Introduction: LED Light Box With Southwestern Design

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Hi, this is Scott with Elemental LED. Here's a quick back story on the inspiration for this project. I was working with Flexible LED Strip Light and frosted acrylic panels when fabricating a Rubik's Cube Lantern a few months ago. My goal for the cube was to have different colors on each side. I installed partitions to keep each color from bleeding to the adjacent sides of the cube. When I was making adjustments to the partitions, some of the different color sections where bleeding through on to one of the sides. While this wasn't the ideal look for Rubick's cube that I was going for, I thought it would be cool to create a single panel with different color sections for a future project.

I decided to pick up a sheet of frosted acrylic paneling from TAP Plastics. I made a wood frame to create a light box using High Density RGB LED Strip Light. I used paper partitions to define a southwestern design.

In this Instructable, I will detail how I went about creating this LED Light Box. The dimension of the frame turned out to be 19" x 11".

Elemental LED products needed:

High Density RGB LED Strip Light by the foot - 2 feet
Inline Remote LED Color Controller - qty: 1
Four-Strand RGB Wire - 10 feet
12V Adapter - 12W option - qty: 1

Other products needed:

6' x 2 7/16" x 13/16" piece of Douglas Fir
Wire Nuts (4)
#0 Biscuits (4)
Woodworking Glue
1/8" Thick 40% Lighting White Acrylic Panel
Thick Construction Paper
Clear Packing Tape
1/2" Thick Sheet of MDF
Insulated Staples


Table Saw
Plate Joiner
Combination Square
Mitre Saw
Drill Bits
Soldering Iron

Make sure to review your Owner's Manual's for recommended safe operation of your equipment.

Step 1: Create a Design

First, you will need to make a design. I sketched up a southwestern design on graph paper. I just used 90 degree angles for the most part. After you have a small scale design finalized, you will need to take a larger piece of graph paper (or tape a couple pieces together like I did) and create a full scale diagram of your design. This will eventually be taped to your backer board to provide guidelines when installing the High Density RGB LED Strip Light and partitions.

To help plan for the installation, I drew the position of each strip light section on my diagram. By the way, I ended up using a more simplified version of this design using only the middle elements. I also drew in the wiring pattern for my reference as I soldered the wiring to the strip light. I had two wire runs from the output of the color controller. The second pic details the wiring sequence for each run. For the color changing strip light, I strategically switched around the wiring of the R, G, and B contact points from section to section to get a different color for each partitioned section of color changing strip. Feel free to experiment with this. Just make sure that the positive contact points continue to match up from strip to strip.

Step 2: Cut a Channel for the Acrylic

Set your table saw blade to the desired height and run your Douglas Fir board over the blade to cut a channel for your 1/8" sheet of acrylic. I made two passes to make sure that the channel was wide enough.

Step 3: Make a Rabbet Cut for the Backer Board

Now reset your table saw to make a notch (also known as a rabbet cut) that will allow a space to install the backer board. I marked where I planned to make my cuts in this pic.

Step 4: Cut the Sides of the Frame

Mark the Douglas Fir board and cut four sides of the frame with 45 degree angles on each side. Add a coat of polyurethane.

Step 5: Glue Up With Acrylic

I used a biscuit joiner to cut notches in each 45 degree side. I added the biscuits and glue to each corner. For your glue up, secure the workpiece with clamps for about an hour before removing the clamps.

Step 6: Cut Your Backer Board to Size

Take your sheet of 1/2" MDF and trim it down to size on your table saw. I took my full scale drawing and taped it to the backer board with clear packing tape after I cut the MDF to size.

Step 7: Cut the Partition Strips

The distance in between the backer board and the back of the acrylic is 1 1/2". I got some thick paper from the Blick Art Store and used their cutting board to cut 1 7/8" wide strips. I lightly scored a line along the length of each strip 3/8" from one side with a utility knife, leaving 1 1/2" of paper on the other side. When installing the strips as partitions, I folded along the scored line to create a 90 degree angle from the remaining 1 1/2". The partitions will be mounted by using clear packing tape to tape the 3/8" tab to the backer board.

Again, I decided to remove some of the design elements. This pic shows extra partitions that I didn't end up using.

Step 8: Tape Down the First Partition and Position the Strip Light

It's easiest to install the partition furthest to the inside of the design first. Tape the diamond partition down using your guidelines. This image shows strip light inside of the diamond. I decided to not utilize this strip light.

Cut up your High Density RGB LED Strip Light and position it based on your guidelines.

Step 9: Soldering and Installing the Last Partition

Solder the strip light with Four-Strand RGB Wire using your wiring guidelines. Tape the perimeter of your last partician to the backer board. Then use the remaining strips of paper to cut up the vertically running interior partitions (not pictured) that you will tape to create 8 separate sections of your light box.

Step 10: Screw Backer Board to the Frame

Use wire nuts to connect your two light runs back to the color controller. I used insulated staples to secure the loose wires and the color controller to the backer board. Screw the backer board to the frame after cutting a small notch for the DC plug from the color controller to escape. I also added some picture hanging hardware to the back. Plug the 12V Adapter into the Inline Remote LED Color Controller. You can use the remote from your Inline Remote LED Color Controller to turn the light box on and off or select different modes. Try the different color changing modes for a cool shuffling effect! Thanks for reading!