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Backlit store signs?


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I'm looking for guides and ideas to learn how to make 'light-up' store signs. The video below has a lot of illuminated signs - static, moving, and video. Video signs have their own thread (two of them). I don't know of a thread discussing the other two.

 

This video shows interesting signs at the following points. Can anyone, provide insight on how these are made?

 

0:43 "Reddy Kilowatt" billboard with flashing lights

 

1:05 "Noisrus" animated sign. Also on/off "Tomix" sign on building top.

 

3:15 Multiple backlit and animated signs. The "moving" band of light looks cheesy, but the rest are good.

 

4:07 Tomytec "Pachinko" building with backlit sign.

 

This guy also does a decent job of integrating tram lines into streets. (note to self)

 

 

 

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Quinntopia shows some good examples too. A short description of his technique below.

 

http://quinntopia.blogspot.com/2011/12/kibri-7402-kehl-station-kit-bash-kehl.html

 

"Additional preparation was required for the store and building signs.   I typically use a combination of LED's, strips of clear, thick acrylic plastic (a pain to cut!), self-printed water-slide decals and even laser printed color transparencies!  Whew!  A lot of work, but the extra touch of having illuminated signs is important to me (if your curious about some of my LED wiring techniques, check this post or this post).   The below shows the vertical sign with two SMD LED's on the top and bottom almost ready for attachment to the building."

 

Quinn from Quinntopia

Edited by gavino200
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Gavin,

 

those looks to be all miller engineering electroluminescent (EL) panel signs. Phosphorescent (different compounds used for different colors) layer lights up with a high voltage/frequency current passed thru it. You can cut hunks out of sheets of it to make different shapes/colors for signs. Controller can then turn current on and off in different bits to animate the sign. They sell premade signs and sheets and transformers you can make your own with. Glue a sign onto a white piece and you get a back lit sign with constant glow and it’s uber thin (like 1mm) and flexible (for those curved signs).

 

https://www.microstru.com/index.html

 

you can also get it as wire donn to about 2mm dia. It can curve, but bending into a sharper angle can crack the EL coating off the wire and kill it.

 

one big issue with these are the fly transformers they use to pump the voltage and frequency ac current out (no worries very low current so won’t zap you badly if you touch the contacts, more like static shock) tend to always have an obnoxious high frequency whine to them. If your hearing is good in the high range it can be very annoying. I can still hear fly transformers whine in old regular cathode ray tube TVs and kids high frequency cell phone rings so they do annoy me. One club member has a couple on his layout and one puts my teeth on end, but others do not hear it. Even the little battery powered ones you can get with the wire EL party lights do it. I got a gob of these on ebay last year for like 30cents each to take to a friend’s annual birthday dance party and it was hell between songs with 25 of them going off at once, some solid, some flashing at different rates and synchs...

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Colorful-1-3Meters-Neon-Glowing-Electroluminescent-Wire-EL-Wire-with-Controller/142320631944?hash=item2122f88088%3Am%3AmwmklqqY9FJQNPA4i9xgpsg&var=441358728541

 

ive often wanted to try some other commercial transformers used in el like exit signs as they don’t scream but I expect is not the voltage/freq needed for the Miller panels to operate. It also maybe some physical vibration of the transformer on the housings as they sometimes can get quite pressing on the transformer housing. Someone suggested encasing the transformer in epoxy. There are also solid state oscillators.

 

anyway they are fun to play with and can make that Japanese feel of lots of lit up signs!

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Wow those look really nice! Yeah I would love to have some of these rotating or flashing LED billboards too... love that embedded TV screen on the building too!

 

Thanks Jeff for sharing the link to Miller's Animated signs! It's really lovely! But do they do customised models for Japanese signs? 

 

 

 

Some of the signs are just plain interesting and sweet! Definitely a show stealer! 

 

 

Edited by JR 500系
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They have do it yourself kits to make your own. I think custom model railroads in Baltimore may make signs, I think they made a couple for Curt’s layouts. Although it would not be cheap to have one custom made! 

 

For the video wall wall you can make your own pretty easily out of any little mp4 video player. Just take off the housing and usually you can have the little lcd screen with very little edge frame and it’s only a few mm thick to put on the outside of the building. The pc board then inside the building. Down side is when you power it on you will need to hit a few buttons on the remote to start it playing. Download your favorite videos to play (lots of ads and music videos you see playing on the up on YouTube and elsewhere). Only hitch is getting the video into scv format but there are some cheap video converter programs out there and open source that can do this. You can spend more and get a fancier unit that does more standard video files. Folks have done them with cell phones, ipods, and game units as well. The first one i did like 12 years ago was with a very fancy little personal digital recorder that was very expensive but company didn’t last so picked them up cheap as surplus.

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/1-8-4in-1-LCD-Car-Kit-Wireless-FM-Transmitter-MP3-MP4-Player-MMC-Remote/222880450035?epid=7016480688&hash=item33e4b5c5f3:g:qHYAAOSwgLdayWxX

 

kvp and mrp have done some fun little arduino and pic projects to make their own to use even smaller oled screens. They are making these tinier and tinier, even the size to put on keyboard keys and other push buttons so you can change the label on the button/key. But it is a bit of a ee/ce project on its own to make these from scratch. At some point I can see folks making kits to make it much easier.

 

weve had several threads on this in the past.

 

 

cheers

 

jeff

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This video from the JAM 2018 meeting shows the Tomytec Pachinko building lit up really well. I haven't worked out exactly what they've done here but I'm adding it for future reference.

 

2:53 - 2:59

 

Edit: I don't know what I was thinking. There's nothing special about this at all. I must have stayed up too late or something.

