DIY LED Plexiglass Heart

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LED heart

So, ever since I saw The Awesome Door, from a month or so ago, I wanted to make one of my own, I decided I would practice on something a little smaller scale, like a framed heart for a special someone for Valentines Day.

It actually wasn’t very hard to make, and since the popularity of the door was so high, I’m considering making some more of these for people. If you’re interested, send an email to: leds@deadlycomputer.com

If you want to make your own, or see how I made mine, click below

Step 1. Decide what you want to etch

Plexiglas heart

For me, this was easy, a heart. But you’re not stuck with a heart, you can make whatever you want, a flower, a star, a tree, anything. I would suggest you keep whatever you are making simple at first, this way you can get a hang for etching the Plexiglas.

Step 2. Gather Your stuff

There’s not really many things you need for this project. A sheet of Plexiglas at least 5×4 inches and at least1/8 inch thick (but thinner is acceptable). LEDs, any color you want, and as many as you want, but it depends on the length of your etching. Power supply, (mine came from an old router that we accidentally bricked), Dremel with 3/32 inch engraving bit, 1x2inch, and 1x3inch pieces of wood (whatever type of wood you like), and the usual hot glue, and solder.

Step 3. Etch Your design

This takes some practice as to how deep you should put the tip of the bit, and how fast you should have your Dremel on, but it’s easy to learn. I found that going at least halfway down into a 1/8 inch thick piece of Plexiglas gives the best result. Unless you are an artist, you will want to put a template on the bottom of the Plexiglas to use as a guide. After you’ve etched it, if you’ve used a full sized piece of Plexiglas, cut it down to size using a straight edge, and sharp knife, then put your etching in a safe place so it wont get dirty/scratched.

Step 4. Make the frame

Because I’m giving this to someone, I choose much nicer wood then the pine I used on my table, but you can use whatever you want. I used Red Oak.
We need to make a groove in the 1×2 piece to hold the Plexiglas. Another thing we learned with the table is to use the circular saw for this. So set the depth to 3/8 inch deep, and line it up centered on the wood, and cut a groove.
groove

groove with Plexiglas

Check to make sure the Plexiglas fits in the groove, and you’re set. Now, you need to measure you’re etched design. Mine is 5×4 inches. Since we don’t have a miter saw here at school, I went for the simple overlapping sides. Another thing learned from the table, do not do math in your head, and measure at least 3 times.

That being said, I only made one mistake cutting this time. When you have your 4 sides, take put them on you’re etching to be sure they all line up, and look pretty:

side of frame

Nail the top, and the two sides together, be sure to leave the bottom one free, for this is where the LEDs will be going into.

Step 5. Drill out the holes for the LEDs

Now that the top and sides of the frame is made, and the etching fits in, it’s time to make the bottom of it which will house the LEDs. I have a 16.4v power supply, and because I want to make this simple, I just wired eight(8) 5mm red LEDs in series for a total of about 16v used. I decided to space my LEDs about 0.5 inches apart. To start I used a 3/16 in bit to make the holes to the groove, and then used a 1/4 in bit to make them a little wider to get the LEDs to be recessed a bit.

holes from groove side

LEDs in holes

LEDs from the top

You see, the LEDs are nice and recessed, and the wood kinda chipped away to let the leads be recessed also, how awesome!

Step 6. Make the base

The 1×3 piece I am gonna use as a base for the frame. I left 1 inch overlap on all sides. In the center I took the dremel, and carved out an area to allow the two pieces of wood to be flush (the LEDs aren’t perfectly flat). I also made two 1/2 inch holes on the side for the power connector, and the on/off switch. I drilled these about halfway through, and then made another small hole through the top for the wires.
holes for switch
switch in the hole

Connect the wires together, and test it out

switch connecter

leds lit up

All the LEDs work, now we can permanently fasten the top to the base. I used hot glue, but wood glue works too. After that it’s time to hot glue the switch, and the power connector in. This uses alot of hot glue cause I made the hole soo large. But it’s ok, I love hot glue.

So much hot glue, I actually put it in the freezer for a few mins to cool.

Step 7. Put it all together

This is where I made my crucial mistake. I completely forgot that I was planing on nailing the top half to the bottom half, and glued it together. I thought of a few ways to do it, get some longer nails, maybe use screws, then I said screw it, hot glue time.

heart together

heart together lit up

heart together lit up dark

That’s it, it took about 2-3 hours total time, and only a few burns, all stupid hot glue related. I think it looks really pretty, I hope the person who it’s going to does also.

Here’s an instructable on it too 

5 responses to “DIY LED Plexiglass Heart

  1. Round off the edges with your dremel and stain the frame so it looks nicer up close in the light but otherwise amazing and something so simple looks so good.

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