Thursday, August 13, 2009

LED spots



(Edit: Since this was originally posted some time ago and the LEDs I used are long gone, I thought I'd point everyone to Lighthouse LEDs as a source for LEDs. I've never used their stuff, but I've heard from quite a few people who have & they come highly recommended.)

(Edit again: Thanks to Aaron Bolton for pointing out that the fittings used here are actually cpvc. My local Lowes no longer carries the parts, but they are available on their website. The Home Depot stores near me do still carry them, & they're available on the Home Depot website as well.)

A few months back, Otaku over at Hauntforum.com posted a link to some ultra bright blue LEDs at Electronic Goldmine. On a whim I ordered a few of them, not really knowing what I'd do with them. Well the other day I was perusing the isles at Home Depot & happened down the PVC isle. I noticed a few small fittings & it struck me - spot lights! (Cue dramatic music)

So without further ado, I present my cheap, small, easy low voltage spotlights.

(Please excuse the out of focus pictures - the wife won't let me take the good camera into the barn so all I had was my phone)


STUFF

I started with a section of 1/2 inch PVC, 45 degree 3/4 to 1/2 inch reducers, 1/2 inch PVC caps, 470 ohm 1/2 watt resistors, the LEDs, and some 18 gauge wire.




I drilled 2 small holes in the PVC cap & fed the leads through so that the LED was inside the cap with the leads sticking out. I then hot glued the LED in place.






I then soldered a 470 ohm resistor to the longer lead (anode, positive) of the LED. I plan to run these from a common 12 volt power supply, so I'm not using a battery box. You could use 4 AA or D cell batteries if you replace the resistor with a 120 ohm resistor, or a 9 volt battery with a 270 ohm resistor. NOTE: I used a 470 ohm resistor because I plan to power these with 12 volts, and with the specs of this particular LED it turns out that's the value I need. If you're going to use different voltages or different LEDs, you'll need to calculate the resistance for your particular setup. You can find a great LED calculator here.

Then I soldered a red wire to the resistor, and a black wire to the other lead of the LED (cathode, negative.) I insulated the bare leads with heat shrink tubing, but electrical tape would work as well. Just make sure the bare leads don't touch each other.





I then fed the wires through the 45 degree fitting and nested the pipe cap into the big end of the 45.





Next, I cut a piece of the PVC pipe about 8 inches long, but made the cut at a shallow angle so the end would have a point. I then drilled a hole a couple of inches from the straight end of the pipe, and fed the wires through the straight end and out the hole. After that it was just a matter of pressing the pipe into the fitting.





There you have it. A quick shot of black paint & you have small, nondescript, bright spotlights perfect for lighting tombstones or props. Just stick em in the ground and go.



Oh, and did I mention they're bright?



Here's one of them illuminating the gardening tools (the scariest things in my barn) from about 6 feet away.




There ya have it, hope ya like it.

40 comments:

  1. cool info. I've been looking for the pvc 45 degree reducers at Lowes and Home Depot forever and can't seem to find them. Have you found them online anywhere?

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  2. Sorry, Jared. I didn't see your comment 'till just now. I haven't seen them online anywhere, but I've found them at both Home Depot and Lowes. They aren't with the bulk of the PVC though, they're closer to the HVAC stuff. I think they're generally used for AC condensation drains.

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  3. Yep - found them! They were the beige colored stuff rather than the white PVC. Thanks!

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  4. http://cgi.ebay.com/470-Ohm-5-1-2-Watt-Carbon-Film-resistors-50-pcs_W0QQitemZ180409436658QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item2a013d89f2&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14#ht_1023wt_1165

    would these resistors work?

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  5. Hey, Just as an FYI, today I was searching the web and this link has the 10mm led's for 25cents! Can you beat that? Also in some colors! I bought 15 for $4.75! Also, I wanted to thank you so much for the how-to. I am not a LED guy, as I barley know how to hook um up or anything. This how-to was great and I already made awesome spotlights! Thanks so much!

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  6. Thanks for the good words! I'm really glad you like the spots, and thanks for the link to the LED's - That's a great deal.

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  7. good work! these would be great for the yard.
    Have you checked out E5 Design's Precision Lights? They have some high power spotlights that are pretty cool. http://darklight.e5design.com

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  8. I'm curious, do you think this type of spot design could be plugged into landscape lighting setup (using the 470 ohm resistor) or would adjustments be needed?

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  9. Depends on the landscape lighting setup. If it's D.C. and runs at 12V then you should have no problem. Low voltage A.C. lighting systems won't work at all (unless you want to rectify the voltage), and different D.C. voltages would require different resistors. Check out this post - http://haunttheyard.blogspot.com/2010/01/leds-and-power.html - to find the formula for figuring resistance for different voltages.

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  10. I was just wondering what connectors, if any, you use to connect to the power supply? Your ideas and design are excellent, but I can't see the ends of your wires or how you decided to hook them up.

    Thanks!

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  11. I didn't end up using any. I extended the leads & connected them directly to my power supply, which just has screw terminals on it.

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  12. Thanks for the great how-to. Unfortunately, I am an electrical ignoramous, but I'm trying to learn. This may be a dumb question, but do each of the lights have its own power supply? Or can you connect several to one supply?
    Thanks!

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  13. Never mind....I just found your later post that talks about power. Thanks for all the info! I'm learning a lot!

