Introduction: Making of the Philadelphia Geek Award 2014

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For the past couple of years, NextFab's crew of makers joined with the geeks of Philadelphia to fabricate the physical awards for the Philadelphia Geek Awards. This time around we decided to invite the community to help with the creation of the awards, and it was a great success and a great time for everyone!

To make the 2014 awards unforgettable, we coupled our hi-tech machinery with our community’s innovative thinking to come up with a design inspired by the Tesla Coil. (Don’t worry, unlike the real Tesla Coil, we weren't playing with high voltage.) Then we invited our community to assemble the awards themselves at a craft-party style event here at NextFab. They came, soldered, sanded, sipped a beer or two, and at the end we had something truly special to present to our honored geeks.

Now we invite you to play with, alter, build the awards yourself. We are giving all the files away (except the logo files). Feel free to adapt, mix, and improve the designs. We can't wait to see what you have come up with!

About The Philadelphia Geek Awards:

The Philadelphia Geek Awards is an awards ceremony honoring outstanding achievements in Philadelphia’s vibrant geek community, hosted by the Academy of Natural Sciences and Geekadelphia. It’s a black tie, red carpet event.


In addition to Geekadelphia’s rad team of skilled geeks, we’d like to thank John Combs of Clear-Coat for designing the base and overall award and C.H. Briggs, a certified Corian distributor, for graciously donating top-of-the-line materials.

Photography credit:

Philadelphia Geek Awards 2014 © Nathaniel Dodson | Gallery
Philly Geek Awards 2014 © Clever Girl Photography | Gallery

Step 1: What You Need


  • 1/4 - 20 x 5 Tap Bolts (4)
  • Fluorescent Blue Acrylic .25" (1)
  • Clear Blue Acrylic .125" (1)
  • Silver Rowmark .125" (1)
  • Glacier White Corian .5" (1)
  • 9V battery holder with wire leads (1)
  • Reel white LED strip (1)
  • 9V battery (1)
  • Jumper wires (2)


  • Laser Cutter
  • ShopBot
  • Soldering Iron
  • Wire strippers
  • Wire cutters
  • Hot Glue Gun

Step 2: Shopbot

This step is probably the hardest to do without a local makerspace or wood shop. We used a ShopBot to mill the Corian. We designed the Shopbot part files in the software Partworks and they are available here for download.

Step 3: Laser Cutting

We also made the laser cutting files for the trophy base, nameplate and lightning bolt. They are available here for download as well and are laser-cutter ready! The lightning bolt should be cut out of the 1/4" fluorescent blue acrylic, the layers should be cut out of the 1/8" clear blue acrylic, and the nameplate should be cut out of the 1/8" silver Rowmark.

Step 4: Electronics

The electronics of this are super simple! Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Take some sandpaper and rough up the bottom of the battery case so it's less slick
  2. Apply a little hot glue to the bottom of the case and adhere it to the upward-facing part of the turning-piece milled from the Corian (as shown in the picture)
  3. Clip the wire leads from the battery case down to about 2 inches and strip off about 1/4"
  4. Cut a strip of 3 LEDs from the reel and use an X-Acto knife to stip away the plastic coating from the copper pads on each end to allow for soldering
  5. Solder the red wire to the copper pad with the "+" next to it and the black wire the the pad with the "-" next to it
  6. Do the same soldering with the 2 jumper wires on the other end of the LED strip
  7. Cut another strip of 3 LEDs and stip the plastic coating off the copper pads on one side
  8. Solder the other end of the jumper wires to the appropriate copper pads on the 2nd LED strip (match + with + and - with -)
  9. Pull off paper backing from each strip and adhere them to the sides of the battery case as shown in the pictures. Make sure not to tape them over the slit which would prevent the case from being opened.

Step 5: Assemble!

Assemble the pieces in order as shown in the video. And you are ready to go!