Backlit Signs With LED Light Strips

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About: I've been blessed lately to be able to share some of what I've learned and made. I make custom software for a living. I make custom things for myself and others. I make custom gadgets for fun. In my professi...

This is part three in my ongoing "Anything Worth Doing is Worth Overdoing" series.

When I moved into my current home, I decided that I the sign out front that has my house number on it, which was chosen by my mother in the 80s, just had to be replaced. That's where this started.

My first intelligent thoughts about the design all included backlighting. As I began building the sign and testing theories, more crazy ideas came about, and more ideas needed to be tested. Before I was done, I ended up designing and building a custom WiFi controller for the lights, writing software for that controller, writing a mobile app to control the lights, getting the app released on app stores, burning through an entire spool of 3D printer filament in one non-stop session, and building four distinct signs.

Of course, you don't need to do anything that complicated. I'm going to show you everything I did so that you can decide if there's a style of sign you prefer and want to try to make for yourself. You can also replicate the things I did if you are properly equipped. If you like the signs and want your own, but don't want to build them, or if you want to read about how I got into sign making, check out my blog article. (appideas blog article)

I will be referencing my previous two Instructables throughout this one. They contain all of the technical details of how I made the electronics for the signs. There are other ways to make the signs without needing to go through my previous Instructables. I will point them out along the way. Here are links:

I used a CNC router to make these signs. I did that because I lack discernible woodworking skills, despite the fact that I'm fully equipped in that department. I am, however, very good at commanding robots to do things with dangerous tools. If you have a CNC router, I have included the files I used in case you want to replicate anything I've made. If you don't have a CNC router, you'll either need some woodworking skills that I can't teach you, or you'll need to be able to apply these ideas to materials with which you know how to work. The principles remain the same.

I use a 3D printer in the making of two of the signs. I'm not sure how you can replicate the results without one. If you can achieve that level of precision manually, you're truly awesome. I'm significantly less awesome, and I need a 3D printer to do the work for me (or maybe not - see below). The other two signs can be made without a CNC router or 3D printer, assuming you have appropriate woodworking skills and know how to use a hardware store.

All of the 3D printer and CNC router files were designed and created in Fusion 360. The Fusion 360 files are provided in case you want to modify them or need to generate tool paths and gcode. STL files are available for 3D printing.

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Step 1: Decide Which Variation You Want to Make

Although I started out with the intention of making one sign, my curiosity got the better of me, and I ended up making all four of these.

Take a look at these and decide which variation you’d like to make - or use as a guide for something different.

Below is a description of each of the signs. Specific steps and parts lists for making them follows.

The first sign (809) is where I started on this project. It was the first idea I had about how to make a backlit sign with LED light strips. The purpose of the sign is to provide the numbers for my street address on the front of my house so that the UPS guy can always find me (in all fairness, he’s well-acquainted with my address already). With this sign, I wanted the numbers to protrude from the sign, and for the lights to be mounted on the back of the numbers and pointing in, but not visible from the front or sides. Basically, I wanted the light source to appear to be from “inside” of the numbers to observers. I used fairly tall standoffs (mounting posts) because I wanted the light to spread out wide beneath the letters (Amazon link). Additional design elements include making the numbers very dark and setting them against a light background so they can be seen easily during the day. The numbers were cut out of a piece of pine that had a fairly strong grain, and I stained them dark, but not dark enough for the grain to disappear. I secure the lights to the numbers using a 3D printed piece, but there are many hardware store items that would work for this purpose. I also wanted each number to be able to be controlled separately (be its own color or brightness), so I wired the each number separately and use three WiFi controllers, which I made (Instructable link). As a side-note, I needed to make each number have its own color so that I could make them red, white and blue on the Fourth of July. We don't have a flag post, and in this town, you get beat up if you don't do something. In retrospect, it would have been easier to buy a flag post.

