Introduction: Decorative Lithophane Light Boxes

I wanted to find a unique and creative gift I could make quickly and easily for Christmas gifts. When I discovered lithophanes I knew I hit the jackpot! These pictures can be easily customized and after they're printed take about 15 minutes to put together, making them the perfect gift for any occasion.

This simple design looks great sitting on a desk, or you can use a thumb tack to hang it on the wall! Get creative and add your own twist, I'm eager to see what you guys can come up with!!

Here's a link the the .STL file and the Code you'll need later.

Like this project and want to see more? Hop over to my website


Step 1: Make the Lithophane

This entire project wouldn't be possible without the Lithophane Maker Website. If you like this tutorial be sure to head to the site and show them your support.

Start by finding the image you want to turn into a lithophane, anything goes! On the Lithophane Maker Website scroll down to the "flat lithophane section". Then upload your picture and edit the settings as follows:

- "No Boarder" for frame options

- 100 mm x 100 mm for size (if you want to use my box from thingiverse)

- Adjust the crop to best fit your picture

Leave everything else as it is, scroll to the bottom, enter your email and press "create .STL".

Before you print the .STL rotate the lithophane so it sits flat on the bed, then make sure you change your printer settings:

- Layer Height = 0.15 mm

- Wall Thickness = 5 OR Infill Density = 100%

Slice it, print it, and then head to the next step!

Step 2: Make the Box

If you want to skip designing your own box you can download my .STL from thingiverse!

The box just needs to be the same size as the lithophane you are printing. I added a hole for the Arduino Nano's usb port to fit through and another hole so the box could be mounted to the wall with a push pin. The second hole is optional and you can get as creative as you want with other features! I found the perfect box height to diffuse the LEDs to be around 1 inch.

Step 3: Wire the Circuit

I didn't make a wiring diagram since this circuit is so simple. I started by gluing the Nano into place and sticking down the LED strips with the adhesive backing they come with. Make sure the arrows on the two strips are pointing in opposite directions. You are going to connect the input of one strip to the Arduino and the output of that strip to the input of the other.

In total you will need to solder 6 wires as follows:

- Arduino 5v to LED1 5v

- Arduino GND to LED1 GND

- Arduino D3 to LED1 Data_in

- LED1 5v to LED2 5v


- LED1 Data_out to LED2 Data_in

Be sure you upload the code before gluing the lithophane to the front of the box. This way you can fix any shorts you may have in your circuit!

Step 4: Upload Your Program

Here's a link to my code on Github.

My code is very simple and loops through the HSV color spectrum of the FastLED Library. If you've worked with the library before you can easily write your own light effects but I wanted to keep things easy for this quick project.

If you want to learn how to program different animations the library comes with great examples you can test out on this circuit!

Step 5: Attach the Lithophane to the Box

Now that you've uploaded your code and tested your circuit you can glue the lithophane onto the box. Hang the box on your wall or set it on your desk, it'll certainly catch peoples attention next time they walk into the room.

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