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ropelight/ faked neon sign making

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by JahJahwarrior, Mar 12, 2005.

  1. JahJahwarrior

    JahJahwarrior Active Member

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    So, I gave up on a pepsi or coke sign and decided to try to make a fake neon sign, possibly with ropelights. Well, I need the stuff by tuesday or so, an dI need it cheap. Walmart.com doesn't have it in stock, and neither local walmart has it. Samsclub doesn't have it. Where should I try else--any other places that might have it in town? at walmart, one lady didn't know what I was talking about, at the other, the lady told me that it was a seasonal item and they didn't have any. Or, what else could I make a "Grady's Diner" sign out of that looks like neon? (50's style diner) Thanks guys!
     
  2. sound_nerd

    sound_nerd Active Member

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    Depends where you live. I'd try Canadian Tire. If you use ropelight, try and cover it with something to spread out the light source. "frost" it up a bit or something.
     
  3. wolf825

    wolf825 Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Home Depot and Lowes are carrying rope light type of stuff...and Spencer Gifts are a fun place too if you know of them. If you get white rope light, wrap any colored gel and diffusion around it (unless you want to see the little bulbs--then lose the diffusion) and viola...you have an instant "neon-esque" sign.

    Of course cold-cathode tube lights are just as fun and easily availabile from many computer hobby stores for fxing up your PC. Similar to Live-Wire products--cold cathode tubes come in many colors and a nice benefit like Neon they give off no heat. You can also try some Car Audio specialty stores that sell that non-neon stuff for folks who like to "pimp their rides"...

    Failing all that--roll your favorite colored gel into "tubes", tape them into place and light them with an MR16 or Inkie or better yet use a mini mag light to light up the tube. Drawback to this is doing curves is difficult..but clear plastic tubing from a hardware store can work with the same idea, if you wrap the gel around that too.

    good luck....
    -wolf
     
  4. sound_nerd

    sound_nerd Active Member

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    stained glass spray paint could be an option to diffuse the source.
     
  5. The_Wiz

    The_Wiz Member

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    this probably wont help in your case, since it would have to be ordered, but side-emitting fiber, is a very good looking neon substitute. google to find a supplier.
     
  6. JahJahwarrior

    JahJahwarrior Active Member

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    so, home depot might have ropelight? I have them and Lowes in town, I'll hit them tomorrow.

    I thought about getting some tubing, maybe 1" od and spray painting it...it wouldn't be lit up, but it could work.

    With the light source, I'm not going to worry THAT much about masking it any. I have less than a week to do this, and no budget to go out and buy gels to color it. I hope to find colored ropelight, but if all I can find it white...well, then I'll have to see if I'd rather that or try to spray paint some tubing. I could also take some tubing, and fill it with water mixed with highlighter ink. Works well for some cool effets. I've only done it with tiny tubing, it would probably be hard to seal the ends of bigger tubing, but it could be done. I'll try home depot. Thanks!
     
  7. wolf825

    wolf825 Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    You can buy flourescent paints for the tube and if you use a congo blue for some pre-scenes or changeovers, it will glow like UV...

    goodluck with the project...
    -w
     
  8. techieman33

    techieman33 Well-Known Member

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    I made some signs out of rope light this fall for footloose, and they looked great, you couldn't really see the individual bulbs from the house.
     
  9. JahJahwarrior

    JahJahwarrior Active Member

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    sweet, called Target, they have ropelight! here we go!
     
  10. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    One thought that I had was to use flexible clear plastic tubing and fill it with water and food colouring (or fill it with paint (enough to coat the inside) and tip the rest back into the pot). If using water, do not fully fill to allow for some expansion.

    You should be able to get the little rubber stoppers or make them out of dowel. Just put a tack (or similar) through the tube and into the stopper to prevent it from working loose.

    Make a backing board out of plywood or MDF and cut the shapes that you need with a jigsaw so that when you lay the tubing onto the board, the tubing sits on top of the the cut. For example, it you want to make a letter “T” just cut the single lines, not the outline

    Then back light the board.

    I think that this would give you the depth and the effect but may be a bit fiddly but might also be cheaper than rope light. I guess it depends upon your time, budget and inclination. I know that I am too late in posting this but I thought that I would throw it up anyway.
     
