Thinking of a New future in lighting decor

Thread Starter

devoided

Joined Apr 2, 2021
17
Hello, I've been earning a living as a traditional sign writer for a little while now. I came across LEDs and everything has been inverted right back in, I'm thinking of a future in lighting decor, but <f--->, as stated earlier, I know <j---s--t> about any of this. I stumbled here by virtue of wanting to know what is necessary about LED diode lights. What words do you have for an noob of all noobs? Is circuits and electric boards something I have to go to school for, or YouTube University will sort me out? <s--->, I'm hating now that the signs I made are not very much appreciated, even though I am really good at it. Digital prints have been making work scarce, so, what's the best way to start off, especially if any one of you guys makes signs / is in the signs business / industry.

Moderator edit: expletives removed
 

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
17,143
Hello, I've been earning a living as a traditional sign writer for a little while now. I came across LEDs and everything has been inverted right back in, I'm thinking of a future in lighting decor, but <f--->, as stated earlier, I know <j---s--t> about any of this. I stumbled here by virtue of wanting to know what is necessary about LED diode lights. What words do you have for an noob of all noobs? Is circuits and electric boards something I have to go to school for, or YouTube University will sort me out? <s--->, I'm hating now that the signs I made are not very much appreciated, even though I am really good at it. Digital prints have been making work scarce, so, what's the best way to start off, especially if any one of you guys makes signs / is in the signs business / industry.
I have zero experience making signs.

LEDs are driven by current and cannot be simply attached to the right voltage without an additional attention paid to the current. They're not like a traditional bulbs that self-regulate the current by heating up and increasing resistance. For a sign with lots of individual LEDs, you'll almost certainly want an LED driver, a device that supplies a controlled current over some range of voltages.

A typical LED requires 2-4V (depending on color) to light up at all and can run at 20mA of current. Brightness is nearly proportional to current, so they will be dim at 2mA. They last longer at lower current. So I rarely design to use them at more than, say, 15mA. They are perfectly bright for being an indicator (eg. power on) at 5mA. For experimenting, a 9V battery with a 470Ω resistor is a fine power source. You can find all sorts of LED calculators online but I suggest learning Ohm's law so you can do it yourself.

There are many LED modules, strips, arrays, etc. that will have specified power requirements you need to follow.

In addition to powering the LED, there are myriad ways of controlling the LED. You've probably seen the bulbs that can be controlled by an app to give different colors and brightness. You might need a micro-controller (eg. Arduino) to achieve these effects. You can pretty well assume any effect you want or can imagine is doable. It just comes down to figuring out the best way. Once you can specify what you want to do, the folks here will be happy to devise a plan for you.

You should also look into EL, electroluminescent technology as well, in my opinion. There's some really cool looks you cannot achieve in other ways. Here's a leading supplier: https://lighttape.com
 

Thread Starter

devoided

Joined Apr 2, 2021
17
ok, noted, but I can barely understand half of what @wayneh is saying, granted I see people making LED signs using the ordinary 5mm/3mm LEDs, and use AC, after it's been converted into DC, using a Wheatstone bridge

You can say, that's what I want to do, while I get conversant with electricals, so that I can leap forward to much complex signs/decor. Also, what kind of materials are used to hide the naked LEDs, but keep the light visible, that should be akin to evening out the dots into a smooth light source.
 

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
17,143
yes, something like these, tho I still don't know which fits where. From what I gathered, people seemed to use the Wheatstone one for any kind of sign that looks like the one I linked on imgur
One thing about LEDs - the typical one is in a plastic, bullet-shaped form. This focuses the light into a fairly narrow beam, a bit like a flashlight. Of course the sellers like to quote a high brightness but that’s only for the beam. The overall light output might be the same as any other. So buyer beware.

For more diffuse light, you can start with an LED that hasn’t already been focused into a beam. Look into “COB” LEDs for instance. These are generally more useful for making a lot of diffused light. Take a look at what Cree offers. They’re a leading brand in LED manufacturing and you’ll find lots of products advertising that they use Cree LEDs. In their technical documentation they’ll give spread angle, power efficiency, all sorts of information. They’re a good source to learn from, the jargon, the important metrics and so on.
 

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
2,902
There are a lot of details you will need to absorb but one thing I can recommend is the Big Live youtube channel. Search for LED related videos on his channel. He loves to build LED signs and displays and he explains them in detail.

is an example, but you'll need to watch many to get conversant with LEDs. He's a great resource because of his general nerdiness, love of LEDs, and style of presentation.
 

Thread Starter

devoided

Joined Apr 2, 2021
17
one last question, there's a plastic type of cover that is used in softening the distribution of light on LED strips, to prevent it from looking like many dots of light. It makes the light appear even once that translucent plastic has been laid above it. What's the name of that translucent object?
 

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
2,902
one last question, there's a plastic type of cover that is used in softening the distribution of light on LED strips, to prevent it from looking like many dots of light. It makes the light appear even once that translucent plastic has been laid above it. What's the name of that translucent object?
Look up "LED Neon" and look at Big Clive's videos on that very thing.
 
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