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.





How to Color Light Bulbs

17 03 2010

How to Color Light BulbsColored light bulbs add a warm glow to any room. While tinted light bulbs in primary colors are available at certain hardware or discount stores, why not experiment with your own creativity and color light bulbs yourself? You can select unique colors and coat a set of bulbs, or you can add beautiful and interesting designs. Light bulbs with hand-painted patterns or scenes make perfect, one-of-a-kind gifts for friends and family.

You Will Need:

  • Clear glass light bulbs.
  • Glass paint.
  • Paint brushes in various sizes (synthetic or natural brushes can be used).
  • A palette or small cups for holding the paints while you work.
  • Protective gloves.

Directions

  1. Select clear, unused bulbs for your project. While you may use white or tinted bulbs, transparent glass will permit the colors of the paint to show through to their best effect.
  2. Purchase specialized glass paint, such as the dishwasher and oven safe paints used for coloring ceramics, from a craft supply store. Oil and acrylic paints should not be used for light bulb painting, as they will not stand up to the heat of a lighted lamp.
  3. Glass paint must be applied to a clean, dust-free surface. Clean each light bulb using rubbing alcohol or glass cleaner; allow the bulbs to dry before painting.
  4. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for preparing and applying glass paint. This type of paint does not take long to dry once it is applied to a glass surface, so make sure you have everything you need close at hand. If possible, use a table clamp to hold the base of your light bulb for ease of handling as you paint.
  5. Spread newspaper to protect the surface of your work area.
  6. Once you have all your supplies assembled, you can begin painting. Use small dollops of paint to prevent it from drying out. Working in small sections, create swirls, blocks of color, or floral patterns – anything you can imagine. You can mix glass paints to make new colors, if you like. If you choose to paint a scene, color the background first and allow it to dry, then add the elements of your scene in layers.
  7. Allow the painted bulbs to air-dry for 30 minutes to an hour.
  8. Clean your brushes right away using soap and water.
  9. Place the colored bulbs into an unheated oven. Follow the instructions included with the paints for preheating the oven and baking the painted bulbs. Baking permits the colors to set before using the bulbs in your lighting fixtures.

Note: Clear holiday lights can also be painted using glass paint. Remove each bulb on a string of lights from its socket, taking care not to damage the fine wire contacts, before you begin painting. Because holiday lights do not get as hot as incandescent bulbs, you can use an air-drying glass paint rather than baking the bulbs in the oven. Use very small amounts of paint for each bulb, and do not paint the base of the bulbs where they fit into the sockets. Once the bulbs are dry, replace them on the wires and test the string of lights to be sure all bulbs are working before use.

Safety Precautions

  1. Always wear gloves while handling light bulbs to prevent injury in case of breakage.
  2. Use a light touch with your paint brushes to avoid breaking the bulbs as you work.
  3. Handle heated glass with caution. It is best to allow the bulbs to cool inside the oven before removing them.
  4. Inspect bulbs for damage before placing them in an oven. Do not use bulbs that are cracked or discolored, as they may break when heated.
  5. Never place light bulbs into a preheated oven; put the bulbs into a cold oven, then preheat to allow the bulbs to come to temperature.
  6. Only glass paint should be used for painting light bulbs. Other paints may cause a fire hazard or release harmful fumes if they are heated.
  7. Always use the correct bulbs for your lighting fixtures. Using a wattage that is too strong for a particular lamp can cause a fire.

Decorating Tips

  • Use stencils to create colorful patterns on clear light bulbs.
  • Replace ordinary light bulbs with colored bulbs in soft hues to set the mood for a romantic evening.
  • Use soft, soothing pastel tones to color bulbs for your baby’s nursery.
  • Decorate your child’s room with bold, bright, colorful bulbs.
  • Make your next barbecue or outdoor party even more festive with colored lighting. Replace your regular outdoor bulbs with multi-colored bulbs (be sure to use the correct bulbs for your outdoor lighting fixtures).
  • Create custom holiday decorations by coloring indoor or outdoor mini-lights with hand-mixed hues. Conventional light bulbs painted with holiday scenes or festive designs make unique and colorful ornaments to decorate your home.

Designing your own hand-painted light bulbs is a fun and easy way to express your creative side. Dress up any room in your house with the warmth of colored lighting. For the best results, be sure to follow all instructions included with your glass paints, and always exercise caution while handling light bulbs.

More Light Bulb Articles

You may also be interested in our motorbike and motorcycle light bulbs article.