This will be a short little instructable showing you how I mounted my LEDs. Very simple process.
Step 1: Materials
- A high-power RGB LED ($10 for 10 on eBay)
- (I used the 6 pin variety to give me more flexibility in circuit design).
- An aluminum "star" heatsink ($7 for 20 on eBay)
- A 1/2" copper pipe end cap. $0.69 each at my local hardware store
- thermal compound ($1 on eBay)
- electrical tape
- *optional* contact cement or some other adhesive that can bond metal and plastic
- *optional* high power LED lenses ($2.50 on eBay)
Step 2: Mount the LEDs on the Aluminum
One caveat - be sure to check the connections with your multimeter, and watch out for polarity. My heatsink label for blue actually controls red, and vice versa. Not a problem as long as you're aware of it!
To mount the LEDs, tin the pads on the aluminum heatsinks. Use only a small amount of solder (I like thin gauge solder for this job). Then carefully smear a small amount of thermal compound onto the back of the LED, check polarity, and gently place it onto the aluminum heatsink. Line up the contacts with the pads, and solder one by pressing down with your soldering iron.
Before soldering any more, check the alignment of the contacts. It's easy to move them now by heating one pin, but once you've got a few attached, that sucker isn't going anywhere! Got it? Great! Now do it 59 more times!
Lastly, double check the connections with your multimeter. Identifying any problems now will save you a ton of hassle later on.
Step 3: Mount the Aluminum to the Copper
Actually, maybe this should be the first step?
Now that you've got your LEDs ready to mount and your copper nice and flat and shiny, you're ready to proceed. Again, smear a little thermal compound on the back of the aluminum heatsink, and place it on the copper cap. Take a short length of electrical tape, and begin to wrap the copper cap, leaving a little overhang to grab the edges of the aluminum star. Stretch the tape as you go around, and it will lean in and grab hold of the aluminum. Leave more sticking up than you might think you'll need, and you won't end up going back to redo this step like I had to.
Voila! You've now got a stack that goes LED - Aluminum - Copper.
Step 4: Clean Up the Tape Edge
Place the unit LED-side-up, and grab your utility knife. You do have one, right? No? Okay, go out and get a utility knife because it's only one of the most useful tools around!
Now lay your utility knife on something wide and flat. I used the whetstone, but a thin book would also work. You could probably also use a breadboard if you're really stuck. Rotate the copper cap against the blade, and it will cut a clean even line around the tape.
Now pick up the cap, and peel off the excess tape. Looks nice, doesn't it?
If you want more than one light stuck together, now would be a good time to put that adhesive to use. Try to line up the contacts in a reasonable pattern before you stick 'em together. I wired mine in series (never run them in parallel without drivers for each led).
Step 5: Wire Them Up!
I used a terminal block with 4 posts configured with a common anode. If you need common cathode, adjust your wiring appropriately. The 6 pin LEDs give you flexibility in your designs.