143: LED Lit Layered Badge

This project combines a few old tools and techniques with a few new solutions to create a remarkable promotional item for an upcoming event in Chicago. I’ve worked with the Chicago Enlightened folks before, and when a friend from the group asked if I’d be interested in collaborating on a premium promotional item for the upcoming Chicago Abaddon Prime event, I knew I wouldn’t be able to pass up the chance.

Arty and I had talked about doing battery-powered LED lit badges for years, but I’ve never really dedicated the time to it. With his idea for the premium badge, we’d have to make a multi-layered badge to hide the battery inside. With a minimum of three layers, we’d also be working with Chicago screws—also known as sex bolts—to hold them together.

An early version of the badge layout, before the front face frame inside was cut out.

We incorporated elements of the Abaddon Prime logo into multiple layers. The large circular focal point featuring the logotype and the large flame symbol were perfect as a battery shroud and would form the base of the opaque front layer of plastic. This space gave us ample room for a CR2032 battery and a diode near the base of the badge that would be hidden inside a cutout in the middle acrylic layer. The cityscape itself would be on that acrylic layer, its vector-engraved channels (shown in blue here) would guide the light through the material.

A close-up of the cutout for the diode and battery.

The first prototype of the design only called for three layers—despite the screenshot showing four designs. That’s because the Agent Name and the “Chicago” text would be engraved on the front surface of the acrylic layer, while the city design would be engraved on the back. We knew we’d be using a CR2032 battery and a single diode for light, so I made sure we had an appropriately-sized hole cut out of the middle acrylic layer.

The full plan for all four layers before the first prototype was made.

Unfortunately, it became clear after the first prototype was made that the battery/diode combo was a little too thick compared to the fluorescent acrylic layer that it would light. While we experimented early on with cutting a small diode-shaped hole in the back face of the badge, we ended up opting to include a “4th layer”, comprised of a handful of small pieces of plastic designed to fit inside the Front frame cut-out in order to utilize the material.

Assembly: Back layer, washer layer bits, middle layer, front layer, screws, and battery/diode combo.

The final washer design anchored the top two Chicago screw holes together into one piece, but there wasn’t enough space in the front frame outline to do the same for the bottom washers, so they were simply shaped to match the bottom frame to ease alignment during assembly.

The front of the final badge in bright lighting conditions.

The completed badge is 5.5″ tall by 3.5″ wide and approximately 0.4″ thick. It uses four Chicago screws to hold four layers together: an opaque front plastic layer, a fluorescent acrylic center layer, a washer layer, and a back layer of plastic. The Agent Name has a “triple shadow” effect thanks to the depth added by the washer layer: it’s reflected once by the back face of the acrylic it’s engrave on, and then again by the flat black surface of the back layer. It looks amazing in motion.

Without a resistor, so I’ve been told, the battery/diode combo will last about a week, growing dim after several days. Thankfully, the battery costs less than 50 cents to replace and the Chicago screws allow easy replacement. If you’re a Midwesterner and you’re familiar with the game of Ingress, you should probably check out the Abaddon Prime event! And if you’re on the right team (wink wink), you might want to pick up some swag while you’re there. Otherwise, check out a bevy of additional photos of the layered badge in the gallery below!

3 thoughts on “143: LED Lit Layered Badge

  1. asuncionshija says:

    Could you possibly tell me where you found your bolts? I’ve been doing a different project (with leather) and had so much grief finding something like that! I did look for sex bolts, but everything I could find just wasn’t the right size. Eventually ended up buying big ones and cutting them shorter, but this would be perfect!


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