The other three signs began as an experiment with the “LOVE” sign, but I wanted to play around with some ides I had about 3D printer filament and lighting effects, so I needed another sign, and “HOPE” was born. Of course, you can’t have “LOVE” and “HOPE” without “FAITH,” so that was my fourth design, which is a slight variation of the third. Although I actually designed them in the order, “LOVE, HOPE, FAITH,” that sounds awkward, so I’ll describe them in scripture order:

The second sign (FAITH) has the letters cut into the back piece and 3D printed letters inserted into the cuts. The surface of the 3D printed letters is flush with the face of the sign's back piece, leaving little glow on the face of the sign. This makes the letter's edges well-defined when lit. I printed using “natural” PLA (no colorant added). I also discovered that printing in white with a very thin floor can look pretty cool, but there are certain factors that made me choose “natural” for the color. I went through a whole lot of tests of ways to diffract the light so that individual LEDs in the strip could not be easily discerned while not blocking too much light, and this is the result with the best compromise I could find. Unlike the other three signs, I decided to do this one with just a single color of light. I liked it better that way. It seemed like a nicer introduction to the “FAITH, HOPE, LOVE” theme if it weren’t all mixed up (colorfully speaking).

On second (and third and fourth) thought, I believe this and the sign below could be pulled off with hand tools and without a 3D printer. If you are able to cut the letters out of wood, it would probably work to cast a transparent resin into the openings to replicate the effect. Something like this might work. (Amazon link) I don't have any experience with that method of construction, but from what I have read, it seems like a plausible solution.

The third sign (HOPE) is similar to the second, but the letters protrude slightly from the face of the sign, which makes the face of the sign glow more. This causes the letter's edges to be less defined (compared to the FAITH sign), but has a more dramatic overall effect. Like "809" and "LOVE," each letter has lights on its own controller, so they can be set separately.

The fourth sign (LOVE) is similar to “809.” When I designed the number sign for my house, I really wanted to know what it would look like if the light source were coming from inside of the sign, but still not directly visible from the front. I didn’t want to create a variation of the 809 sign since I can only actually hang one of them in a useful place. I’m happy that I wanted to know that, because the results are really nice. It’s less dramatic than the number sign, and (I think) a little more appropriate for an indoor setting where you don’t want overly-obnoxious attention-grabbers. Because of the way the colors need to be separated, I created compartments in the back of the sign to contain a separate string of lights behind each letter, not allowing its light to leak into the adjacent sections.

Now you’ve seen the signs, and I hope you know which one you want to make or mimic. Don’t skip ahead to the instructions for that specific sign yet. There are a couple of things that need to be done for every sign. Let’s begin with the controller.

Step 2: Every Sign Needs Electronics

You’re going to need some way to control the lights. You have a few options.

  • Check out the Instructable I made that explains how to create your own WiFi controller for LED lights. (Instructables link) The main benefit you’ll get from building your own is cost reduction, particularly of you are dealing with more than one set of lights. It's also fun to make things like this, if you're that kinda person. The downside is that making your own controller is a technical process, and an easier solution may be to spend a little bit of money.
  • You can purchase commercially-made controllers for $17 or more. I’ve never used any of them, so I have no immediate opinion. It looks like they do exactly what mine does, but their software may be a little more polished. If you have experience with any of them, leave a comment. Here are a few links to some that are well-rated on Amazon (if you search, make sure that you get an RGBW controller if you need one - the really cheap ones are not):
  • If you only need to control one string of lights, use the remote control that came with the lights.

I’m not going to provide a whole lot more instruction on that topic. That’s why I wrote the other Instructable!

You just need to know how many strips of lights you want to control separately and purchase or make an appropriate number of controllers. One of my signs needed one Wifi controller, another needed three, and the other two signs each needed four - a total of twelve light strips for the four signs. Since my custom controllers can each handle two strings of lights, I built seven of them instead of buying twelve.

Step 3: And Every Sign Needs Lights

Here’s another step that deserves (and has) its own Instructable.

Which lights do you need? Here is the specific set that I usually order (Amazon link) or (Amazon link). Any lights that are marked as “5050 SMD” will work. I specifically choose the 12V Red, Green, Blue, White (RGBW) version, but the RGB versions will be slightly simpler to wire. Also, if your installation is outdoors, make sure to order a waterproof version. Otherwise, the non-waterproof lights are quite a bit easier to work with. I usually order a waterproof version, and if I end up not needing for them to take moisture abuse, the protective coating cuts off quite easily. Once the waterproof strip has been removed, they are identical to the non-waterproof version.

