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Bob H.
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Recently  I found an old out of date Neon Sign kit from a company by the name of ; Brommer's Quality Products in Castro Valley Ca.

I understand the mechanics of this sign kit that isn't the issue as the instructions are very detailed on that particular process. What my question is isn't mentioned/ answered in the instruction's.  The signs lettering is printed in black & white paper. It doesn't mention any thing at all about the signs lettering what so ever or what step is taken to produce the neon sign itself just a lighted window.. No graphics, Zilch..  Did I happen to buy a lemon or
?

 

 

Bob H.
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Done figured it out. never mind...:doh:

Herb Kephart
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Hey Bob common--don't leave us hanging like that!  :f:

Herb:old dude:

Bob H.
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:) Well, when I opened the package, it contained 2strips of brass channel one yellow glow incandescent bulb 1.5" of brass wire and one block of styrene plastic and one 2"x2" piece of Plexiglas.

The Plexiglas has a notch cut into it for the bulb . The Plexiglas edges need to be polished, painted white then black to keep the light refracted. Except for the notch where the Bulb goes, 12-16 incandescent grain of wheat bulb. the Brass channel inserts of each end top & bottom. there is the brown protective paper that needs to be removed from the Plexiglas . Where I failed :doh:to find the graphics, they were hidden under the Magic tape on the opposite side. The Neon sign lettering is laser etched into the plastic. So being intrigued over the subject,L: I powered up the bulb and tried a dry run with out actual assembly, and it looks really neat! Using a colored bulb LED or incandescent, really livens up the effect. :thumb:

Too sad the company is long gone who made these signs. My LHS has four pegs full of these nifty discontinued signs.

Last edited on Sat Jan 23rd, 2010 01:47 pm by Bob H.

Herb Kephart
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Thanks Bob-

Sounds like the back of the plex could be lightly cut on a pantograph, as well as a laser

Neat principal, one of the many things that I had/have forgotten!


Herb :old dude:

Bob H.
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There are only a couple of companies that are producing so called "neon" signs. The concept the "Brommers Company" had produced was before its time. Nothing like today's pre-printed neon ink on paper cheap knock offs. I really think they would be profitable with the proper P.R.  MRRng has came a long way since the early 90's.

I just assumed ???it was laser etched but I wasn't really 100% sure that it was .  When I get further along   I can post pics of the construction . Simple & very effective concept over the newer Neon versions. 
Should anyone want to reverse engineer one , I could hook you up with one.;)

Last edited on Sat Jan 23rd, 2010 04:49 pm by Bob H.

wclm
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Bob Thomas Yorke had the same kind of sign instructions in on of his kits. A long time ago in high school shop class we did projects using plexi-glass. We used Dremel tools to carve into the plexi. Whatever design we came up with needed a good stencil. Ours were made from sheet brass for the surface cuts and the ones that we did on the interior were freehand and drilled into the center of the plexi from the egdes. when hit with light from the side they glowed as if they were neon. It is really quite easy to do. Just takes a little practice. One note is if you use one of the campfire flicker lights, you get the flashing sign to appear as if it is about to go out for good.:)WCLM

Bob H.
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thanks for the tip I'll give it a try. I noticed the Plexiglas's is laminated together after it was etched. Thomas Yorke did those too! Hmm very interesting.L:

GoodNPlenty
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Awesome concept.  I saw this used in electronic displays and forgot about it. I had just been brainstorming the same topic and was trying to figure out a way to light mono-filament... I told you I was insane for detail!

Anyway, here's a practical contribution:

Use thin polished clear rods to fiber optically pipe the light from nice strong LED's to multiple layers for the multi-colored signs. If your sign is placed at the bottom of a window.. HEY WAIT JUST A COTON PICKIN' MINUTE! FORGET THAT... HERE"S WHAT YA DEW!

