Portable/Wireless LED Tracing Box

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I don't consider myself an artistic person and I would imagine many others might feel the same as well. For special people like us, we sometimes need to trace things to get a task done. In the past I found myself trying to trace things off of my phone, or my laptop screen. This has always been a big pain because both of these are touch screens - thus resulting in a really scribbled and unprofessional trace. Not to mention I have always been terrified of scratching the screens themselves. I finally decided enough was enough and I made my own light pad - but with a twist.

This light box was going to be the king of light boxes. I wanted it to be portable, wireless, easy to use, cheap, and to have plenty of storage space for my materials. SO I MADE ONE! And with this Instructable, you can too! This Instructable is entered in the "Build a Tool" Contest so if you enjoy it, please leave a vote! I would greatly appreciate it! Anybody, can do this, so let's get to it!

Step 1: Assembling the Materials

For this project you are going to need a couple of things: *NOTE* you can get many of these things marginally cheaper at your local craft/hardware store. Look out for coupons too!

  • Special Purpose Glass Frosting
  • 2 LED work space lights (I got these at Home Depot. If you look in the LED section you will find them) Feel free to use any other LED set up in order to achieve your desired brightness. There are plenty of options out there
  • One 5" x 7" glass pane (I got mine from a picture frame at the dollar store for a dollar :D)

NOT PICTURED:

OPTIONAL:

  • Primer/Paint to paint the box

Step 2: The Design Process / 3D Modeling

When you have a good idea, be sure to draw it so you won't forget it! I drew a rough sketch of how I wanted it to look. I didn't include dimensions in this drawing but your design will go so much faster if you have those dimensions handy. I really like JON-A-TRON's advice in his class that you should "Measure twice and 3D print once". In fact, for this project, I triple checked the measurements so I would make sure to get them right. I would highly recommend also checking out the "Invention Class" where I learned to develop the skills/inspiration I've shown you here!

Like I mentioned before, I added a couple of features to design that would be nice to have. One that I didn't mention before was the elevated corner so that you will never have to worry about lining up the papers you are tracing with because the corner will match them up perfectly for you! I did end up using only two shelves instead of 3 for simplicity's sake but everything else is exactly the same. Now its time for the 3D printing!

Step 3: Frost Your Glass

With the frost spray, you will want to go over the glass pane with several even coats until it becomes non-transparent. You want the glass to look as foggy as possible. I was running out so mine was lacking a bit in the end but it still worked wonderfully.

An alternative to glass is acrylic sheets. They sell these at home depot or your local hardware store for pretty cheap and they come with a plastic film on it that is already pretty frosted so you could kill two birds with one stone.

Step 4: 3D Printing / STL Files / Painting

I have had requests from some of the viewers here on Instructables to include what filament I am using, and also what kind of 3D printer I am using etc. I am just using regular PLA filament. It is very cheap and very accessible. It is also very easy to work with. As for the 3D printer, I use a Lulzbot Taz 6. I am very fortunate that my school has one that they let the students use. It is a very expensive option, but if you check out JON-A-TRON's class for 3D printing here, he includes some good recommendations for places where you can get your stuff made, or a pretty inexpensive 3D printer you can purchase.

I have included three STL files for this project. So in total, you have the top drawer, bottom drawer, and the box. I designed the box so the drawers would just slide in and out without guides but weren't loose enough to fall out if tipped on the side.

Once you've printed out the box, you can either prime it and paint it, or you can just take it as is. For me, I didn't want to paint it because of the additional steps involved it also has no effect as far as the functionality of the product itself. However, if that is something you are interested in, by all means paint away! :D Included in the design are also some notches that protrude out slightly on the top to be able to sustain the 5" x 7" pane of glass.

Go ahead and slide the glass pane on to the top of those notches. It should be flush to the top of the box. Once you check that everything fits properly, it is time to include the lights inside the box so that we can start tracing.

Step 5: Lighting

I removed the outside housing of lights because these lights were....well... problematic. I remember buying the same model years ago and having no problems with it but for some reason one of the lights had the hardest time staying on (maybe a bad connection?). These lights have sticky adhesive on the back so I attached it to the box so it wouldn't slide around inside the box. The little cubbies in the box are designed for these lights so they fit pretty snug anyways. These lights do have a run time of 13-15 hours on AAA batteries so that is a ton of time for portable capabilities.

Another FREE option is if you have a smart phone, you can turn your brightness up all the way and put a white screen on and that seems to work really well too! (I can't show you because I need my phone to take the picture haha) I tried my flashlight but the light was too localized so it didn't work very well. Bottom line is the lights worked the best but if you don't want to forward the $5-$10 then the phone is a perfectly fine option.

Step 6: Glue the Box Together

If you haven't already, it might be a good idea to glue the top half and the bottom half of the box together. You can do this by gluing along the outside edges of both boxes and firmly pressing them together. Once this is done, I recommend stacking a textbook or two on top of the box as a whole to keep distributed, constant pressure. Then once you are done, it will be a firm connection. You may want to remove the shelves inside as you are doing this. Allow the box to dry. Once the boxes are glued together and dried, fill it up with all of your art essentials - pencils, pens, rulers, erasers - it ALL fits inside! Plus, you can even use an exacto knife on the glass as well! So if you need to cut anything, this is also a great option!

Step 7: Done - Time to Create!

Now that you have filled up the box and it is alll lit up, you are now ready to start on all of your art projects! The only limitation this point is your own imagination!

If you need ideas, one great project to do with your new light box is how to make a very simple, high-quality flip book for SUPERcheap. I teach you how to do that as well on my Instructable: "How to Make a High-Quality Flip Book." I even have a video showing what the final product can look like at the end so be sure to check it out! Also, let me know if you have any problems, questions, or comments with this project! I will be more than happy to help where I can!

Thank you so much for checking out this Instructable and be sure to leave a vote for this project in the "Build a Tool" Contest if you enjoyed this Instructable. I had a blast making this one and I hope you will too! See you on the next one!

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