Glow Glyphs: Chainable LEDs characters
What are Glow Glyphs?
Glow Glyphs are chainable LED letters and symbols that can be connected together to form custom LED signs and displays. The Glow Glyphs are a great way to have fun with LEDs and they’re sure to go great with your next DIY project. They’re easy to use, fun to play with, and they look great with no matter what you choose to make!
What is a “glyph”?
Admittedly, the term “glyph” is a little esoteric. From Wikipedia: “glyphs are symbols with an agreed upon meaning for the purpose of writing.” It’s sort of a fancy word for “font” but with a little bit extra. Now I don’t use “glyph” in my everyday speech, the words “letters” or “characters” are probably the more commonly used terms, but “glyph” has a certain connotation that I think fits. The first time I saw the word “glyph” I immediately thought of Egyptian hieroglyphics, I pictured the carved pictograms inside the ancient temples, then I imagined, what if those symbols were glowing?… Glow Glyphs!
What Glyphs are Available?
The first-generation Glow Glyph collection includes the following letters, numbers and symbols, shapes and punctuation marks.
‘A’ ‘B’ ‘C’ ‘D’ ‘E’ ‘F’ ‘G’ ‘H’ ‘I’ ‘J’ ‘K’ ‘L’ ‘M’ ‘N’ ‘O’ ‘P’ ‘Q’ ‘R’ ‘S’ ‘T’ ‘U’ ‘V’ ‘W’ ‘X’ ‘Y’ ‘Z’ ‘1’ ‘2’ ‘3’ ‘4’ ‘5’ ‘6’ ‘7’ ‘8’ ‘9’ ‘0’ ‘#’ ‘@’ ‘&’ ‘$’ ‘✩’ ‘❤’ ‘←’ ‘↑’ ‘→’ ‘↓’ ‘!’ ‘?’ ‘.’ ‘,’
The punctuation marks (‘!’ ‘?’ ‘,’ ‘.’) are only available as unpowered glyphs
There are currently no options for larger or smaller font sizes
There is currently only one color option – black/white
How Do They Work?
The Glow Glyphs are plug-n-play easy, give them some power and they’ll light up, no questions asked. On the edge of each Glyph there are metal tabs that get connected together using the small black push-on connectors so if one Glyph is being powered it can share that power with its neighbor when they’re joined together.
The “Powered” Glyphs include a coin cell battery holder and switch on the backside allowing them to be run as a stand-alone light or as the power source for a chain of Glyphs. The “Unpowered” Glyphs don’t contain a power source and must be connected to either a “Powered” Glyph or an external power supply to illuminate the LEDs.
The Connector Adapters will connect a chain of Glyphs to an external supply using a common connector: 2.1mm barrel jack, USB micro, and JST PH. While the coin cell battery on the Powered Glyph is adequate for small chains using an external power support can provide a lot more power resulting in a much brighter chain.
On both the Powered Glyph and the Connector Adapters the small switch can be used to set the brightness to one of three different levels or to turn off the chain completely.
How To Order?
Glow Glyphs can be ordered individually or as part of a kit. Check the pledge levels on the right of the page for details on each kit or item.
When placing an order for a kit, you may specify which Glyphs you want to include in your order comments. For orders that contain both powered and unpowered Glyphs, please mark the Glyph you would like powered with an asterisk (*). Please contact Crowd Supply Support directly with any changes or edits.
|Unpowered Glyph||Powered Glyph|
|Initials Kit example||“Four-letter Word” Lamp Kit example|
|“You Name It” Kit||Alphabet Lamp Kit|
|Number Lamp Kit||Powered Alphabet Kit|
|Symbols Kit||Punctuation Kit|
|Power Connectors: Barrel Jack, USB Micro, Prototyping, JST PH||Power Supplies: DC Barrel, USB Micro, 2xAA|
|Push-On Mounts||Push-On Connectors|
- 150mA max
- 3000K (warm white)
- 82 CRI
- 120deg viewing angle
- 3A max
- 100x connect/disconnect cycles
- 300mA max
- Brightness settings with 3V source:
- Battery life
- Will vary with choice of battery and brightness setting
- CR2032 ~40hrs
- 2xAA ~100hrs
- Will vary with choice of battery and brightness setting
Manufacturing and Timeline
I’ve completed the design of the Glyphs but still need to complete one more round of prototyping to test and verify all the details.
