Create a light-up photo frame

Decorate an ordinary frame using an LED strip – and make Mum’s heart glow.

Remind Mum how much she means to you with the perfect present for Mother’s Day – a lovely photo, enhanced with a glowing LED strip that changes colour. It’s so easy for young ones to make, and not only beautiful to look at: mums who enjoy tech will love the cyberpunk vibe of the visible components.

The LED strip comes with an adhesive backing, so attaching it couldn’t be simpler – even the battery pack clips straight onto the support leg. All you need is a couple of blobs of hot glue to secure the controller on the underside of the frame, and the project just about makes itself.

Maker tip
The LED segments are 3.3cm long, so when selecting a picture frame, try to find one with edges that divide evenly into this. If you do end up with a component in the worst possible place, just use a piece of 80-grit sandpaper to slightly round over the corners. The strip is very forgiving and will conform to a curve of only about 5mm radius.

What you need to make a light-up picture frame
Simple picture frame – we used 25 x 20cm
RGB LED strip with inline controller (Looking for a quicker solution? Try our Motion sensing LED strip light with battery pack already attached, strip non-trimmable)
Hot glue gun
Your favourite picture of Mum
USB battery pack

How to make a light-up picture frame

Step 1
Before removing the backing from the adhesive, test-fit the LED strip around the frame. Adjust it so that each corner lands on a trimming point, or at least between components. If your frame is too small for the strip, use scissors to cut the strip at one of the trimming points.

Step 2
Carefully remove the backing from the adhesive, and apply the strip to the outside of the picture frame by pressing it firmly and evenly onto the timber.

Step 3
Work your way around the perimeter, aligning the trimming points with the corners as you did while test-fitting the strip.

Step 4
Use a hot glue gun to apply a couple of blobs of glue behind the joints on either side of the inline controller.

Step 5
Press the inline controller firmly in position and hold it until the glue hardens.

Step 6
Print out your favourite photo of Mum, ensuring it’s sized to fit inside the frame. Cut out the photo and place it on the backing, then add the glass front and secure into the back of the frame.

Step 7
Plug the USB cable from the strip into the battery box, and clip the box to the stand on the back of the picture frame. Switch on the battery box, and use the inline controller to select whatever colour or lighting pattern you desire!

Click here for more information about kits for young makers.

-May 2020

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