Sunday, December 6, 2015

How to Make an Acrylic LED Sign

I made a remote-controlled Acrylic LED Sign for my neighbor down the street.  He's the owner of  "Rob's Wood Shop - Daycare for Adults".  Check it out!


I opened Rob's logo in InkScape and used the Trace Bitmap option to convert it to vector art, then deleted the raster copy and saved it as an SVG file.  I imported the SVG file into the Inventables EASEL application and flipped it horizontally so it would be reversed, because all of the LED signs I've seen have the logo carved into the back of the sign.


Rob provided the acrylic sheet that was leftover from another project.  I used the ShapeOko2 to carve the logo about .01" deep into the acrylic.  It worked great and required very little clean up.  When working with acrylic, you must be very careful not to scratch it, because every little scratch will show up when the sign is lit.


I ordered this LED Light Kit and I waited to receive it before building the base, since part of the base design required me to measure the light strip width and thickness.


Here are the basic steps for making the base.  You may need to adjust the measurements depending on the size of your sign and the LED light strip.
  1. I cut two 3/4" strips of 1/2" walnut that were the same length as the sign.  
  2. I cut one 3" strip of 1/2" maple that was about 3" longer than the sign.  
  3. I used the Inventables X-Carve to route an 1/8" deep groove in the center of the board to receive the LED light strip.  The groove is about 1/2" shorter than the sign so that the corners of the sign will rest on the surface of the maple with the LEDs recessed under it in the middle.  A 7/16" hole was drilled partially through the board on one end of the groove for the wiring.  (You could do the same thing with a router and a drill press.)
  4. I drilled a 7/16" hole from the rear of the base into the previous hole for the electrical wire to pass through.
  5. I cut two small end pieces of walnut and glued all of the pieces together, making sure the sign will fit snugly in the middle above the recessed LEDs.
  6. I sprayed the base with Watco Clear Gloss Spray Lacquer.  Once the finish dried, I peeled the backing off the LED strip and stuck it down into the recess so it was centered.


I inserted the sign, plugged in the electronics, and used the remote control to test it out.  It's so cool!  I like being able to turn it on/off and control the colors with the remote.  I think my neighbor will love it.  Now I want to make one for myself!


10 comments:

  1. It came out nice. You have a big roll of LED's so I see more of these coming.

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    1. I'll definitely make myself one once I get an additional remote and adapter. Thanks!

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  3. That turned out great! I'm overly impressed. I'm positive your buddy is thrilled, oh wait, that's me!

    Thank you very much!

    Rob

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  4. I really love it sir. And I will like to be one of your new aprentist sir

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  5. Hello rob, i would like to make one of these but i don't like the bulging cable it came with, would you mind telling me what adapter you used to power it?

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    1. Hey - It's the one shown in the picture above. Here's a link to it - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BP4DUMU?ie=UTF8&creativeASIN=B00BP4DUMU&linkCode=xm2&tag=thecarmwork-20

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  6. Hello There,

    What was the bit size used? Did you use the easel cutting settings for acrylic?


    Cheers
    Renato

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    1. Hi Renato! I used a .0625" bit. Selected Cast Acrylic in Easel with settings 25 in/min and .02" depth per pass. I only cut .01" deep for one pass though.

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