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Anyone know how to make a custom LED display powered from rechargeable batteries?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by George_W_K, Jul 27, 2008.

  1. George_W_K

    George_W_K Well-Known Member

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    Hi there,
    I was wondering if any of you would be able to explain how I could accomplish a project I want to work on, or point me in the right direction on where to get info for it.
    This is what I'm planning to do, I want to use a 2' X 4' piece of
    1/2" plywood and my plan is to make the border of the board light up
    at night. To do this, I was thinking of taking a router and notch
    maybe a 1/4" deep channel around the border of the board, drill some
    holes spaced evenly thoughout the channel and stick some LEDs through
    them. Then, I was hoping to pour some plastic resin to fill the
    channel and make the board flat again. I've never done anything like
    this, but I'm hoping that I can get some kind of frosted resin
    that'll make the border look like it is one continuous light and not
    show each individual LED location, if that makes any sense.
    Do you know how I could accomplish this, wire the LEDs together, and
    power them from a rechargeable battery source? I was thinking it'd
    be nice to use the 18V rechargeable batteries used in my DeWalt
    battery drill kit, but any batteries I could use would be fine as
    long as the boards (two of them) could stay lit for many hours.
    Also, the reason I'd like to notch in my own channels is so I could also make some custom designs to light up as well. Maybe something as basic as a "G" for my name, or something more complicated. I'll figure that part out when I figure out whether or not I can do this at all.[​IMG]
    I'd appreciate any help you could provide.
    Thanks guys!
    Geo
     
  2. BrianW

    BrianW Well-Known Member

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    How many LEDs are we talking about? Mostly, you'd just solder them in parallel and hook up a power source. The LED choice you make will determine the current draw (usually 10 to 100 mA per LED, unless you get the super-bright ones), so if you have a lot, you may need to divide them into sections and have each section separately powered.
    Also, LEDs usually work at TTL levels, which is about 5 volts. If you have an 18-volt drill battery you'd like to use, then you need to cut that voltage down. Perhaps the easiest way to do this would be to put a bank of LEDs in series so that each LED isn't subject to the full voltage of the battery. Six in series would give each LED about 3 volts to work with, which should be plenty. Also, you should have a resistor in series with the LEDs, since the voltage drop through an LED is only 0.7 volts. 20,000 to 50,000 Ohm is typical. You can put a separate ultra-cheap resistor on each bank, or you can get a single high-wattage (high meaning one-watt or greater) resistor for the entire circuit.
    Batteries are usually rated in Amp-Hours. Determine how many amps your display will require, and divide that into the Amp-Hour rating of the battery to determine how long it should last.
    I've never worked with resin, and I'm not familiar with "frosted" resin. But I bet you could get the effect you want by taking a random-orbit sander with fine-grit sandpaper to clear resin once it's cured.
     
  3. George_W_K

    George_W_K Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure how many I would need yet. I guess I need to figure out how well each will light up an area of the board to see how much spacing I'll need. I'll have to draw up a mock version of the design I was thinking about and see how many it looks like it'll take to accomplish what I want. I'm picturing 4" spacing in my head, but I don't know if that's enough, or overkill.
     
  4. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Well-Known Member

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    What's the purpose of this? There may well be better ways of accomplishing what you actually want to do, besides the one you describe, which is what you think you need to do in order to get the effect you want. (This is a standard engineer's question, although normally it's put to the client in a somewhat different way.)

    For example, it is possible to buy programmable illuminated signs which will do all kinds of tricks, & flexible strips of lighting which can be glued into shape.
     
  5. George_W_K

    George_W_K Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    I was over a friend's house yesterday and she had a night light that illustrates exactly the kind of light I'm looking for, bright enough to see at night, but not too distracting or power hungry. Also, I like the continuous light throughout. Either this type of light, or similar to the movie Tron. I hope that gives a better idea of what I want to do lightwise. [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    This is the design I'm thinking I want to make. The black outline is the border of the board, with the blue being the light design.
    Christopher, I want to make custom Cornhole boards. A couple of friends of mine made some really nice looking boards that they made unique with Cleveland Indians logos, Browns, etc. I want to both make something unique to me and also something helpful as at night, during backyard parties, it gets too dark to see the boards anymore. Plus, with my own boards I can actually practice and maybe stop making a fool of myself![​IMG]
    The reason I want this to operate on rechargeable batteries is so we don't have to drag cords around just to play a yard game.
     
