To a speaker of English, a sign asking ‘Was?” may not make much sense. In German, however, the question is a more thought-provoking “What?” That’s exactly the point of this faux-neon sign created by [noniq]. The sign uses silicone-enclosed “neon-like” LED strips to spell out the question for all to see — and ponder.
While true neon aficionados will bristle at even calling such LED strips “faux neon” (check the comments below for examples), we really like them for sign projects like this. They’re great-looking, inexpensive, easy to work with, and available with RGB LEDs for variable colors. In this case, they were mounted on 3 mm polystyrene plate glued to a wooden frame made from 22 mm square beams.
One of the things that caught our eye about this build is the use of a CNC mill to create a prototype. With the strokes milled out of a foam board, the final effect could be visualized before committing to the design. This board later served as a template for cutting the LED strips to length — clever! We suspect this could also be done with a hobby knife and a liberal dose of patience by those without access to a CNC mill.
Of course, this type of project doesn’t always turn out perfect the first time. The sign was missing a dot for the question mark, light leakage from ends of the individual segments was creating distracting bright spots on the base, areas where the silicone had been removed to connect the LEDs were noticeably darker, and the letters looked too thin. We’re looking forward to the promised second post, in which [noniq] describes the solution to these issues.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen these LED strips used for sign-making, like in this logo build last Spring.
Neon signs are attractive, but require specialised tools and skills for their manufacture. If you don’t have time to learn glass blowing and source the right gasses, you’re pretty much out of luck. However, EL wire can give a similar aesthetic, and with an off-the-shelf power supply it is easy to hook up and get working. [sjm4306] combined this with 3D printing for a quick and easy build.
The project starts by selecting a Nintendo 64 neon sign as a basis for the design. An image of the sign was traced in Inkscape, and an outline imported into CAD software. From there, a frame was designed with posts for the EL wire to wrap around, and holes for it to pass through to the back of the sign. The frame was then 3D printed, and laced with EL wires in the requisite colors.
The final result is impressive, with the EL wire serving as a great small-scale simulacrum of neon tubes. It’s a construction method that should scale as large as your 3D printed assemblies can go, too. If you need to get to grips with how it works, there’s a tutorial available for working with EL wire. Video after the break.
Continue reading “EL Wire Makes For A Great Faux-Neon Sign”
We all love the look of neon signage, but the between the glassblowing equipment, gas cylinders, high voltage, and the associated skill set, it’s not practical for everyone. Luckily, these days there’s a good alternative: “neon” flexible LED strips. This is the approach [Benni] recently took in making a large logo display, and the results speak for themselves.
[Benni] sourced the strips from AliExpress. They’re 8 mm wide and can be cut to length in multiples of 4.2 cm. Inside, there are strips of RGB LEDs, making the displays that much more versatile than actual neon. Covering the LEDs is a silicone diffuser strip that completes the illusion of a neon tube. The flexibility of the strips make them easy to bend into different shapes, but also mean a solid substrate of some sort is required to make them hold their shape. In [Benni]’s case, he used a metal frame to which he glued the strips with cyanoacrylate adhesive. He used zip ties to clamp the strips in place while the glue cured, and the fact that he clipped the tails of the zip ties is a testament to his detail-oriented nature; we would probably have left them on. All of the attention payed off though because the end product looks awesome. The finishing touches are supplied by some 3D-printed bezels carrying acrylic diffuser panels and traditional LED strips for the eyes, plus a DMX LED controller.
We’ve seen [Benni]’s work before, like this slick USB rotary encoder peripheral, and like that time, there’s a video which really shows off the project. Have a look, after the jump.
Continue reading “Getting That Neon Sign Look Without All The Hassle”
Neon tube signs radiate an irresistible charm, which has been keeping them alive to this day. The vintage, orange glow is hard to substitute with modern means of illumination, but never trust a neon sign that you didn’t forge yourself. [NPoole] shows you how to build remarkably realistic faux neon tube signs from plastic tubing and EL wire.
After sourcing some polycarbonate tubing from a pet shop, where it’s more commonly used in aquariums, [NPoole] simply inserted some orange EL wire into the tubing. He heated one end of the tubing with a heat gun and twisted it off, sealing one end of the tube and welding the EL wire in place. [Npoole] then went on bending his neon tube to shape, repeatedly heating it up with the heat gun, bending it carefully, and blowing into the open end of the tube to prevent kinking of the tube.
Continue reading “Forge Your Own Neon Signs With EL Wire”