Edge Lit Wedding Gift


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I am an electronics engineer, doing a PhD at the VUB in Belgium. I have a passion for making thin...

Some of my best friends got married, and I wanted to give them a personalised wedding gift. Since their pet names for eachother are birds, I wanted to make a bird-themed gift, which would fit in their interior. Therefore, I decided to make an edge-lit acrylic sign depicting two kissing birds. While perfect for mood lighting, a secondary outward facing LED strip was added to use it as an actual light source.

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Step 1: Parts & Tools

Parts

  • 1 m long RGB LED strip
  • 2 toggle switches
  • DC jack
  • Electrical wire
  • 3mm thick hardwood (0.5m^2)
  • 3mm thick acrylic (0.5m^2)

Tools

  • Lasercutter (or scrollsaw / bandsaw)
  • Sandpaper
  • Soldering iron

Step 2: Design

The idea of edge-lit acrylic lighting is simple but always looks great. This is achieved by engraving a design on a piece of acrylic/plexiglass. By illuminating the side, the light will diffuse on the design and provide a nice glow. The deeper the engraving, the more pronounced this effect becomes. Therefore, the design consists of three layers of acrylic, stacked on top of each other, with the engraving on the middle layer. This also provides the thickness required for the LED strip (about 9mm). This is sandwiched between 2 layers of heart-shaped wooden rings.

To keep the whole thing upright, it is embedded in a base made of stacked disks. As such, the whole design can be cut out of 3mm wooden and acrylic sheets.

Step 3: Cut, Sand & Glue the Pieces

Now that we have made the design, the laser cutter can do part of the hard work. The engraving of the middle acrylic layer should be cut as deep as possible, but not completely through. This results in the best diffusion of the light. All other pieces can simply be cut all the way through.

Start by removing the protective film from the acrylic and glue the pieces together (super glue works great). You will end up with 2 pieces: a heart shape and its outline.

The wooden pieces will have to be sanded first to remove any burn marks. The heart-shaped borders should be kept aside for now, but we can already assemble the base. This is done by carefully gluing the wooden disks together and making sure the inner holes line up all the way though the stack.

The toggle switches can now be glued into the base as preparation for the next step.

Step 4: Wiring the Electronics

The wiring is very easy for this project and starts by soldering wires to the LED strips. Here we need to make the most difficult decision of the project: which colour to take? I decided on purple, and therefore wired both the red and blue contacts to a red wire and added another black wire for the negative terminal. Now feed the wires through the hole in the plexiglass and mount the LED strips on the acrylic: one on the inside, one on the outside.

The two toggle switches should be wired up as shown in the diagram and connected to the DC power jack. The idea is to have one general on-off switch, while the other one toggles the outer LEDs only.

Step 5: Final Assembly

The last thing left to do is assemble all the pieces. Both acrylic hearts (inside and border with LEDs) need to be sandwiched between the wooden frames; also use super glue here. The assembly can now be glued into the base to finalize our project.

I hope you liked the project! Feel free to check out my other Instructables: https://www.instructables.com/member/ThomasVDD/

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    2 Discussions

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    thebigpotatoe

    22 days ago

    Awesome idea, really want to make one