DIY Pokémon PSA Card Stand With RGB Light From Arduino




Introduction: DIY Pokémon PSA Card Stand With RGB Light From Arduino

About: Expert in nothing, interested in everything.


In this instruction I'll show you how I take care of my childhood memories.
A while ago I came across my good old collection of Pokémon cards lying full of dust in the attic at my parents. I could not help myself and had to open the folder to look at my old cards. It took me right back to my childhood.

When I looked in the folder I found out quickly that some of these cards are old and still in good condition. Therefore, I decided to get three of my rarest Pokémon card graded at an American company called PSA.

At PSA they take the cards and grade them from 1 to 10 on how good the condition of the card is. (Where 10 is the best) After that they lock the card in an airtight frame with a sticker that include info about the card and gradation.

When I got back each card, I was very happy with the result. Venusaur got a 8, Charizard a 8 and Blastoise got a 9. For you who do not know of these Pokémon it's no a big deal, it's not that the instructables is about.

As some of you know, old Pokémon cards now days are worth a lot, but I wouldn't sell them. I wanted to build a kind of a frame for them, so that I could place the cards on a shelf and memorize when I go by.

First watch the video how the frame works. (With memorable Pokémon song!)

So let's build the frame!

Step 1: The Plan and Design

I had no idea how I was going to build the frame. But I had the width and height of the cards and based on that I spent a few hours on Google Sketchup until I was happy with the result. Since the shelf it shall stand on is pretty low I needed to have an angle so the cards could be seen without having to bend down. This also helped me to hold the cards in place. But to achieve this I had to make a stand so the frame wouldn't fall backwards.

Slightly out of the planning, I got an idea about having backlights behind the cards. To make this, I had to blend in electronics and possible programming, something I love to work with.

Step 2: Parts

Here I will try to mention all the parts I used in this project.


1x Arduino

6x TIP120 transistors

3x Pulldown resistors

3x End switches

2x Step down converters

1x 18v 500mA power supply

1x 500mA Glas fuse with holder

1x DC power connection male and female

Female and male PCB headers


60 cm with RGB LED strips


6mm Wood plate for the back and front

1500mm x 50mm x 30mm wood for the sides


6mm x 100mm x 150mm acrylic sheets

Step 3: Wooden Frame

To get start the project I began making the frame. It is assembled with 50x30mm wooden planks that are cut to 45 degrees on the ends. After gluing the planks the frame got 420x235mm.

To keep the cards in the middle of the frame, I decided to add a 5mm plate in front, then put a plate behind so that the cards will stay in a slot. I chose a 5mm plate because it is the same thickness as the cards. Then I sawed out rectangular pieces so I got the room for all three cards.

To get the cards easier out I made a little hollow on top of all the slots so you can get your finger over the card to pull it out.

I also made a backplate from 5mm plate, but I forgot to take a picture of it. You can see it in the next step with the LED strips on. The backplate fit between the frame, not outside like the frontplate.

Finally I glued on plate on the frame and sawed off 15 degrees of bottoming so that the entire frame is leaning backwards.

Step 4: Light and Switches

As I mentioned in the beginning I wanted to have a backlight behind the cards. This would let it do by adding a acrylic plate behind the slots and then add LED stripes behind the acrylic plates again.

I started this step by cutting acrylic plates so they cover the back of the slots. To get the light evenly over the plates I used sandpaper and sanded the plates. Then I made a small notch at the bottom of the plate. The idea behind this is to get out the arm from a limit switch so that I can check if the card is removed or not.

Then I glued the acrylic plates and limit switches on the frame. Was a bit hard to get the limit switches correctly. The three LED strips was clued on the backplate. Finally I cut some cardboard and glued between the slots in the frame so the color from the slots can't light up the slots beside them.

Step 5: Painting, Inputs and Steel Stand


As some of you know from my other projects, I love the mixture of dark wood and color LED lights. Therefore I chose to run the same style here by painting the entire frame in dark brown color. It almost looks like walnut.


I wanted to make the frame so that it was easy to move. Therefore, I chose to make inputs back on the frame. These was made simple with a drill. The inputs are for power and a sensor that will turn the backlights on behind the cards.

Steel Stand

Something I noticed after I sawed the 15 degree on the bottom of the frame was that it fell backwards. This could be prevented by making a stand back on the frame. To make it look nice, I wanted to make this from steel. I found a rusty steel rod in the garage that I sanded down until it was nice and shiny. Then I cut the rod the same length as the frame with 45 degrees at the end and two pieces of 50mm by 45 degrees on one side and 15 degrees on the other side since the frame leans backward. Then I welded together the pieces. To attach it to the frame I screwed two 50mm screws on the frame and then simply threaded stand onto the screws. A little hard to explain this step but I hope you understand if you see the pictures.

Step 6: Wiring

To connect this I started with a PCB and solder on an Arduino Nano, fuse holder and six TIP120's. For making it possible and easy to take of the PCB I soldered female headers on the PCB and male headers which is further connected to the RGB lighting and limit switches. I soldered 10k pulldown resistors to the limit switches.

I also used female and male PCB headers to the sensor. The sensor is connected to the backplate which I made a hole for some female PCB headers.

The power supply I am using is a 18v 500mA power supply, I didn't have a more appropriate power supply. It is connected to the power jack which I mounted in the hole I drilled in the backplate.

After I was done I added two step downs. One from 18v to 12v then through transistors and out to the RGB lights, and one from 12v to 5v going to the Arduino.

See the schematic.

Step 7: Arduino

In this step will attach the Arduino code. For those who can't read the code, I'll try and explain what this code does.

The sensor that I use is mounted under the shelf the frame is standing on and is a IR sensor. It provides feedback to the Arduino when someone stands in front of the shelf.

When the sensor becomes activated the Arduino starts dimming up the RGB lights, green behind the slot to Venusaur, red behind the slot to Charizard and blue behind the slot to Blastoise. If sensor loses signal (no one in front of the shelf) it starts to dim down the RGB lights and finally turn them off.

If someone is in front of the shelf when it's missing a card the Arduino lights the empty slot up in white and the full one in their particular colors. Same if you for example take out Charizard it start to dim from red and over to white until the card is placed again and it dim back to red.

The reason why I would add the sensor that activates the lights are many.

- Doesn't blech the cards when the light is on all the time.

- Doesn't keep me awake when I have the bed in the same room.

- Saves power.

- Step down controllers are not going hot.

- Less wear on electronics


Step 8: Finish Up

I am very pleased with how this turned out. The biggest part of the project was to program the Arduino, I do not have so much experience in coding the Arduino other than my projects. But I learned a lot from this.

One thing I'll continue on is to create a cover around the sensor and lay the cable nicer, but I have to wait for parts to my 3d printer so I can print out the cover.

All in all I am very happy. Hope you liked my project and please vote for me in the contests :)

And again, sorry for bad English.

- Peder Ward

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    3 Discussions


    3 years ago

    How much would you charge to make another one?


    4 years ago

    This is incredible. My husband has graded MTG cards, so a display like this could be adapted easily. If you had any "bad English," I missed it. Thank you so much for the gorgeous idea and excellent walk-through!

    Peder Ward
    Peder Ward

    Reply 4 years ago

    Thank you :)