Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Building Status Lamp Panels

In the videos Jeff posted on his original project, he explains how he made some LED holders out of scrap aluminum and plexiglass, then lines the insides of each led compartment with reflective tape.  The result works just fine, but I didn't have scrap aluminum or plexiglass lying around.  Buying some could actually end up to be fairly pricey and then there was the labor in piecing it together.  Instead, I decided to put my 3D printer to work for this part.  If you don't have access to one, there is nothing wrong with Jeff's approach - it will work just as well.  You can also go to a website such as or Shapeways.  I've never used any of these services, so I can't vouch for their quality.  It would also be worthwhile checking with your local library for services - ours has 3D printers in their main branch that you can use at the cost of materials, which would make this a very affordable approach.

If you build it yourself, my cutting diagrams called for a 4.5" x 4.5" box.  You'll need to make two (unless you're modifying the design), each with 18 compartments for LEDs - 3 across, 6 high.  I've found 3/4" high is sufficient.

If you choose to print them, I've included two different part files.  The reason for this is that I found that a single 10mm green LED was pretty dim when I tested it next to the red ones I bought:

When I added a second green LED, I got much more uniform results.  The "ultrabright" green LEDs simply aren't that bright, it seems, or they didn't meet their spec.  I tried the 5mm ones I bought as well - I still needed two and the diffusion wasn't as good, so I stuck with the 10 mm ones.  So therefore, each side needs a different part design to account for the different number of green LEDs on each side.

(apologies for the poor cellphone camera work)

The print takes awhile, but its easy work.  I did have some significant warping on the part I printed last night - it will still work just fine, as the warping is entirely contained on the bottom of the part which will be below the control board surface, but it is less than desirable.  That's one of the frustrations of 3D printing - it isn't easy to know ahead of time what printing strategy will work well for each part.  Large parts with sharp corners, as this, can be nightmares in ABS.  If you're printing them, I might try PLA, which is much easier to work with.  I'm going to print the second part tonight, with a little more "ABS juice" (abs dissolved into acetone to make a glue to put on the build plate prior to printing).  I also added mousears to the print to remove the sharp corners and help stick the print to the plate.  These I'll just cut off after printing. 

First LED panel stl file
Second LED panel stl file

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