Introduction: Man Cave Stuttgart Souvenir
- Mercedes Man Cave LED Sign
Highlights of the Mercedes museum in Stuttgart (Germany) were many and to my mind the museum is the best visitor attraction in that city.. I couldn't take vehicles home with me, so my son bought me some branded valve caps for my Mercedes car.
Looking back at the photographs of the museum, I really liked the look and style of a vintage Mercedes logo. I loved the gold colours of the letters against a black wall. I looked on the web and couldn't see one to buy, so I made one for the space above the TV in my ‘man cave’. You probably want to make your own design, so will share the story of my ‘one day make’.
Tools and Materials
5mm White foam board (I used one A1 size sheet of 5mm, branded Westfoam)
9 LED’s (I used WS2812B strip LED’s and cut nine off the roll)
Small gauge wire for LED power and data
Arduino (I used a very old Seeduino v1.0, but any will do)
Arduino IDE and USB cable
Black matt enamel paint (Optional)
Mercedes wheel hub logo (Optional)
- Hot glue gun and spare sticks
- Cutting board
- Printer and paper
- Scalpel (I used Swann Morton)
- Straight Edge / Ruler
Step 1: Design and Planning
I looked at the photographs taken at the museum and looked online for better ones. There were not many, but I did find one that was a close up and looking straight at the logo. I printed an enlarged logo using Google Document.
Draw a rough diagram of how the item will be constructed. Think about layers and where the LED’s will be placed to light up the letters and any extra areas (I added a modern Mercedes ‘Star’).
Step 2: Cut Out the Logo
Using sticky tape, temporarily affix the photograph to the foam board. Note that when you remove the tape (and photograph), the paper backing on the board may tear. Use the scalpel to cut out the design, retaining by ‘islanded’ pieces (the hole in a ‘e’ or a letter ‘d’ is an example). I ended up with the Mercedes Logo cut out of a board.
I chose to cut out a modern Mercedes 'Star' to sit under the words. At first I tried to have a circle around the star, but my hand isn't steady enough and in the end, I had to cut the circle off and just used the star.
Use some light sand paper to smooth the edges where the knife has cut the foam.
Step 3: Make a Base Board and Mark Positions
Cut a rectangular piece of foam board that would be the background / base board. Mine was 48cm wide by 29cm high.
Place the logo and other items onto the main board. Mark where each will sit with pencil.
Cut 5mm wide strips to build a wall that will reduce light spilling out of the sign from the sides. The wall needs to be slightly bigger than the logo you plan to light up. Mark location in pencil and hot glue onto the main base board where the lit up logo will be placed.
Step 4: Solder the LED's
WS2812B Light Emitting Diodes (LED's) cat be cut into single LED's. Each has direction of three solder pads at each end. Power (5 volts), Ground (GND) and the middle one is a data pin. The data pin lets you speak / control and any or all of the LED's in that string of LEDs.
Solder the string of LED's into one string of LEDs. Keep all arrows in the same direction join 5v, GND and data to the next LED in line. The last LED has nothing connected to the very end. The arrows should point to this end.
Use lengths of wire to position the LED's in your logo. Use the self adhesive strip on the back of each LED to hold it in place. Use hot glue to hold wires in place. The LED's need to face into the sign, so that light is defused and reflects back through the Mercedes letters.
Step 5: Hot Glue It Together and Make Box
Pass the wires through to the rear of the sign. Hot glue the Mercedes sign (with LEDs already stuck on) to the base board wall.
Create a box of foam board on the rear of the base board. This will hold wires and Arduino. It will also lift the sign away from the wall (if you decide to hang it on a wall). Use hot glue and 3cm wide strips of foam board to make the box.Mark which colour wire does what in pen on the rear of the board.
Make a hanging tag out of foam board. Hot glue it in place. Make a hole in the tag and optionally use hot glue to strengthen the tag (mine hangs on a nail).
I planned to insert a spare hub cap onto the base board, so I cut a hole to place the hub cap.
Step 6: Program and Fit Arduino Into the Box
Use the Arduino IDE to program the LEDs. I chose to have an LED start-up sequence and a change to a golden colour.
When happy with the LED colours / sequence, Hot glue the Arduino into the rear box and wire the 5 volt, GND and data wires to the Arduino.
I terminated my wires with pins and then hot glued them into place.
The USB lead to the Arduino needs to exit where the power supply will be. Use the scalpel to cut a hole in the wall of the back on the back of the sign.
Step 7: Paint the Front of the Logo (blocks Light)
Even though the LEDs are facing to the back of the sign, they will probably be so bright that they shine through the front of the Mercedes sign. I had always planned to paint the Mercedes logo matt black. One coat of enamel easily stopped unwanted light escaping.
- Please don't tell my wife that I painted this on the kitchen table...
- Oscar the wonder dog wasn't interested in painting
Step 8: Neopixel Nonsense
The Arduino code is very simple and works but I must have made a schoolboy error in using or selecting Neopixel library. 7 LEDs worked great. I optionally added three more under the 'Mercedes Star' and this resulted in orange colours on earlier LEDs and under the star. It makes the logo look golden and I am too lazy to fix the code...
To change the code:
- Make sure you have the Neopixel library installed in the IDE
- Edit NUMPIXELS
- Edit the pin you will send data from on the Arduino
- Optionally change LED the colours
See mine start;
Step 9: Hang It All, Sit Back in the Man Cave
Hammer a nail in the wall. Hang the 'man cave artifact' (original working title), plug into a USB power source. Stand back and admire your work. I built mine during one very relaxed, very rainy, Covid 19 quarantine day.
I placed mine above my TV and my Tornado Taileron Actuator (you had to be there).
I hope you enjoy the one you make.
When I started making mine, I fondly remembered a European road trip with my son and every time I see this Mercedes sign, i think of our day out in Stuttgart and the vintage logo at the museum.
My last job is to go onto Ebay and buy a 2 metre white USB cable, so I can power the sign above the TV...
This is my first Instructable. I hope you enjoyed it.
Participated in the
First Time Author Contest