Make your own neon-style signs without any of the glass, gas, and high voltage! These neon-like LED strips have a great look, are easy to shape and splice, and you can drive them with just 9V to 12V DC.

We'll learn how to control them for blinking and animation using a microcontroller and a Darlington transistor driver.


You can decide how many strips you need depending on the sign you're making. The parts listed below are for the Adabot / Lightning bolt sign I made.

1 x Adafruit METRO M0 Express
designed for CircuitPython - ATSAMD21G18
1 x Proto-ScrewShield WingShield
Kit for Arduino and METRO
1 x ULN2803: 8 Channel Darlington Driver
(Solenoid/Unipolar Stepper) - ULN2803A
1 x Waterproof Polarized 4-Wire Cable Set
Set of two cables - one plug and one jack, 16" total
1 x 16mm Illuminated Pushbutton
Red Latching On/Off Switch
1 x Heat Shrink Tubing Pack
High-grade flexible polyolefin material
1 x Hook-up Wire Spool Set
22AWG Solid Core - 10 x 25ft


In addition to the parts above, you'll also want a large piece of black foam core board to mount your sign. This will vary depending on size -- I used a 32" x 40" piece for the backboard, and two 20" x 30" pieces for mounting the two sign halves.

You'll use clear zip ties to mount the neon tube strips.


You'll need wire strippers for stripping insulation from wire ends.

You'll need a soldering iron and solder to put the circuit on the Proto ScrewShield. Alternately, you can keep the circuit on a breadboard if you don't want to do any soldering!

Last updated on Aug 10, 2018 Published on Aug 10, 2018