Kepler 16b NASA Poster Lightbox Lamp

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About: Hi. I create brute art sculptures, models and decors, i.e. decors by up-scaling normal household things. I started doing this in order to be able to try and define an art style that is independent of the eco...

So, this is again a lamp instructable. I recently had the idea to make a 3d layered nightlamp and thats when my friend showed me this poster by NASA. So, I made it into a lamp. Do have a look and do ping me if you have any doubts. I dont know if I can attach the adobe illustrator files I made for printing, but do ping me here or on instagram if you wanna try it out. I will send you the files via email. Enjoy!

Step 1: Materials/Processes Needed:

Here is a list of what you will need.

  1. A4 Paper. Preferably a thin type but not very flimsy(100 gsm should be good. I used 250 GSM which is too thick)
  2. Plywood/wood or MDF to make the frame. Use anything youre comfortable with. I used a plywood. My dimensions of the frame are 290 x 210 x 100 mm. You can ofc use your own, but you'll have to scale the poster accordingly.
  3. A colour printer(or you can get it printed )
  4. 2 mm mdf for the back light (dimension same as the poster)
  5. 5 mm mdf sheet for the spacers
  6. yellow LED strip with adaptor
  7. glue gun
  8. 500 mm length wire and two pin plug for the electricity connection.
  9. soldering iron
  10. Brown wood paint and some wood working tools like saw, sand paper etc(Ignore if youre using MDF or some other box for frame)
  11. Exacto knife

Pre-requisite skills that would help:

  1. Adobe illustrator/corel draw or any other vector drawing application
  2. Adobe photoshop
  3. a basic idea of woodworking
  4. a basic idea about soldering and electrical connections.

Step 2: Making the Frame

Its a good idea to start with the frame for first time builders because if you do not have the proper tools(like me) you might end up making a smaller frame.
So for the frame, chose a size of paper youd like and measure the perimeter of the paper. That plus 4 times the thickness of your plywood is the length of the plywood you'll need.
Next is the width. I have divided the poster into 4 basic layers with a gap of 10 mm between each layer. so that gives me a width of 40 mm. Then, I've added some wooden end stops for supporting the light and the poster from either sides as shown which take about 10 mm
Then, the lights alone take about 40 mm including the adapter.

and then finally, the front of the whole frame is a bit higher than the poster so about 10 mm more. This gives us a total of 100 mm width for the frame. It would be better if you have some extra just in case.
Once youve made the frame and installed the wooden end pieces, trace the inner of the frame on the 2mm mdf board to make the light and see if it fits nicely.
Once done, colour the whole thing and put it to dry.

Step 3: Making the Light

This could be a bit new for people who havent had much trials in the electrical area but I've tried to keep it as simple as possible.
So basically, in order to distribute and illuminate the lamp evenly, you need to make a curtain of lights as shown. to do that, buy a roll of yellow LEDs (I like yellow, but you may choose white or any colour). These LEDs are pretty cheap and you can get them at any local electrical or hardware store.
Next, you need to provide an offset so that your led's dont land on the wooden standoffs installed in the frame. I've given an offset of 20 mm.
After that, divide the area into multiple sections so that the strip width(mine was 5 mm) fits in them (I divided them into 10 kinda equal parts). The LED strips usually have a glue back, so they can glued to the mdf board by cutting them (A scissor mark will be shown along the LED strip that you buy indicating the places at which it can be cut. usually, its after 3 LEDs). Cut the strips according to the length and marks and stick them to the mdf either by using their own glue or by using a glue gun. Normal adhesives dont usually work on mdf as it is highly absorbent.
Now, the connections. LEDs are connected in parallel, meaning, all the positives of the strips are connected and so are the negatives, which are then connected to the positive and negative output of the adaptor respectively. It is shown in the second figure.
Now connect the adaptor and check if it works. If everything works out, you should have something that looks like the 3rd picture.

Step 4: Splitting the Poster Into Layers.

For those who want it, you can download the poster from NASA's website for free. Ive also uploaded it here so have a look.
So, I've used photoshop for this step and then vectorised the whole thing in illustrator. I used the lasso tool in photoshop to select and split the poster into various backgrounds and foreground. Then I used the clone stamp to kinda extend the layers a bit so that they dont feel empty when I layer them. Finally I went into illustrator and vectorised the whole thing.
Next I printed them into separate pages with a common border as shown and cut them using an exacto knife.

Step 5: Making the Layer Standoffs and Stacking the Layers

So here, I made some thin standoffs out of 5mm MDF sheets as shown and then glued them together to make several 10 mm standoffs. I used a dremel, however, the better and professional option would be to use a laser cutter. That would make your life a whole lot easier.

Next, once the standoffs are made, its time for the assembly.
First, line up the sketches inside the frame and fit the lights to see if everything is fine. This is your last chance to rectify any mistakes in the printing or paper youve made lol.

Next, if everything is well, start by attaching the standoffs at the back and front of the background just on the grey margin that you had printed(its there in the design file). It should look something similar to the 3rd picture.
Add more layers until it looks something like the last one. The two suns need a circular or smaller standoff and can be attached to the main background as shown.
The final thing should look like the one shown. Check for the fit and sand a bit accordingly if it doesnt.
Next up, one little detail. The 2 suns have a glow about them. In order to do that, I cut some part of the background behind them so that light can illuminate it....kinda giving it a Glowy effect.

Step 6: Finalizing and Photoshoots

So, this is how the whole thing will look if everything works out well.
This should look good even without you turning it on, but when you do, and if youve used a thinner paper, that would look way better.

I hope this was clear. Do ping me here or on my instagram if you have any doubts or you need the layer vector files. Would love to see you guys try it.

And do vote if you find this instructable interesting and helpful.

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