Make a Lightbox DIsplay for Vintage Retro Valves...



Introduction: Make a Lightbox DIsplay for Vintage Retro Valves...

About: I am an artist/designer. For over 10 years, I've made visualisations and animations for companies. I now concentrate on making 2d and 3d art. I am fascinated with maker technologies and often use FabLabs to ma…

Sometimes we come across things that cry out to display them in an exciting way. These vintage valves are beautiful things. The concept was to back-light them with LEDS behind frosted perspex and also add the LED lights on the front top front inside of the box in order to highlight them. You can use this method with other objects you want to display and also adjust the position of the LEDS to suit what you want.


- Valves or an object that you want to put in a light-box like this

- Ikea Ribba Frame 50cmx23cm landscape version with 3 image mount option

- Wood Glue

- Arduino

- Wiring

- Pliers

- Ruler

- Pencil

- Fishing wire

- LED lighting strips, digital

- Electrical tape

- White spray paint

- Primer

- Sand paper

- Frosted Perspex sheet


- Hand drill

- Glue gun with glue stick- Hacksaw or bandsaw

- Vice

- Scissors

- Lasercutter

- Inkscape, Corel draw or similar

- Birch plyboard 4mm

Arduino programming, LED set up and help with construction

Step 1: Step 1: Modify Your Ribba Frame...

- The Ribba frame 500mm x 230mm is not quite deep enough to house the valves and also the backlit perspex so it needs to be extended. So you need to cut two birch ply strips at 500mm and two at 230mm. A bandsaw is best to do this.

- Pull out the small metal picture fasteners, save these somewhere for another project! Attach the cut wood pieces into the frame to make sure it fits. If not, use sandpaper until it is a flush fit.

- Take the wooden pieces out of the frame and spray them with primer then white paint, a few coats. Use sandpaper to smooth the paint. Also, spray the back part of the original Ribba Frame.

- When dry, glue them together in the box but do not glue to the frame!

Step 2: Step 2: Create the Electricity Abstract Art on the Backlit Perspex

- Draw an abstract line for the back perspex. Think about where it will be placed on the perspex and how it will relate to the valves or the object you are displaying. The line for me is meant to evoke an electrical spark.

- Then either photo from above or scan the abstract line. Then use either Inkscape, Corel draw etc. Then 'trace bitmap'. Take to a laser-cutter. Red line cuts 255, black will etch, you want any lines to draw to be black. Make sure the measurements for the red line (lasercut) are 490cmx210cm. This gives the frame a bit of access so you can change things on the arduino or mend anything that goes wrong at a later date.

Step 3: Step 3: Attach the Valves Onto the Perspex

- Measure then drill the two holes above each other or wherever you want the objects to be in your display. Then use fishing wire to tie the valve at the top and bottom. Dab glue the glue gun onto where the valve back of the valve. Pull the wire through the back, then again dab the glue gun onto the perspex, make sure that the valves are positioned so that they are all vertical.

- Keep tying the wire into a knot, so it makes a bit not to secure each valve in place. The valves will hold up perfectly well by doing this.

Step 4: Step 4: Add the Lighting...

- Add a strip around 480mm long to the top and bottom for the perspex to sit about 50mm from the bottom of the 'box', prime and spray white. Fix in place with wood glue. This will hold the perspex in place.

- Cut the LED strips to size. Then attach to the arduino, glue the arduino to the back board. See Arduino code and attached diagram for the electronics set-up.

Step 5: Step 5: Put the Box Together and Light Up!

- Cut the picture mount-card that was included in the Ribba frame so that it only has a big window without the dividers. This will hide the led lights and wood joints etc. Then construct the box together with the mount-card between frame and extended box.

- Glue the arduino on the back part of the Stick the back on. I prefer to use strong tape so I can get access to the back if I want to, then either hang up or rest on a shelf.

- Put all components of the box together, secure the back to the frame, I find electrical tape is good. A bit sloppy but it allows for easier access.

-You can see in the video, frosted paper has been put behind the perspex to diffuse the light. You can experiment with this, either with or without to see what effect you like best.

- Show your friends, relatives and local valve enthusiast Meetup group! :)

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