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Progress 2008 - 2007 - 2006
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How I did my "Merry Christmas" animated sign
Click here for a short video
Here is Tom from T2Lights and his How-to
I created an image in
"freestyle script" font in MS Publisher.
The capital letters are about 48" high. The sign is about 21' long total.
The sign is in two sections.
One is the "Merry" and one is the "Christmas"
The panels are zip tied to three "T" posts. The rope light is 3/8" diameter.
The grid is 6 X 8 - 6 ga. galvanized cattle fencing
Pretty stiff panels and they
come 52" X 16'. Stiff enough to stand up with minimal
bracing and yet be pretty much invisible at night.
The letters were projected on
to the grid. I used a video projector but an overhead projector
would work. I outlined the letters with a sharpie and wrapped masking tape over the grid to
mark the tight curves of the letters. I left the masking tape on until the final letter was
wired to the grid. I used a 20 gauge wire I got from Ace Hardware. The wire is stiff
enough to hold it's shape.
Here are pictures of the
individual letters. Notice where I had to loop the wire between
the grid to hold the shape of the letter. I used the wire over using tie wraps (zip ties)
because the wire did not block the rope light bulbs. When I did use tie wraps I was
careful not to block the lights.
Cutting and putting plugs on
rope light is an art to itself. You can buy re-made power
plugs but if you have zip cord and vampire plugs you can make your own.
I saw Bill Foley do this live at the 2006 NW Mini.
Here's a link to Planet Christmas that explains it better than I can.
You should use care when making
real tight curves as the rope "lights" can break. I did
my measuring outside and brought the rope light inside for a while to "warm it up"
before going outside to finish.
Here's a close-up of the letter
"Y". Note the letter is one continuous piece of rope light.
I later noticed that the inside of the loop of the "Y" burned out but the letter was still
readable. I will probably re-do the entire letter this year. However I could just cut an
18" piece of blue and lay it over the bad part.
That's black heat shrink tubing
to black out parts of the rope. If you look close you can
see the little "scissors" on the rope light that show you where it's OK to cut. If your
rope light doesn't have those then you will need to figure out where you can cut. I used
GE brand rope light and it came in a 150 foot spool.
Close-up of the "S"
Note the wire wrapped around the smaller loops to hold the shape.
Again - one continuous piece of
rope light for each letter (except the letter "i" where
I forgot the "dot").
Kevin and Fran Thomas
18531 SE 224th Street
Kent, WA 98042
Send Kevin an email
maketso.com web hosting and design
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