Introduction: DIY Lightboard or Glassboard

A lot of innovations are happening in the education sector. Teaching and learning through the internet is now an everyday thing. Most of the time online tutors tend to focus more on the technical content leaving the viewers uninterested. 3D learning solutions including virtual and augmented reality technologies are promising but end up very costly and time-consuming to make.

I believe bringing in the human element within online teaching could improve audience engagement. Many online tutors use smart editing techniques to fill the human element. But there is an old project that could help tutors to come up with simple and immersive presentations and could create an impact on online learning. The light board is made up of glass filled with LED lights using the total internal reflection property of the glass. You can write on the glass just as you would write on a normal whiteboard with a camera facing on the opposite side. You can capture yourself with your content at the same time.

Step 1: Items Required

I am going to build the light board for use on top of my table, where I may write either while sitting or standing. So I want the height of my light board to be adjustable. First, we need to make a stand for holding the glass.

Stand - $12
LED Strip with Adapter and Remote - $5

Clear Glass - 12mm 3x2 ft with rounded corners and mounting holes drill - $15

Nuts and Bolts - $0.5

Masking Tape - $4

Dry Erase Markers - $15

Total = $51.5

You can choose to use starphire glass for brighter writings.

Step 2: Stand Making

We used Mild steel to mount the glass since my glass is a bit heavy. So we designed a CAD model of the stand and went to a nearby shop to build it. Since we are making an adjustable setup, my dad doesn't want the glass to hit the bottom of the stand hard. So he asked the welder to include a small standoff on the sides of the stand.

Within half an hour our stand was ready. It was painted with enamel powder coating and the sides were closed with 11/4 PVC square pipe bush at the top and 1 1/2 nylon bush at the bottom. The glass was separated from making direct contact with the frame using a bolt.

I bought a 5 meter LED strip, and I just used 2 meters of it. It comes with a power adapter and a remote as well. This is an RGB LED strip. So I used the remote to set it to white. After mounting the screws, I attached an LED Strip at the top and sides of the glass. I used my 3d printer masking tape to fix the strip. If you are making a lightboard by yourself, you could use aluminum extrusion to fix the LED strip to the glass. Just make sure the extrusion width matches the thickness of the glass.

Now that we have completed the construction, It's time to test it. Choosing a marker pen is very important when writing on glass. I am using expo neon dry erase markers which I bought on Amazon for Rs.1000. It includes five assorted color markers. The lightboards are best used in a room with very low brightness. You can see the light is internally reflected in the glass and makes our writing to glow. You could also notice the smudges on the glass. This is a common problem with the lightboard. But you could use some camera tricks to make the smudges invisible.

Step 3: Recording Studio Setup

There is one more problem. There are so many distractions on the screen right now. The lighting here is crazy. You need to use a black colored backdrop to avoid reflections from your lighting. I am using a black muslin studio backdrop.

Our set up is almost readyI am using some lights to illuminate myself. You need to adjust the ISO and exposure settings of the camera to make the smudges are invisible, and the writing looks legible.

But there are two more problems now. The writings appear mirrored. This is because I am writing from the opposite direction facing the camera. This can be corrected either with in-camera settings by shooting in mirror mode or flip the video in post-production. The video looks as if I am using my left hand, but actually, I am using my right hand. This is not a big deal.

The last problem is the reflection from behind the camera. Here you can see my computer monitor reflections on the glass. Again you could remove this with your camera settings or turn off any illuminating objects near the camera or use another black backdrop behind the camera.

Step 4: Adding Images and Animations

You could superimpose images and animations over the video and could create a good video lecture without much post-production techniques. It's quite easy for the audience to follow your content with your flow.

Your Imagination is the limit.