So with the heavy recording schedule I have going on right now – such as this new Leannan Sidhe live-in-studio song, recorded yesterday – I needed to make a remote-controlled ON-AIR sign for downstairs, below the studio. I’d tried to make one before out of a digital picture frame I got free somewhere but it didn’t work out for various reasons. I wanted something that was explicit and changed display from OFF AIR to ON AIR, at very least – not just a lamp or something.

And then I had an idea, and put it together Friday night in about three hours. The idea part was just paper and transparencies; the rest just kind of fell out from that. Simple and quick to do, a fun evening project. Enjoy!

Off Air, printed on yellow

On Air, printed on clear, flipped over and aligned

held up to the light

The rest pretty much wires itself! Glue the plastic and paper together with any glue that dries clear. Then…

Take one old cassette case (or any similarly-sized box, really)

Trim, fold, insert

Now build a circuit! I used an old 3v ARCHER power supply that I’d had sitting around in the parts bin since, um, a previous century. But it works fine and (like many of these old things) actually puts out higher voltage than stated (within a tolerance) and all I needed inside was a simple LED lighting circuit.

I added a third LED later

said third LED was stolen from old broken garden lamp

Wire in parallel, not series!

Plug in to a RF-controlled power outlet box – you can buy these at hardware stores, Radio Shack, places like that. Or you could get all fancy with X.10 hardware and the like, but really there’s no need. Use whatever you have on hand.

Plugged in, Off

Plugged in, On

Installed, Off

Installed, On

A cassette case seemed fitting, being for a recording studio – but really, any container which has at least one clear side will do just fine. If you want to make your own, go ahead – here are PDFs for the paper and transparencies, both formatted for 8.5×11 Letter but you can resize them however you like as long as they both end up the same size:

Off-air PDF
On-air PDF

Whatever paper you use should be pretty light so that the blank areas of the transparency light up well held up to the light.

I also ended up changing the straight-in power plug for an angled power plug so it doesn’t stick out like that anymore, because that was annoying.

How’s that for a 20th Century solution? All made from parts I just had sitting around. Is there a word for modernist-punk, or have we wrapped all the way back around from “steam” to just “punk” again? Regardless, there y’go. If you make one, post pictures. ^_^


This post is part of The DIY Studio Buildout Series, on building out a home recording studio.