UI CETL - Lightboard

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2018 Buzz Lightboard Lightboard.png
Sponsors University of Idaho CETL
Team Name Buzz Lightboard
Duration Summer Fall 2018
Faculty Adviser
  • Dr. Matthew Swenson
  • Sarah Willis
  • Brian Smentkowski
Team Members
  • Talal Aldoussari
  • Jake Jermyn
  • Nate Sherwood
  • Taylor Spence

The goal of the project is to design and create an easy to use and cost effective lightboard for CETL at the University of Idaho.

Problem Definition[edit]


Main Purpose

A lightboard is an apparatus that is used in many universities today. It is primarily used in online and flip classes where the main form of information obtention is done by watching videos or lectures online. The lightboard is a preferred method of teaching by some professors because it provides a more personal experience than either a normal whiteboard or a document camera. The lightboard will especially shine in the University of Idaho's Engineering Outreach program and other classes like it because of the professor's ability to answer real time questions about topics while still looking into the camera and being able to write. It will also allow professors to prerecord lectures that they want to do and edit them into such a way that there is more information and less filler time.

How it Works

The lightboard will function using a principle called frustrated total internal reflection. This principle states that light within a medium will internally reflect because of the differences in two indices of refraction. However, when you put a marker on the glass, it will disrupt the angle at which the light will reflect, frustrating it. The frustrated light will then both reflect internally and emit light out of the glass, giving the marker the illuminated look that the lightboard is known for.


The Lightboard must act as a see-through, portable whiteboard that can be used in tandem with a filming system so that instructors may teach online and filmed classes while looking directly at the camera. The Lightboard must be produced for a fraction the price of a complete one that can be purchased online. The design must also be able to easily be transported around campus for wide use.



  • Writing on the board must be bright and easily visible as a result of “frustrated total internal reflection”
  • Writing on the lightboard should be comfortable for a wide range of users
  • An easily accessible area for notes, books, resources, and marker storage will be integrated into the design of the lightboard
  • LED lights must be dimmable and easily adjusted by the user without leaving the viewing area.
  • Thin sheets of frosted plastic can be attached to the viewer side of the glass in multiple locations for projections to be utilized


  • The lightboard can be moved around on flat ground by a single user safely
  • Components of the board must be capable of fitting through a standard door (6’8” x 2’6”) without substantial disassembly or time investment
  • The Enclosure shall fit within the following:
Length < 8 ft
Width < 5 ft
Height < 7 ft


  • The frame design shall be sturdy enough to support the glass pane with a generous factor of safety
  • The Lightboard should resist tipping when a reasonable force it applied to the upper regions of the board
  • All electrical safety regulations will be met.

Cost Effectiveness

  • Cost to build a Lightboard prototype shall not exceed $2000

Design Considerations[edit]

Front View
2018 Buzz Lightboard Front.png
Side View
2018 Buzz Lightboard Side.png
Isometric View
2018 Buzz Lightboard Isometric.png
2018 Buzz Lightboard Drawing.png
  • All dimensions shown are in inches.

Design Points

There are three main points to this design: the frame, the shelf, and the glass.


Our initial thought for the frame was to be made of either extruded aluminum or wood. The frame is an essential part of the design because it will have to be able to support a large sheet of glass, the aforementioned shelf, and the force of a human being writing on the glass. Right now, our plan is to design the frame out of aluminum because we believe that it will be the easiest to work with as well as strong enough to withstand all acting forces from the lightboard.

Our initial design has triangles at the base to withstand the weight of everything. We chose this because we believe that the triangle will be able to distribute the weight better, allowing us to make a sturdy lightboard.


The shelf is a part of the design that our group came up with because of our client's initial request. Initially, Brian had requested a detachable sheet of glass so that he could put it on his desk and use it there. This had us thinking about the possibilities include a usable "desk" with the stand up lightboard. Right now, our shelf is planned to be attached using brackets that can extend into a 90° angle so the operator can decide whether or not they would like to use the shelf. It will be made out of wood and need to withstand the weight of multiple books or a laptop. A feature that we would like to add to the shelf is a marker holder. This would allow the user to have an easy spot to keep their markers and are able to easily change colors if needed.


The glass is the most integral part of the entire design. Clarity, price, and toughness are all considerations when comparing different types of glass. Our choices for glass are plexiglass, window glass, and Starphire glass.


Plexiglass was quickly thrown out because, even though it is cheap, it is too easily marked and scratched. This is a major drawback because the clarity of the glass is what ensures a properly working lightboard.

Window Glass

Window glass is the cheaper option when compared to Starphire, but it is not as clear.

Starphire Glass

Reading about lightboards, Starphire glass seems to be the absolute best choice between the three, however it is very expensive. It is a low-iron glass, so it is the clearest option. This will provide an optimal setting for a lightboard.


Our plan to test our prototype will consist of creating mini lightboards out of both Starphire and window glass. We will build a small frame and lay in the LEDs, so that it can illuminate the small pieces of glass. From there, we will treat them as normal lightboards and see how each board looks when being used in the correct setting. We will be looking to see that the marker is easy to read and that it is properly lit up. Our tests from this prototype will help us decide which kind of glass to use in our final product.

Project Learning[edit]

Final Design[edit]


Team Members[edit]

2018 Buzz Lightboard Talal.jpeg
Talal Aldoussari

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Al Khafji, Saudi Arabia
Graduation Date: May 2019
Future Goals: I am a Mechanical Engineering major at University of Idaho. Once I graduate, I will look for a jobs at oil companies like Chevron and Aramco.
Email: aldo0224@vandals.uidaho.edu

2018 Buzz Lightboard Jake.png
Jake Jermyn

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Graduation Date: December 2018
Future Goals: As it stands right now, I will be going into the Navy as a Nuclear Engineer. So my future goals aren't exactly concrete, but I would like to obtain a Masters in Nuclear Engineering and hone my skills as an engineer. I love the challenge that new topics bring me, so I hope that this does exactly that.
Email: jerm4347@vandals.uidaho.edu

2018 Buzz Lightboard Nate.jpeg
Nate Sherwood

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Albany, Oregon
Graduation Date: Spring 2019
Future Goals: I am a Mechanical Engineer at University of Idaho and I also play basketball for the University as well. After I finish my senior year at the University I am not exactly sure where my future will take me. If there is a possibility for me to play professional basketball I will pursue that but, if I cant play basketball I will pursue a career in Engineering. Engineering is a passion of mine and if sports don't work out I am excited to see where my future as a engineer takes me. My goal would be to work at, or with, a company with a good atmosphere and be a part of a team of engineers.
Email: sher4742@vandals.uidaho.edu

2018 Buzz Lightboard Taylor.jpg
Taylor Spence

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Garden Valley, Idaho
Graduation Date: December 2018
Future Goals: I will most likely be attending grad school here at the University of Idaho after I graduate. After grad school I would like to pursue a career in product development. I like working with CAD programs and love the challenges that come with designing a new product. I also have a passion for teaching, so I hope to return to academia some day after getting experience in industry.
Email: spen9717@vandals.uidaho.edu

Additional Documentation[edit]

Project Schedule

2018 Buzz Lightboard ScheduleRev1.png

Meeting Minutes

File:All Agendas.pdf



Client Interview

File:Client Meeting Notes.pdf