My IT tutor at SJR asked me to create a light up RGB LED sign that could be used on displays around college. I put my 3D printing hat on and got to work!
Step 1: Brief Overview
This sign needed to be fairly large, but not too large that it would look out of place on a notice board. So, I made each letter about 180mm x 180mm x 20mm (approx), which allowed each letter to comfortably fit onto my 3D printer while keeping the letters a nice size for displaying. My Tutor also requested the sign to light up in some way so it would stand out more. I though using an RGB LED strip would be a great idea!
Step 2: The Build - 3D Printing
I began by 3D printing the letters for the sign. I found a fantastic design on thingiverse.com that would word fantastic for this sign. So, using the provided .stl files I printed each letter’s bottom half in black PLA plastic. Each print took around 6 Hours to its size and used about 100g of plastic. Once I had printed the letter’s bottoms, I started printing the translucent tops of the letters. This translucency will allow the light from the LED strip to shine through the top of the letter, giving the light a bright, but diffused lighting effect. The filament I used was from ‘Excelvan‘ and the prints turned out well.
Step 3: The Build - RGB LEDs
For the LEDs, I found this 5M strip of 12V 505 RGB LEDs for £3.00 on Aliexpres.com, a bargain! They took about 2 weeks to arrive and when I tested them they worked perfectly and would be great to light up the letters. I had a spare RGB controller box for the LEDs, I used this to control the LEDs. The controller box used an IR remote to control the LED’s colours, patterns etc, so it would work really well in a classroom scenario. In addition, it also allowed for easy testing of the LEDs as I could just use my phone’s IR blaster and a free android app to control the LEDs too!I also needed a way for the LED strips inside the letters to be connected together, I could have LEDs trailing outside the letters. So, I ordered some male-female 4 pin connectors from Aliexpress.com, which took a few weeks to arrive but they made the connections look a whole lot nicer. I could event paint them black to make them even more stealthy.
Step 4: The Build - Mounting
To mount the LEDs, I found a length of wood in my garage that would do perfectly. I cut it to size and spray painted it matte black to give it a stealthy look. This length of wood would allow the completed letters to be hot glued onto it, then the whole assembly could be more as one unit, and mounted easily onto small nails/pins on the display.
Step 5: The Build - Assembly
So, the time came to put togeather the sign. To attach the letters onto my wooden piece, I simply used hot glue. This allowed me to quickly attach the letters and have the ability to remove them afterwards without the need to create threads in the letters. In fact, the hot glue technique proved to be really strong, and it looked pretty nice one it was smoothed around the edges. I used black electrical tape to hide the RGB and Black cables that I used to connect the letters together, and I think it turned out pretty nice.