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Thread: How to wire LEDs

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Burnaby, BC
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    Default How to wire LEDs

    This will show you how to wire some LEDs to light add some light to your rig. Two bright red LEDs are going to be wired to a plug that you can connect to your receiver to power them up.

    The plan is to end up with a servo plug going to a length of wire to an LED, then another length of wire to the other LED. These could be installed as a pair of brake or tail lights, or use white LEDs and you could have head lights.

    For some, this is very basic stuff. For others, I hope this helps answer some questions and encourages you to build your own set of lights!



    An overall view of the materials to be used.
    Side cutters, needle nose pliers and wire strippers.
    Two lengths of stranded wire (I think it is 22 gauge) that I recycled from an old network cable.
    Two LEDs
    Two 150 ohm resistors
    Some heat shrink
    A servo cable cut from an old servo




    The LEDs need a resistor to limit the current flow or you risk burning them out or limiting their life. The two resistors shown here are 150 ohm (colour code: Black, Green, Brown, Gold). I will describe how I came to choose this resistance value in another post.
    LEDs are polarity sensitive devices. This means they will only pass current flow in one direction. The LEDs have a few ways of telling you the polarity of their leads. There will be one lead shorter than the other, and that one is negative. Often there will be a flattened area near the leads and that also indicates the negative lead. I have clipped the negative lead of the upper LED and one end of each resistor.




    Here you can see that the upper LED has been soldered to one of the resistors. To do this, I first tinned the areas I want to solder and then held them together and added a little heat until the tinned bits flowed together.
    If you are wondering if these parts are heat sensitive, the answer is yes. The resistors can tolerate the heat well, but be quick on the LED. A good idea is to hold the LEDs lead with needle nose pliers right close to the LED body. This will help keep the heat from passing into the LED.





    Both LEDs with a resistor soldered to their negative leads. The resistor is bent out like that to stop it from rolling over before I took the photo.





    Prepping the wire for soldering... I've decided that the grey will be negative and the brown will be positive. The wire length has been cut and the insulation has been stripped to match the components to be soldered. Again, tin the wires before soldering to make things easier.





    Notice that because of the way the components are placed, even if the leads are pinched together, there won't be a short circuit - at least, it helps to minimize the risk. Better yet would be to place heat shrink over one of the wires but as you will see later, I'm doing it differently.





    Prepping the next set of connections.





    The wires are cut to length, stripped and twisted together.





    Tin the wires and cut the ends off cleanly.






    The double wires make things a little bulky, but it will work out.






    So far, so good.





    Make use of the old servo cable.




    The signal wire in this cable serves no purpose for the LEDs so it gets snipped right next to the plug and then peeled right off.





    Prep the wires for soldering. Remember that grey is negative. Don't forget about heat shrink (yes, I'm using it here). Also note how the wire lengths are staggered to help reduce the chance of shorts.





    Slide the heat shrink onto the wire before you solder that connection (I still forget to do that sometimes!). In this connection, I have slid the thin heat shrink over the grey wire only and the thick heat shrink is slid over both wires. Slide the thin shrink over the soldered connection and shrink it. Then slide the thicker shrink over both the thin shrink and the other connection.





    Heat shrink is cut to length to cover up the LEDs and resistors. This size of heat shrink won't easily fit over the LED so I stretched it a little wider by sliding it over my pliers and opening it slightly.





    A coat of liquid electrical tape or plasti dip is how I have chosen to insulate around the resistor and LED junction before the heat shrink goes on.





    Heat shrink in place and showing off some light!





    The completed LED string. Shown next to a Remote-Switch-For-LED-Lighting that could be used to remotely operate the lights.

    Happy Soldering!
    Last edited by HeyOK; 01-12-2013 at 06:05 PM.
    :biggthumpup:HeyOK Performance RC Electronics

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Abbotsford, BC
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    1,037

    Default

    I really could have used this tutorial about 6 years ago. I did way too much messin' around trying to figure this out. Then someone mentioned the resistor. I don't blow up near as many led's now. I even designed a circuit to bright and dim an LED with an enertia switch and extra resister.

    I love that little soldier jig! That's what I'm taking away from this tutorial today. Thanks Al!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    494

    Default

    Great tutorial!! I have been using WAY TOO much wire!! This answers just about all my LED questions and now I can make my trucks a little neater!! Thank you very much!!!!!!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Burnaby, BC
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    Default

    I'm glad you guys like this.

    Maybe I should start selling LEDs and resistors so you guys can get started making more lights!

    Matt, what solder jig? The solder roll holder? If that's what you meant, I agree - That little thing has really made doing electronics easier. Just the fact that it can hold the solder in a consistent position makes it so much better. It was really easy to make from scrap bits of aluminum and a piece of delrin rod.
    :biggthumpup:HeyOK Performance RC Electronics

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Breezand, Netherlands
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    Default

    Yep, Many thanks for the Tut. Here's another one not to handy with electronics!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    BC Canada
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    Default

    Nicely done Al!!!! 2thumbs

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default

    Thanks, guys!
    :biggthumpup:HeyOK Performance RC Electronics

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    North Van
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    Default

    Thanks, Al! I've tried to reduce wire by unsuccessfully running lights in series. Thanks for showing how to do it in parallel.

  9. #9
    jhedsy Guest

    Default

    Greatly appreciated!

    But how would one set up LED's on an alternate source like a 9v or AA's? I tried looking it up, but I got way in over my head...

    I want to be able to take off the body but not have a silly wire to unplug all the time.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Burnaby, BC
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    Default

    If you run from AA's, use 6 volts (that means 4 AA cells) and you don't have to change anything.

    To run from 9 volts, you need to change the resistor value to compensate for the extra voltage.
    This tool makes it really easy to calculate the resistor value:
    http://led.linear1.org/1led.wiz
    :biggthumpup:HeyOK Performance RC Electronics

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