Introduction: Light on 3D Frame


There are lots of illuminated picture frames to buy or to make yourself, but they all have the same disadvantage. If they are operated via a power supply unit, they will rarely make it onto a wall, unless you have a great idea to hide the cable. If they are powered by a battery, this is more likely, but most frames will stop working after 8 hours. unless they have a timer function, in which case they will work a little longer.

Then new batteries have to be inserted. This is not only bad for the environment but also bad for the wallet. That's why new batteries are rarely inserted and then the frames stand lightless into the darkness.

That is why I have tried to reinvent the wheel here by adding a motion detector. I think now it is an IKEA-Hack ;)

It has the advantage that it is battery operated and will work for over a year. (Depends on how often and long they light up). So no cables and still light.

The frame is now an eye-catcher, because when someone walks past it, it lights up and sets your art, picture or slogan in scene.

It has really gained in purpose. It can hang on the wall as a night light and will light up the hallway or room, which will minimise accidents to the little toe. It can also be used safely in the children's room, 


Electronic Parts

Frame Parts


  • a saw
  • a cutter or knife
  • super glue and/or Hotglue
  • a soldering iron
  • a few wires
  • Drill maschine

These are the things you need. I just have to say that I did the cutting with my laser cutter, but it should also work with a saw and a knife.

Step 1: The Idea

This was a bit of a challenge. How can I install the motion detector so that it is not noticeable? It has to be outside, otherwise it won't work, and simply sticking it to the frame with hot glue is not my style.

Then I had the idea of decorating the frame with small corners and then designing them in such a way that I can camouflage the PIR.

Here in my Sketchup8 3d view, you can see how I imagined the construction.

The DXF file was drawn with Qcad and can be downloaded in this step. This is of course meant for this IKEA frame, but I think you can change it for other brands as well.

Step 2: Little Maths

If you build something battery-powered, you can't avoid a bit of calculation. You try to keep something running as long as possible with the available power of the batteries and this can be a real challenge.

Everything should run on three AA batteries and In this case, that would be 4.5V (3 x 1.5V) and1800–2600 mAh (depends on the brand). I'll just take 2200mAh for calculation.

The PIR sensor has a constant current consumption of 20uA so with no triggering, the batteries would have to last 12 years. This is of course unrealistic, as the alkaline batteries have a self-discharge characteristic. But no matter, this means that we can neglect the standby time.

The two LEDs, depending on the colour of the light and the series resistors, consume between 20mA and 40mA of current.

I found this calculator which is very helpful

The formula for calculating the led's forward rate is (battery voltage - led voltage) / led current.

A white LED has a voltage of 3V and a current consumption of 15-30mA.

This means that a forward resistance of 75 Ohm would be sufficient. But since I want to save electricity, I experimented with higher values and with 100R Ohm I was able to reduce the current consumption per LED to less than 20mA. 

Of course, this all depends on the led colour and brand. But I think that around 100 Ohms will always work.

Calculation example with one or two LED's

3 AA Batteries 1,5V 2200mAh

1 Led's (4,5-3V) / 100R = 15mA / 2 Led's 30mA

Light duration 2,5sec

100 activations / day

Light duration /day = 100 x 2,5sec =250 sec/day

Battery runtime at 15mA = 6 d 2 hrs according to Battery Energy and Runtime Calculator equal to 146 hours.

To be on the save side, and we need at last 3V in the Battery to work, I have halved this value

LED running time 73/((250/60)/60)) = >1800 days. More than 5 years in theory

With 2 LED's

Battery runtime at 30mA = 3 d 1 hrs according to Battery Energy and Runtime Calculator equal to 73hours.

To be on the save side, and we need at last 3V in the Battery to work, I have halved this value

LED running time 36/((250/60)/60)) = >890 days. More than 2,5 years in theory

The lighting time can be modulated. In the step PIR SR602 I show this

Personally, I think that 2.5 seconds and the night mode are quite sufficient, especially if the picture is hanging on the wall.

Step 3: The PIR SR602

There are several models of motion detectors. I decided on the SR602 because it is small and easy to install. The only negative point is that you have to use a soldering iron to change the switch-on time. Personally, I find the standard time of 2.5 seconds of the sensor completely sufficient.

As mentioned, by default, it is set to 2.5 seconds. You have to remove the 0 Ohm resistor (check photo) and replace it with another one, e.g. 39K Ohm for a switch-on time of 8 seconds.

