Introduction: DIY Coloured Lighting With RGB LEDs

I had been looking for some unique lighting and decorating ideas for my room ever since I moved in to my new place (Four plain white walls get pretty boring, pretty fast). I had done about all I could with the walls but was still looking for some kind of lighting element to tie it all together. That's when I received this great RGB LED strip from elemental LED and knew just what to do.

Step 1: Step 1: Tools and Materials

Tools:
    • Soldering Iron
    • Wire Strippers
    • Drill/Dremel
    • Screwdriver
    • Multimeter (possibly)

    Materials:
    • RGB LED Strip ~$20/foot (There may be cheaper options but I had a spool of this stuff lying around)
    • RGB LED Dimmer (You could make this yourself but they're cheap on ebay) ~$11
    • Enclosure to house all the electronics (I used a generic plastic hobby box) ~$7
    • Rocker Switch ~$3
    • Stand-Offs ~$10 (Surprisingly expensive- Try plastic ones instead)
    • Bullet plug connector
    • 12V AC-DC  (Current rating will depend on number of LEDs)
    • 4 plug connector
    • Some heat shrink tubing
    • Some insulated wiring

    Step 2: Step 2: Planning

    Let's start with some planning. 

    Electronics

    I started with the electronics first to have an idea of what exactly I would need to fit into the box. The LED dimmer made wiring pretty easy. It takes 12V DC as input and the outputs are the R, G, and B channels along with a 12V line. I decided to use around 4ft of the LED strip. Based off the specs on the website I would need about 1.5A to power the lights:

    Input Voltage: 12V DC
    Power Consumption: 4.4W / 367mA per ft.

    (0.367A/ft * 4ft = ( 4.4 W/ft * 4ft) / 12V = ~1.5A )

    The dimmer can handle up 3A per channel so that's no issue and in the end  I opted for a power supply that was capable of 3A.

    Note: Red boxes in wiring diagram represent connectors.


    Physical

    For this part you will really have to get a hold of the major components you plan to use and play around with them to see how they can work together. I tried a few different options and this is the best one I could come up with:

    1. Cut out holes for 3 dimmer knobs (I never seem to have a big enough drill bit)
    2. Mount the standoffs that the dimmer will sit on
    3. Test-fit dimmer and plan out the rest of the components' locations
    4. Mark locations for everything and then cut

    Note: Remember to consider things like how the box will be mounted, where the input and output lines will be connected, and making sure to have easy access to the dimmer controls and I/O switch.

    Step 3: Step 3: Assembly

    It's time to put everything together. First I attached one of the 4-plug connectors to the 4 outputs of the dimmer and then added two wires for the input voltage. Next I soldered the ground line from the dimmer to the power connector and soldered another wire to the 12V terminal on the connector. This 12V wire and the V+ wire from the dimmer go to the I/O switch (I tried to indicate this in the second image as best I could). Finally solder in the power connector. You may need to feed the wires through the hole first depending on how the switch mounts.

    For some finishing touches I had to cut out a small slot to feed the 4-plug connector through and I added some Velcro to the back of the box for a mounting method. With the lid on the box it's a nice self-contained unit that takes 12V DC as an input and outputs different levels for the R, G, and B channels!

    Step 4: Step 4: Mounting the LEDs

    I considered a few different locations for the lights but ultimately settled on the back of my headboard. The LEDs are out of sight so they aren't an eyesore and they wont blind you from looking directly into one. However, being mounted as high as it is, plenty of light reflects off the wall and creates a nice glowing aura around the bed.

    The LED strip I used had a self adhesive backing which allowed me to easily stick it to any smooth surface. Finally, I stuck the other side of the Velcro to the bed and soldered the other half of the 4-plug connector onto the 4 leads of the LED strip.


    Note: A simple trick to line the Velcro up is to leave the two halves together and then stick it onto both surfaces- then when you can tear the Velcro off and the two pieces will be perfectly lined up :)

    Step 5: Final Product

    With that done you should be ready to plug it all in a play around with different colours!

    The range of the lights is pretty impressive. They go from being a reading light all the way to setting the mood on a special night :)

    I hope you enjoyed my instructable. Please feel free to leave any suggestions or questions in the comments!

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