Introduction: Custom Built LED Color Changing Trophies

About: Building anything and everything in my personal shop

Built from 11ga cnc plasma cut plain carbon steel, these are a dynamic and unique alternative to the standard trophy. Battery operated LED pods provide a long lasting source of variable lighting. I built these for some friends at a local dance studio.

The following steps will show you how to adapt your own custom design to these one-off trophies.

Step 1: Planning and Design

Start by determining the core criteria of your design. These are aspects such as:

  • The overall dimensions of the trophies
  • Any lettering or symbols that must be incorporated
  • The general geometry and shape you're after
  • Material selection

Next, consider what tools and equipment you have available as this will drive what you are capable of efficiently fabricating. I have the luxury of a CNC plasma cutting system in my personal shop. You can adapt your design to hand tools only or take your CAD files to a local CNC shop for cutting. You'll typically need a dxf file type for cnc plasma cutting.

The only criteria I was given for this build was that the trophies must include color changing lights. From there, I adapted the relevant company logo and appropriate lettering into the plan.

I went with varying heights with the tallest trophy being around 18in high. The base dimensions were approximately 5x5 inches.

CAD software such as Autocad or Fusion 360 is one of the best ways to accurately develop your design

Step 2: Fabrication and Welding

I designed my trophies in two main sections. Perforations allowed me to easily bend each section into form without the use of a metal brake. This approach greatly reduced the amount of welding required and helped to keep the final assemblies consistent and dimensionally accurate. These are built from 11ga plain carbon steel.

Generally reducing the total number of separate parts for a build will greatly increase fabrication efficiency and reduce fit-up issues. This should all be accounted for during the design phase.

I coated the trophies in a satin clear coat to leave a raw steel appearance.

Step 3: Incorporating the LED Lighting

On the backside of the trophies I included an opening for inserting the lighting system. There are a wide variety of battery operated LED pods available on the market. I selected 3.5 inch diameter round pods and ensured my design could adequately fit each pod into the base of the trophies. A nut welded on the back of the trophies allows me to secure each pod in place with a set screw.

Step 4: Testing the Completed Trophies

Here is a short clip of finished product in action.

Thanks for checking out my build!

Lighting Challenge

Participated in the
Lighting Challenge