Wiring LEDs along an insulated wire

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by agroom, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. agroom

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Oct 15, 2010
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    I want to get some advice on possibly a better method of what I'm doing. I'm wiring LEDs in parallel along an insulated speaker wire. I'm currently stripping the wires back and soldering the leads down, then heat shrinking around it, but the process is very time consuming. Also, it's a hassle to replace one and I can't re-heat shrink it.

    Here's a picture

    What I'm thinking is maybe some kind of in-line led holder clip perhaps (kinda like an inline fuse)? I've looked all over online and found nothing but I have no doubts I'm just not looking in the right places. Or at least something I can solder in that I can easily swap out LEDs. Maybe there's even a pre-made harness I can buy?
     
  2. thatoneguy

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2009
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    You can buy LED strips that are pre-wired.

    If you know the exact number of LEDs that will be in your wire, and the wire is for powering LEDs only, then you could omit the resistors and use a constant current source to power the LEDs, which would introduce additional problems in the event of a failure.

    Otherwise, the way you are doing it is working. One thing that can speed you up is pushing heat shink on (a lot of pieces) and not cutting the wire, just use a wire stripper to expose the conductor, solder, then slide heatshrink on and shrink. That way the wire is un-cut, saving time if you get the heat shrink tubing correct.
     
  3. agroom

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Oct 15, 2010
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    Do you mean LED strip lighting? If so, that's not really an option because they run on 12v and I have to work within 6v.

    I've considered this and may turn to that. The only disadvantage is that the # of LEDs change with each wire, and sometimes mid project (though I could wait until it's completed then purchase it). Any advice on what to look for in a current driver? I've never actually used one yet.

    A question about this though, I buy many of my LEDs from ebay and the current rating from the product page can vary from 25-35mA. My guess is for all "standard" 5mm LEDs, I could get away keeping them all at 25mA, but is there a standard current rating or do they vary often? I don't always use identical LEDs along the wire.

    This is what I'm currently doing. I have one of those in-line wire strippers which I bought after the first one I made! haha It literally cut my time in half. But still a 20 LED strip can take me 3-4 hours with cutting the leads to length, soldering the resistors, splicing, etc.

    Thanks for the advice! Ideally I'd still like something that I'm not soldering the LEDs directly to the wires so they can be swapped out if one goes bad or another color is desired. But anything to save me some time will greatly help in the interim.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012
  4. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    Somewhere I've seen a clamp-on device with spike-like conductors that is meant to clamp on standard zip cord to give a "tap". You don't have to cut any insulation or do any soldering, just clamp and go. Sounds like it would save you some time, and give a degree of interchangeable parts. I just wish I knew the name or keyword you could search for.
     
  5. mcgyvr

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 15, 2009
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    "typically" 5mm LEDs are run at 20mA each anything more an the lifespan goes down pretty fast..

    After doing that a few times I would be sick of it and switch to a 12V supply and buy premade strips..

    If you went with a constant current supply you could emit the resistors and use something like an AMP MTA-100 series pass through IDC connector. 5mm led leads will plug into those nicely. The insulation displacement pass through allows you to simply press these connectors onto a wire without stripping and have the wire continue out to the next position.. You would need the proper size wire/IDC connectors(feed or pass through type) and the crimping tool which isn't cheap so if this is a one off then its not going to be worth it for you but if you are making a bunch its one way to go.
     
  6. agroom

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Oct 15, 2010
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    Yeah, that's exactly what I'm thinking too, but I also don't know what keyword search would be. I've done a lot of auto wiring (stereos & trailer lights) and use these quite often, which is what I'm kinda basing my thinking on.
     
  7. mcgyvr

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 15, 2009
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    yeah wayne is talking about "scotchlock" connectors which would also be pretty simple to use here and you don't need any tools besides a pliers to crimp them down... Not really a good solution if you need to replace the LED's though.
     
  8. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    Bingo. But I can't really say how well they'd work here. Just an idea to avoid mucking about with the insulation and solder.
     
  9. agroom

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Oct 15, 2010
    60
    1
    Yeah not sure either. If they made them with 2 holes that I could clamp over the wires then insert the LED into...
     
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