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  14. I created a modified version using 5 super bright UV and a larger (1/2") diameter PVC. I could almost replace my fluorescent UV bulbs with a few more of these things. Next year I'm building a dozen of blue and green for graveyard lighting. Wonderful How-To, thanks for posting!

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  15. Here at http://www.sephh.com/ we used this setup with 9 volt batteries to eliminate much of our wiring in the yard haunt. Will demo at our meeting this weekend. Great work!

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  16. That's very cool, Alex! Looks like you've got a great group there - wish I was close enough to join you.

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  17. Can you tell me how I connect it to the power source and can I run several together to the power source and how do I do it. Do you have a tutorial for dummies on this electrical plan? Sorry, I'm electronically challenged.

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  18. Hey Tray, I just posted a little bit of an explanation for jus that at http://haunttheyard.blogspot.com/2011/06/more-on-powering-leds.html. Hope it helps.

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  19. Thank you Jason... appreciate any photos you might have of the actual connection to the 12 volt source.

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  20. Hey Jason, what size heat shrink wrapping did you use?

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  21. Jason, I tried to order from Moddersmart for the LEDs but they aren't taking orders right now. Any other suggestions? Also, can you post any pics on how you connected to the 12 volt source... I'm a visual learner! :)

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  22. I'm not sure what size the heat shrink was - I pulled it out of my junk drawer. If I had to guess, it was probably 3/16 or 1/4.

    I don't have any pics of the connections to the spot lights. When I get a chance, I'll pull them down out of the loft & get some photos.

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  23. Are you using 10mm led's for this project? If so would two 5mm be the same output? and also I was thinking of doing this but powering with a 9v battery, what kind of run time do you think i would get per battery?

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  24. I used 10 mm LEDs, but you could certainly use 5 or even 3 mm LEDs. As for the brightness, that would depend on the LEDs you use. It's a little tough to figure out how bright they'd be without seeing them, but you can get an idea from the LEDs millicandella rating. I wrote a little about it in a post here http://haunttheyard.blogspot.com/2010/02/millicandelas-and-you.html.

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  25. Oops, hit post too soon! You can run them off of 9 volt batteries, too. How long they'll run depends on the LEDs you use, but it's a safe bet that unless you're trying to run several off of a single battery, they'll last a few evenings.

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  26. ok thank's Jason... Do you think I could do this build copying your design but use 2- 10mm leds and power each fixture with a 9v battery... and how would you recommend wiring it?

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  27. Does anyone have video of these things in action?

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  28. How do we power these guys? I want to run about 10 of them, some about 50+ feet away, some closer. Can a single 350watt computer powersupply handle this? Would the length of wire degrade the power to the LED and thus modify the resistor I would use?

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    1. 350 watts is plenty (it's actually way more than plenty, but more isn't a problem).
      Unless you're running some really tiny wire, 50 feet won't add enough resistance to mess with your resistor calculations.

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  29. Awesome idea but cannot find the 3/4 to 1/2 slip reducers. Home Depot doesn't have them nor Lowes and no one has ever seen anything like it. Tried some HVAC companies also. Just gave up and went with a 3/4 45 degree elbow with a slip sleeve reducer to 1/2. It's clunkier looking then yours but it get's the job done.

    With regard to the question about how bright the 10mm LED's are......the ones I purchased are between 7,000 and 10,000 MCD or lumens in brightness. Which is pretty bright.

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    1. I haven't looked for a few years now, but the last time I did Lowe's had the pipe and fittings next to the copper pipe. Not sure if they still carry it, though.

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    2. Must be a regional thing. #1. the Lowes or Home depot in California don't have a HVAC section. #2. everything is located in plumbing and they have never seen anything like that 45 degree elbow. #3 I even spoke with heating/A/C people and they have never seen anything like that before. It's still a great idea even if one has to use a normal 45 degree elbow with adaptors in order to make it work. :)

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    3. Glad you were able to find a way to make them with what you could find. It's been a few years since I originally made this post & I'm not sure if the parts are still available at any of the big box stores, or anywhere else for that matter.

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  30. Update: Not being able to find the 45 degree elbow you used......ended up making the light an actual spot. Because you can't use the type of cap you used to house the led....I had to use a 3/4 to 1/2 slip fitting and drill the hole for the led. This made the led sit deeper than your design. Thus making the light work more like an actual spot (makes a really bright round spot of light) bleeds out the farther away you get from something but works great.
    Only minor issue is I am running it off of 4AA batteries and the battery case is clunky. The 9V would be smaller but still clunky compared to the small size of the light stake. Works awesome though! If anyone can find a fix for a standard 45 degree elbow with a cap that isn't as deep as the slip fitting to create more of a light rather then a spot effect share it.

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  31. Just to chime in since people are posting they can't find the parts...

    I found them at Lowe's. It's in the CPVC section and the piping is all IVORY colored, next the normal white PVC area. It was labeled as a "3/4 in 45 deg street elbow" in the store and comes up as "3/4-in dia 45-degree elbow CPVC fitting" on their website.

    The elbow was on clearance though so I got a deal ($.04 a piece!) but don't know if it will only be an online item soon.

    Hope that helps!

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    1. Also the 1/2" caps were there too and plentifully stocked. Same CPVC section. None of it appears to fit normal PVC either btw. It must be sized differently.

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  32. Thanks Aaron. I edited the post to reflect this. It amazes me that these still get so much traffic every year - I appreciate the help keeping it current!

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