Backlit Box Art




Introduction: Backlit Box Art

This instsructable details the process of building a box with a cutout design on the front which is backlit by pulsing LEDs. I had the genius idea of starting to document the steps after i began the project, so please excuse some lacking photos!

I built this instructable as a present using materials and tools at hand, so I encourage you to improve upon it wherever you may feel inclined to do so.

Step 1: Materials

1/4in plywood

Clear Tape (Packing tape works well)

Beige cardstock


PC board

Metal standoffs and screws

Neodymium magnets

Corner brackets

9V battery

SPST switch

2n222 npn transistor

1000uF electrolytic capacitor

4 LEDs (2 Red, 2 Yellow)

Resistors (1.2K, 100 ohm)

555 timer IC

Design of your choice

Scroll Saw and multi directional cutter

Soldering kit


Step 2: Cut Out the Box

Begin by measuring and cutting out the pieces for a standard box at dimensions of your choosing.

Step 3: Overlay the Design

Once you have your design ( I printed mine out), place it over the front piece of the box and tape it down firmly so it won't move when we cut it out. I covered the entire image with a few layers. You can also free form the design, but i'm not that talented.

I had two separate designs, one with a graphic and the other was text.

Step 4: Cutting Out the Design

Using the scroll saw, cut out the design you placed on the box.

Step 5: Assemble Most of the Box

Now you can glue all the sides of the box together, EXCEPT FOR THE BACK.

Step 6: Add in the Cardstock

Next, cut the card stock so it will fit nicely inside of the box. You just need enough to cover up what you cut out. The glue it down to the back of the front piece.

Step 7: Add the Corner Pieces and Magnets

The corner braces will hold the magnets so the back piece will simply snap on to the rest of the box. I used the corner pieces to mount the magnets because I wanted the back to sit flush against the rest of the box.

I first had to sand down some little extra metal that was poking out of my corner pieces, since these were originally made as extruded aluminum connectors.

Glue a magnet onto each corner piece. add another magnet on top of the one you just glued (this will ultimatley go onto the back piece)

Then glue down the corner piece so that the end of the second magnet is flush with the end of the box. Do this for all your corner pieces. I used three since another one would have interfered when inserting the circuit.

Then put a small dab of glue onto each magnet and place the back piece onto the box. This way the magnets will make contact with the back and be lined up in the position you want!

Step 8: Prototype the Circuit

The circuit I used was a simple 555 timer circuit with 4 LEDs powered by a 9v battery. This and this instructable helped me figure out the circuit. I found that the circuit is quite dependent on the specific components you use so you'll have to experiment with different components especially the capacitor in order to get the fade time you want.

Step 9: Finalize the Circuit

Once you have the circuit working the way you want it to, put it together on a multipurpose PC board or you can even etch your own board. Really you don't even have to listen to me i'm just some guy on the internet so do as you like.

The put your board on the standoffs, which screwed right onto my board,and glue the whole thing to the back piece.

Step 10: Add a Switch and Battery

Add a switch to your circuit. I simply cut the ground line from the battery and placed the switch between there. Then hook your power source to the main circuit.

My battery and switch were connected the with magnets, the same way we did previously.

It's probably better if you actually have the switch hooked up outside the box, but I was pressed for time and had let a friend borrow my drill.

Step 11: Finished!

Now simply turn on your circuit and close the box, and your cut out will light up in a pulsing manner!

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    7 years ago on Introduction

    beautifully done! I think this is one of the best gifts I've seen so far!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, thank you so much. That means a lot!