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.

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Light Bulbs and the Importance of Proper Storage

17 03 2010

Light Bulbs StorageHow to store your unused light bulbs can, at times, be a daunting task. There are a countless variety of light bulbs available in many shapes and sizes ranging from incandescent, fluorescent and halogen. These are the three main types of light bulb although the most common is the Incandescent light bulb.

Incandescent Bulbs: Practical Storage Ideas

Often times when we purchase light bulbs they come in a package of two or four. Unfortunately we only need one. What do you do with the remaining bulbs? Do you just set it on the shelf or in a drawer to be jostled and bumped and possibly broken? Let us consider some practical ideas to assure the safe storage of your unused light bulbs.

  • Purchase a specially designed storage bin. Available for less than $20, the Light Bulb Storage Box can store 24 bulbs of various sizes and shapes from the standard bulb to CFL bulbs. This is only one of the options available and can be found at a variety of online retailers such as organize.com or stacksandstacks.com.
  • Do-it-yourself storage. All you need is a cardboard box and some bubble wrap. The box should be the approximate width of the light bulb packaging. You may be able to place several packages into the box if space permits. The idea is to securely place the package into the box and with the bubble wrap, you can fill the remaining space to avoid rattling. With this done you can now place the box on the shelf, knowing that your unused bulbs will be safe. The last step is to label the box. Don’t forget to include the bulb type, wattage and where the bulbs will most likely be used.

Halogen Bulbs: Handle with Care

Even though Fluorescent and Halogen bulbs are not used through out the home as abundantly as incandescent bulbs are, care is still needed. Halogen bulbs in particular come with concise handling instructions and these instructions should be taken into consideration as you think about possible storage options. You would never want to handle the bulb with your bare hands. A halogen bulb is made of quartz instead of a glass like most other bulbs. The salts and oils from your skin can, when in contact with the quartz, cause a breakdown or a weak point in the quartz. It is always a good practice to handle halogen bulbs while wearing gloves or to make it a habit of wiping down the bulb following any handling.

If you decide to go with a do-it-yourself storage method, using a variation of the one noted above, you should consider, first of all the box you are placing the bulb into. If you are using a box that has been used previously for a different purpose you should think about how clean the container is. Does it have an oily or greasy residue? Could the box contaminate the integrity of the bulb in a way similar to your bare hands?

Fluorescent Bulbs: The Necessity of Proper Storage

Good storage does more than simply protect your investment. It also helps to protect our environment and your personal well being. Fluorescent bulbs, above and beyond incandescent and halogen bulbs need to be securely stored. If broken, a fluorescent light bulb releases mercury and other toxins into the air which can be easily inhaled.

Various state governments have very detailed procedures in place to guide individuals as well as businesses in the proper way to handle, store and dispose of fluorescent lights. The following are a few of the Environmental Health and Safety procedures:

  • We need to have a designated location for storage. This area needs to be secure. A low traffic area were the possibility of accidental damage is low. Outside, in the weather where the cardboard boxes may become wet, is not a viable option.
  • Used light bulbs should not remain in storage for more than a year. Proper labeling would be useful, noting that the bulbs are used and the date that they were placed into storage.
  • Used light bulbs must be stored in a container. The original cardboard packaging is acceptable or Environmental Health and Safety can supply proper storage containers.

It is important that you pay close attention to the guidelines outlined by Environmental Health and Safety, not simply for the legal ramifications but also to ensure that you protect your own health and the health of those around you, on the job or at home. For further information on the proper handling of Fluorescent bulbs check out the procedures found at http://www.ehs.psu.edu/hazmat/FlorescentLighttubes.pdf.

Light bulbs like so many other common household items come with there own unique hazards and require special attention and special consideration. Proper storage is essential to avoid bulb damage and the loss of our investment or even the loss of our health through exposed toxins. Remember that proper storage is a simple step in assuring the safety of yourself and for your family.

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