  6. CRyan

    CRyan Well-Known Member

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    I cant offer too much help on the lighting. Actually I have always wanted to create something with LED's that would blink to music. Never could learn how to do that. Would be neat though.

    Regarding the resin. Be aware that all the epoxy resin I have seen is damaged by UV light. It will yellow first and then eventually crack and fall apart. Something to think about if you are going to be using the board in the daylight as well.
     
  7. CRyan

    CRyan Well-Known Member

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    Ok seriously, I need to get a life. But for some reason I was thinking about this and came up with possibly a better and MUCH easier way of getting the results you want.

    You could paint your design with blacklight reflective paint (sold at craft stores) set your resin as planned and then put a battery powered blacklight the edge of the resin. Maybe two blacklights at opposite ends.
     
  8. Bryan X

    Bryan X Well-Known Member

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  9. Jay H

    Jay H Well-Known Member

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    OK, somebody has to ask this...
    What on god's great earth is a cornboard????? [​IMG]
    Jay
     
  10. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Well-Known Member

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    If you want an effect like that nightlight, electroluminescent material or paint may be your better choice. Of course, it will have to be well-sealed.
     
  11. George_W_K

    George_W_K Well-Known Member

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    Jay,
    Cornhole is a bean bag toss game. Bryan posted a pic of one of the boards above. You place the two boards so the holes are 33 feet apart and then take turns with another player tossing four bean bags to the other board. It's a fun family game because it's easy for anybody to learn.
    Bryan, I like how the paw print design looks, pretty cool. Let me know how the board plays since OSD was used. Did you use fold up legs? Thanks for the links, didn't know about those lights.
    CRyan, seriously, do ANY of us have lives?[​IMG] I'm going to see if there are different kinds of resins that are resistant to cracking and what not, thanks for the tip.
    Christopher, do you have any links to electroluminescent paints? The only links I found at all were for EL wire, although, that's a nice possibility. My biggest concern is what the life of that would be, but this is defintely giving me some ideas.
    Thanks for the comments so far guys, I'm still trying to come up with ways to accomplish what I want so the more ideas, the better.
     
  12. Bryan X

    Bryan X Well-Known Member

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    The legs don't fold, but the legs and cross bar fit in to the base and is removeable for storage.
     
  13. mellow

    mellow New Member

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  14. bhurley9472

    bhurley9472 New Member

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    [​IMG]
    This is what I did with leds on my cornhole boards. These are spaced about 1 3/8" apart (a little overkill - 96 lights per board). I use 4AA rechargeable batteries in each board. They look very cool at night and have that instant "WOW" factor, but these took me about three weeks to complete. Wiring takes forever. You have to run them in parallel and each led needs its own resistor.
    [​IMG]
    The resistor is connected to the positive leg of the led (which is covered up by the heat shrink). Your supply voltage and light color will determine your resistor value. You need to check out these websites.
    http://www.densitron.com/displays/led_color_chart.aspx
    http://www.ledcalculator.net/
    They will tell you what you need. I drill a through hole (led top diameter) from the top for each one then a counter sink hole from the bottom that will allow the light to stop before it comes out above the surface of the board.

    --------------------------------------------------------
    I I
    I _____ I
    I / I
    I I I I
    ---I I I I---
    I __I I__ I
    I ---------------- I
    I I
    I I
    --------------------------------------------------------

    Hope this helps.
     
  15. CrzyTxan

    CrzyTxan New Member

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    I recently tried the routing option with the plastic resign option. It didn't work out so well.... the resign didn't fill in as even as it was supposed to and it left raised parts along the side of the edges where I poured the resign. When I tried to sand it, the resign heated up and became gooey and made an even bigger mess. I'm now back to the drawing board in how to make the LED option work. If you had success please let me know what you did to get it to work. Thanks
     

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