  11. JahJahwarrior

    JahJahwarrior Active Member

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    well, I definitely don't have time to do that for this. I did get ropelight, so that will work. This is just for the school talent show, not a huge production. I TD'd the play, and I'm TD for the showcase too, yet I seem to have also been given the job of script writing (it's like a play with a talent show....so it's not just a talent show, there's a minidrama going on too throughout) and scene design. Stressful, but now I've got most of the stuff I need to build my set tomorrow. I spent ove $50, and I'm really hoping that I'm not just imagining that the school will pay me back....They should though. I've also been informed that they don't want me pulling out the huge tech booth (rolling hulk) so I am running tech from a table in the back...but I bought a table skirt to go aroudn it so it looks official. :)

    if I had more time, and it was an important event, I might try your idea. I have taken tubing, and filled it with a mixture of water and the guts of a highlighter, it looks pretty cool, i've always melted the ends shut....sorta glows a little under black/blue light, only thing is, the level seems to go down. Maybe the plastic is absorbing it....it's not leaking out, or if it is, it's so slow that it all evaporates. But in a 5 foot tube, a year later I have about 1/2 of that still filled.
     
  12. falcon

    falcon Active Member

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    we did something similar by threading ropelights through coloured plastic tubing then we bent the tubing into the words to spell out what we needed. In our case it was Hot Box for Guys and Dolls. Teh tubing then was zip tied to a sheet of plywood. that was fun doing that and all we did was plugged it into our board via a non dim and it worked out extremely well
     
  13. techieman33

    techieman33 Well-Known Member

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    I would call it anything but fun, I found it to be increadible time consuming and boring, but to each his own I guess.
     
  14. ricc0luke

    ricc0luke Active Member

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    There are other ways to make a sign.

    Check with the plastics shop at you school. We had them rasie the letters we needed from a sheet of resin. We used a florcent paint on the letters black on the rest. Built a small box to house a blacklight and slapped the peice of resign on the top. It worked great.
     
  15. JahJahwarrior

    JahJahwarrior Active Member

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    $20. Here's how it turned out in an hour. Looks ok. Not wonderful, but good enough! Oh, it's on a 2x4 piece of something or other. It's like pegboard, but no holes. It was cheap, what can I say?

    [​IMG]

    oh, and a note: plastics shop? it's a tiny Christian private school. we have plastic pens but that's about it :)
    http://www.cornerstone.st/Drama/Drama Main Page.htm
    ^link to the drama page on our website. I was the AD of Treasure Island, TD of The Importance of Being Earnest, as well as acting in TIBE, and in the Homecoming. In the Homecoming, the picture of the bar, I'm the guy behind the bar, leaning overit. I had two roles in that play--it was a good deal of fun! The two roles were leadish roles too...Ike Godsey, the bar owner, and Jason Walton, one of the Walton boys.

    http://www.cornerstone.st/Secondary Pictures.htm
    ^ many bad pictures. First section, guy sitting crosslegged on the floor, caught in a gay pose? me. Prez. Debate section, the Secret Serviceesque dude in front of them all? me. Someone, the guy who'se face you can see with blondish hair, jokingly asked me to dress up as secret service, so I did. Lots of fun!

    Um, no pictures of the theatre....man....anyways, enough of this, it's late and I still have to study vocab! later!
     
  16. Peter

    Peter Well-Known Member

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    Hey, nice work, that looks good!
     
  17. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Yep - I'm with Peter on this one:

    Well done!

    Just one thought (for future reference) where there are overlaps and cross overs, neon signs usually have these blacked out (or coloured the same as the background).

    This is also used if you don't want the letters etc to join.
     
  18. JahJahwarrior

    JahJahwarrior Active Member

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    I might electrical tpe some parts over...but, I wanted the letters to join--it's supposed to look like a scripted font. Thanks for the props!
     
  19. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Understood - I guess I was thinking more for the "O" which was doubled up and for where the underline crossed over the letters.

    Just minor points in reference to your (good) sign - more as a thought to be added to the subject for others who plan to do the same
     
  20. JahJahwarrior

    JahJahwarrior Active Member

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    I thought alot about where the letters are double over....that was the only way I could get it to work that I could see, so I had to do it. You can kinda tell, and you kinda can't that well, from a distance, on some letters, and if I have time (I have two days to finish the set and get ready, and I also have to find people to do the acting in the small plot going on throughout the show...i've kinda become TD + scenic designer + director. ) then I might try to black out some more parts. But yes, it is a good piece of advice in general! Thanks Mayhem for reminding me to look into doing that on my sign!
     

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