 

 

Edited by gavino200
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18 minutes ago, gavino200 said:

This video from the JAM 2018 meeting shows the Tomytec Pachinko building lit up really well. I haven't worked out exactly what they've done here but I'm adding it for future reference.

 

2:53 - 2:59

 

6q60xZN.jpg

 

Uh, mate?  I dont think that is a from JAM, or even a video... 😁

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5 minutes ago, Kiha66 said:

 

Uh, mate?  I dont think that is a from JAM, or even a video... 😁

 

I swear there are issues with the cut/paste on this site. That was a paste from yesterday. And I just cut/pasted this link into my Evernote a few minutes ago, so it can't be my computer.

Edited by gavino200
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There is the new autofill feature that sometimes seems to auto fill in what you last typed in a post entry from another thread (should only auto fill form previous entry for that thread).

 

jeff

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4 hours ago, Sascha said:

What is the name of the Blue Train at 0:48 in the video?

 

No clue, but I bet you'd get an answer in 10 seconds if you posted the question in the rolling stock forum. 

 

I don't mind the tangent btw. I sort of like them. 

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On 8/27/2018 at 12:56 AM, gavino200 said:

This video from the JAM 2018 meeting shows the Tomytec Pachinko building lit up really well. I haven't worked out exactly what they've done here but I'm adding it for future reference.

I checked and it seems like standard issue NukeFlash™ or Meltdown™ series high brightness leds. :-)

 

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5 hours ago, Gryphr said:

 

That is the "Island Express Shikoku" in it's post 1996/remodeled State:

https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/アイランドエクスプレス四国

 

Ed: Probably this model: https://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10050381

Thanks a bunch. I love these types of trains. I have the J.R. Coaches Series 50 with DE10 ‘Nostalgic View Train’ , and they would fit great together.

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Im guessing just smd leds and small lamp shades and use some micro tubing to make the neck. Gallery glass can make any bulb face over the smd led.

 

https://www.ngineering.com/stamped.htm

 

https://www.ngineering.com/tubing.htm

 

when I was a young lad I made similar over door lamps using 3mm sequins and cheap plastic fiber optic thread and led light source. Just melted ed of the fiber optic into a disc and put the sequin over it as the shade. Then heat the fiber optic thread to bend where needed.

 

jeff

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13 hours ago, gavino200 said:

Anyone know how they achieved the effect of a tiny exterior light, shining on the signs and posters?

On the unlit image, you can see that they used simple smd leds with two solid wires soldered to each side and bent backwards. Most smd leds have a plastic filter/cover/lens molded on top. For most warm white and yellow leds this is transparent yellow in color, which is visible on the center left one that is mounted looking upwards. So just stock smd leds, solid core jumper wire (like the legs of through hole components) and the current limiting resistors and any proction diodes hidden behind the walls.

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10 hours ago, cteno4 said:

Im guessing just smd leds and small lamp shades and use some micro tubing to make the neck. Gallery glass can make any bulb face over the smd led.

 

https://www.ngineering.com/stamped.htm

 

https://www.ngineering.com/tubing.htm

 

when I was a young lad I made similar over door lamps using 3mm sequins and cheap plastic fiber optic thread and led light source. Just melted ed of the fiber optic into a disc and put the sequin over it as the shade. Then heat the fiber optic thread to bend where needed.

 

jeff

 

Thanks. The design is a bit old fashioned. But I ordered some anyway as I'm sure I'll find a use for them sooner or later.

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59 minutes ago, kvp said:

On the unlit image, you can see that they used simple smd leds with two solid wires soldered to each side and bent backwards. Most smd leds have a plastic filter/cover/lens molded on top. For most warm white and yellow leds this is transparent yellow in color, which is visible on the center left one that is mounted looking upwards. So just stock smd leds, solid core jumper wire (like the legs of through hole components) and the current limiting resistors and any proction diodes hidden behind the walls.

 

Yes. I think you're right. Maybe 1206 size? The technique seems doable. I think I'll have a go at it. 

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Just a little test. It works ok. 1206 SMD pure white LEDs soldered to cut off wires from resistors.

 

A few thoughts.

 

1. Better effect if I solder the LEDs to the wires at 45 degrees. then better direction of light with less wire bending.

 

2. Probably better effect with smaller LEDs. Would  be MUCH more difficult.

 

3. Also better if I could use insulated stiff wires. 

 

4. Need to paint the wires obviously.

 

r05GxVx.jpg

 

RFc8LRp.jpg

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Some more experimentation. I don't really like the effect here, but the little dude wants to keep it, so I'm going to put in some floors and dividers. The styrene front plate is rough and will need to be redone. Also need to mix up some matched paint for it. I also remade my testing circuit to make it easier to swap out resistors without disturbing the rest of the circuit. Meanwhile the components of the little store have been black painted on the inside for lightproofing an are downstairs curing.

 

oPOckYG.jpg

 

Vwkq40i.jpg

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I still have to experiment to find the right resistors. The LEDs are on two circuits. Roof vs. everything else. And I'll leave it clamped until tomorrow. Also the roof styrene diffuser needs to be adjusted but that's no bother as it's press fit and not glued. All in all I'm fairly happy with it. 

 

A6U6Jk3.jpg

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4 hours ago, JR 500系 said:

It looks pretty good, at least, way better than mine! Good job! 

 

Thanks JR. Actually I think your buildings look great. In fact, you inspired me to order a bunch of colored LEDs for my Pachinko Parlor and entertainment district. 

 

This was originally a little experiment with the high rise building roof sign. But the plastic of the building seemed very thick, so I tried to see if I could get away without lightproofing it. Unfortunately, the building glows. So I took it all down to lightproof and redo. But at least I have the floor sections cut now.

 

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