Introduction: Stranger Things Wall in a Frame (Write Your Own Messages!)

I've been meaning to do this for months after seeing a tutorial using Christmas lights (it looked great but what's the point in not showing any messages, right?). So I've made this Stranger Things Wall some time ago and it took me quite a long time to make it because I kept wondering what I should do next without messing it up.

I've made it using very cheap and easy to find components, without 3d printing or fancy LEDs which are not available in my city.

It's an AWESOME gift (believe me) and a great Christmas decoration.

I strongly recommend having (or knowing someone who has) some experience on basic electronics and soldering

Step 1: Gather What You Need


  • 26 Diffused LEDs (the ones with solid colors just like in the picture will look great even if you grow tired of all the blinking or when it's turned off. If you pick the ones with clear lenses they will look like lasers piercing through eyes)
  • A 20x30cm black picture frame
  • An arduino (I used an arduino uno because that's what I had)
  • EVA sheet
  • Insulating tape
  • Acrylic paint
  • Transistor (BC548)
  • 3x220, 3x1K and 1x10k ohms Resistors
  • Push button
  • Byers' living room wallpaper
  • 1m Ethernet cable (you're going to get the wires inside of it)


  • Hot glue gun
  • A utility knife
  • Thin paint brush
  • Drilling machine
  • Soldering iron and solder

Step 2: Getting the Wires

With the help of the utility knife (or a pair of scissors just to make the first cut) make a little vertical cut on the cable, be careful while doing it, you don't want to cut the inner wires, it can ruin your project later.

Now grab the inner wires with one hand and the cable jacket with the other and pull them apart (the jacket will tear along the cut you've made). Now you have your wires to make the electrical connections.

Step 3: Release Your Inner Artist

This is a part is a bit simple, just grab a random piece of paper and practice a little your painting skills. It's also where you'll add your personal touch to the frame.

Try to paint the complete alphabet in a way it doesn't look off with big uneven gaps between the letters when you're done. Spend some time practicing, getting used to painting and not dripping paint all over the paper, the whole appearence of this depends on it!

Print some of the Byers' wallpaper (step 1) and place one of them inside the picture frame and cut the edges with the utility knife. Don't worry about the little white edges left, we're painting it later

Get your picture frame and separate the frame from the backing board and put the glass away (we're not using the glass).

Use the backing board as your easel and tape the wallpaper to it with the insulating tape or masking tape (just on the edges)

Paint your letters and wait for the paint to dry.

Place your master piece in the frame and check if it looks ok.

Ps: Don't worry if your handwriting is not the best, it just has to look like a desperate mother trying to communicate with her younger son who's lost in another dimension painted it. No biggie.

Step 4: Drilling Holes and Placing the LEDs

Since the wallpaper is still attached to the backing board it's time to start drilling.

Drill a shallow hole (do not drill through the wood yet) just so you know where you're supposed to make the holes, then remove the wallpaper from the backing board and drill complete holes.

I don't know what would happen if drill it through with the paper on it but you can't risk destroying your master piece

Make sure you don't try to drill a hole where the picture frame stand is and that you have another piece of wood in the back so you don't drill holes in your table or on the floor.

The holes do not need to fit a LED, just its legs without touching each other. The LEDs are going to hold the paper against the backing board.

Now match the paper holes and the holes in the backing board.

Tip: You can use solder wires just like I did in the picture, pass the solder through both holes in one of the corners and twist it, then repeat it on the other corners. When you're done, stick it again with tape on the edges and remove the solder wire.

Place the LEDs and try to make it look as colorful as you can. When you place the leds spread their legs open just like the second to last picture and fill the hole with hot glue.

Make sure the shorter legs (negative) or the longer ones (positive) of each row are pointing in the same direction (negative up, positive down). For example, the upper legs of the first row and lower legs in the second and third row are negative.

Step 5: Connecting the LEDs

Now what we're doing here is an LED matrix which requires some extra time and attention.

In this matrix I've chosen 220 ohms resistors to limit the current of each row, instead of adding one resistor to each led. It's kinda easier this way, even though the brightness of LEDs with different colors won't be the same I find 220 resistor to be quite adequate.

Use the orange/white, blue/white and green/white to connect the rows and the other ones to connect the columns just like the pictures.

You don't need to strip the wires in every contact point, just the end of it.

Once the tip of the wire is soldered to one LED leg, you can use the soldering iron to melt the wire jacket and solder at the same time.

Eventually you'll need to know what are the connections so I recommend you writing it down or marking the wires somehow, for example, blue is for the column A-I-R.

How long should you cut the wires? I'd say very long. You'll trim them at the end, so it's better if you have some left.

When you're done with the wires, hot glue three transistors to the backing board, solder the collectors to the 220 ohms and the 1K Ohms to the bases. Solder the emitters together using wires and solder the brown/white wire, it'll be grounded later.

Trim the row wires and connect them to each collector. Connect the remaining bits of each wire that you've trimmed to the base of each transistor. These remaining bits should be long as well.

Don't forget to organize the wires and hold them down using some hot glue. Organization is also a key to this project.

Cut a piece of EVA the same size as the backing board. Make two cuts: one for the stand and the other one to the wires. This will insulate the LEDs and the arduino.

Step 6: Final Connections

Place the arduino and use some tape to hold it.

Solder the wires to the pins defined on the code (you can modify that if you want, I did it that way because if anything went wrong I could easily remove it and fix the problem).

And... we're almost done. All we gotta do now is add a button so we can choose the messages we want to see. Pin 2 is used to read the button state.

Hot glue the button to the side of the frame and make the connections just like the schematic from the previous step

When you're done you can hot glue the arduino on the EVA sheet

Last looks

Paint the white edges of the printed wallpaper black so it matches the frame color

Step 7: Uploading the Code

If you did it just like the previous steps just upload the code and we're set

Connect the usb to the arduino and then use any cellphone charger as your power source.

To change the messages just press the side button and ta-dah

Step 8: Enjoy!

You can also add some of the twisted pair inner wires to decorate the wall. I think mine looks great without it but that's up to you.

I could've used bluetooth and a smartphone to send the messages but since this was a gift I wanted to make this something very intuitive and simple.

This is my first instructable, I hope you have a great time making it :)

Arduino Contest 2017

Participated in the
Arduino Contest 2017

LED Contest 2017

Participated in the
LED Contest 2017