Animating Multilayered Engravings

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Introduction: Animating Multilayered Engravings

Engraving/etching is nothing new but there is always room for new ideas and ways to make them look even better. Back in 2001 when I introduced engraving to the modding community with the Glowpad article (world first lighted mousepad), the basic one colored line drawings were enough to make everyone smile. 2002 saw the introduction of multicolored engravings. It was about time to make them animate and that is what this tutorial is all about.

I'll first introduce the technique with a simple logo and then move on to something bit more flashy.

I have to apologize about the watermarks on the images. The article was originally published on my modding site: http://metku.net/

Step 1: Idea

Getting the engraving to animate involves more than one engraved surface. Basically one just slaps as many sheets of engraved clear acrylic on top of another, as many as the animation requires. Animation is them played by lighting up one layer at the time.

To show the basic princible I selected the Intel Inside logo. It has three distinctive objects that can be divided to separate layers.

Each layer is engraved by using whatever engraving tool you like. I prefer the Dremel Engraver for more detailed work and regular Multitool for larger surface areas.

Impotant note: As we are lighting up one layer at the time, one should try to keep the engravings from overlapping one another if possible. This is not that much of a problem if the image is a simple line drawing but if the topic calls for larger sanded/engraved areas, they will block the light coming from the layers behind them. Just something to keep in mind when selecting the ideas for the image.

Step 2: Preparing the Lights

Acrylic that I used happened to be 3 mm thick so I had to file down some 5 mm leds for them. Led size should be equal or less than the thicknes of the acrylic so that the light does not travel to wrong layers.

To make sure that the light stays on its own layer I used aluminum tape. This blocks the light meant for one layer from shining to other layers too. It will also reflect the light inside that one layer so it lights up the engraving more evenly. Great trick to get away with using low amounts of leds.

Step 3: Electronics

There are several ways on getting the layers lighted up one by one. I wanted bit more control and made
a little circuit by using Atmel's Attiny45 to drive the leds with PWM signal. One could use for example 555 timer chip in combination with 4017 decade counter to advance the animation one step at the time.

Step 4: Finishing Up...

I happened to have a picture frame with near perfect dimensions. Perhaps this is something to make the project appear even bit more professional.


Step 5: Advanced Stuff

I had previously made this dragon engraving. It looks great as it is but I just knew it could look a whole lot better with this new animation technique that I came up with.

Steps are the same.

- Select the image
- Divide the image to sections you want to animate
- Engrave
- Install the tapes and lights

In this case the dragon layer is the top most one. It will be contantly lit by two white leds. Each flame layer will go behing it, starting from the smallest flame. This to keep the flame engravings from blocking one another from view.

Step 6: Camera, Lights, Action!

I hope that you enjoyed this little tutorial. Complete article can be found on my site but all the information needed to make one of these by yourself is listed here, in this Instructable article.

Full article at Metku

Technique by itself is very simple but it involves several steps. It is best to try this out with smaller scrap pieces of acrylic first.

I just feel that combining multicolored engravings with bit of movement is just the ticket to impress your friends. Mount this to the car window, on top of the amplifier stack inside the trunk, side of a computer case, frame it to the wall etc. Tons of uses and you can personalize it the way you like. An animated heart to your loved one perhaps? ;)

As this was my first instructible, please, give comments and feedback. I'm also happy to answer questions about engraving and modding in general too.


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    50 Discussions

    This Instructable is very motivational and encouraging. I think I have a new hobby! Thank you very much for sharing this and explaining everything step-by-step!

    Hello,

    Very nice instructable. Which glue dit you use for the resistor and led?

    is there any way to be able to adjust the timing after the resister are installed or possible something to use instead?

    1 reply

    Well, if you don't want to replace the resistor you have on the circuit already, you can solder a resistor in parallel with that. This will lower the total resistance below the original resistance that the resistor had. Also, you can solder a capacitor in parallel with the one that is on the circuit. This will increase the total capacitance that the timing sees.

    Hm... I have to say that I don't even know. As the leds get only arond 20mA each at max., the wire does not need to be that thick. Even the wrapping wire will handle the load.

    A clever and beautiful idea! Quite inspirational for other projects too! With modification, this could make a great faux-neon type sign!

    Yes but only from the side that I'm engraving. You must try to keep the protective films on as long as possible as they are the only defence against the unwanted scratches.

    Haha well, after looking through Acrylic window case modss.. I think I got an even better idea for my window :)

    This is great! I was just thinking about this in the garage and knew that someone on Instructables would have done it! Great Instructable it has really helped!

    1 reply

    Great to hear you liked it. This was on my todo list for years and I'm glad I finally decided to make it happen. Easy to trick that gives great visuals in my opinion. Thank you for your comment. :)

    omg this is just fantastic!! the next computer i do i am so doing this... great idea and great instructable

    This is very cool. Nice instructable, very well done.

    Cool! I've always wondered how I could do something like this, but this is a perfect way to do it!