1. Etch THE WINDOW! Any engraving process that meets your standards should be acceptable. A roughed awl point may be all you need. If you just can't seem to produce something to your liking, take the scaled artwork to a jeweler. They don't charge that much for engraving. Calculate 1/4" to 3/8", in whatever scale your working in, for his line width. A straight forward smooth line is what's called for. Etch the BACKSIDE and add a second pane behind it. Use very thin stock because you're going to double each pane.

2. Hide the LED's in the wall around the window and multi-pane the window for multi colors. They are actually attached to the "glass". They're just hiding inside the wall.
TIP: The actual LED is only about as thick as the leads. Clearance issues can be dealt with by carefully filing the sides of the LED.

3. Use several LED's pointed at the pane in notches (not perpendicular, IOW: window flat - LED flat). Make sure you're looking at the same side of ALL the LED's.

4. Fillet ("grout") the LEDs into the notches with windshield crack repair stuff or some real nice SUPERCLEAR caulk or nice clear epoxy if you can find it. Paint something like epoxy over enough of the leads for insulation so the LED can be covered with foil and not short out the leads (One lead should be insulated longer than the other by the distance you want between your buss wires, you'll be surprised how your walls will bleed light if you don't. Lighted structure rules apply)

5. Cover the polished, smooth, FLAT edges of the window with reflective foil and make sure you completely cover the LEDs without leaving cracks around the LEDs. White will diffuse the light enough to bleed into other layers (not important with one color because the "neon" throws light all over anyway) NOTE: If your "glass" is thin, white may reduce uneveness of the light but you will need to "black" as much of the unseen glass surface (both sides) as possible to act like the barn doors on a stage light.

6. Find a window decal with a large enough black surface to cut out and use as the sign's backing. All that's left to do is add a couple pieces of the finest silver thread you can find for the chains that "hang" it.

7. WIRING:
SuperCheapskate method (soldering):  Choose an insulating material like epoxy (if you have a better idea, go with it. Silicone may be option) because it will withstand soldering, but be quick.
DO NOT USE enameled wire. It's too hard to clean it for soldering. Total waste of time! Strip some stranded automotive wire and use a single strand long enough to buss the whole circumference. Use just a touch of liquid rosin flux each time you solder, and make sure the tip is clean, shiny, and wet with fresh solder before each joint is made.
a. Dab flux on the LED lead you are about to solder.
b. With the window and the LED leads lying flat, lay a suitable "paperweight" on it (Popsicle sticks padded with foam rubber weatherstrip laid over the LED bodies and a GENTLE spring clamp, OR open a big fat phone book and slip the window in just above the bottom cover leaving one side of leads completely exposed, make sure the pages are supporting the bodies of the LED's... bodies in, leads out), and overhang the edge of the workbench.
c. Say you have 3 or 4 LED's per edge. "Weave" the first strand through all the exposed pairs of leads so the strand lies on top of the less insulated lead and against the bottom of the more-insulated lead. Very little should stick out from the first lead and all the remainder from the last. Dab just a touch of liquid rosin flux to each joint your about to solder.
d. Touch your clean shiny wet iron on top of the strand for "one Mississippi" only. Solder the first lead of each exposed pair.
e. Insulate the leads you just soldered past the insulation of the other lead so now these leads will be the insulated lead in the weave for your second strand.
f. After you have both busses soldered around all of your LED's, Tape both sides of the buss with the good clear shiny scotch tape to laminate the two busses and keep them apart.

SuperBest Method (non-soldering):
Buy two colors of 32 guage WireWrap wire and a cheap manual WireWrap tool at any electronic supply (even RS still has them) and WireWrap the leads.
Actually, if you don't have your soldering gear yet, this would be the SuperCheapskate method for you...

Final tip:
Separate each color pane by one or two strips of blackmaterial similar thickness to the "glass" material. Spray the strips with a tack spray or use clear double stick tape.

Light 'em up!:glad:

Basher
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GoonNPlenty: I have to ask. Have you actually done this or this just an idea of yours ?

