Introduction: Make a Shadow Box Out of Your Notebook

How to make a good project perfect? Add a few LEDs!

Since I got my k40 laser cutter I've been thinking about what kind of cool project to make next. The project definitely had to have LEDs, since more LEDs = better project. Also, preferably use only stuff I have lying around, be simple, so I can complete in a single day and of course, use my laser cutter.

I chose shadow box because they are so beautiful to admire in an evening. Paintings, various wall arts, or prints are lovely, but they cannot beat that soothing look that LED backlight paper or wood creates.

I'm sure you are now thinking, "but I need a laser cutter!". Well, It's possible to make this project without a laser cutter, but it would take a whole day of cutting with miniature scissors and I would not suggest it. Although I think it could be easily done with a different, more scissor friendly design, which I could have done, but I just had to use my new k40! If you are looking for such design google is your friend. I'm sure you'll find a suitable design that requires little to no editing, but let me know if you need any help with this, I'll do my best!

The main principle of the notebook shadow box is that when you open the notebook, background LEDs lights up and when you close it, LEDs turn off.

Materials and Tools:

  • Notebook with a rubber band
  • 2x LED diodes
  • 1x any low-value resistor <200 ohms
  • A little bit of a thin wire (15cm should be enough)
  • 1x CR2032 battery
  • 2x CR2032 battery holder ( or one reverse switch button ON(OFF) instead of second battery holder)
  • 1x A4 dark color paper
  • 6x A4 white paper
  • Soldering equipment
  • Laser cutter or extreme proficiency with scissors and paper knifes

Step 1: Design of the Shadow Box

I had a notebook that I did not use, which was perfect for this project because I did not need to laser cut the whole frame for the shadow box. Notebook I had was 12 x 7.5 cm (4.7 x 3 inches).

The design itself is a simplified version of the one I've used in another project. I like it because woods in the shadow box help to perceive depth better than anything else I've seen and tried.

Step 2: Laser Cutting

Colors in svg and pdf are prepared for k40 whisperer. In the attached picture, you can see how many of which pages have to be cut.

I've cut all the pages from new paper because some of the old pages had writing on it, but old ones from a notebook can be easily used as well which would bring the notebook to second life.

Step 3: Preparing the Notebook

Take out used pages, if you don't want to laser cut them. Cut out pencil holders if you have it in your notebook because it bends pages a little.

Step 4: Soldering

The circuit is extremely simple - 3V battery + resistor + LEDs soldered in parallel, see the screenshots.

When you push the button LED should turn off. I did not have a reversed button, so I improvised it out of CR2032 battery holder I had. If you want to buy the switch, keep in mind that it's not that easy to find, since its reversed - ON-(OFF).

Step 5: Reassembling the Notebook

Put the pages back to the notebook in order showed in pictures. Glue the batteries with LEDs on the back page. The rest of the pages does not need to be glued together. Without gluing the pages you can easily replace the battery and the effect is mostly the same, LEDs do not shine through the sides easily.

Step 6: Enjoy!

.. or gift it to someone;)

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