Making a Dangerous Prototypes sign in Shenzhen


Shenzhen isn’t just about building electronic hardware, so many things can be created and customized inexpensively. One day we spotted an entire street of shops selling customized signs in Dongmen, the old market neighborhood. There’s a few dozen shops with hundreds of sample signs in different styles hung on the walls, most decorated with binky lights.


Immediately it became imperative to have the Dangerous Prototypes logo make into a sign. Prices are quite reasonable. At first we wanted an 80cm by 90cm sign: quotes ranged from 1800 to 4000RMB ($300 to $660). Then we realized that’s too massive for an inside wall and ordered a 60cm by 70cm sign. The price dropped down to 800 to 2000RMB ($120 to $330).


We looked over the sample signs to get an idea what would work for the logo. There’s lots of fine details in the circuit board of the     triangle outline so a molded plastic sign wouldn’t work. We decided to go for laser cut metal on a yellow background.

They gave us swatches with 100 different material samples to choose from – plastics for the background and metals for the logo. We also had the options of two-sided sign, backlit sign, and color changing lights. The default metal is reflective and might be distracting in a workshop video, so we had the shop hand-brush the metal for a nice vintage look which added to the cost. They thought the “DANGEROUS” font in the logo was too thin to cut and flipped through 100s of fonts to find something that matched.


1400RMB ($220), and four days later, the sign was ready. They tested it for us at the shop. All the details in the logo are perfect and the color is beautiful.


Four screws secure the front of the sign to the back. Mounting involves separating the parts, screwing it to a wall, and replacing the front. It’s powered by an external 12volt transformer. The inside is plastered with dozens of white LED strips that give an even glow.

Overall the sign making experience was easy and fun. Look for the big yellow sign in future workshop videos.

The sign street is named Lixin Road, outside of the Rainbow Square Shopping Mall in Dongmen.

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