DIY Skyrim Monopoly Board With Arduino LED Lights

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About: Graduated Systems Engineer from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Currently working as a manufacturing engineer. I have mostly used this site for Arduino projects and coding.

This instructable is for a back lit Skyrim themed monopoly board. The board is made using a custom made game board, LED light strips, Arduino, some wood work, epoxy resin, and Photoshop (Gimp in my case), and a lot of 3d printed components.

Parts List:

  • LED Light Strips - Found Here
  • Arduino Uno - Found Here
  • Epoxy Resin - Found Here
  • 3 pin electronic connectors - Found Here
  • PolyCarbonate Sheet - Found Here
  • DC Buck Converters - Found Here
  • DC Power Supply - Found Here
  • 2 Way Rocker Toggle Switch - Found Here
  • Various wire connectors - Local Hardware Store
  • Maple/Oak Planks - Local Hardware Store or Lumber Stores
  • CardStock Paper- Find at various paper suppliers
  • Wire - Found online or at various hardware stores

Step 1: Creating the Wooden Frame

The first step is to create a wooden frame for the board. I used maple planks to create the outside. I did this by using a table saw to cut the planks to spec via the prints I have attached to this step. The larger cut out on the top of each plank is where you will be placing the polycarbonate sheet that will hold the board as well as serving as a see through bottom for the lights. The other cut out is for the base to seal off the bottom. The bottom will also act as the area for a drawer and an area to mount your electronics plus a back up 9v battery.

Frame

After you have cut the 4 outside pieces wood, glue them together into a square. You should not need any type of bracket to hold it together. Between the wood glue and the epoxy resin the frame should be structurally sound. Be sure to cut out a place for the drawer and keep the piece you cut out as it will serv as the front end of the drawer. You can also go ahead and drill out a .5" hole if you are adding a wall outlet power input. After the frame glue has dried paint the large inside lip black and stain the rest Ebony. The critical measurement is to make sure you have at least 21" x 21" on the interior of the top of the frame. This is where you will place your polycarbonate piece and the actual game board.

Base Board

For the base board get some high quality planks that are .25" thick and cut them to form a square that will cover the bottom of the board. After you cut them, dry fit them into the bottom of the frame to make sure it will fit. Apply wood glue and press them into the bottom of the frame to hold them while the wood glue drys. After it dries, stain it with Ebony stain. You can also go ahead and glue down drawer slides where your drawer will run. Be sure the base board is removable though as you will need to work on it before fixing it to the rest of the assembly. I used screws to hold my base board down so that it would be removable in case I ever needed to get inside of the game board after completion.

Drawer

The drawer is made from .25" high quality planks. Create a simple drawer by cutting a base section and 3 other sections to act as the walls. My drawer was a shallow wide one. The most important part here is to make sure to use the piece you cut out from the walls of the frame as the front. Also make sure you glue the drawer pieces .25" above being flush with the bottom of the front face of the drawer. This is to allow for the .25" base board that will sit in the bottom of the entire assembly. I did my glue process in 2 steps. The first were for the long side walls being clamped down to the bottom/base. The second were to clamp and glue the end caps. Once the drawer is glued together, stain it Ebony.

Step 2: Poly-Carbonate Sheet/Game Board Installation

For the poly sheet make sure it has a thickness of at least .25". Anything else will warp under very small amounts of weight.

----------------------------------Poly-Carbonate Sheet-----------------------------------

Cutting

Cut your poly sheet to a 21" x 21" square. I used a table saw to cut mine and other than a bad smell it worked fine. You can also cut it like glass using a scoring method.

Inserting into Frame

After you have cut your square poly sheet simply use some type of adhesive or sealant to place it into the top of the frame. I used hot glue because sealant has a bad reputation for getting all over the poly sheet and making it look bad. Once you have glued and sealed it in, let it sit to dry. Please note, it is attached to the deeper cut outs on the frame walls. The shallower .25" square cut out is for the base board at the bottom.

---------------------------------------Game Board----------------------------------------

Cutting/Creating

For my game board I used a laser at work to etch and cut everything. You could place any type of game board into this you wanted. Resin will pour over nearly all materials without destroying them including papers. If you are worried about the resin effect on the material of your board, do some test pours of resin onto the raw material, and see what happens. I designed my board in solidworks and I will include the DXF of this in case you are interested in using it.

Inserting board

Once you have your custom game board simply drop it in on top of the poly sheet and glue it down. Make sure it holds flat against the poly sheet so when you make your resin pour it does not cause any edges to come lose and become warped inside the resin. This is really just an issue I had using thin sheet metal but just make sure your game board is flat either way. The adhesive I used is called Goop.

