"NEON" Led-sign

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Introduction: "NEON" Led-sign

About: Hey, I'm a maker based in Antwerp, Belgium.

In this intstructable, i’ll be showing how to make an immitation neon-sign with led and remote control options.

On amazon you can find complete sets of remote controlled led strips for around $25. You can control color, brightness and/or have a pre-programmed loop playing. The newer sets have wifi connection so you can control these options via smartphone. When buying led strips, keep in mind that the smaller the gaps in between the leds on the strip, the better effect you’ll have.

Ofcourse you can also use adressable ledstrips so you can have full controll over the leds and go a bit further with possibilities. But i wont be going over that in this instructable

Supplies:

-remote controlled led-set
-pvc glue

-clamps

-super glue (other types can work too , silicon, hot glue, ...)

-opaque acrylic 3mm (size depending on design)

-lasercutter (or order lassercutted parts)

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Step 1: Find Your Font

First we start by looking for a nice font in a preferred program, i will be working with illustrator.


Once you’ve found a font wich you're happy with, we’re going to make this into 2 layers wich will be lasercutted.

Make the font big so you can read easy.


Next step is making outlines of the font, you do this by going to object-tab then press expand, make sure the object and fill boxes are checked, then hit ok. Now we have the contour of the font in outlines.

Step 2: Bridging the Gaps

Change the fill color to “none” and the outline to black so we can see clearly what we’re working with.
Next we’ll have to make “bridges” between the letters in order for the led strip to pass through.

You can simply draw a shape with the pen tool, keep in mind that the ledstrip you'll be placing in between has a certain thickness.

So don't make the bridges too small.

Once you've drawn the bridge use the pathfinder (add) to combine the shapes.

Do this for all spaces or characters that aren't attached.

Step 3: Spacer

Now set the stroke thickness to at least 16 and make outlines of this again by going to object-tab
then press expand, make sure the object and fill boxes are checked, then hit ok.

Step 4: Layers

In this step we'll be splitting the design in 2 layers.

In illustrator you can simply double click on the outline of the design and you enter layer mode.

In this mode you can select the outer outline.

If you have inner shapes like i have in the e, you have to press shift (while outline is still selected) and then click on the shape you want.

This way all the shapes we need to copy are selected then we pres ctrl+c to copy.

Now leave the layer mode.

Then pres ctrl+v

We have our to layers but as you can see, the inner shapes are black.

Use the pathfinder trim moder while the black design is selected.

Then press shift cmd G to ungroup the shapes, now you can select the inner shapes you dont need and delete them.

Step 5: Lasercutting

These are our two layers.

The one above will act as a spacer and its inside this one we will be glueing the ledstrip.

The second layer will be the opaque acrylic and will act as a diffusor.

I lasercutted these parts myself, you could also order lasercutted parts if you don't have one.

Keep in mind that the spacer needs to be a bit thicker than the width of the ledstrip.

Step 6: Led Placement

Glue the ledstrip on the inside of the spacer, here the super glue comes in handy.

You can also use silicon or hotglue but i wanted something that dried quikly.

Also, hot glue might bend you'r spacer, depending on the material used.

I drilled a hole in the bottom of the a for the cables to pass through.

Step 7: Glueing Layers

Next step is glueing both layers together.

When doing this, keep the foil on the opaque piece as long as possible.

Use the brush inside the pvc glue to brush some glue on top of the spacer.

Go all the way around, then place the acrylic piece on top an clamp the pieces together.

The glue dries quikly so be mindful of that.

Step 8: Take of Foil

Now you can finally take of the foil.

no glue rests on the acryllic.

Plug in the cables received with the led-set (using their info)

Step 9: Find a Spot

And now all you got to do is find a nice spot to hang the piece.

This can be easily done with 2 simple nails.

In this picture i used a bit of black electrical isolation tape in between the letters in order to give it a real neon-sign feel.

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17 Discussions

0
Untoldarts
Untoldarts

Question 7 weeks ago

What is best site for your buck to order from? When it comes down to lasercutting?

0
JAMESM466
JAMESM466

Question 8 weeks ago

Can you give us some more info on the "spacer? The height/thickness seems to be about 8mm. Can you eloborate on how it was cut and the material used? Thanks.

0
rmumma
rmumma

2 months ago on Step 7

SUPER COOL! Thank you so much! I am definitely going to try this! I dont have a lasercutter but I have been considering that or a CNC so I am going to start looking around. Anyone have suggestions on an affordable consumer grade machine that is good for home use?

0
maljg
maljg

Question 2 months ago

Hi, What depth is the ‘spacer’, it looks a lot thicker than the 3mm that you put in the parts list or wasn’t this acrylic, if not what was it and how did you cut this. Thank you.

0
UkeDog
UkeDog

2 months ago on Introduction

Beautiful project, and great write-up as well! I especially appreciate all the Illustrator font transformation details you supplied, which should help me in an upcoming project!

0
aSavinGal
aSavinGal

Question 2 months ago on Introduction

Hi
Nice sign, well done!
You wrote that the laser cut pieces could be made to order. Where would I go to get that done? I am in the US.
Thank you.

0
nibuad
nibuad

Answer 2 months ago

I have the same question. Thanks

1
Gregm329
Gregm329

Reply 2 months ago

Google it! Ask "laser cutting service near me". In my case here in the US, I got somebody advertising their business as a fabrication shop.

0
prodigiousprops
prodigiousprops

Answer 2 months ago

Hey, thank you!
I have a few companies closeby from wich i order lasercutted parts regularly.
But im based in belgium.
Cant help you with finding the right company for you i'm afraid.

Kind regards.

1
Gregm329
Gregm329

Question 2 months ago

What are the size dimensions of the "Kesha" light that you made? It's hard to tell from the pictures. Also, the name of the model of Chinese laser cutter would be appreciated. Thanks!

0
FloridaJo
FloridaJo

2 months ago

Curious to know which laser cutter you have?
At least the wattage. Thanks

0
prodigiousprops
prodigiousprops

Reply 2 months ago

I have a chinese one 80 watt .
But i think 40 would already be enough for jobs like this.

0
seamster
seamster

2 months ago

Excellent process, with great results. Well done!

0
nibuad
nibuad

Question 2 months ago on Introduction

Hi,
I’m new to this so thanks in advance for your patience. Where would you get the acrylic and order the laser cut parts? Just trying to follow the process - love what you’ve done!