Are the lights in your home or work space boring? Do you want to add a little energy or mood lighting to your room? This Instructable shows you how to create a controllable RGB LED array for use in your home or office. Your red, green, blue LED display will provide hours of enjoyment for you and your family as well as make you the envy of your tech friends!
This Instructable is based on two systems built by us, Brilldea, using products we designed. One system was built for our home and the other for our church. Check out the videos of the systems in action!
This is our living room LED system.
This is the LED system we created for Island ECC in Hong Kong.
You can discover our products at our web site: Brilldea.com
Step 1: Planning the system
All good RGB LED systems start with a bit of planning and forethought. This step is crucial in determining your engineering requirements for the system, such as power supply size and number of control channels, as well as how much the system will cost. And don't forget the artistic intent - planning will help you visualize the look of the system and how it will interact with your space.
1. First thing to figure out is the area where you want to add the LED lighting. You need to visualize where the LED system will be mounted and you should consider the LEDs, the controller(s), the power supply and related cables. The most important aspect of this step is to determine the area the LEDs will illuminate. Do you have a cove where you want to place the lighting? Can you rearrange furniture to make a gap for LEDs? Are you remodelling where you can plan a special place for your LEDs and associated hardware to be embedded in a wall or the floor?
Our living room system was built in between our Ikea book cases. The Island ECC system was designed while the room was being constructed so a special space was carved out for it such that the lights fit right within the walls.
2. Once you have an area picked out, the next thing to consider is how many LEDs you want to use to cover that area. There are several variables to consider. Will the LEDs project onto a translucent surface? Will the LEDs be viewed directly? How deep is the space where the LEDS are mounted? How translucent is your material that is being projected on? Do you want to illuminate shapes and patterns in the LED array? How bright do you want the light to be?
You will need to consider the size of each "pixel" in the system. For our systems we used our RGB LED Ribbon. This is a 10cm flexible printed circuit board with 3 RGB LEDs on it. The LEDs are wired in series so each strip operates on 12V DC. The LEDs are controlled as a group.
Each system we designed had different depths and different translucent material to project on. Your spacing and size will vary based on your location and budget. We used both a milky plexiglass and a corugated white plastic.
Our living room LED system used 32 pieces of the 10cm RGB LED Ribbon, 16 in each column. The Island ECC system used 48 pieces in each "window" and there were three windows.
3. Once you have determined the quantity of LEDs to install, then you can start planning the number of control channels for the system, the current for your power supply and the distribution of the wiring.
The following video shows the setup and testing of the Island ECC system. The video include notes on the components and it shows off the test routines used during assembly and installation.