Step 3: Electronics Mounting/wiring

The electronics of this project is essentially split into 2 areas. The LED strips that are mounted to the bottom of the polycarbonate sheet, and the rest that are mounted onto the bottom plate that sits in the bottom of the wooden frame attached to the base board at the bottom.

-----------------------------------------LED Strips------------------------------

Please note, this takes a long, long, long time to do. The way I did it was I measured out all the distances and did all my soldering in portions.

  • Portion 1: All of the property colors
  • portion 2: The Imperial Mission cards
  • portion 3: The Stormcloak Mission cards
  • portion 4: The Skyrim name logo
  • portion 5, The Skyrim dragon logo

Portion 1

All of these LEDs are soldered in series. Starting at the lowest value property and running up to the highest value. Considering they are in series you can simply measure how long each wire needs to be and how may LEDs you will need for each property spot. I used 5 LEDs anywhere there were 2 connected property spots and 2 LEDs for any single. So for example on the first row it was: Go Tile > 2 LEDs > Wire> 2 LEDS >Wire 2 LEDs > Wire > 5 LEDS > Jail Tile. I soldered all of my lights and wires to complete the entire board of properties and then went back and hot glued all of them so they were nice and tight. Please note that you will need to solder in one of the 3 pin connectors at the beginning of portion 1. This will server as a quick disconnect to the rest of the electronics on your board.

Portion 2 & 3

The Imperial/Stormcloak mission card areas are fairly simple. However, it is important to notice that these are both wired in parallel. This means that you will have 3 wires coming off of portion 1 that are labeled GND, 5V, and DI. What you will need to do it is crimp or tie all of the LED strips togther for each wire coming off of portion 1. So for example, you would solder a wire to each of the 5V spots on the LED srips running across either of the mission card spots and then crimp all of them togther onto one end of a single but joint electrical crimp. Then you would run the 5v wire from portion 1 to the other end of the butt join and crimp it in. Therefore each of the 3 wires coming from portion 1 will connect to each of the wires going into the mission card strips.

To connect one mission card area to the next you simply recreate what you did to connect portion 1 to the first mission card area. At any of the parallel LED strips coming off of the first mission card area, run one of each wire: GND, 5V, and DI, to the next mission card area. Then run each single wire into each of the LED strips on that mission card area using a butt join in between.

Portion 4

The Skyrim name logo is an area with 4 LED strips all running in parallel across the name. This will be install in a very similar way to the mission card areas. solder a short lead wire onto each of the 4 strips at the beginning of the LED strip for each input, GND, 5V, and DI. Then crimp all 4 of each wire type together to make them a single input and run your single wire from the previous mission area to be crimped in as well. At the end of one of the LED strips across the Skyrim name logo you will need to solder in 3 wires as an output to go onto the Skyrim dragon emblem logo.

Portion 5

The Skyrim dragon logo is a long run of series LED lights that sweep back and forth down the length of the Dragon Emblem. Solder all your LEDs together with wires make "U" bends between each row and hot glue down.

-------------------------------------Bottom/Baseboard electronics----------------------------------

Arduino Uno and Buck Converters

For the Uno and Buck converters you will want to hot glue or fasten them to the base board underneath the large unused area of the game board. Measure out where the best spot to glue them down is. Make sure to glue them down together so that it will be a short distance between them to run power.

On/Off Switches

I have 2 On/Off Switches, one for battery power and one for wall power. It is important to never turn both of these on at the same time. For your switches simply drill two .75" holes beside your buck converter and slide them in. You should have 2 prongs for electrical flow on each switch and a third one that is a different color to keep the LED on the button turned on even when power is not supplied. Tie two of the electrical prongs together by crimping some female terminal ends together and run them both to the input of the buck converter. That should leave one electrical prong on each button open to run to your power supplies, both the battery or the wall outlet.

9v Battery

I placed my 9v battery holder right inside the drawer entry for each access. I 3d printed my 9v battery holder however you could easily buy a mount on amazon. From there simply run your positive and ground wire from your battery holder to the buck converter/button area. Run the GND wire into the GND side of the buck converter and the positive side into one of the prongs still open on one of your buttons. Be sure to glue down the power wires at reasonable intervals to keep the wire from moving around.

