Sunday, February 5, 2017

My Planet Express Project Is Completed!

I finally feel like I have caught up a bit in the shop today with the completion of my Planet Express project.  This as most of you may recall is a poster that I plotted out on Mylar film and then planned on enclosing it into a lighted frame to hang on the wall.  So with out to much more detail at this point here is how it all turned out.

Inside of my 18" x 24" lighted display is a string of controllable LED lights to give me whatever color strikes my fancy.  But I am jumping ahead here so let me show you the process it took to get to this end result.

 I started with a line drawing I had created from a poster that I had found online of the Planet Express ship from the TV show Futurama.  I liked the poster but I wanted to be able to light it from the back so I created a line drawing of it and printed it out on to Mylar film using my "Tooli" plotter shown above.

Next I gathered up the materials that I needed to make the wooden frame to make the "Light Box" so to speak.  This for the main part is 1 x 4's for the outer frame, two Plex-glass sheets and some 1/4" plywood. I cut the pieces to size to make a frame large enough to hold the 18" x 24" print and Plexi-glass.  I then clamped the first piece of 1 x 4 of the frame into my Kreg pocket hole jig that you can see above.

I've used this tool more times than I can count and it is as simple to use as putting your shoes on.  Clamp the wood into the jig after it is set up for the thickness you are using and then drill a couple of holes.

That's all there is to it.  Out come perfect pocket holes.  Nothing could be simpler.

Once I had the pocket holes in the upper and lower pieces of the light box I screwed the outer portion of the frame to them to make the frame you see here.

Next I glued in wooden plugs made specifically for pocket holes to fill them.

After the plugs had dried securely I took an orbital sander and smoothed everything out.  The bottom plug matched the color of the wooden frame so closely it's difficult to tell if it was ever put in.  The upper one still shows up but it did not matter as I had planned all along to paint the frame semi-gloss black anyway.

Here I started gluing and clamp the 1/4" round trim for the outer face of the display.

Again once the glue had dried all I needed to do was a little light sanding and the outer frame was complete.  I never needed to nail the 1/4 round in place as the glue worked out perfectly to hold all the pieces right where I wanted them.  Plus the fact that there is very little if any strain on the trim as it is only meant to hold the Plexi-glass display in place when it is used.

 I took blue painters tape next and covered all of the interior of the framework to keep paint off of it while I was spray painting the assembly black. 

 Once the painting on the outside of the light box was completely dry I could remove the painters tape.  It would have looked pretty messy on the back of the display had I not covered it up with the tape for sure.

At this point I was able to slide in the Planet Express print that was sandwiched between two pieces of thin Plex-glass. I had to make sure I didn't put this in backwards so it would be facing the right way when I completed the assembly.

Next I installed 1/2" thick  x 1 1/2" wide wooden strips to hold the Plex-glass/print assembly into place in the assembly.

The wooden strips were painted white before being installed into the assembly and were not glued in but rather simply screwed into place.  I thought it best to do it this was so that if heaven forbid that  I should ever needed to repair the display the print could be removed and remade or possibly a new design could be installed instead if I want to change it.   

The next step in the assembly involved putting in the LED light strip to make this display work the way I had planned.  The light strip has a sticky back to it but I found out earlier that this was not enough to hold the strip in place once the project was hanging on the wall.  Not a good thing to have fail once it is all buttoned up. So I had to work out another plan of action to hold this strip more securely.

I designed a simple clip that could be used to hold the LED strip in place and be simple enough to 3D print for the installation. Also be easy enough to install without having to make any modifications to the interior design of the display. 

I mounted the clips approximately three inches apart using #6 - 3/4" wood screws.  The clips for the LED strip only needed to be screwed in on one side as the back of the display boxed locked in the LED strip once it would be mounted into place. When I installed the screws I could feel the clear coating on the outside of the LED strip compress slightly. Then I knew I had it tight enough to hold the light strip in place. It took me longer to 3D print the 24 clips for this portion of the build than it did to install them.  No matter what, this was the perfect solution to secure the LED light strip and not have to worry about it moving out of position some time in the future.

The interior wooden strips gave me the mounting surface to install the back of the light box.  This was 1/4" thick plywood with the inner surface also painted white to reflect as much light as possible when the display was on. 

I figured out where the light controller needed to be before I closed everything up and made a small opening in the back panel so the wiring for the lights could be plugged into the controller seen here. Also in the photo above you can see two more wires.  The one in the middle of the picture is the sensor for the light controller so that I can change the display to different colors and the one on the right is the power cord leading to the power block that you plug into the wall. To hold the controller to the back of the light box I simply hot glued it into place. 

Here are several of the many different colors that can be shown with my new display.  The last thing I need to do yet is just install the wire hanger on the back so that I can put it up on my wall. 

This turned out to be a far easier project to complete and  than I had hoped for.  Nice to have that happen once in awhile to make up for projects that can be a pain to finish when you thought it would take half the time to build in the first place.  We've all been there more times than any of us want to think about right?  So enjoy the images and I'll enjoy my new display hanging on the wall.   Have a good day in your shop as well.

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