Basher

Bob H.
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 Good& plenty, Sounds like you are very familiar with the product. Exactly what you discribed is how this product is made and assembled!:shocked: 

Or you have been peeking around my shoulder @ my work bench? :)

GoodNPlenty
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[:Crazy: ATTENTION: THINKING OUT LOUD!]
OK!, From now on if you see this at the beginning of my post, it means that I'm just cranking the old jack-in-the-box with the tranny in neutral! How's that?! I gave a couple subtle clues... 

Ya couldn't tell I was making it up as I went along? i was starting with one idea and then slammed on the brakes and made a bat turn...

The soldering tips are all professional advice. Actually you can consider most of it professional advice. This is not my idea except for some of the detail. This is actually used for invisible electronic displays. It uses the same principles as fiber-optics and those single lamp toy car/train headlight/tail-light deals with the clear and translucent plastic rails.

I meant to post an addendum to make that crystal clear. All you have to do to try it is scratch something in the surface of a piece of clear plastic, wire up an LED or 2 and see how it looks... Put a drop of water on the LED to get a good clear connection and line up the LED's element with the edge of the plastic so the light is pointing at the etching. Adding LED's will just improve the brightness and evenness.

I just bought some clear sheet styrene but it's soft. Does anyone have a source for anything rigid in the .005" to .020" range?

Steve Z

Last edited on Fri Feb 5th, 2010 02:28 am by

GoodNPlenty
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Bob,
I'm familiar with the same thing used in electronic displays. I don't think I've ever seen the model application. But I started thinking about it and just couldn't hold back the storm!

GoodNPlenty
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[:Crazy: WARNING: THINKING OUT LOUD AGAIN!]

NEON CHEAT and BACK-LIT SIGN:

While the etched panel is most effective for the "backless" neon signs, If you're going to add a back panel and the exterior appearance is much more important than seeing the interior, you may consider the following "cheat" for neon or use it for a back-lit sign.

Take a piece of 1/8" plexiglass and drill a hole or 2 in the side edge(s) to insert small bright white LED's Option: file the tip of the LED flat and glue to flat edge.

Paint everything white EXCEPT the front surface, then flat black, and if you like, white again (most light boxes seem to be white)

In your favorite graphics program:

For Neon -
a. Create your neon masterpiece and invert it so the background is black and the "neon" is clear and flip it backwards so the printing will be on the back surface.
  For multi-color, do everything together as clear.
b. Print it on a laser transparency. Cut it out.
 
c. Use Sharpie's to add color by hand. It's easy since everything is masked in black. For white, you can either apply nothing, or engrave those areas to diffuse the light right at that area. If you get light bleeding through the black printed mask, print another copy unflipped, and add it behind so the two print sides face each other. It's not a bad idea to plan on this insurance. It also enhances the look if you engrave the whole graphic in the front side.


For Back-Lit Picture -
a. Color laser or inkjet print your pretty picture on the thinnest white paper your printer can handle. Or Color Laser onto transparency and sand the back side to diffuse light. Sand side to side as well as up and down.

b. "Laminate" the front of it with REAL shiny clear tape (none of the magic crap). Burnish the tape down real good and cut it out.


Spray the back of your masterpiece with tack spray and install it on your light box.

An alternative for simple neon is to use the transparency for the window with the graphic printed on it and "Sharpie" the colors in or cut pieces of colored lighting gels you can get at most music stores these days. Then stick a sheet of frosted gel or simply sand a piece of transparency and stick it behind the graphic. Mount a bright white LED in the ceiling of the room behind the sign and aim it at the sign.

For more realism, you can make up this type of neon sign separately from the window and carefully superglue clear mono-filament "thread" or fish line, if you can find something thin & clear enough for your scale, over the flat "neon". Tiny flecks of silver and black paint will create the little mounting brackets that hold the glass tube and the sections that are blacked out between letters.

If you have a good temperature controlled solder iron, you should be able to dial in a temperature just warm enough to relax the mono' for bending and actually form the neon.


Later,
Steve Z

:thumb: Somebody let me know if any of this BS works so I can try it!



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