The funding will go primarily towards the procurement of components and the manufacturing and assembly of the Glow Glyphs. I’ll be working closely with vendors and manufacturers to ensure the components are built to spec and I’ll be personally testing and monitoring the quality of the Glyphs before they are shipped out.
First shipments to customers are expected in July 2016
Need a little inspiration? Here are just a couple of ideas of how to use the Glow Glyphs:
Political Rally Sign
Swing the vote by turning the name of your favorite presidential candidate into a glowing sign at your next political rally.
Make bedtime a little easier by creating a little personalized night light for that special bedtime bugger.
Heart Pendant Necklace
Make sure your date knows that you’re one-of-a-kind with just the right mix of nerdy and chic.
Want to get a bunch of compliments about how creative and classy your wedding looked with custom glowing accoutrements? Snag some hearts and letters and get to making your own wedding ornaments from your and your loved one’s initials.
Tradeshow Mini Booth Sign
Every trade show booth needs something to break up the monotony of business cards and powerpoint presentations, so why not make the name of your business glow to help burn your brand or company name into the minds of your fellow business buddies?
Free Hugs Vest
Every trade show booth needs something to break up the monotony of business cards and powerpoint presentations so why not make the name of your business glow to help burn your brand or company name into the minds of your fellow business buddies?
Got an idea for the Glow Glyphs? SHARE IT! @leonelabs or @glowglyphs
My mission is to make it easier for everyone to express themselves with LEDs and to create amazing eye-catching lighting products using art, design, and technology. I hope to inspire other makers and to work with others to bring together new opportunities and possibilities.
Food For Thought
Pablo Picasso is regarded as the most prolific painter of all time. The Guinness Book of World records estimates he produced roughly 13,500 paintings over the course of his 75 year career. That averages out to be roughly one painting produced every 2 days! I don’t think anyone has ever tracked the number of PCBs created by a single engineer but I think I could produce unique Glow Glyph PCBs using my own set of techniques and tools at a Picasso-like rate. By my estimates I think it’s feasible to produce 10x unique Glow Glyph PCBs per week, granted these will be simple designs but so too were many of Picasso’s works, simples lines and shapes that evoked expression and moods. At such a rate by this time next year the collection of Glow Glyphs would top 500x unique designs! Such designs might include multiple languages, new fonts, unique shapes and symbols, tiles and tessellations, filigree and ornaments, and more! Perhaps the title of “Picasso of PCBs” might be appropriate 😉
Now the only way I could become the “Picasso of PCBs” is if I radically change the typical workflow needed to generate a new PCB design which can usually take significant time, generating schematics, placing components, routing traces and so on takes a lot of time. So my mission is develop a new methodology for PCB design that will fundamentally change the way designs are constructed. I think I’m already well on my way with the custom software I’ve made to build the Glow Glyphs so I’m confident I can expand on these fundamentals to make further optimizations and achieve a rate of production that far exceeds the “normal” pace.
I realize to some this may sound esoteric, making glowing LED circuits in fun artsy shapes is a far cry from the well-respected craft of digital and analog circuit design, however LED circuits are all around us, they are often the first circuit a student will learn, and with the LED lighting industry gaining momentum I think there is room for innovative lighting designs that can realize new forms and applications and truly take advantage of the size and power advantages of the last 50 years of photonic development. If you can imagine the possibilities then I invite you to join me as I look towards building a new set of tools and techniques that will blend art, design and technology.
Glow Glyph Features & Benefits
The Glow Glyphs are made using modern PCB (printed circuit board) fabrication techniques, which means the price for each Glyph is extremely low. Since the price is low it’s easy for you to express yourself and create your own special glowing messages
Like any great construction toy, building up and tearing down designs is part of the experience. Glow Glyphs are just like your favorite building blocks, they can be reused and reassembled in many different ways so a single set of Glow Glyphs can be the source for countless custom signs and displays.