Once you have the lights, you need to connect them to a controller. The best advice I have for connecting lights to a controller is to follow step 3 of my previous Instructable. That will show you how to wire your lights to a controller or to harvest your cable ends. This part of my project is very well documented there. (Instructables link) If you are using a controller that you purchased, follow the controller's directions for connecting it to your lights.

For the following steps, skip ahead to the sign that interests you. I intentionally include a lot of redundancy in the instructions for each of the steps so that you can follow any one of them without referring to the others.

I’ll start by revealing where I live.

Step 4: Sign 1: Light Source Within a Protruded Object (809)

My mom was a wonderfully sweet woman, and I love her dearly to this day. I’m excited to get to see her again! However, I never agreed with her design decisions, and the first one that has to be undone is the first thing that people see when they’re looking for where I live - the number sign on the front of the house.

It’s not that this one is ugly. It’s just... I’m at a loss.

As explained in the introduction, my replacement home number sign has the numbers protruding out of the back piece, and the lights are mounted to the back of the numbers and pointed “in” (towards the back piece). This creates a dramatic halo effect around a silhouette.

What I really like about this sign is that I can change the colors for holidays and special events.

Refer to the images above and follow this outline, which shows how I built the sign.

  • The back piece
    • This is the part that you stick to the wall. I used a 0.75"x11.25"x24" poplar board (Lowe's link).
    • I used a CNC router to make the needed cuts. Download my Fusion 360 files below if you have a CNC router. You'll need to generate tool paths and gcode for your router. If you don't have a CNC router refer to the last image and follow these steps:
      • Drill holes 12mm in diameter 10mm - 12mm deep in places where you will have standoffs holding your numbers
      • Drill holes that are 3mm in diameter through the middle of those you just drilled, but drill these all the way through the back of the sign.
      • Just above the bottom standoff holes you just drilled, drill a rectangular or ovular shape all the way through the sign. It should be about 10mm wide and 5mm tall. This is to allow wires to pass from the numbers through the back of the sign inconspicuously.
    • Apply stain. Stain to your liking. I wanted a light back piece and dark numbers for contrast, so here is what I did
      • I really liked the green grain on this piece of wood, and I fell in love with the board as the stain dried. I started with a thin and quick layer of Minwax Natural (209). (Amazon link) After applying a very thin layer, I wiped the surface with a rag within 5 minutes. See the LOVE sign below for what happens when you let more of this stain sink into the wood.
      • I followed up with two coats of Minwax semi-gloss polyurethane. (Amazon link). Follow the directions on the label. Apply one layer. Sand lightly with a fine sandpaper, then apply a second coat.
  • The numbers
    • These protrude from the back piece. I chose to make them dark for contrast against the light back piece during the day time. Since I was staining them dark, I used a cheaper pine, but one that had a prominent grain.
    • Again, I used a CNC router to make mine. If you have wood working skills, you can make your own like this:
      • Cut out the numbers or characters using whatever method you know. I'm guessing a handheld router will be involved.
      • Dig a channel into the back of the characters for the lights to sit in. Mine felt comfortable at about 10mm wide and 7mm deep, but yours may vary, depending on the size of your characters. The larger your characters, the larger these should be. It's easier to direct and conceal the lights if you have more space to work with.
      • In the places where your standoffs/mounting posts will go, drill a hole that is 12mm in diameter 8mm - 10mm deep.
      • In the center of the hole you just drilled, drill another that is 3mm in diameter all the way through the number. This will allow the “cap” of the standoff to attach through the number.
    • Apply stain. Again, stain to your liking. I wanted dark numbers, but the prominent grain to show, so here's what I did:
      • Apply one coat of Minwax Provincial (211). (Amazon link) I let it soak in and kept adding more until the wood was very dark, but the grain was still visible. This was a porous wood and really soaked in the stain, so it got much darker than would be normal for that stain. Once the color became how I liked it, I wiped off excess stain with a rag and allowed the numbers to dry.
      • I followed up with two coats of Minwax semi-gloss polyurethane. (Amazon link). Follow the directions on the label. Apply one layer. Sand lightly with a fine sandpaper, then apply a second coat.

