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Old 15-01-2012, 19:52   #16
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Re: My New Affordable and BRIGHT Interior LED Fixtures

How are the cut strips reattached? Can you post a close up of the fixture with the 3 one foot strips so I can see how you made them?

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Old 16-01-2012, 06:53   #17
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Re: My New Affordable and BRIGHT Interior LED Fixtures

Originally Posted by brankin View Post
How are the cut strips reattached? Can you post a close up of the fixture with the 3 one foot strips so I can see how you made them?
They have a 3m sticky tape on the back of them. You can cut them every 3 LED's at contact points and connect strips together by soldering on wires to these contact points.

Sorry I answered for another poster, but we have these lights also and find them fantastic.

A hint: they work great on standard dimmers.



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Old 16-01-2012, 07:02   #18

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Re: Affordable, BRIGHT Interior LED Fixtures

Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Raku, there are commercial LED strip fixtures that you can buy in the big box hardware stores--but expect to pay $5-10 per linear foot for them, WAY more expensive than the rolls of SMD LEDs that you can buy on eBay. Which have a self-stick adhesive backing, so installation really can be easy, no fixture needed if you can "bury" them next to a molding, etc.

AFAIK the rolls are all using built-in resistors to regulate the current, they're not going to be as efficient as actively regulated LEDs but they do make life real easy. Just cut to length (usually in clusters of 3 LEDs, cut lines marked on the strip) and then solder power leads onto the circuit tracing with a small soldering iron.

If that sounds too hard, just use the end that has the power wires attached to it, cut as needed and throw away the rest. It's still going to be a tiny fraction of the cost of buying light strips at a store.

REAL easy, really economical. The hardest part is choosing yellow white versus blue white, or amber or red for night vision. There are two types of SMD LED strips, the "SMD 5050" are the brighter ones.

Then there are three flavors:
1-Plain strip, no protection.
2-Strip covered with plastic seal, water resistant.
3-Strip enclosed in plastic tubing, waterproof.

The water resistant ones are probably the best choice for interior lighting, the covering makes them very durable, doesn't cost much more than the bare ones. The waterproof ones would be better above deck obviously.

It's not that soldering sounds "hard." It's that I've never done it, and so ... don't have the equipment, nor the experience to use it, and I take the wiring in my boat seriously. My biggest fear is ... fire. Not water, not wind, but fire.

The self-stick strips sound interesting because I could quickly improve the lighting, but I didn't grasp (I told you I don't know nuthin' 'bout this!) where the power comes from? I don't want battery operated. But at the kind of prices you're talking about I could try a strip of each color and experiment.

I really appreciate your feedback. I have my hands full increasing my sailing skills and continuing to learn the diesel engine. I can't take on carpentry and electrical at the same time -- my head would explode! And then I'd have to clean it up.
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Old 16-01-2012, 08:23   #19
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Re: Affordable, BRIGHT Interior LED Fixtures


I think Mark cleared it up, but the strips have 3M sticky tape on the back that seems to do a great job, although I had some issues with one of them drooping, but I think that was because I applied the LED strips before the urethane was completely cured.

For the ends, where I have sealed the solder points with liquid electric tape and heat shrink, I used regular craft hot glue to hold the wires/heat shrink in place on the wood. Also, within all of the fixtures I used hot glue to keep wires down and organized and to help support the soldered ends. Hot glue is a fast, easy way to glue stuff in place, and it is easy to peel up and off of wires if something needs changed.

I've attached the only things I can see that make sense for a close up of the question asked.

Aaron N.
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Old 16-01-2012, 08:49   #20

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Re: Affordable, BRIGHT Interior LED Fixtures

The power for each LED strip usually comes from a 2.1mm standard coaxial power socket, that is pre-soldered to one end of the strip. That gets plugged into a standard 12-volt power supply which usually has a matching 2.1mm power plug on it. $5-10 from any source that sells power supplies.
For boat use, you cut off the socket and connect the two wires to your 12-volt lighting circuit instead, same as installing any light fixture. You can twist, crimp, solder, as you please to do this.

It is only when you cut the strip into shorter lengths that you would need to actually solder, and a $10 pencil iron from Radio Shack or any hardware store is a perfectly good tool for the job. (Although, those cheapies always find a way to get spun around by the power cord and burn you if you give them a chance to. It helps to stick the business end in a can or mug when you're not holding it. Or buy a $25 model that comes with a stand to do that. Don't ask me why I know this.)
There are also butane and electric portable soldering irons that are perfect for occasional small jobs, boat/mobile work, like this. None of these will handle anything like coaxial antenna fittings, they just don't make enough heat. You'd need a soldering gun for those.

When you cut the strip into smaller strips, you peel the backing up a little bit, and scrape the two power traces clean. This is a really easy soldering job, if it was being sold as a kit it would be rated a "first timers" level.

Dave makes a good point about PWM. PWM is used for many things including alternator output control, battery charging (it generates less gas so it charges faster than pure DC even though the power is on for less time), and mainly for light dimming circuits on all sorts of lights. I've never heard current control being called PWM, because PWM usually supplies a fixed voltage for a varying time period.

But LEDs can very definitely be used without external currrent controls, because they limit themselves. Crudely, but they limit themselves. If you don't limit the current you supply to them, they self-limit to some extent. At their rated voltage, they will consume their rated power and no more. Raise the voltage--and they cook. By using an external current control, even if that's just a resistor, you can also ensure that they operate more efficiently. An LED that is capable of being used in a range, say from 20-40 milliamps, may change birghtness by 50% over that range, but also have a 500% life expectancy change. So the external control allows you to choose brightness versus life as well.

LEDs can also be killed very quickly by electrical spikes, since they are diodes and diodes really don't like voltage spikes. Having an active power control, digital or linear, is also more likely to clamp those spikes.

Bottom line, using LEDs properly is something like sailing: Any idiot can do it, but it takes some attention to really figure out how to trim the sails and do it well. How they really work isn't at all obvious, and because they're so cheap (even the expensive ones, relatively) they're easy to replace. Unless they're 65' up in the air on a pitching mast on a stormy night, in which case a proper implementation like BiBi's is worth every buck they charge for it.<G>

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