Glowing Circuit Board Lamp




Introduction: Glowing Circuit Board Lamp

About: We are a couple that loves creative projects, and retro gaming. We will be posting anything that we make related to it, with DIY videos, crafts, projects, retro gaming, build logs and showcases. Make sure t...

Seems like these types of edge-lit LED lamps have become increasingly popular, and I really wanted to make one. So, this is what I came up with! Here are the things we'll need for this build.

Supply list:

  • Acrylic glass
  • Piece of wood
  • RGB LED-strip
  • Arduino Nano
  • Power supply

Tools used:

  • Hacksaw
  • Soldering iron
  • Hot glue
  • Palm sander
  • File
  • Drill
  • Wood glue
  • Circular saw
  • Planer
  • Dremel
  • X-acto knife

Step 1: Planning and Collecting Supplies

There are many edge lit lamp designs out there, and the common way to do things seems to be to stick either a shard or a rectangular shape into a socket, and then hope the motive speaks for itself. While that usually works (LEDs have the ability to make most things cool), we sketched up some different layouts. We talked about it for a while, and went for the one that lined the glass up in a triangular shape (top right, for the hawkeyes out there).

We got some cheap acrylic glass from our local glazier. We'll only need small pieces, so leftovers are usually a good way to go, and they are almost free. The electronics can be found online (quite cheap, too), and the wood was some leftover piece we had lying around. So let's get started!

Step 2: Cutting the Acrylic

Now that we've got our design figured out, we have to cut out the shapes we need. We need 3 pieces of the same width, but with different lengths. We used a hacksaw to cut them out, and then a file to remove any rough spots or uneven edges afterwards. A scroll saw is a good option if the shapes are more intricate than this. It would be a good option anyway, as it cuts easier than a hacksaw.

Step 3: Drawing and Etching the Patterns

Okay, so we want a pattern or a motive to light up on the surface of the acrylic. We're going for a PCB pattern, which we're going to draw on paper first (you could also print out a pattern you want instead of drawing it). Then we can just tape the paper to the back of the acrylic glass. It can be a good idea to trace the outlines with an x-acto knife first, as this will keep the Dremel from jumping outside the lines it's supposed to draw. Now we just have to etch over those lines with our Dremel tool, using a cheap engraving bit. Note; this may be very time consuming.

If you are going to fill in big surfaces you might be better of tracing the outlines, then sanding the fill area with a low grit sandpaper, but then you would just have to be careful not to sand anything outside the shape or design you want.

Step 4: Sanding Edges and Finishing the Acrylic

When the patterns are done, we're going to sand down the edges around the acrylic to make them nice, shiny and smooth. Start with some low grit sandpaper to remove any unevenness, and finish with some fine sandpaper (2000 grit). Then we can remove the protective film (and damn, that's pretty satisfying!).

Step 5: Base Structure of the Lamp Base

To have something to place it in, we want something that looks good and contrasting. We're going to take a piece of wood, and cut a small triangular hole in it so that the electronics can fit inside. To make it a little thicker, and to have a whole surface, we'll cut out an equally thick piece and glue it on top of that. Now we have a nice surface to work with, and a hollow inside that electronics can be contained within.

Step 6: Rough Shaping of the Wood

When the glue has dried, we can cut out the basic shape that we want for our wooden lamp base. Ended up with this triangular shape with each corner cut off.

Step 7: Sanding and Detail Shaping

Using a planer we can make all the edges more even and smooth. We want some rounded corners, so instead of using sandpaper all the way, we're using a hacksaw to remove most of it first. When we're done with that, we can use some wood filler to cover up any small cracks, and finally use a palm sander to smooth out the whole surface.

Step 8: Creating Socket Holes for the Acrylic

Getting the glass to fit snuggly is not that easy. We have to measure the length and with of the acrylic carefully, and then draw out some conservative lines. By drilling through several times, we can create a rough shaft in the wood which the glass will fit in. But first we'll need to clean up those slots with a chisel and a file. We just have to adjust the slots gradually with the file, as we do want them to be a tight fit.

Step 9: Wood Stain the Wooden Lamp Base

We want to give it some contrast by applying some dark wood stain to the lamp base. Really love this colour!

Step 10: Add Some Support for the Acrylic

Before getting on with the electronics, we're going to add some support pieces to really keep those acrylic glass pieces in place. That's going to be the last step for the wooden stand.

Step 11: Soldering the LED-strips Together

This time we're using RGB LED-strips, because we want to be able to control the colours and create different light patterns and effects with an Arduino. The first step here is pretty simple; we just cut out 3 shorter strips with 6 diodes for each strip. These are just long enough to cover the underside of each piece of acrylic. Then we solder 3 wires from one strip to another; 1 for negative (black), 1 for the positive (red), and 1 for the signal cable (white).

Step 12: Attaching Power Cable and Arduino

To power the Ardiuno we're using a 12v power supply (as shown above). We're gonna hook the positive and negative wires from this to the Arduino Nano's input and ground pins. From the Arduino we're going to solder the wires from the positive (5v) and ground (GND) output pins to the LED-strip. Finally we're soldering a wire from one of the digital output pins on the Arduino to the signal path on the LED-strip. The LEDs are powered by the Arduino, as they are so few and only need 5 volts.

We're using the fastLED library to create some pretty cool colour-fading patterns. If you wanna check out the code I've used, you can take a look at it on our github..

Step 13: Assembling the Pieces

Finally, we just have to assemble this lamp. We're using hot glue to fasten the LED-strips underneath the shards, and fastened the Arduino under there too. Finally we'll create a little notch with a file for the power cable to run along. And, voila! Its finally finished!

Step 14: Final Thoughts

It's been a lot of work, but I've got to say it's been worth it. Also, there are so many cool designs you can create, so many variations. And it doesn't even stop there, cause the lighting effects are half of the design and it's really fun to play around with different colours and effects here as well.

Thanks for reading! Now, what do you think?

Make it Glow Contest 2016

Grand Prize in the
Make it Glow Contest 2016

Epilog Contest 8

Runner Up in the
Epilog Contest 8

3 People Made This Project!


  • Metalworking Contest

    Metalworking Contest
  • Water Contest

    Water Contest
  • Fix It! Contest

    Fix It! Contest

37 Discussions

Very impressive.

A definite 10 out of 10.

Could you tell what the dimensions of the acrylic where after you cut them and the dimensions of the wood, I would love to make one

Awesome build! What drill bit did you use on your dremel to etch the circuit design on the acrylic?

Awesome! Congrats on the Grand Prize win :D

Deym! Iike these kinds of projects

Awsome project!

Does anyone make the base commercially? I have etched acrylic but would like to buy 5" base for a single piece of acrylic. I found something similar on Alibaba, but I don't need 8000 of them.


1 year ago

Beautifully done!

very creative indeed!!!

You have much respect from me! This is a beautiful project, but I had imagined you had etched and cut the plexiglass with a laser cutter, and I was impressed by the skills and techniques used to make this. You also made the best of the wood cracking and breaking. Very well done!

1 reply

Thanks for taking the time to show us, it looks fab and can make endless possibilities /projetcs... think I'm going to need a Dremel or perhaps I'm not thinking big enough... a CNC :-)

Thanks again

I would imagine that if you had a small CNC engraver at home, you could crank these things out pretty quickly and cleanly. Pretty cool idea.

1 reply

Yeah, you're right! That would have been totally awesome :)

That is such a cool idea! Good thinking!

awesome project

Very nice (Bonito),,,,,,,,,,