Do you need a cheap, fast way to make an impressive display
In addition to the flashing LED, would you like to display something that is easier to use than the LCD?
Do you want the light to hover in the middle? air?
Then give some ideas for edge lighting.
On the last Maker Faire I had a bunch of interactive gadgets for people to play with, but one of the questions I was asked more than others was \"how did you make these monitors?
\"While playing with gloves on stone scissors, a small display shows three different images and text, while on a secret knock-on-door detection glue ball machine the light seems to float in transparent plastic,
The answer is edge lighting.
Edge lighting takes advantage of an interesting feature of light, called internal reflection, which can be trapped in transparent materials.
The concept of making diamonds shine and working on fiber is the same.
But we will use it to make the plastic sheet shine.
Simply put, we shine on the edge of a piece of transparent plastic and etching it where we want it to come out.
With this simple, inexpensive approach, you can display words or images using a single LED.
Because it is etched on a transparent surface, it seems that the image can float in the air, or you can layer several of them and make a display with more than one image or color.
Keep reading and see how easy and fast it is to get this effect.
* So please see all the notes on the image for the name \"edge lighting.
There is useful information in it.
Credit: First of all, I need to give credit when it is due.
The idea is not new or original.
It was used at least in the calculator of 1960s.
I was always excited by the creative evil crazy scientist lab and their great Christmas cards.
They also did research and found great materials that made the whole process easier to theorize: when light passes between two different materials (
Like plastic and Air)
At a very high angle it will be reflected back, not through.
You can see this in a glass of water.
From above you can see it directly.
Looking at it near the edge, it will be very reflective.
This means that if we shine the light to the edge of the transparent plastic, the light will bounce back inside until we find a way out.
By etching and/or engraving the surface of the plastic, we can control where the plastic is coming off.
First: figure out what you want your design to look like.
If it\'s as complex as a word, you might want to print it out instead of painting it freehand.
However, print them back (
Mirror from left to right).
This is because we want to etching the back of the plastic, not the front (
This will be brighter)
Nor do we want our words to go backwards.
Second: Cut your plastic into a certain size.
You can cut it into any size you want, but allow at least 8mm (3/8\")
On one side-
We have to put our lights on this side.
If you are using polyester sheets, you can cut them with scissors.
If you use an acrylic sheet, it is better to use an electric tool with an acrylic blade to avoid debris.
Third: put your design on the front of the transparent plastic for reference.
If you are handwritten, you can put some transparent tape on the front and draw it out. (
Or many plastic straps have a protective layer that you can draw on with a marker pen. )
Otherwise, please put the print out tape in place so you can see it from the back and use it for reference.
Fourth: Etching your design.
We use a Dremel, about 10-
15,000 RPM, etched to a depth of about 1/2 thickness of the material.
As long as you have a rough surface, you can also mark your design with a needle, knife or file. (
I even tried it.
It works, but it comes out very sloppy. )
First: slim down an LED.
We want to get as much light as possible from the LED to the plastic, so we will grind the plastic case of the LED for better installation.
You can find rectangular LEDs with the right thickness, but we find that they are rarely bright enough and have limited colors.
We use a rotating tool with a sanding cylinder, but you can use any work (
Table, sandpaper, grinding wheel, etc).
The 3mm LED does not require much modification, just a little bit further before and after.
Be more careful when using 5mm LEDs as you may accidentally go through the plastic case and remove some of the more important parts of the LED.
Take the LED slowly and carefully with pliers to save your fingers.
Because we don\'t need the lens effect of the housing, you can also shorten the height of the LED.
Second: connect your LED.
It depends on the details of your project.
If you are welding, welding now will be easier and safer than embedded in plastic.
This is also a great opportunity to ensure that the LED is not damaged when grinding the LED Size.
Third: the position of cutting LED in plastic.
Use the rotate tool (or a file, etc)
Carve cuts along the edges of the same size as our LED.
It should work closely with the extended wires.
If you are using very thick plastic, you can even drill holes on the edges to keep the light in.
Fourth: The LED is fixed in place with aluminum tape.
Apply an aluminum strip along the edge that contains our LED.
Make sure it runs on the front and back of the plastic.
Cut a gap around the LED wire so that the metal on the tape will not be short-circuited.
The aluminum strip not only keeps the LED in place, but also guides as much light as possible back to the display.
Apply some more reflective tape along the remaining edges.
This is optional, but it will increase the brightness of the display and prevent light leakage.
If you are not satisfied with the brightness of the display, add more LEDs along the edge.
If you expand the LED along the edge, the long or large display will be more uniform.
Further: Let\'s say we\'re making an electronic Tic-Tac-Toe game.
Ideally we would like to have X or O in the same place.
To do this, we made X and O, each with a separate LED.
Since each piece is basically transparent when turned off, we can put one piece behind the other so that there is a monitor that can display X or O in the same space, depending on what we light up
You can also use the same effect to add multiple colors to the same display or animation section of the image, such as some animated neon lights.
Show me what you did and get a patch!
If you do this note and post a photo in the comments, I will send you a master of edge lighting achievement patch and you will get your name on the Hall of Fame.
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