Game Day Beacon! Go UTES!


I started this project to learn about electronics, soldering, and circuits. The LED array is a pretty simple place to start because there isn't many elements. Soldering was a challenge for me at first but by the end of this I'm not too bad. I will share what worked for me; if I can do it, you can too. 

Deciding to make an instructable probably doubled if not tripled the time it took me to complete this project. Taking endless amounts of pictures while constantly thinking about how I will explain what I'm doing later. My goal, besides winning the Green Design contest of course, is to create an instructable that someone can learn from on every page. So, if you could care less about college sports but don't know the difference between transformer and a resistor than you can still learn something.  I've found the best way to learn something really well is to learn it well enough to teach it to someone else. 

I learned many things from designing and building this project. Mistakes were made in this trial and error process. I learned new skills like anti-sodering from fixing my mistakes. I also thought of different approaches to solving problems that I'll explain under 
Hindsight sections. If you know a better or simpler way to do something I encourage you to comment. Or if your confused on how I did something please ask. 

Green Design

Designing the Utes U to be as Earth friendly as possible was a challenge. Some things I wanted to do like using solar power or an LDR (light dependent resistor) to have the LEDs dim when the lights are on to save power, I couldn't get to work with so many LEDs. However,  the wood I used is recycled from an old cedar fence. Every material that is used throughout the project such as, glue, paint, wood putty the best eco-friendly options will be discussed. I will also show how to calculate how much power and energy is consumed. With that you'll be able to calculate the power and energy consumed for anything else. 
Let's pretend Utah doesn't do well in the Pac 12 or my wife doesn't get accepted to their medical school next year and I have to transfer schools and find a new team to root for. Everything in the U can be taken out and be used in other projects. Even the U itself can be reused in a fire to roast a marshmallow. 

Tools & Supplies

Resistors Ω 8 - 1 Ω   1 - 43 Ω
Transformer - 12V 15W 1.25A Power Supply
LEDs - 5mm 
Mounting Bezel and Ring for 5mm LEDs
Perf Board (1-7/8" x 2-3/8" )
Electrical wire - 2 colors
Electrical tape
Solder iron & Solder
De-soldering Braid
Button on/off
CPS-PT Pigtail CPS Power Adapter Cable (Female)
Straight Plunge Router Bit 
Wood Glue
Measuring tape
Drill Press or Hand Drill
Drill Bits
Band Saw or Jig Saw
Pencil, Markers, Eraser 
Screws 4 - #6 1" & 4 - #4 1/4"


Please read, understand, and follow instruction manuals for all power tools. Wear your safety glasses

Step 1: Green Design

What does it mean to be green? Here is a small list of examples;

-Products that are made from recycled or salvaged materials
-Conserves natural recourses such as oil (plastic)
-uses less water or energy
-Products that don't use or create toxic materials or emissions
-Low VOCs & HAPs
-The product is easy to recycle
-The product provides a long service life (require fewer replacement cycles)

HAPs Hazardous air pollutants 
VOC is an acronym for volatile organic compound. These compounds react with atmospheric ozone, along with particulates, to form smog. Smog is thought to be a major contributor to air pollution and health problems, such as asthma.

Designing with Green Materials

I started with salvaged cedar.

Selecting a "green" indoor adhesive pick one with low VOCs or formaldehyde-free adhesives.
Titebond wood glue CONFORMS TO ASTM D-4236. titebond.com proudly shows data for all their adhesives because they are high above the standards.

Selecting a "green" wood putty I think woodwise.com says it best about their product:
WOODWISE wood fillers were developed for water and solvent based stains and finishes. These environmentally friendly wood fillers contain no harsh solvents, and do an outstanding job of filling cracks, nail holes, gouges and broken edges.
Eco Friendly Data for their putty can also be found on their website.

Selecting "green" electrical wire look for halogen-free RoHS-compliant materials, PVC Free (The production, use and disposal of PVC release hazardous chlorine-based chemicals such as dioxin), and Lead Free.
That is exactly what Totoku electrical wire offers. 

Selecting "green" solder look for, low VOC, halogen-free, lead-free products. Check out Alpha cored wire.
Or make your own with an instructable by burningsuntech

Selecting "green" paint zero-VOC paints that also use VOC-free colorants, are free of vinyl and other plasticizers and include no toxic biocides. See if Green Seal, Greenguard and Ecolabel test your paint to ensure that they have met the highest standards of eco-friendly performance. Or you use Natural Casein paints are made primarily from milk proteins, lime, and non-toxic pigments.
I used Glidden from HomeDepot because they have Utah University Crimson Red. They say it is Low VOC and eco friendly on their website but aren't as open with details like the materials listed above. Maybe not the best option.
The "trim tray" bucket I used to hold my paint in is biodegradable and the paintbrush is reusable. I'm going to reuse the stick I used to stir the paint to fix a hole in my sheet rock. 

Selecting "green" screws look for RoHS, WEE, and ELV Compliant. 

Selecting "green" perf board look for look for RoHS, WEE, and ELV Compliant.

I soldered the LEDs without cutting the leads so they can easily be reused in the future. All the wire, resisters, LEDs can easily be removed/replaced with a soldering iron and anti-soldering braid. The transformer can be unplugged and used in other projects while the U isn't in use. 

I added a button that turns on/off the LEDs to reduce power, although I think the transformer may still use some power.

This is awesome! I'm gonna try doing one with the Green Bay Packers "G" logo.
Awesome! Let me know how it turns out. I'll be happy to help if you need it. Good luck!
Sweet! Now I can make a blue Y! Just kidding if it had been a Blue Y I'd have said a red U. Nice work.
Impressive work! And a very detailed write up to boot.

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