My daughter was working on a creative project on cell structures, and of course, every project is better with LEDs, so the obvious choice was to build a quick edge lit LED cell diagram! We only had a few hours over a few days, so this one is very quick and easy to make.
18" x 12" 1/4" thick Acrylic sheet - we got one twice that size and cut it down. The 1/4" thickness makes the channel easy since the LED strips are also 1/4" wide, but you could do this differently and use thinner plastic.
18" of 1x4 pine
36" of 1x2 pine
18" of an LED strip - available at many online stores - we used http://www.hobbypartz.com
a 9v battery clip
1 5/8" drywall screws (6 of them)
Step 1: Wood Frame
The frame is made with the 1x4 board on the bottom and the 1x2 boards (18" each) as sides. We left a 1/2" reveal in the front, then screwed the first 1x2 from the bottom. We used clamps to hold the board in place, then drilled a counter-sink hole from the bottom - 3 holes and screws in all.
Then we put the acrylic in place to make the gap the right width, and clamped the second 1x2 to the first with the plastic in place. As before, we used three screws from the bottom.
Now, the plastic slides into the groove we created. The LED strips are also conveniently 1/4" wide.
Step 2: Acrylic Diagram
The plastic sheet probably has film protecting it - leave one side covered for now to reduce any scratches on the back side. Working on a clean towel or something will also help.
We etched the plastic by hand with a Dremel tool with a small stone grinding tip. The metal spiral tips tended to get out of control. Do some practice on scraps first to get the hang of it. We drew the diagram with washable markers, then went over the lines with the Dremel tool. Be sure to leave extra room at the bottom for the frame.
I noticed afterwards that scotch tape on the back lights up too - you may be able to do all of this with tape or glue or something - that could be even easier.
Step 3: LED Lighting
The LED strips can be cut in pre-set places. We got lucky and 18" was just right. See this Instructable on soldering a 9v battery clip on the LED strip. Then the LED strip just rests in the channel and is held down by the plastic - no need for glue or anything. The LED strips have an adhesive back, but we did not use that.
That's it! We have extra plastic - maybe make a light up grave stone next!
LEDs, the bacon for Makers! :-)