Thin and lightweight
Not all displays need to be big to be seen and appreciated, Glow Glyphs are bright and bold when they’re lit up, but compact and ultraportable when they’re disassembled. So if you need a light-up sign that’s easy to carry around and easy to set up and take down then Glow Glyphs are a great option. They are thin and low-profile (less than a couple of millimeters in thickness) which means you can stash them in a bag or backpack. And since they’re lightweight, they’re easy to mount and hang without much more than some thumbtacks or adhesive putty.
We all know that candles and incandescent bulbs create the best light sources, they’re light is just so warm and velvety that it makes everything around them look classy and charming. But most of us have seen white LEDs that don’t look like candles or Edison-style bulbs and so there’s a bit of bad taste in our mouths when we hear the mention of so-called “white” LEDs. This is why I’ve been careful to use the latest white LED technology that emits a very incandescent-like warm white color (at a color temperature of 3000K). There’s no harsh blue notes that you might get from other “white” LEDs, so you can rest easy knowing that your custom Glow Glyph sign will have the vintage old-timey look that we’re all chasing in this modern world.
No fingers should have to come in contact with leaded-solder so that’s why Glow Glyphs are assembled with lead-free solder.
If you’ve ever been in a movie theater and someone in front of you flips out their phone, you know how distracting and annoying it can be to have to deal with the glaring brightness differential. This is why the Glow Glyphs include a switch to adjust their brightness, they should be eye-catching without being distracting and so its critical to provide this adjustment so the Glow Glyphs will look great in any setting.
On the other hand maybe Clark Griswold is your role model and you want to create an LED display that’ll scorch the eye sockets of everyone in a 20-foot radius. No problem. If you want to turn up the juice, you can use power adapter accessories to turn your Glow Glyphs into a fog-piercing headlamp that will make any sea-faring vessel think you’ve created a personalized lighthouse using the name of your pet goldfish.
Easy to use
There’s no wrong way to connect a Glow Glyph. There’s a single push-on connector that will fit onto any Glyph and enable it to connect to any another Glyph. If the Glyph is upside-down or reversed it doesn’t matter, it will still light up. It’s that easy!
Also, don’t worry if you don’t know electronics, you don’t need to. You don’t need to know how to solder, and you don’t even need to know how to wire up anything (though it’s never too late to learn!) If you ever played with a construction toy or completed an arts-and-crafts project, you’re more than capable of creating your own great-looking LED sign using the Glow Glyphs. All you need is a little imagination!
This isn’t a font in your Grandma’s vintage recipe book. The font was carefully chosen for its bold and modern style, and to look good even if the LEDs are turned off. So even if you’re out of juice you can still draw in those wandering eyes and express yourself with the great-looking font on the Glow Glyphs.
LED technology has become so efficient at turning electricity into light that you can create a custom Glow Glyph fashion accessory you can wear around neck with a battery the size of a button. This blows my mind every time! No wires, no mess, just easy simple LED accoutrements for any outfit using a simple coin cell battery.
Of course, if you’re not OCD about a couple wires popping out then then all it takes is a pair of AAs or AAAs to keep your Glow Glyphs glowing longer and brighter. Be sure to check out the accessories for some great power options.
They’re LEDs, so they’re simple, right? There’s no witchcraft here, just amazing highly-engineered glowing crystals that emit light when a voltage is applied. Just like with any other LED the Glow Glyphs are Arduino compatible and ripe for blinking, fading, sequencing and all other manner of crazy flashy blinkenlight fodder. There’s a prototyping adapter accessory that makes it easy to connect up your favorite micro-controller or single-board computer (Raspberry Pi anyone?).
So many characters!
For anything you want to say there’s a set of Glow Glyphs to make it shine. Spin the wheel and pick any letter, they’re all there, A through Z, plus all your favorite numbers. Not even Wheel-of-Fortune had numbers, so take that Pat Sajak! How about hashtags? No problem. Dollar signs? Yep they’re here too. And for those crazy enough to want to make a glowing email address we even have the venerable @ symbol!