  • Construction
    • For mounting posts, I use advertising panel display standoffs that are 12mm in diameter because that thickness felt right for my application. For this particular sign, I used the longest I could find, which was 60mm. (Amazon link). I chose to go longer on the standoffs because I wanted a larger "halo" beneath the silhouette of the characters. If I wanted a smaller halo and a brighter, more focused light, I would go with a shorter standoff (Amazon link), or something in-between as a compromise. (Amazon link)
    • I secured the numbers to the lights using clips that I made with a 3D printer. The files are below, or you can download them at Thingiverse. (Thingiverse link) If you do not have a 3D printer, any number of items at the hardware store will work. Do not rely on the adhesive that comes on the lights to keep your lights in place. It may work for a while, but it won’t for long. Find anything that puts a "cap" on the lights in the channels you dug into the characters.
    • Add the standoffs to the character and screw the caps onto them from the top of the character.
    • Put the standoffs into the holes drilled into the back piece
    • Run the wires from the characters from the front of the sign, through to the back using the holes that were drilled earlier.
    • Secure the standoffs with #12 - 1.5" wood screws coming through the back of the sign. I also add a little wood glue to the screws because the posts aren't totally secure otherwise. If you know what screw is “supposed” to secure those standoffs, let me know in the comments. I spent about a half hour in the hardware store looking for something, and this was the best I could find, but it isn’t perfect.
  • Finish up by running wires to the electronics, getting the app going, then mounting the sign.
    • To run wires to the electronics, I had to drill through vinyl siding because I wanted the electronics inside my shop (the shop happens to be immediately behind the ideal mounting position for the sign). You'll need to figure out how to run wires for your own installation, and follow the instructions for wiring lights to your controller.
    • If you use the custom controller from my previous Instructable, the app is available on the iOS app store (App Store link) and Android Play Store (Play Store link). Follow the instructions at github (github link) for "Using the mobile app." Alternatively, more detailed instructions and demonstration videos are available on step 5 of my previous Instructable. (Instructables link) If you use a different controller, follow the instructions with which it came.
    • How you hang your sign depends on factors that only you know. I have to cover over a sign that was epoxied to the vinyl siding many years ago. and removing it would ruin everything it's touching. I have chosen to stick the sign with Scotch 15 lb. outdoor double-sided tape. (Amazon link) Where I am hanging the sign is pretty well sheltered from the weather, and I can remove it when I (inevitably) have to redo the siding, so this tape should be perfect for my application. I wouldn't normally use tape, but this is only a semi-permanent installation. This is also pretty reliable tape.

Step 5: Sign 2: Internal Light Source With Flush Lit Objects (FAITH)

The FAITH sign was the last to be designed, and is a slight evolution from the previous designs. It is very similar to the HOPE sign, but the letters are flush with the face of the sign, giving the letters more defined edges.

There isn't a lot of construction to do for this sign if you are properly equipped. As mentioned above, I believe that this sign could be replicated by cutting the letters with hand tools and casting transparent resin into the openings. I have no personal experience with this form of making things (although my curiosity may get the better of me on this one), so please let me know in the comments if you are able to do make a sign this way. I would love to see how it turns out.

  • The back piece
    • I used a 0.75"x11.25"x24" poplar board (Lowe's link).

