Game of Thrones Light Up Map

Spoiler! Winter is definitely coming. But make this cool Game of Thrones light up map for a Spring project.

The map lights up with a flame effect revealing the sigil of the remaining house in power. What do I know, make it with the sigil of your favorite.

Step 1: Board It Up…

This is truly a low budget build. I just used materials and components I had on hand. Ok, I have a lot of stuff on hand.

With the many shipping boxes I have waiting to be recycled, It seems I only used two medium cardboard boxes for this project.

Peel off all the glossy labels and packaging tape that will prevent the glue from sticking. Don’t use any cardboard that seems coated, waxed or has absorbed any liquids or grease. Don’t worry about minor tears, punctures, or ripped face layer of cardboard.

Start out by cutting the corrugated cardboard box into strips. Don’t measure, mark by using whatever the the width of the ruler is to gauge the next line. Since we will be gluing strips together, it doesn’t matter what length they turn out. Cut out with a utility knife or strong shears.

Hmmm, if the pieces are too wide, you might as well go on and make an Iron Throne. Upscale that beat up office chair…well, meNeedle.

Find a piece of cloth that will be your map. It can be an old ragged bedsheet( the more worn the better to give the map character) or I just cut a piece of muslin from my sewing fabric stash. Make it as big as you want.

Cut the piece of material roughly to the size you want the map to be, give a few inches for a border that will attach to the frame we will make. To get the creases out of my folded muslin, I just hand washed it in the sink and wrung out the water. It was hung up to dry draped over a door. The result is a crinkly beat up piece of cloth that looks rustic which is perfect for what we are using it for. Additional staining or coloring could have been done to add more to an aged look but the yellowish unbleached cotton for this muslin worked out well.

Using the piece of material as a guide, glue together strips of cardboard to form a thin internal frame for the map. My piece of material was rectangular but you can make it round shaped or any shape you want. Keep on gluing and laminating cardboard strips until you feel it doesn’t flex. Cover the connecting joints of the previous layer with a solid piece or portion of the next layer.

Let the glue dry. Add more layers as necessary if you find it still flexes or a joint cracked open because you were testing it. 4 or 5 layers should make it rigid enough.

Step 2: Map It Out…

Glue one edge of the fabric to the frame. I started with the top of mine.

When that is secured, glue the opposing end. Stretch as you go along to flatten out everything.

Glue the fabric to the upright sides of the frame.

It’s okay if the sides bow in and buckle a bit as the canvas is stretched to the frame.

Reinforce the frame with more glued strips as you bend it back out. No need to get a really tight drum skin tension. The bowing of the frame actually adds to the look of an animal skin parchment that has dried on a rack lending authenticity to your map.

There are several ways to get the map on the fabric.

I printed out my reference map and just sketched that freehand onto the fabric. I first used pencil and went over it with a permanent marker. I think using an ink brush and ink would have worked nicely. It’s fairly accurate.

If you want accuracy in your copy, use a projector to enlarge the original map and trace onto the fabric. You can also print it out in the many convert an image to poster size utility programs and then trace it or transfer with graphite paper.

I did not want a too detailed map since I wanted a lot of light to show through without being obscured.

Step 3: Dragons in the House…

A sigil is the symbol of the House or family. There are many royal lines or families that are vying for power in the Game of Thrones. This one is the sigil for House Targaryen which uses a three-headed dragon as the main design element. Like there are different crests for the different Houses in Harry Potter, which Game of Thrones House do you belong or which you are loyal to?

I printed out a sigil design and glued that on to a sheet of black cardstock which is able to block light.

I used a regular pair of scissors to cut most of it and a thread snipping scissor to cut the details.

Apply a thin layer of glue to the cutout and apply in position on the back of the map. It will display as a silhouette when lit up from behind and appear hidden with no lights. A spray adhesive might work better so that the glue does not bleed through and stain the front surface.

Step 4: Razzle Dazzle…

I still have the LED strips wired up from the Neopixel Light Up Fire and Ice Wings instructable. I wired it up to an Adafruit Circuit Playground Classic board. I also added another pair of Neopixel strands to provide the lights behind the sigil.

The map lights up with a flame effect and the sigil appears backlit with flames. It turns all red and then some white sparkles. Fire. It all goes dark. It turns blue with sparkles. Ice. And goes dark again…

Arduino code here:…

Since the Circuit Playground has a few onboard sensors built in, you can expand the programming to make the map light up if you wave your hand next to it or maybe make a loud sound.

To diffuse the Neopixel strands, I used fiberfill batting in sheet form which is usually used for a quilting layer or padding.

I spread out the Neopixel strips and taped them down to keep them in position. Since all the strips are driven by the same code, offsetting the strips a bit lends to the randomness of the light of the flames. Doing this physically instead of in code allows us to skip the additional matrix computations necessary and not slow down the micro controller with limited memory.

I also took the opportunity to wire in an on/off switch in the + power line to the neopixel harness with the 8 strips. When the entire wired setup gets energized for the first time, the neopixels can draw a lot of power. What this means is when you are powering it through the USB cable to your computer. It may trip the “fuse” on the USB line causing the board to reset or lock up, in turn dropping the USB connection if you are trying to program it using the arduino IDE. The neopixels are disconnected when the board is getting programmed. After uploading the sketch, the USB cable is disconnected. I turn the neopixels switch back on and connect an external power supply to the USB connector to run the sketch and neopixels. The battery pack I have hardwired to the board(JST wires had ripped out with heavy batteries dangling about) will power the board and a small number of neopixels fine but I used a phone charger USB power adapter knowing this setup requires a lot more power.

I glued together a cardboard panel large enough to be the back and sandwich everything in so the map could be hung on a wall or propped upright. You don’t even have to have a full backer piece if you like the light to bleed out of the sides when displayed.

So go and make a map of the known kingdom, Winterfell, King’s Landing city center or the Ponderosa.

Source: Game of Thrones Light Up Map

About The Author

Muhammad Bilal

I am a highly skilled and motivated individual with a Master's degree in Computer Science. I have extensive experience in technical writing and a deep understanding of SEO practices.

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