Introduction: Personal Applause Sign

About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author of t…
For the longest time, people have been neglecting to applaud my myriad accomplishments. I could not abide by this and henceforth set out to resolve this issue. The solution wasn't immediately obvious, but after mulling it over for a while, it suddenly hit me. People have been culturally conditioned to clap for light-up signs that read "APPLAUSE."

From that moment on, it became clear to me that I had to make my own light up "APPLAUSE" sign that I could wirelessly trigger whenever the moment necessitated a round of admiration. And let me tell you, it works like a charm. You can get people to applaud you for almost anything.

I feel that this notion is really catching on. People are always asking me how they can make their own applause sign. There is a much larger admiration deficit in this world than I had initially anticipated. So, as a community service, I am sharing how people can make their own personal applause sign and seek the blind adulation they so rightly deserve.

(Obligatory Warning: This project uses high voltages and power tools. Consult professionals when in doubt. I take no responsibility for any of the information here or what you do with it! Proceed at your own risk.)

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

You will need:

3' x 4' sheet of 3/4" playwood
36" x 5.5" x 1/8" mirror acrylic
36" x 5.5" x 1/8" milky white acrylic
Black acrylic paint
Black house paint
Fine paint brushes
House paint brushes
Quick release clamps
1-1/4" wood screws
3/4" wood screws
A power drill and bits
5 amp puck relay
6 lamp sockets
6 40 watt round bulbs
Power junction box
Power socket
Heavy gauge lamp cord
Wireless doorbell
Arduino programmer
7805 5V regulator
3V regulator
(x2) heat sinks
22pF capacitors
16 MHZ crystal
Atmega168 chip
28 pin socket
Momentary switch
100uF capacitor
Audio isolator transformer
(x2) 1K resistor
A 4148 diode
0.1uF capacitor
9V battery connector
9V battery
Lamp cord
Wire nuts
4.5V adapter
Cable organizers
End caps
Wood putty
A putty knife
15' 3-prong extension cord

Step 2: Cut Boards to Size

Cut 3 boards out of your plywood that are 36" x 6" and one that is 36" x 7".

While you're at it, you may as well cut two 5.5" x 5.5" squares.

Step 3: Cut Channels

First thing's first, we are going to need to make a 1/4" deep channel in each of the 36" x 6" boards.

Clamp your board to a work surface. Next clamp a guide parallel to one edge, such that you will cut the channel 1/2" in from that edge. Set your saw to cut 1/4" deep and make the cut.

Repeat on the second board.

Step 4: Start the Box

Stand a 36" x 6" board upright such that the channel is closer to the table and facing inwards. Lay the 36" x 7" board on top of it, such that they are joined at a right angle. You can use the second 36" x 6" board to keep it upright for the time being. Drill a few pilot holes and then fasten them together with wood screws.

Repeat this process on the opposite side, forming a U-shape.

Step 5: Finish the Box

Insert your 5.5" x 5.5" squares into each edge of the box such that they close the "U".

Clamp, drill pilot holes and then fasten with wood screws.

Step 6: Laser Etch the Sign

Keep the protective coating on your milky white acrylic and then laser etch the front panel using the file attached below called applausesign1. Do multiple passes until it etches down a few millimeters.

While you're at it, vector cut the mirror acrylic with the file below called applauseMirrorcut. Don't forget that the reflective side must absolutely be face down.

Step 7: Paint the Sign

Apply multiple coats of acrylic paint to the front of the sign until you are positive it is opaque.

An easy way to check this is to peel off the protective coat from the backside and hold the sign up to a light bulb and see if you can see through the paint. Keep applying coats of paint until you can't.

Step 8: Clean Up Imperfections

Clean up any uneven surfaces with wood putty and sand it smooth.

Step 9: Take Apart the Doorbell

Carefully remove the doorbell receiver from its casing and sit it aside for later.

Don't lose the screws (like I did).

Step 10: Prepare the Ringer Casing

Using the 4 holes on the edge of the mirror acrylic as a guide, drill holes in the wireless doorbell casing.

Step 11: Drill Holes

Place the mirror acrylic into the back of the applause sign casing and use the holes in the acrylic as guides to drill pilot holes.

Also drill a 3/4" hole through the case below where the power junction box attaches (in the next step).

Step 12: Attach Things

Use 3/4" wood screws and fasten the wireless remote box, the power junction box and the sockets to the casing.

Step 13: Wire It Up

Wire up the sockets in parallel with lamp cord.

Have a few inches of cord sticking off the end closest to the wireless doorbell box.

Step 14: Paint It Black

Put a few even coats of black paint on all visible surfaces of the box and also the two strips of wood on the edge of the case that will sit directly below the applause sign.

Step 15: Wire Up the Socket

Cut off the female end of the power cord and strip the cord back until three wires are exposed. Strip and inch of jacket off of each of these wires.

Wire up the socket such that the white cord goes to one terminal, the black to another terminal and the green to ground. Secure the socket into the junction box.

Step 16: Build the Circuit

Build a Hackduino board as explained here.

Cut the speaker off of your wireless doorbell receiver. Leave as much wire connected to the receiver as you can.

Wire that as analog in to the Arduino. See the schematic for what parts are necessary for this and what wires go where.

Program the Arduino with the following code (source file attached below):

* Based on:

int relayPin = 13; // led connected to control pin 13
int ringDetect = 0; // the knock sensor will be plugged at analog pin 0
byte val = 0; // variable to store the value read from the sensor pin
int statePin = LOW; // variable used to store the last LED status, to toggle the light
int THRESHOLD = 50; // threshold value to decide when the detected sound is a knock or not

void setup() {
pinMode(relayPin, OUTPUT); // declare the ledPin as as OUTPUT
Serial.begin(9600); // use the serial port

void loop() {
val = analogRead(ringDetect); // read the sensor and store it in the variable "val"
if (val >= THRESHOLD) {
digitalWrite(relayPin, HIGH); // turn the led on or off
digitalWrite(relayPin, LOW); // turn the led on or off
delay(100); // we have to make a delay to avoid overloading the serial port

Step 17: Wire the Relay

Connect the wire from pin 19 to the positive DC terminal of the relay. Connect the negative terminal of the relay to the ground wire.

Connect one of the lamp wires coming from the sockets to one side of the AC portion of the relay and connect one of the terminals from your AC power cord to the other side.

Twist together the free lamp cord with the free wire from the power cord. Twist on a wire nut to keep them insulated and secure.

Step 18: Clean It Up

Screw in the bulbs.

Organize the wires and fasten them to case.

Install and secure the rest of the electronics.

Step 19: Slide in Sign

Plug in your 9V battery and then slide the sign into the front channels of the case.

Step 20: Hang the Sign (optional)

When you are done, you can hang the sign if you like. I accomplished this by drilling some holes in the top and using strings to tie it to a conveniently suspended cord near the ceiling.