Wall Outlet

For the wall based power supply you will need to take your power supply and splice it open to reveal a red and black wired. From here use two butt join electrical crimps to connect it to the red and back wire on the 3 pin connector. Splice both the wall power supply into one side of the butt join and the 3 pin connector into the other side. From here wrap with electrical tape for a secure connection. Now you should have a wire with the wall power supply on one end and one of the 3 pin connectors on the other. Make sure to use the correct 3 pin connector, (male vs female).

Wall Outlet Input

The wall outlet input is fairly simple. Get another 3 pin connector, the opposite of the one you used for the wall outlet, and use butt joint connectors to attach a red and black wire. From here you will need to attach it to the base board but leave enough slack in the wire so that you can pull it through the hole drilled into the frame for the wall power supply. Take a look at my pictures of this to get an idea of how much slack to leave the wires.

LED Strips Input

To create the LED output connector you will need to run one 5v wire from the buck converter, 1 GND wire from either the buck converter or the Arduino Uno, and one digital pin wire from the arduino uno to a 3 pin connector that is the opposite you used for the bottom side of the LED board. Hot glue your wires down and run the 3 pin connector to the same area you placed the LED connector so that they can be locked togther when you do your final closing of the box.

Step 4: Arduino Programming

I am a big arduino fan and wanted to incorporate it into this project. Considering I wanted the project to be back lit I decided to control the LED strip with an arduino uno, and also include some special effects with the lights at random areas and at random time intervals. This keeps the lights from becoming stagnant and boring as the game carries on. There is also an animation when the board is turned on to add more to it. I have included the arduino code in this step of the instructable. Its very simple to hook up the Arduino, it is only a single pin out from digital pin 2. With all the other pins available you can also add other stuff. Like maybe a sensor to detect pieces crossing go that will generate an animation when any one passes go, or goes to jail, its your project you can do all kinds of stuff.

Step 5: Resin Pour

This is a fairly basic step, however takes the most time. You will need a good amount of 1 to 1 epoxy resin. The big part of this step is cleanliness. Make sure the work area is very very clean and dust free with no bugs flying around or animal hair floating around. Make sure you place your frame with your board and polycarbonate sheet onto something to protect the area under the board if your resin gets through your adhesive sealant. Make sure to clean your board thoroughly. After this you will be ready to make your resin pours.

  • Notes:
  • Make sure everything is level
  • Make sure everything is clean and debris free, including the enviroment
  • Do not make any pours more than a depth of .25"
  • If allowing for each layer or pour to dry make sure to sand previous pour before applying second
  • Use some type of a gas powered flame gun to remove bubbles. hair dryers and heat guns were not super effective for me
  • Make sure to cover at all times other than pouring
  • Take your time and check on each pour every 30 mins for 4-5 hours after each pour. Apply heat to remove bubbles as needed.
  • Resin will harden in 2 days but not to the point where you can place objects on it. Allow for at least 5 days to totally dry, and 5 days is pushing it.

Step 6: Creating the Property and Chance/community Chest Cards

Since this board is Skyrim themed the chance/community chest cards have been renamed to Imperial/Stormcloack mission in regards to the ongoing civil war in Skyrim during the game. The cards are modified to show Skyrim based events instead of the typical monopoly events. I created my cards in Gimp, but you could use any type of photo editing software you have available. I have only attached my final cards and not the Gimp files due to file size. I have also included a pdf with all of the cards in each. To make these all you need to do is load card stock printer paper into your printer and print both sides from the pdf file "AllCards." I used microsoft publisher to line them up so that it can be printed on a single page. Once they are printed, all you will need to do is cut them out and laminate them. After this, cut away the excess lamentation and your cards are done.

Step 7: Money/apartments and Hotels (Farms and Castles)/ Characters

Coin Money

For my money I wanted to use coins. To do this I made a simple 3d model for each of the coins I wanted and uploaded them to my 3d printer. After printing out each coin set I painted them. I have attached my gcode files to this step in case you want to 3d print yours as well.

Farms & Castles, (Apartments & Hotels)

I did the same thing for my "farms and castles" or apartments and hotels. I made a couple of simple 3d models in solidworks and then 3d printed all of them. After this I painted them and they were ready to be used. I have also supplied the gcode/STL files for this in this step.

Characters/Player Pieces

For the character pieces I downloaded some free stl files from various websites and printed them. You could download anything you wanted. Thingverse is a good place to start. If you are having a hard time finding similar sized/style pieces try looking at dungeons and dragons creators. They typically have similar races and size for the defined board sizes.

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    jessyratfink

    3 months ago

    I love all the little details. It's awesome!