dude! Certainly gonna try that!

jimfoxtrot (author)2010-10-06

Did they win?

calaman25 (author)2010-07-14

KipKay, nice work, i have a question, is this the relay that you used??. if it is, how you wired?.. thanks for asking.

kusadama (author)2010-07-14

oh my god in th photo i think thats kipkay from youtube? eh no suprise, hee is a technology geniuss

woodstockbirdy (author)2010-07-01

how much did this cost??

Gman2005cs (author)2009-10-12

could someone provide a [shopping] list of components that i need to buy to make this project and instructions to build the circuit, thanks.

frollard (author)Gman2005cs2010-06-14

It's infinitely expandable - each led gets its own resistor, so you can make it as big as you want (provided your batteries can support it) shopping list: leds, equal number of small resistors (most ebay sellers will throw in resistors, make sure to tell them what ohms you want). Don't spend more than 5-10 cents each for ultra-brights. Flasher: If you can't figure it out from the diagram, then don't bother with that part, just make the sign light up.

Medicmin (author)Gman2005cs2009-11-16

Did you get the shopping list?

KnexFreek (author)2009-10-10

 everything u make is unbelievable
i hope MAKE pays u well

2muchfreetime8 (author)2009-09-02

very nice, i just have one question: that type of relay is that?

awang8 (author)2009-01-22

This is awesome!!! I gotta make one of these one day, except LEDs are getting expensive... ($3.50 ea) PS: Ha ha, you got told off by security.

kroq-gar78 (author)awang82009-08-12

not really. if you go to radioshack, yes. but, if you go online and look for LEDs places like digi-key, mouser, and electronic goldmine, they barely cost anything. e.g. i got a 2.1V 6000mcd LED for $.21 @ Digi-key (part number: C503B-RCS-CW0Z0AA1-ND)

theXmaker (author)awang82009-08-03

You can find some at ebay at a great price.. or even, you can buy some of these very cheap chinese led flashlights and disassemble the leds (try to find the cheapest!!) ;)

kipfan23 (author)awang82009-07-01

not 3.50 each i found some for 0.10 each you just gotta know where to look

yokozuna (author)2009-01-02

I recently made one of these, and while I changed quite a few things, I left the theme on the front to match your sign since it was the inspiration. I rewired LED christmas lights to run off two 9Vs, and just used finger switches instead of building a circuit. Here's a pic!

theXmaker (author)yokozuna2009-08-03

For What did you used this one???!!! (GO CATS!)

yokozuna (author)theXmaker2009-08-03

GO CATS! Northwest Missouri State on ESPN2! w00t! B-E-A-R-C-A-T-S! *begins humming fight song*

theXmaker (author)yokozuna2009-08-04


yokozuna (author)theXmaker2009-08-04

well, by going with cats instead of bearcats, it adds that extra versatility to the sign.

theXmaker (author)2009-08-03

Great Instructable.. Btw I Wonder If U Can use 2or3-color leds.. so the colors would change!!!!

tomonto (author)2008-10-04

(I hate the DEVIL rays) The sox will win the world series though. I like red ones not white ones just to be clear.

tomonto (author)tomonto2008-10-04

But my opinion about the project is that I think this shouldn't be allowed in games. Its a nuisance just like "thunder sticks" of the angels, things like these aren't part of the game, it's just fans trying to influence the games by annoying the other team. You should use your hands, feet, or voice if you want to support your team, but otherwise, sit down and stop using props. But despite all this, its a very nice sign and looks great.

Kipkay (author)tomonto2008-10-04

Tropicana Filed is very fan friendly and allows bats, brooms, umbrellas, signs, photography and video cameras. You can even bring in your own food (All food items must be wrapped, bagged, or contained within a soft-sided container), water. Tropicana recently scored the third loudest venue in all sports!! The noise and excitement level is over the top so you probably would not like it especially when the cowbells get going.

tomonto (author)Kipkay2008-10-04

I can take loud ( ive been to playoff games in giants stadium and fenway) but its just a nuisance to me when people are using aids to make noise, i despise the thunder sticks because they're impossible to sit behind with them waving in your face the whole time. Even though I'm young, 16, and have grown up in the age of new ways of making noise, I really can't stand having my vision blocked or someone hitting a god awful cowbell in my ear. And as for being the loudest stadium, I imagine the dome does it with the good acoustics and, no offense if your a rays fan but, how often is the stadium FULL :\

HilliardRulz (author)tomonto2009-07-26

thats the best part having a flag or somthing at a game, sort of joins the crowd and lets people show their support in a big way. you should try the State of Origin in australia. they dont use flags or anything but resort to fighting in the crowd and throwing beer on the field, really fun to be at though.

kipfan23 (author)Kipkay2009-07-01

I'd bring earmuffs

r0b3rt03 (author)2009-04-14

There are only three things I am not sure about with this schematic. What type of relay was used and what type of component was used for the power source? Also, what is the 1004 Diode? Thanks.

kipfan23 (author)r0b3rt032009-07-01

power source: 9v batteries 1 for circuit 1 for LEDs

james.mcglashan (author)2009-05-11

i inaly see this on make zine podcast epsode 9 the newest y has it been such a long time for this to be in an epsode ??????????????

Teslamadetheradio (author)2009-05-10

i saw you on sportscenter lol

marcia09 (author)2008-10-20

I was amazed by your sign and would like to build one for my business (a challenge since I know nothing of this kind of things) Can it be powered by a transformer and if yes which one ? Also which voltage are the leds you used ? and amps? Thank you so much for an answer

james.mcglashan (author)marcia092009-04-02

normal leds will work i would add smart leds and have extra leds so u can easlly flick thee switches to change the text and colour

james.mcglashan (author)2009-04-02

can u please add a new and clean diogram with the names of the components all in 1 list

james.mcglashan (author)2009-04-02

can u please add a smart led to this in the flashing curcit with 2 ouptions and the flash flashing each colour it can

CyberBill (author)2009-03-06

AWESOME!! Looks fantastic!! :) Some possible improvements for anyone thinking about doing it... You can use chains of LEDs in series rather than all in parallel to reduce the number of resistors which increases efficiency of the total design and reduces cost and complexity. Also, using a 555 may be easier than the home grown solution, since there are a lot of resources available for it. This instructable is giving me ideas! :)

marcia09 (author)2008-12-11

just to let you know: I have completed my project and made a led display sign which I then encased in a plexiglass and aluminium frame. (20 inches by 60) I had a very hard time to determine the correct transistors to power the groups of leds for the 555 and 4017 chips but I finally made it and am very happy with the result. Just a little disappointed and puzzled to get absolutely no answer to my questions on this site, but it does not matter anymore. thank you kipjay for this wonderful idea!

skuitarman (author)2008-12-09

Hey I live in Bradenton And it is right bellow Tampa, and I have been to a Tampabay Rays game at Tropicana field.

About This Instructable




Bio: Tinkerer, hackster and prankster. Hit me up on Facebook: Thanks for checking out my Instructables!
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