    • I used a CNC router to cut the letters into the sign. The necessary Fusion 360 files are included so that you can do the same if you want to replicate this particular sign.
    • If you are cutting the sign with a CNC router, make sure that you know where the middle piece of the letter "A" is physically located on the bed, and secure it with extra tape. You will need that piece later, plus you don't want for it to go flying in your shop. This process cuts all the way through the sign, so middle pieces need to be secured. I like to use Scotch 15 lb. Outdoor double sided tape for holding down work pieces. (Amazon link)
    • Apply stain. Stain to your liking. I stained this exactly the same as the back piece of the 809 sign.
      • I started with a thin and quick layer of Minwax Natural (209). (Amazon link) After applying a very thin layer, I wiped the surface with a rag within 5 minutes. See the LOVE sign below for what happens when you let more of this stain sink into the wood.
      • I followed up with two coats of Minwax semi-gloss polyurethane. (Amazon link). Follow the directions on the label. Apply one layer. Sand lightly with a fine sandpaper, then apply a second coat.
  • The characters
    • I printed the letters using "Natural" PLA filament. The 3D printed letters have a shape inside of them that diffracts the lights, so individual lights are not as easily discerned. Download the STL files below or download the files at Thingiverse. (Thingiverse link)
    • The middle piece of the letter "A" will have been routed to fit into the 3D printed piece if it was properly secured in the previous step. Glue the wood piece into the 3D printed piece using super glue. (Amazon link) The back and front of the wood piece should be flush with the back and front of the 3D printed piece when it is glued into place.
  • The back cover. This is used to contain the light - prevent light from leaking out of the back of the sign.
    • I also used my CNC router for this, and the Fusion 360 files are below. This is a pretty simple cut:
      • Cut channels about 15mm wide and 8mm deep between the letters at the top and/or center and/or bottom to allow the wires to pass between letters.
      • Also cut a channel to allow wires to pass out of the bottom of the back cover and out of the sign.
  • Construction
    • Insert the 3D printed letters into the sign until the front and back of the letters is flush with the front and back of the sign. If necessary, use super glue (Amazon link) to secure the 3D printed pieces.
    • Insert lights into the 3D printed letters. I use RGBW lights (Amazon link), and if the installation is indoors, I remove the waterproofing sleeve. The lights are easier to manage that way. I use Scotch tape to keep the wires in place while I get everything situated and get the back cover into place.
    • Finally, I attach the back cover with four #4 wood screws, one ine each corner.
    • Finish up by running wires to the electronics, getting the app going, then mounting the sign.
      • I simply connected the wires to a WiFi controller from my previous Instructable (Instructables link). Follow the instructions for wiring lights to your controller if you use a different controller.
      • If you use the custom controller from my previous Instructable, the app is available on the iOS app store (App Store link) and Android Play Store (Play Store link). Follow the instructions at github (github link) for "Using the mobile app." Alternatively, more detailed instructions and demonstration videos are available on step 5 of my previous Instructable. (Instructables link) If you use a different controller, follow the instructions with which it came.
      • You can decide how to hang your sign. I've left that open in the design. Mine is sitting on a shelf for the time-being.

Step 6: Sign 3: Internal Light Source With Protruding Lit Objects (HOPE)

The HOPE sign is similar to FAITH except for these distinctions:

  • Each letter is a separate string of lights, and each string of lights can be controlled separately.
  • The letters are raised slightly above the face of the sign. This causes the light to spread along the face of the sign, making a more dramatic effect, but reducing the crispness of the edges of the letters.

Here are the steps:

  • The back piece
    • I used a 0.75"x11.25"x24" poplar board (Lowe's link).

