With mothers day right around the corner, my laser class just passed, and some spare time I thought I would make my mother something she would really love. We all know that mom's really like something homemade rather than something bought. So I made this at Techshop In the new San Carlos location. If your thinking "o i will do this next year" STOP. I made this in one Day, total cost was under 20.00 for something that came out better than expected. If you have some of the parts it can cost just about nothing ! So lets dive in here.
Step 1: The Materials
Well here are the materials that I used:
- 2 X 3 Inch RGB LED strip ( See my other inscrutable on this :)
- A picture frame ( try to pick a normal picture size of Acrylic for this like 5 x 7)
- Some Acrylic cut off's or a sheet
- Some battery holders / or a external power supply ( or both !)
- something black to put behind the sheet ( I used some fabric)
The Tools you will need:
- Laser or CNC machine
- Soldering stuff ( iron, solder, helping hands)
- Basic tools ( pliers, knife, screw driver)
- A dremel and some bits
- A positive and happy mood
Step 2: Step 1: Playing With the Laser
Now at the TechShop's I got to we have 45 and 60 watt Epilog Helix C02 Lasers. These CAN NOT use Poly-carbonate, it will release toxic fumes and can harm the laser. You must Use Acrylic, we have a fantastic local chain called Tap Plastic's they have a wonderful discount bin almost everything in there is $0.50 so I picked up a bunch of them too practice on. Now my mother loves Light houses, your's may love something else, or it may not even be your mother you are making this for. Maybe you just want to make a awesome looking sign or logo. I had never used the Laser before, so I wanted to experiment with different settings, techniques, and images. As you can see in the pictures not everything went so smoothly. I had the power too high, the images I was trying to use did not have enough contrast to come out nice, just trial and error. But that's half the fun ! Also getting all of the pieces for $0.50 helps alot :) . I ended up doing a mirror type engraving ( a reverse image, engraved on the back side that you are looking at). This gives a great, almost floating image effect. My final settings where 600 DPI, 85% speed and 20 % power on a 45 watt laser. This may differ for you.
Step 3: Step 2: Picking the Frame
Now I came across a 1/2 inch cast acrylic piece when I was looking though the Bargain Bin, So i had chose this as my final one. The piece was 8.00" by 6.75" , not a normal picture length. Now looking back I should have cut it down to 5 X 7 so it would fit in just about any frame, but I did not. So after I had the Acrylic all set and done i realized I needed a frame. So a quick drive to the local thrift store, and I happened across this deep frame that was just about the perfect size ! For 3.99 ! Now I just about the perfect size because it was about 1/16 or so of a inch to small from top to bottom, even after I removed the wood. However with a little shaving it fit perfect.
Step 4: Step 3: Making It All Fit
Well this is Probably the most pain staking part of the entire thing. Now I lucked out with the frame I had found, I should have just made one from scratch, but I wanted to get this done so I could get it the mail. Now there where two wood strips on the top that kept the backing and the glass in place, I removed those, but saved them. I shortened those and put those on the sides, turned out the be the perfect thickness. I then Took a Dremel with the sanding wheel and put a nice notch in the bottom part for the LED strip to sit. Then I took the strip and soldered some wires on and also put a notch into the back on the frame for the wires to go though. In this situation I just soldered the three color grounds (Red Green Blue) to one wire. My original plan was drill some holes in the bottom of the Acrylic, and have a external power supply. However The image ended up to close to the bottom of the sheet, and I found that batteries work better for the table anyways. The trickiest part of all is not getting anything between the Acrylic and the glass, I must have cleaned it 15 times and kept taking the sheet out, but I still managed to get some dust in between it.
Step 5: Step 4: Sit Back and Give Yourself a Pat on the Back
Now being in TechShop I was able to find some black fabric, the AA battery holders, Wire, and of course all of the tools I needed. My total Spend was
- $10.00 for LED Strip (if you have the means buy a 3 meter or 5 meter roll its supper cheap)
- $0.50 for Acrylic sheet
- $3.99 for frame
- $8.00 for battery's (not easy to find cheap battery's at 10:00pm)
I Spent about 4 working hours on this in total, not including the time it took to get parts. The black background and mirror etching really gives it depth and almost a 3D image floating effect. Hope you enjoy !