LED UV Ship Bar




Introduction: LED UV Ship Bar

In 2014 my friends and I were tasked with building a new bar for our camp. We decided to make it into the shape of a ship with LED sequenced hull, ws2812 edge lights, and interactive mermaid shot game.

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Step 1: Cut and Build the Hulls

We built the frame using press board due to budget and nice cabinet grade plywood for the top.

We cut the curve of the top first and then the curve of the top piece minus 6 inches. To get a nice clean curve we had a large piece of 1/4 plastic, 6 inches wide, set on end so it would bend and trace a nice clean curve. We cut the curve of the sides next which then gave us the curve and gradient of the ship. We offset the middle supports to represent planks of a ship when covered and lit.

Step 2: Make the Light Sections Reflective, Add LEDs

First spray glue mylar inside each light box. We used emergency blankets as well that we had extra. We then put in RGB LED strip in the middle of each section. The tape that comes on the LED strips will not hold, especially when trying to mount it upside down. Put clear packing tape over the LED strip all the way around. Then staple the packing tape every few inches close to the LED strip. Next we do not want to let that light escape out the back but mylar is too flimsy so I used a reflective fabric and stapled it into place.

The video shows our first test without the canvas stretched.

Step 3: Print, Paste, Cut, Paint Countertops

First paint the surface black.I purchased 11 x 17 sticker paper to print off my patterns. Sticking them equal distance from the armrest and edge is preferred. . Each one is cut with a razor blade or xacto knife. Primer, then 7 coats of UV paint. Touch up may be required after pulling up the sticker paper. When peeling the paper, be careful not to stab the surface to reduce touch up.

Step 4: Arm Rests and Bar Top Epoxy

I cut another piece of plywood strip 3.5 inches wide to make the arm rests and attached them with wood glue and screws with a 1/2 inch overhang. The overhang is important to protect the side LEDs underneath. I found some hard foam strips that I trimmed down to make the padding. I cut the foam 75% through every 8 inches so it curved around nicely.

I used black vinyl and stapled it over the foam edge work.

Make sure the surfaces are level and in a dust free room. Don't plan on walking through the room for the next 12 hours so you don't kick up dust. Also bugs can be an issue. Hindsight I wish I could have set them in a protective enclosure.

Follow the directions on your bar top epoxy. Be very careful not to add any air bubbles to the mixture. I used a drill gun and mixing attachment. Mix and pour, a heat gun is very important to remove any air bubbles in as you pour and even the surface.

You will want at least 2 coats of epoxy. Each time it is very important not to mix in air to the mixture!

After the tops are done use a hole saw for the buttons. The 12v light up buttons I got from sparkfun

Also while the tops are off it is a good time to add the IP65 ws2812 digital led strips under the arm rests. Use epoxy or super glue as the sticky backing will not hold.

Step 5: Centerpeice

We bolted a framed structure in between to hold to two hulls together. On the front we added a mermaid figurehead in which we painted. The 16 sections of RGB LED strips are controlled by a 48 output high powered LED pcb boards I designed and built. It is based off of tlc5940 library for arduino and can also be daisy chained for larger configurations. I know this is a limitation of this instructable and will try to write another one covering the design.

The side ws2812 digital edge lights work with the game or running it's own pattern depending on game switch. There is a hole cut out in the mermaid to fit a funnel, solenoid and hosing.

When the game is played one side of bar button is lit up. When that side hits it, the other side button lights up and lights up the edge of the bar each time each side is actuated. When the edge lights are full it electronically releases the drink through the mermaid with the N/C solenoid. We still need to build handles so people don't pull themselves up on the fragile mermaid. The game also has an mp3 player shield that emotes sounds as the game goes along but it was never really used due to the music being overpowering.

Step 6: Canvas and Flooring

We used 10oz white canvas to stretch over each side and stapled into place. We tested 7oz but the LEDs could be seen through. A year later the lower part of the canvas is dirty so we want to replace with white opaque plexiglass panels. The flooring we used 3/4 inch press board and 3/8 14" lag bolts with washers to drill and secure into dirt.

Step 7: Video and More Improvements

Here you can see a video I've taken at my house. It serves as dinning table most of the time but when friends come over and the lights go off it sure does set the mood for a good time. I still need to move from proto board to a cleaner pcb for the internal connections. The canvas needs to be converted to frosted plexiglass so it can be cleaned easier. We are also looking in to adding a metal skeleton for it so it can be easily bolted together and take some of the wobble out of it.

It's been a year since I did this project so I know I'm leaving some key points out somewhere. If you want me to detail a step further please comment.

This project came out so well I just had to share. I hope it inspires you.

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    3 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I build ships in bottles and it's pretty cool to see the ship form take on different uses! I especially like seeing the inside "skeleton" during your construction process. Really cool build!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    This is a really impressive, and unique bar. I like it!

    Where did you find the cool mermaid sculpture? Did you make that too?


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I found it on a website, after many months of not shipping it I re-bought the same one on ebay and fought the first purchase. It came unpainted, it is made of styrofoam on the inside.