      • If you are cutting the sign with a CNC router, make sure that you know where the middle piece of the letters "O" and "P" are physically located on the bed, and secure them with extra tape. You will need those pieces later, plus you don't want for them to go flying in your shop. This process cuts all the way through the sign, so middle pieces need to be secured. I like to use Scotch 15 lb. Outdoor double sided tape for holding down work pieces. (Amazon link)
      • I used a CNC router to cut the letters into the sign. The necessary Fusion 360 files are included so that you can do the same if you want to replicate this particular sign.
    • The characters
      • I printed the letters using "Natural" PLA filament. The 3D printed letters have a shape inside of them that diffracts the lights, so individual lights are not as easily discerned. Download the STL files below or get the files at Thingiverse. (Thingiverse link)
      • The middle pieces of the letters "O" and "P" will have been routed to fit into the 3D printed pieces if they were properly secured in the previous step. Glue the wood pieces into the 3D printed pieces using super glue. (Amazon link) The back of the wood pieces should be flush with the back of the 3D printed pieces when they are glued into place. There should be a small gap between the top of the wood and the top of the 3D printed letter.
    • The back cover.
      • This is used to contain the light - prevent light from leaking out of the back of the sign. I also used my CNC router for this, and the Fusion 360 files are below. This is a pretty simple cut:
        • Cut channels about 15mm wide and 8mm deep between the letters at the top and/or center and/or bottom to allow the wires to pass between letters.
        • Also cut a channel to allow wires to pass out of the bottom of the back cover and out of the sign.
    • Construction
      • Insert the 3D printed letters into the sign until the back of the letters is flush with the back of the sign. If necessary, use super glue (Amazon link) to secure the 3D printed pieces. The top of the 3D printed pieces should be several millimeters above the face of the sign.
      • Insert lights into the 3D printed letters. I use RGBW lights (Amazon link), and if the installation is indoors, I remove the waterproofing sleeve. The lights are easier to manage that way. I use Scotch tape to keep the wires in place while I get everything situated and get the back cover into place.
      • Finally, I attach the back cover with four #4 wood screws, one in each corner.
    • Finish up by running wires to the electronics, getting the app going, then mounting the sign.
      • I simply connected the wires to a WiFi controller from my previous Instructable (Instructables link). Follow the instructions for wiring lights to your controller if you use a different controller.
      • If you use the custom controller from my previous Instructable, the app is available on the iOS app store (App Store link) and Android Play Store (Play Store link). Follow the instructions at github (github link) for "Using the mobile app." Alternatively, more detailed instructions and demonstration videos are available on step 5 of my previous Instructable. (Instructables link) If you use a different controller, follow the instructions with which it came.
      • You can decide how to hang your sign. I've left that open in the design. Mine is sitting on a shelf for the time-being.

    Step 7: Sign 4: Internal Light Source Against a Protruded Object (LOVE)

    The LOVE sign is similar to the 809 sign, but the light source comes from within the sign instead of behind the letters. This makes for a less dramatic effect, which may be preferred in some settings.

    Here are the steps

    • The back piece
      • I used a 0.75"x11.25"x24" poplar board (Lowe's link).

      • If you don't have a CNC router, the tricky part for this sign is going to be to cut out the slots where the light shines through. You need to cutout the shape of the letters, but slightly narrower than the letters themselves. That cut needs to go all the way through the board. Refer to the images for this step.

      • I used a CNC router to make the needed cuts. Download my Fusion 360 files below if you have a CNC router. You'll need to generate tool paths and gcode for your router. If you don't have a CNC router, refer to the images and follow these steps:

      • Drill holes 12mm in diameter 10mm - 12mm deep in places where you will have standoffs holding your characters

      • Drill holes that are 3mm in diameter through the middle of those you just drilled, but drill these all the way through the back of the sign.

