I’m always looking for excuses to try out new ideas I have. This time it was creating a realistic looking neon sign without all the hassle of bending glass and poisonous gas.
For a space themed birthday party, I created a simple crescent shaped neon sign that would be hanging in the backdrop.
This project turned out easier than expected, and took a few hours in my spare time to make.
So let’s get into it!
Plan out your design using a sketch or digital drawing.
I quickly mocked up the crescent design in Figma and added 2 holes where the fish wire will string through to hang up.
Since my design is simple, I only have 1 segment of LEDs that will connect in a loop. If you have multiple segments, now’s the time to figure out where the LED segments will be and where the wires between them will go.
The LED strip is quite sturdy due to it’s thickness but it can’t really hold a shape on its own, which is why we need a background. You don’t need anything fancy, a simple foam, wood, or acrylic board will do.
I used the design above for the background. I wanted it to be transparent so I went with clear acrylic and used a laser cutter to cut it.
The strips have black markers every couple centimeters where you can safely cut. I basically held the LED strip along the crescent shape and found how much length I needed.
Once you cut the LED strip, you’ll see the +/- terminals inside. Touching a wire (attached to a battery for safety) will light up your LEDs.
Solder the wires to the LED strip so they’re permanently attached. I cut the silicon around the terminals to allow for more room to solder. A bit messy but it works!
Sanity check: before you start gluing, make sure the length still fits on the acrylic and the LED strip works.
I used super glue to stick the ends of the LED strip to make a loop. Then I glued the LED strip along the edge of the acrylic background.
Your kit might include some aluminum rails that the LED strip fits into which you can attach to the background.
This DC jack is pretty easy to use, just insert the wires and turn the screw.
Plug it in and you’re good to go.
I love projects like this where multiple skills and tools intersect to create something new. This made the project go pretty smoothly and quickly for me. It’s also why I agreed to do it in under a week and share the process.
The most time consuming parts was figuring out what materials I needed, looking for those materials locally, and waiting for the items I ordered to arrive.
I already have ideas on how to improve this project:
And ideas for new projects using these LED strips: