I created a "Double Duty" LED Bathroom Occupancy Sign. In my workplace the bathroom is located in an inconvenient location. Often times each day a co-worker will walk across the shop to go to the bathroom only to find it is occupied. Both the bladder stricken human and the recently relieved bathroom occupant are mortified as the door knob is vigorously jiggled as if a burglar is attempting a violent break-in. This problem occurs all over the world...well maybe not all over the world but at least if 20 people share a bathroom and it's located in a unreasonable place, then this problem exists! Bright bathroom lights flicked "on" trigger the circuit playground to illuminate its own lights notifying the bathroom occupant. The lights being illuminated on the circuit playground are also an indicator that the lights are illuminated on the picture frame of the "thinker" engraved silhouette which is hanging on the wall down the hall for everyone to see. Therefore, all parties are notified of the bathroom being occupied and their is no reason for belligerent door knob jiggling. Leaving them alone with peace and quiet to do their duty! Will sales increase? Maybe. Will salaries go up? Doubt it. Will the custodian be creeped out by the technology installed in the bathroom? Most likely. Will the boss take everyone to lunch? No! Will office morale increase as a result of everyone being relaxed while they "do" their "duty"? ABSOLUTELY!!! Problem Solved.
Step 1: Gather Electronic Materials
Step 2: Gather Hardware Store Materials
The hardware store materials you will need are:
- Plexiglass (aka Acrylic): $25
- Razor Knife: $3
- Sandpaper (80 & 320 grit): $4
- Paper Towels: $2
- Wood Glue: $4
- Wood Prep, Stain, & Clear Coat: $12
- Wood Burning Tool: $12
- Super Glue Gel: $7
- Frame Clamp: $15
I bought the plexiglass at Lowe's and everything else at Walmart to keep the price down.
Total Cost: $75
Step 3: Cutting the Acrylic Sheet
There are many ways to cut the acrylic plexiglass piece. Just google it and you'll see many youtube videos showing you how. I tried multiple different ways but my favorite was with a razor blade. I used a board to clamp to the plexiglass and made a 4-5 light cuts where I wanted them. Then I increased the pressure and did 4-5 cuts in the same spot. I increase the pressure again with 4-5 more cuts in the same spot. Note that my plexiglass was .22 inches thick so be aware of how thick your plexiglass is. Once I had made a really good cut line, I took once side of the plexiglass with both hands and bent in down until is snapped. The edge is not perfect and will need some light sanding and polish if you are picky and want it looking like it was from the store. However, this is way easier than a saw and simple to do.
Step 4: Engraving the Acrylic Sheet
I had access to a laser engraver for this step. Here is what I did:
- I found an image and made sure it was in the right file format for the engraver
- Downloaded the image
- Put my 10.5 inch by 12 inch piece of plexiglass into the engraver
- Sat and watched the engraver at work for about 2.5 hours
- Wiped down plexiglass with a wet rag, then dry rag to remove debris
NOTE: In my research online, I did see that people without access to a laser engraver would do the following:
- Print out their image and tape to plexiglass
- Trace the image using a dremel tool
- Removed the image from the plexiglass
- Engraved inside the lines of their image using the dremel with a sanding tip
- Finished product was similar just a little lower quality.
Step 5: Building the Picture Frame
- I used a saw to cut the wood at 45 degree angles.
- Sanded the edges and corners
- Put wood glue on each angle cut
- Used the frame clamp to clamp them together
- Stapled the seams
- Allowed to dry for 30 minutes
- Solid to work on after 2 hours
Step 6: Wood Burning the Picture Frame
This step was 100% for fun and looks of the picture frame. If you don't want to do this or don't enjoy doing this then skip this step. However, I really enjoyed burning the wood on the frame. I chose to burn the unique areas of the wood to highlight those specific features. Use any online videos to learn the basics of wood burning. Be careful. Have fun. Be creative.
Step 7: The Picture Frame: Prep, Stain & Clear Coat
- I used a stain prep to prepare the wood for stain.
- Applied stain with foam brushes, let sit for 10 minutes then wiped it off
- Re-applied stain, let sit for 10 minutes and wiped off for the final time
- Allowed the stain to dry for 24 hours.
- Applied a thick clear coat, allowed to dry for 3 hours and re-applied another thick coat.
- Allowed to dry for 12 hours before working on it
Step 8: The Picture Frame: Installing the Acrylic Sheet
- Used a table saw to put a groove in the wood for where the picture would go
- Chiseled groove for the LED light strip
- Put a thin line of super glue gel along the inside edges of the picture frame
- Pressed plexiglass into frame and stacked large heavy books on it for 20 minutes
- Attached command strips to the frame for hanging on the wall
Step 9: The Picture Frame: Installing LED Lights
- Cut the LED light strip to fit in the groove in the picture frame
- Place the LED light strip in the groove
- Used a dot of super glue to secure the light strip
- Connected long wires from LED light strip to Circuit Playground
Step 10: Programming Circuit Playground
I programmed the circuit playground to do many different things. Be creative and keep it simple. Originally I wanted to lights on the circuit playground and LED light strip to turn "on" when the bathroom lights were turned on. Ultimately, I had the lights just turn on solid. My wife and I loved this so much when I was done we decided to hang it in our house. So here is my final note...don't get too attached but if you do and end up loving it, then hang it proudly in your house. Happy Designing!