    • Apply stain. Stain to your liking. For this particular sign, I wanted to reduce the contrast between the characters and the back piece, so I stained the back piece a little darker. Here is what I did:
      • I started with a thick layer of Minwax Natural (209). (Amazon link) As long as the wood continued soaking in the stain, I continued adding more. Once the wood was well-saturated, I let it sit for 15 minutes, then wiped the surface with a rag. Allowing a thick layer of the stain to sink into the wood darkened it quite a bit.
      • I followed up with two coats of Minwax semi-gloss polyurethane. (Amazon link). Follow the directions on the label. Apply one layer. Sand lightly with a fine sandpaper, then apply a second coat.
    • The characters
      • Again, I used a CNC router to make mine, but you can make yours like this:
        • Cut out the characters using a method you know
        • In the places where the standoffs will go, drill a hole that is 12mm in diameter and 8mm - 10mm deep.
      • Apply stain.
        • I cut these letters out of oak and applied a thin layer of Minwax Natural stain (209). (Amazon link) After applying a very thin layer of stain, I wiped the surface with a rag within 5 minutes.
        • l followed up with two layers of Minwax semi-gloss polyurethane according to the directions on the container. (Amazon link)
    • The back cover.
      • This one was a little more complicated than the others. I needed to contain the lights, but isolate each light from the others to prevent light leaks between the letters. I ended up constructing a box around the back of the sign, then adding compartment dividers that are held in place with 3D printed parts. I include my Fusion 360 and STL files for you to make your own with a CNC router and 3D printer, but you may want to use your imagination for this part. I think my design could use some improvement. You can download the corner braces I used for the back cover below or at Thingiverse (Thingiverse link). The back cover for this sign can be much smaller, and may be more effective if coated with a reflective surface, such as mylar. (Amazon link)
    • Construction
      • I used shorter mounting posts than for the 809 sign because I wanted the maximum effect of the light shining against the letters.
      • When mounting the lights, I discovered that they need to be close to the opening in the sign or the effect is too dim. I use Scotch tape to keep them in place. I am planning to experiment with other ways to make internally lit signs - including acrylic characters and fiber optic light distribution.
    • Finish up by running wires to the electronics, getting the app going, then mounting the sign.
      • I simply connected the wires to a WiFi controller from my previous Instructable (Instructables link). Follow the instructions for wiring lights to your controller if you use a different controller.
      • If you use the custom controller from my previous Instructable, the app is available on the iOS app store (App Store link) and Android Play Store (Play Store link). Follow the instructions at github (github link) for "Using the mobile app." Alternatively, more detailed instructions and demonstration videos are available on step 5 of my previous Instructable. (Instructables link) If you use a different controller, follow the instructions with which it came.
      • You can decide how to hang your sign. I've left that open in the design. Mine is sitting on top of a refrigerator in my game room for the time-being.

    Step 8: Conclusion

    That was the end of the instruction part. I hope you saw something you like and know what sign you'll make and how you're going to make it. If you want to take off, go for it. It won't hurt my feelings.

    If you like this Instructable, please click "Vote Now!" below to give it a little boost in the Make it Glow Contest.

    As I've mentioned in this and the two Instructables that led to it, the process of getting to these results was a pretty long one. I spent a lot of time researching, discovering, testing and executing to get what I wanted. My wife will also tell you that I spent a lot of money, but I don't remember that part.

    The funny thing is, when I started this project, I knew exactly what I was going to do and how I was going to do it. After these months of making improvements and putting it all together, I learned a lot, and I also discovered that my curiosity for the project isn't going to be easily satisfied.

    If you look at the images for this step, you'll see version 10 of the Printed Circuit Board and hardware I designed for the WifI controller for the lights. I've recently figured out how to get that PCB manufactured professionally, so I will be making them available for sale soon. I'll also be writing another Instructable - to be released in December or January - with complete instructions for assembling that controller. Once you have the PCB and related components, all you need to do is solder. I've also found that the FAITH, HOPE and LOVE signs are popular with people I've shown them to locally, and I have started making them available for sale on special request. Check out this article on the appideas blog. (appideas blog link)

    There are several things I would like for the future of what has been started here. Some are bigger dreams than others. Here are the main ones

    • Make a commercial WiFi LED light controller based on Open Source hardware and software.
      • I think that the world needs more products that are totally open, and it would be awesome to use this product to help make that a reality. I can think of two possible routes to get there, but I don't know how to navigate either of them. Please leave comments if you do.
        • Crowdfunding. With a little more development, particularly on the case for the electronics and with the software, I think it may be possible to get this project crowd funded. If that were to happen, I would love to see sales of unpopulated PCBs and electronics cases for hobbyists, and complete units for everyone else.
        • SparkFun. I am aware that they do manufacturing and distribution of "open" products, but I do not foresee having the time to figure out how to make that happen, or of it's even viable..
    • Other signs. I want to try other ideas for lighting. I am particularly interested in using fiber optic cables to transfer the light from source to destination and to use acrylic as a medium. If you try other things, please share pictures.
    • Improve the mobile app. The mobile app is completely functional, but can use some improvements. Head over to the github issues page to see everything that's been noted. (github link)

    That's it for now. Be sure to come back for part four!

    Make it Glow Contest 2018

    Participated in the
    Make it Glow Contest 2018

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      2 Discussions

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      attosa

      8 months ago

      Very pretty :)