Introduction: Hand-etched Spiderman Light With 3d Printed Base

About: I work as an I.T. Support Technician for my 9 to 5 but my true passion is designing, engineering and making, or just generally fiddling with things.

This project was made as a gift for my younger nephew who is a fan of Spiderman (I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit of a spidey fan too. After all, I can't make everything Iron Man related now can I?), it makes a pretty good night-light.

It features remote controlled multi-colour RGD LEDs, a 3D printed base and a red filter sheet sandwiched between the two etched pieces of A5-size acrylic sheet. The red filter means that when the light is turned off, it still has a Spidey look about it.

Unfortunately I don't have access to a laser cutter/etcher, so I hand etched some acrylic using a Dremel tool. It didn't turn out too bad, the hand etching actually gives it more of a natural organic look.

I hope you like the Instructable, as always your comments and questions are welcome and I endeavour to respond to every one.

Step 1: Things You'll Need

To follow this Instructable you'll need the following tools, equipment and supplies:

  • 2x A5-size sheets of Acrylic
  • 1x A5-size red filter sheet
  • RGB self-adhesive LED light strip with controller unit and power supply
  • 3d Printer
  • Dremel rotary tool or equivalent with engraving bits
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Hot-melt glue gun
  • Wire cutters
  • Cable-ties
  • General purpose glue
  • Damp sponge or cloth
  • Masking tape
  • M5 Threaded rod
  • M5 Nuts
  • M5 Washers
  • 5.5mm or 6mm HSS Drill Bit
  • 4x Chrome finish self-tapping pan-head screws
  • 3x Self-tapping counter-sunk screws

Note:The STL files for 3d printing and the Spiderman template are provided in the next steps

Step 2: 3D Print the Base

3D print the STL files provided. You can either print in the relevant colours or print in a single colour and apply a paint finish afterwards. I opted for the latter as I only had red filament, I used the following colours for each part:

  • Enclosure Top Sleeve - Metallic gold
  • Spiderman Text - Yellow
  • Enclosure Body - Dark Red
  • Enclosure Bottom - White
  • IR Sensor Spiderweb - Unpainted light-red ABS filament
  • Light Top Cap - Unpainted light-red ABS filament
  • LED Mount Plate - This part is internal and is not visible

Note:The assembly guide for the 3d parts is provided in step 4.

Step 3: Hand Etch the Acrylic Sheets

The hand etching process is done on both pieces of acrylic using the template provided. You'll be etching using a Dremel tool with some engraving bits. I used a fine pointed bit to etch an outline, then I filled-in between the lines with a dome bit.

You'll want to secure the template to your work surface with some masking tape, then secure the first piece of acrylic sheet over it with some more masking tape. Be careful to line everything up correctly, the template includes a bounding box to help with alignment.

Take your time when etching, you don't need to go too deep with the bit, just enough to "frost" the acrylic. Once you've completed the first sheet, repeat the process with the second.

Tip:Pieces of acrylic are prone to flying away from the sheet when etching, be sure to wear protective glasses during this step!

Step 4: Base Assembly (Part 1)

The base enclosure is assembled as per the exploded diagram provided, for more information follow the guide outlined below:

  1. The LED strip controller will come in a plastic case, disassemble it and remove the circuit board
  2. Mount the controller board to the enclosure bottom
    The mounting clips are an integral part of the base and the controller should just 'snap-in'. I also used hot-melt glue to make it more secure
  3. Fix the LED mount plate to the support pillars using self-tapping counter-sunk screws
  4. Fix the self-adhesive LED strip to the mount plate
    I used two segments of the strip (five LEDs) and folded over the one excess LED
  5. Using hot-melt glue secure the IR sensor to the Enclosure Body
    A hole is provided for this in the 3d printed part
  6. Connect the LED strip to the controller board
  7. Wrap the excess LED strip and IR sensor cable around the support pillars and use a cable-tie to keep in place
  8. Connect the power supply to the controller and test the lights work

Step 5: Base Assembly (Part 2)

With the internals pretty much assembled it's now time to test fit the top sleeve and add some of the detail to the outside of the base:

The 3d printed Enclosure Top Sleeve should slide into the groove in the top of the Enclosure Body, double check it fits comfortably. If there is too much resistance you may need to use a file or some sandpaper to trim the size of the sleeve until it fits properly.

Once the sleeve fits you'll want the four chrome finished self-tapping pan head screws, check that they can screw into the Enclosure Body firmly and securely.

Now you can use the general purpose glue to fix the Spiderman text to the front of the Enclosure. The Spiderweb detail is also glued to the base to disguise the protruding IR sensor. Use a damp sponge or cloth to wipe away any excess glue.

Note: Remove the chrome finish screws and the top sleeve, you'll need this part for the final step.

Step 6: Acrylic Sheet Assembly

The final step is to assemble the acrylic sheets and mount them into the sleeve and base. To do this, follow the instructions outlined below:

  1. Take your two sheets of etched acrylic and sandwich the red filter between them
    Make sure that the etched surfaces are facing inwards, leaving the smooth acrylic surface on the outside
  2. Line up the edges of the sheets making sure they are perfectly flush
    I'd recommend the use of a clamp to help keep them in place
  3. Fix the 3d printed Light Top Cap to the top of the acrylic sheets with some hot-melt glue and wait for the glue to cool / set
  4. Slide the bottom of the acrylic sheets into the Enclosure Top Sleeve, use a little hot-melt glue to help hold in place
    Make sure that the acrylic is completely flush with the protruding lip of the sleeve
  5. Using a 5.5mm or 6mm HSS drill bit make two holes through the Top Sleeve and the acrylic sheets, spaced around an inch from the sides
  6. Slide the Top Sleeve into the Enclosure Body and re-secure using the chrome finish screws
    Use some hot-melt glue to secure further if necessary
  7. The acrylic sheets are secured to the sleeve with the M5 threaded rod, washers and nuts as per the photo provided, but you need to slide the Top Sleeve into the Enclosure body (as above) before securing
    The sleeve won't clear the slot in the body with the nuts and bolts already attached
  8. Finally, attach the Enclosure Base to the Enclosure Body, I used self-tapping screws and some hot-melt glue
    You can also add some self-adhesive rubber feet to the bottom

You should now have a completed Spiderman light, connect the power-supply and give it a try!

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