How to Make LED Light Bulbs

17 03 2010

How to Make LED Light BulbsPeople have been using light emitting diodes, or LED lights, for years now. This is partially due to movements in energy conservation as well as reaping its known benefits. These benefits include longer life, less maintenance cost, low heat generation and a variety of colors from which to choose. Some even take it upon themselves to make their own LED light bulbs. This is a bit of a difficult project to take on without experience and as such should be approached with someone with experience, if possible.

Preparation

The following is a list of required items for this project:

  • A halogen bulb – whether it is burnt or new, this is a cheap item to get. It will not need the glass cover on the front.
  • LEDs – get as many as desired. To avoid a painful procedure, however, try keeping the count under 22.
  • An online LED array calculator – this will help in figuring out what resistors will be necessary based on both the number of LEDs and the voltage supply.
  • Super glue and compound glue – other types of glue will work, but super glue is probably the best choice.
  • Soldering equipment – this includes soldering wire and a soldering gun, as well as both some experience and skill in the procedure.
  • A small piece of 0.2 mm aluminum sheet – find this in a store specializing in the printing industry.
  • A paper perforator – two hole punch, office kind.
  • Resistors – how many will depend on the needs of the project.
  • Plenty of patience

Getting Started

Begin by emptying the halogen light bulb of its contents. Remove its glass cover and, using a small screwdriver, twist the tips on the cement located around the bulb’s pins. Because the cement is fine, it will crumble when twisted. Continue this until enough cement has crumbled to start removing the insides. Take caution, however, as the light bulbs are delicate and can break if patience is not practiced.

Get a hammer and place the bulb face down on top of a flat surface once enough white cement has been removed. Hit both pins easy but firm at the same time. The bulb’s insides should fall out, leaving the halogen reflector empty. Do not worry if any white cement remains; it may come in handy later.

Make the Holding Disc

The next step is to make a holding disc for the LED lights. Plan accordingly, as more bulbs will require a larger disc. Beginners will want to use a template for this part, perhaps using a graphic designer to draw perfectly how far apart the LED lights will be from one another on the aluminum sheet. Print out the template and lightly glue it to the aluminum sheet.

Take the sheet and punch holes in it using the perforator. If possible, try to make sure the perforator punches 5 mm holes, which is perfect for holding LED lights. Aluminum sheets as long as 4 cm should be able to hold 15 punched holes on it. This newly punched aluminum sheet will serve as both a holder and a light reflector for the LED lights; be careful not to bend the sheet when handling it.

Visit the online LED array calculator, such as http://www.led.linear1.org/led.wiz, and fill out the parameters to come up with the suggested amount of resistors.

Inserting the LEDs

Hold the sheet by the outer rim and insert the LED lights with the legs up. Arrange them so that each cathode is adjacent to another anode. This is a tip to make soldering easy.

Apply a drop of super glue to each LED margin, taking care not to glue the legs. When the LEDs are all in place, use compound glue around each one to further solidify its position. It is important to make sure the lights are secure in their positions because the legs will be bent, otherwise putting the LEDs at risk of coming loose. Wait up to 24 hours to ensure the glue dries before proceeding.

Connecting

Keeping in mind that each cathode will need to connect to another anode, take a nail clipper and cut the legs. Take care not to confuse the cathode with the anode. In fact, cut the legs at different lengths so that it is easier to distinguish the plus from the minus legs. Make the plus legs longer than the minus. Bend the legs such that a pattern begins; the plus will go to the minus and so on until four legs are connected. Solder the legs together. Rinse and repeat.

Take all of the longer legs and bend them towards one another and solder them together. Do this over the other connections with some breathing room to prevent short circuiting. Resistors should be soldered vertically to the minus legs. Try to be quick in soldering, as too much heat could potentially damage the lights.

Solder the minus legs together. Keep a low profile since this all has to fit inside the halogen bulb. Solder the final two legs onto the connection, using the copper wire and keeping in mind that one has to be kept shorter.

Piecing it Together

Take the empty halogen bulb and insert the disc inside of it. It should fit perfectly. Proceed to push it in until the LEDs touch the inner reflector. Keep it still together and get the compound glue. Fill in the gap around the copper legs, which should be coming out the back of the bulb. Be generous with the glue, as this is the only thing that will hold these two components together. Wait at least ten minutes for the glue to harden. If possible, hold the two components together while it dries.

Take a permanent marker, if desired, and write a plus next to the longer wire and a minus symbol opposite of that. Cut the legs so that they match the length of the original bulb’s legs, completing the project. Test it by connecting it to a 12V battery and it should work with no problems.

This concludes a guide on how to make light emitting diodes. The end result of this project should include an LED light bulb that is bright enough to blind if stared into directly. Keep in mind that this can be used with any sort of LED lights, including those with a variety of color. Try this project with red, blue or green LEDs. With experience on the belt, feel free to experiment.

More Light Bulb Articles

You may also be interested in our projector light bulbs and overhead projectors article.

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