In the list you can see which times you can use. I would never go over 10 seconds because of the battery life.

Unfortunately, you have to make compromises with battery-powered devices.

I have only inserted in my list with the resistances up to 60sec.

There are more delay-times on the PIR website

Step 4: Schematic and Parts

Here is the schematic of how everything is connected.

Just take the next higher value you have. 100-120 Ohm is a good average and should be ok for all leds. Don't worry, nothing will burn or explode here.

For the transistor that has to switch the higher current, you can use any classic NPN, such as the Bc337, B546 or 2N2222.

The sr602 can be operated between 3.3 and 15V, which is very good. Here are all the important data again

I had 2 models to choose from for the battery box. A closed box with a switch and the open one. Both models are good.

Step 5: Frame Inlay

First cut out all 3mm MDF parts. And a 3mm diffuse plexiglass piece.

The wooden parts are treated with primer and then painted black and white. Of course, you can colour the whole thing in white,like I did, or stick sand on it, or foil, or ........... It just depends on what kind of art or memory work you have in mind. I only deliver an automatically glowing canvas :)

The small parts are inserted into their respective slots. As shown in the picture. The coloured side is facing inwards.

Then the cross pieces are simply put on. The corner piece that serves as a holder for the PIR is glued into the corner so that it points towards the front of the frame. It doesn't matter in which corner. I always use the bottom left, when you look at it from the front.

The light cover can be made of plexiglass, paper, glass, metal grid or other material. It is either glued into or onto the cut-out.

In this example, the plexiglass cover for the light is glued in


I have subsequently changed the insert for the LEDs. This has simplified the installation and attachment of the lamps. As usual, I had overcomplicated it a bit.

Step 6: Assembling the IKEA Frame Part One

First we dismantle the original Ikea frame by opening it from the back and removing everything.

Start with the front part, which later hides the motion detector. The part is inserted from behind.. I decided to use 3mm MDF, but it can also be made of cardboard or metal.

Now insert the original plexiglass pane and mark the position of the PIR with a pen. Repeat this with the passepartout.

Drill +-12mm through the plexiglass pane and the passepartout at these points.(I lasercut it)

Since I only had A4 black cardboard, I cut it into strips to cover the original passepartout from the back, so that the light does not shine through. For the black cardboard I made life easy for myself and simply cut off the corner where the PIR sits.

Now insert the front pane of the frame, then the white passepartout, then the black cover cardboard. Make sure that the cutouts for the PIR always points to the corner where the part is.

Then follows the smaller inner frame. 

The whole insert with the electronics is then used. Make sure that the sensor sticks out through the holes in the front.

Step 7: Installing the Electronic

I soldered the transistor and all the base resistors onto a piece of breadboard. The two 100R resistors are soldered directly to the LED's and insulated with shrink tubing.

Add the PIR to this small pcb.

The PIR is inserted into the hole of the small square and glued in place. The 2 wires are led through the holes in the construction to the top where the leds are located.

The battery box is placed directly opposite the lighting.I chose the bottom centre of the frame because otherwise it would hang crooked due to the weight of the batteries.

For the version with one LED, stick it in the middle of the upper part with the three 5mm holes and for 2 LEDs, glue one on the left and one on the right. 

All wires are now connected to the board according to the plan. Pay attention to the polarity.

Insert 3 AA Batteries and you are ready to go

Step 8: The Frame Part Two

When everything is put together and light works, we can take care of the art.

On the inside of the back part of the frame, we mark a square of 130mm in the centre. The field of vision of the frame is 120mm, so there is some room for alignment.

Print out the photo or quote and cut it to size. Then stick it into the square. An adhesive strip holds the picture without problems, as it will be pressed against the inner frame later anyway. This also makes it easier to replace.

Optionally, you can stick a figure or reminder piece in the field of vision. Then attach the back panel from behind and you're done.

There are no limits to the imagination when filling this "Light On 3d Frame". 

Step 9: Art Gallery

Here are some of my Light On 3d Frames. The DXF file for the DIY passepartout can be dowloaded in this step

You can also decorate the passepartout with stickers, wallpaper, or print a completely new one out of cardboard.

In any case, the illumination will make your work of art stand out and put it in the right light.

As always. This implementation is not set in stone. It is only meant to show one of the possible ways to implement it. 

I hope you like the idea and have fun making it.

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