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How to Make LED Lights: Step by Step DIY LED Light Guide

About How to Make LED Lights. Despite their conceptualization in the early 1900s, LEDs did not reach mass production (of some sort) until 1962. Since then, they have been one of the most important technologies in articulating electroluminescence. It is practically impossible to live a day without tech interfacing that uses LEDs in some shape or fashion in the modern world.

We can attribute this ubiquity to their efficiency, accessibility, and size. Simply, LEDs are just fun and easy to work with. They facilitate smart lighting in industrial environments. Nevertheless, did you know that LED strip lights are 80% more efficient than light bulbs? That is why in this guide, we will show you LED DIY tips.

How to Make an LED Light Tube

What is an LED Strip Light?

LED strip light

LED strip light

An LED strip light is essentially a series of LED lights connected in a line or circuit board. You must not confuse this with running LEDs parallel. Nonetheless, you can use LED strip lights in art displays, building outlines and signage, subtle lighting near handrails and walkways, cabinet, and kitchen lighting.

You can purchase LED strips from your local hardware store or build one of your own. We will cover the latter further down into this guide.

How Do LED Lights Work

LED stands for light-emitting diode. At a microscopic level, it consists of a semiconductor material implanted with two different impurities on each side. When electricity flows through this semiconductor material at the proper polarity, electrons push from one side to the other. 

Due to the different impurities in the semiconductor, the electrons end up stepping down to a lower energy state as they jump across the junction. And this “step down” results in excess energy that manifests as light. 

Because this light is of a very narrow wavelength, you get a single emitted color, which you can adjust from red to blue by using different materials in the semiconductor. 

LED Lights

LED Lights

Prerequisites for Building a LED Tube Light

Before you can build an LED tube light, you need to ensure you have the right equipment and materials. Consequently, in this section of the guide, we have listed a few key components for this particular DIY project:

  1. Half-Inch (1.27cm) wooden dowel rod
  2. End caps
  3. 5m LED Strip Lights (8mm White PCB Flexible Ribbon Strip with solderless connector)
  4. 20 Gauge 2Pin Extension Wire
  5. Frosted acrylic round tube (1-1/2” diameter, 36” length)
  6. Power adapter with four-way cable split (12V) 
  7. Soldering iron
  8. Solder
  9. Wire Cutters
  10. Hot Glue Gun
  11. Saw (optional)
  12. File or sandpaper (optional)
  13. Drill
  14. Masking tape
  15. M1.2 screws

How to Make an LED Tube Light

[Video]

Step 1

Cut down your wooden dowel rod until it is the same size as your acrylic tube. Equally, you might have to shorten your acrylic tube as well. Nevertheless, you just have to ensure that the tube and rod are the same sizes.

Step 2  

Drill two small pilot holes on both ends of the rod.

Step 3

Take your extension wire and cut it a few inches longer than your dowel rod. Tape one end of the wire to the end of your dowel rod. Make sure that there is some excess wire hanging off the rod. Additionally, make sure that the wire is tight and flat against the rod. Once you have taped it against one side of the rod, tape it against the other, so the wire runs across the rod and sticks to it. 

Step 4

Peel your LED strip from the adhesive tape and start sticking it to the rod. Leave at least a half-inch of the end of the rod exposed as you are doing so.

Step 5

Strip one end of your extension wire and then solder it to the end of the LED strip (red to positive, black to negative). 

Step 6

Next, strip the excess wire on the other end and then connect it to the power adapter that came with your LED strip lights.

Step 7

Drill two small holes at the center of your end caps. They should be small enough for M.1.2 screws to sit in them. Then take one of the end caps and drill a larger hole near its edges using a quarter-inch bit.

Step 8

Insert the LED wrapped wire dowel into the frosted acrylic tube. Next, attach the end caps, making sure that the adapter goes through the larger hole. Screw the end caps to the holes on the wooden dowel. 

There you have it. At the end of this project, you should have a fluorescent light-like tube made up of LED lights.

How to Make Colors on LED Lights Tube

LED Lights Tube

LED Lights Tube

If you want to make this project more colorful, you can add color LED light strip instead of a simple warm light strip. Additionally, you can buy an RGB color changing led light strip that you can control via an infrared remote. Alternatively, you can program it by connecting it to a Raspberry Pi.

How to Make Custom LED Tail Lights

You can customize your car yourself by adding LED taillights to it. Firstly, you will need to remove the tail light housing using a straight head screwdriver. Then you will have to mold ABS plastic to make custom plates by using a heat gun.

Create LED grid patterns on the plastic plates. Next, you will need to attach the LED light bulbs/strips, making sure that you place them in drilled holes. Connect the resistors to the LEDs and solder them. Finally, wire the LEDs to the car and make sure that the ABS plastic plates are secure.

How to Fix Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

Christmas lights usually fail because of a circuit breaker. To find the breaker, you will need a voltage detector. You will have to trace the fault while the Christmas lights are on. Once you find the faulty LED, expel it and reconnect the wires using two heat shrink tubes. Next, you will need to solder the wires and shrink the tube.  

What to Pay Attention to When Working With DIY LED Lights? 

DIY LED Lights

DIY LED Lights

As you can tell from this guide, you will be doing quite a bit of soldering while working with DIY LED lights. If you have never soldered before, there are plenty of books and YouTube videos to bring you up to speed. You can also learn about the PCB soldering process from us.

The soldering process seems to trip most people up. For instance, when they make a mistake while soldering, they will try to rip the wire out. Instead, you should de-solder the wire instead of trying to use brute force. You can desolder using a desoldering pump (solder sucker), desoldering braid, or desoldering tweezers.

Additionally, you should always pay attention to the Data in and Data out indication pins and arrows on the LED strip. These are essentially the flow direction of the LEDs. You must ensure that the arrows are going in the same direction. 

Finally, ensure that you are soldering the right pins. Do not mix your negative and positive pins up.   

Conclusion

LEDs are fun and easy to work with. Whether you are working with a microcontroller or looking for a simple Raspberry Pi project, the easiest and most useful ideas likely involve LEDs. Nonetheless, in the above guide, we featured some advanced but practical LED project ideas. From creating a LED light tube to fixing your Christmas lights. Consequently, you should find one of these ideas to be useful. Either way, we hope you have enjoyed reading through this guide. Thank you for reading.    

Hommer
Hi, I am Hommer, the founder of WellPCB. So far we have more than 4,000 customers worldwide. Any questions you can feel free to contact me. Thanks in advance.

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