LED Photo Frame




Photos are nice to have on the wall or on the tables. I thought it would be nice to build LEDs into a photo frame so you will be able to see the photo in the dark as well.

This instructable will show you how you can use some LEDs to light up your photos.

Step 1: Materials & Tools

For this project you need a couple of things:

- Photo frame (I used a metal frame, bought it for only $1).
- 8x 5mm LEDs (You can use colored ones also if you like. Or give your white LEDs a color)
- Electric wire
- Button Cell 3v Battery
- Button Cell Holder
- Foam (actually you can use allot for this, even cardboard)
- Hobby Blade
- Hot Glue (glue gun)

Step 2: Cutting the Backside

The brown backside of the photo frame is (as always) a nice rectangle that fits in the frame just perfect. In this shape there is no room for the LEDs.

So now we need to cut the backside to the LEDs will fit in there and there is room for light to shine through.

1. Get your hobby blade and cut about 5mm (same size as the LEDs I used) from the border.
Leave the corners as they are. We need them so the backside will still fit tight in the frame (see photo).

While cutting near the corners, do this gently. If you use to much force you might snap a corner off.

Step 3: Placing the LEDs

Once you've cut the backside it's time to place the LEDs

1. Use the glue gun to glue 2 LEDs in every corner (see photo).
Make sure you attach the positive legs of the LEDs together and the negative legs together.

2. Use the electric wire to make one circuit out of all the LEDs (see photo)

3. Place the battery in the holder and attach it to the circuit with electrical wire. Test is before gluing this to the backside.

If you tested the lights and they all work correctly, then hot glue the wires and LEDs so nothing can make contact with it anymore.
Since I used a metal frame, this is really important. If the wires are open and touch the metal frame, the LEDs wont work properly.

Note: I didn't had switch that would fit nice on the backside. So I put a small piece of plastic between the battery and the holder (see photo 3).
The LEDs will light up when I remove this piece of plastic.

Step 4: Preparing the Glass Window

The glass window is pushed against the frame for a tight fit. Because of this, not much light will shine through.

So what we need to do it work something out that there will be some space between the glass and the frame.
I used foam for this, but many things can be used for it. I think even a piece of cardboard will do the trick.

1. Cut the foam in small squares so the fit nice in the corners (see photo).

The LEDs won't shine in the upper part of the corners, so the foam won't be blocking any light.

Step 5: Finishing Up

Now we've got all parts that we need. All there is left to do is put them together.

1. Put the glass window in first.

2. Next you want to put a photo in. I didn't had a good photo lying around, so I cut out a piece of a Heineken advertisement from a magazine :)

3. At last you want to put the backside in it and fasten it with the metal clasp.

Photo 1: Back of the photo frame with the LEDs on

Photo 2: Front of the photo frame with LEDs off.
The light wont be visible very well in the daylight.

Photo 3: Front of the photo frame with LEDs on in the dark.
You can see there is light coming from the back. I tried to close the backside, but still some light came through.
If you're going to hang this frame on the wall, it will actually give a nice look with light coming from the sides as well.



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    25 Discussions


    Reply 2 years ago

    Did you figure this out? I would like to do that but was thinking the same?


    4 years ago

    Thanks! This is inspiring me! I made some modification, I used shadow box frame and LED strip.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    What inspired you to do this?

    and How much did this all cost?

    BTW this looks pretty sweet


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I was thinking of doing this but using 12 or 18 led's.. battery wise what would i have to change? im pretty new to leds.. and im just not sure. Thanks :)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    One can also use shadow box frames... We can get them from the dollar store for cheap in Canada... It solves the problem of light going out the back and can offer more space for the circuit.

    hey guys-Hi!!! I'm from India -great idea- I'm planning to do this to my photos in our restaurent/bar & really liked this idea- cool- THX for the help


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Looks good! I'm guessing that there isn't much effect when the lights in the room are on.

    So maybe a photocell switch would be cool?

    Switch it on only when the light in the room are off, for maximum battery life.

    motadacruzBig Ugly Mich

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 1

    The size.
    I used a button cell because there isn't much space behind the frame to work with. If you're going to let the photo frame stand up on a table, then you can put a D or C cell behind it.
    But if you'd like to hang it on the wall, a button cell is the only way to go.


     Well done.  My wife and I did something like this in a larger format a couple years back.  Local movie theater closed down and we got a hold of the movie poster lightboxes they used.  We took out the existing wiring and subbed in the guts of two cheap outside solar garden LED lights.  Had a bit of trouble hanging the damn thing on our apartment walls, but the skinny wires snuck along the wall and allowed the solar panels and sensors to mount on the window nearby.  We had a local printer do the large format print (photoshop of my son as Spiderman) and it worked pisser.  Works great for decorating a home theater with custom movie posters!

    1 reply

    That sounds pretty sweet!
    I'll check the local theaters to see if one closes down soon so I can make one myself too :)

    Looks great
    How long does those batterys last?
    Canone use silicone instead of a glue gun or will the silicone
    take to long to dry

    1 reply

    I'm not familiar with solicone. But I think it will work fine also.
    Also i'm not sure how long 1 cr2032 battery will last. Haha, i'm not much of a help am I :)
    I think the battery will last at least a couple of weeks (if you leave it on the whole time).
    You can put a switch on it and turn it only on at night.
    Or you can put like 5 batteries in there (parallel), then you do like 10 weeks with it leaving it on :)

    Good instructable and great concept, one consideration is to use a photo-resistor so that the circuit will turn itself off and on as the ambient light changes in the room. They are small, take up little room and save you from having to use the piece of plastic on the battery. 

    Thanks for posting this!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I bought these LED's on eBay.com.
    They are 5mm white 20.000mcd. I bought 100 pcs for only $7.