Introduction: Plasma Disc Effect in a Frame

There are these plasma balls and plasma disks, I was always fascinated by. One day I had this weird idea to build this led effect item, and at the end, it looked like one of these plasma disks with the difference, that mine is square, and does not require a high voltage.

Link to the video

Step 1: The CAD File

First, I started with a drawing in Qcad. You can download the dxf file in this step. The size of the square part is 230x230mm, but you can adapt the size to whatever you want.

Step 2: The Part and Tool List

The parts I used for this project.

  • One Picture frame model Riba from a swedish furniture shop
  • One running light kit based on an CD4017
  • Ten Green LEDs. Didn't like the red ones :)
  • One Batterie Box for 3 or 4 AA Batteries.
  • Four semi-transparent hot glue sticks (the big ones)
  • 4 mm plywood
  • diffuse self-adhesive film (not needed if you are sanding the front transparent part)
  • white paint for the wood
  • baking paper

The Tools

  • An electric or manual saw (or a cnc,laser cutter...)
  • A Hot glue gun
  • A cutter a pair of scissors
  • A pair of protection gloves

Step 3: The Wood Parts

Use a Jigsaw or any other tool to cut the wood parts. I used a laser cutter for the parts.

Paint the part, with the flash cutouts, on one side white. This is the font part.

Step 4: Operation "Hot Glue"

Take care of your fingers and use gloves. The glue is hot and can cause severe burns.

Lay the baking paper on a heat resistant surface. I worked on the floor tiles. Place the front part with the white side down on the baking paper.

Now fill the flash gaps with hot glue. Place a small part of baking paper on the filled gap and use a flat part, in my case a piece of wood to press the glue down and that it spreads well. Leave it for minimum 5 minutes. When the glue cooled down, you can remove the small baking paper without a problem. Repeat this for all the gaps.

I used 3 whole Glue sticks, just to fill the "flash gaps" but the Hot glue is a perfect light diffuser for the LED's.

Step 5: The Running Light Kit

I could have used a Micro controller, but I wanted to keep it as simple as possible.

You can use any other kit like this one. Just search for "running light 4017" in the internet. I added a few pictures, of what they can look like.

Solder the kit together, but do not add the LED's on the PCB. I did not like the red LED's, so I used ultra bright green ones. To each Led, solder two wires and make attention to the polarity. The GND (Cathode) of the LED is the short leg. If you already have cut the legs, the ground is the flat side of the Led, or if you look inside the Led's head, there is one part bigger and this is the negative Pole.

Step 6: Mounting the Fake Plasma Part

Use a cutter to remove excess hot glue, that interferes with the frames and partitions, that have to be attached.

The long wooden strips are used to create a frame around the back of the front part. Use wood glue or hot glue to fix them. With the shortest one build a cross construction and the middle long ones are for the 45 Degrees separations. Now you should have eight separated chambers. I glued small black cardboard pieces, where the LED's will be placed, to avoid that they shine through the wood. Keep the LED's and their wires in place, with Hot glue

As you may have already noticed, we have 8 chambers but 10 LED's.
You can now simply omit two LED's, or place them in chambers, already equipped with a Led. I used all of them.

Take the back part with the hole in it and pass all the wires through it. Use clamps to hold it in place. We have to test everything before the final step.

Solder the 10 positive leads to the PCB and group all the grounds together. Do not solder the LED's in a linear order, but randomly.

Connect the power and check if every Led is working. Slow down the sequence by turning on the small trimmer, so that you can follow the running light.

If everything works fine, glue the back part to the front part and glue the PCB and the Battery Box on it.

Solder all ground wires together, or use a piece of self-adhesive copper tape, and solder the wires on this.

Step 7: Prepare the Frame

Take the picture frame, model RIBBA, apart.

I just want to mention, that I'm still upset by the decision of the Swedish company, to replace the glass sheet with a plastic sheet.

For this project the plastic sheet arranged me. With the help sandpaper, I I drove over it a few times, in a circular motion, and received a beautiful diffuser.

Step 8: The Assembly

Place the diffuse sheet as first in place. Then the LED Part and use a few drops of hot glue, to keep it in place.

That's it.The Plasma Disc Effect in a Frame is ready.

Instead of the battery box, you can alternatively solder an USB-cable directly to the running lights, or make use of an micro USB breakout board. Now you can power it via a 5V power supply, a power bank or directly from a computer USB port.

The power consumption is such low that it will run without a problem for several days on Batteries.

Step 9: The Result

A few pictures of my finished creation: The Plasma Disc Effect in a frame.

Hopefully you like this instruction.

Best Regards


Hot Glue Speed Challenge

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Hot Glue Speed Challenge