Introduction: LED SIGN
Make a safe, 12-volt, unique LED sign that looks cool!
- LED neon rope light
- Mounting board (plexiglass, acrylic, wire mesh, etc.)
- Thin gauge wire (18-24 gauge)
- Heat shrink/tape (preferably clear)
- 12V DC power supply (5A -10A depending on how big the sign is)
- Hot glue or silicone glue
- Small screws or plastic mounting clips for LED light rope
- Soldering Iron
- Solder+flux & cleaning supplies for iron
- Hot glue gun
- Drill with assorted small drill bits
- Wire strippers + cutters
Step 1: DESIGN
The first step is to figure out what DESIGN and SIZE you want.
- The simpler the design, the easier the whole process will be (it can get complicated quickly)
- Note that the LED strips can only be cut at certain lengths (Approx. every 1")
- Each piece has to be wired together somehow
Measure 2x, cut 1x
- It is rather difficult to create sharp, 90 degree bends.
- Chances of breaking the LEDs
- Overheating at the bend
- You can create a 90-degree bend by using 2 separate pieces, but it adds to the difficulty of wiring and can affect the clean look of the sign.
Some processes will be slightly different depending on what you want and the materials you use.
Example: Wire mesh baseboard, use clear wire twists to attach strip. For acrylic sheet, use hot glue/screws.
Step 2: Starting Small
- For this sign, in particular, I didn't want it too big, but too small and I could run into problems.
- My baseboard size 18"x12" cut from an 18"x24"
- Since the LED strips can only be cut at 1" intervals, planning around that is crucial to create a proportional looking sign.
- Generally, letters are harder than shapes.
I started with the letter "O" because it was the only letter that the LED strip had to loop back to itself. This set the height of all the letters.
Step 3: Getting the Hang of It
After I got the letter "O" down, I proceeded to the other letters to spell COLD. Once I got the top row complete, I started on the bottom row of letters. I kept referring to the letter "O" for every other letter to set the general height. I drew some guidelines on the back of the acrylic sheet (WITH the protective film over it) to aid in the layout of the words/letters.
Before I glued the letters to the baseboard, I soldered 2 wires to each letter, 1 negative and 1 positive.
I kept about 8" of wire on each letter so I have some freedom when it comes to wiring them together on the other side.
Some things I noticed:
- Hot glue works well to draft a design and you always can take a razor blade to remove it from the baseboard (acrylic sheet).
- Use screws after you are happy with the way everything is laid out, to "double" secure the LEDs to the sheet.
Step 4: Drilling Holes
I drilled holes big enough to let the wires through the baseboard for each letter.
If you feel comfortable, you could do this step if you already have plans for where the wires will go. I sort of did this as I went along.
Step 5: Soldering Wires Together
Make sure to keep tabs on which wire was positive and negative for each individual letter.
I chose to have each letter's wires come to the middle to connect to a main negative and a main positive wire that led to the 12V DC power supply.
TIP: Keep in mind to check every letter and every connection along the way to double-check that each piece is lighting up.
Step 6: Final Product
Plug into any AC outlet and enjoy the fruits of your labor! Looks great in the garage! I'm sure there is a better way, but this is how I did mine. Feel free to modify
Participated in the
LED Strip Speed Challenge