Instructables
Picture of LED Snake
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In this Instructables I am going to show you how to make my creation, made up of lots and lots of LEDs, that is snake like shape, the LED Snake. My LED snake is 1meter long, but you decide how long yours would be.The snake is entertaining and looks cool. It can be modified,hacked and made so that it blinks, or fades in and out...
There are multiple uses for the LED Snake:
  • As a night light
  • as a garden decoration
  • as a party decoration
  • as a holiday decoration
  • or you can even attach it to you bike
 
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Step 1: Components

Picture of Components
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You aren't going to need much components for the LED Snake.

  • Lots and lots of LEDs, different colors, but the same voltage. (picture 2)
  • Telephone wire, 0,5mm (picture 3)
  • 2 AA batteries (picture 4)
  • A wooden board that is at least 2cm thick (picture 5 and 6)
  • A 2 AA battery holder (preferably the battery holder that attaches to a 9V battery clip, because you can take off the battery holder and attache it to the AC to DC adapter) (picture 7 and 8)
  • A4 paper

In step three we will make calculations, how much LEDs and wire you need.

Step 2: Tools

Picture of Tools
  • Electric drill
  • 10mm drill
  • Wire cutter
  • Wire insulation stripper
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Tolls for desoldering (just in case)
  • Wood glue (picture 2)
  • Computer and printer (not shown)

Step 3: Calculations

Ok,now that you know what materials and tools you need,lets see how much LEDs and wire you need:

For each link of the snake (picture 1 and 2) you need 3 LEDs and 2X 5cm of wire that goes to another link.
So, for example, lets say you want to make a snake whit 30 links, you will need:

30 x 3 = 90 LEDs
30 x 10 = 300 cm of wire
For the LEDs, you multiply the amount of link by 3
and for the wire you multiply the amount of links by 10.

In step 4 I will show you how to make the frame, so you can make the LED formation like in picture 1 and 2.

Step 4: Making the frame

In step 4 I will show you how to make the frame so you can make the LED formation,link . One LED formation makes one LED snake link. I made the blueprint in a program called Electronic Symbols. (picture 1)

First you have to download the document and print it out, I made it in several formats. The blueprint consists of three 10mm circles separated by 1mm, making a triangle shape. (you can download the blueprint in tiff, picture 2 ; jpg, picture 3 and as a ;word document)

Download the blueprint, print it out, and using some wood glue apply it to the wooden board.

Take the electric drill and the 10mm drill and make the 3 holes in the wood, try to do it precisely as possible. That is why you glued the printed blueprint,so it would be precise.

You should get something that looks like in picture 4 and 5. Mark the paper just like in the picture 4 and 5, the left plus (+) is facing the right plus (+) and the left minus (-) is facing the right minus (-). As for the LED on top, the left side is a plus (+) and the right side is the minus (-)

Make shore that the LEDs fit inside the holes perfectly! (picture 6 and 7)

In step 5 we will solder the LEDs and make lots and lots of links, and i remind you, lots of links soldered together form the LED snake.

Step 5: Soldering the LEDs

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In this step we will solder the LEDs,so that we make one link of the snake. 1 link consists of 3 LEDs. In this step you will need the soldering iron, solder, wire cutter, tools for desoldering and the wooden frame you built in the previous step.

I suggest looking at all the pictures for image notes!!!

First take the wooden frame and place two LEDs, just like in picture 1 and 2, so that the positive pin from LED 1 is facing the positive pin from LED 2 (the longer pin) , and the negative pin from LED 1 is facing the negative pin from LED 2(shorter pin).

Take the positive (longer) pin from LED 2 and bend it so that it touches the positive pin of LED 1 (picture 3)

Now, take the negative (shorter) pin from LED 1 and bend it so that it touches the negative pin of LED 2 (picture 4 and 5)

Once you have done that, solder the bent pins to the standing ones. (picture 6,7 and 8)

Take the third LED and put it in the frame so that the positive (longer) pin faces the standing positive pin of LED 1, and the negative (shorter) pin faces the standing negative pin of LED 2. (picture 9 and 10)

Bend the positive pin of LED 3 so that it touches the standing positive pin of LED 1,bend the negative pin of LED 3 so that it touches the negative pin of LED 2 and solder it. (picture 11 and 12)

Cut out the leads that you won't use, you will use only the positive and negative standing lead!!! (picture 13 and 14)

Pull the LED formation, link from the wooden frame and you are done, you made 1 link, now it is time to make a bunch more of these. (picture 15)

Go to step 6 for some tips, reminders and important rules on making LED links for the snake!!!

Step 6: Tips,Rules,Sugestions

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(picture 1 shows lots and lots of LED links in different colors)

You have to make lots of LED links, but there is a very important rule:
  • ALWAYS REPEAT THE PIN BENDING AS YOU DID THE FIRS ONE, SO THAT THE POSITIVE STANDING PIN IS ALWAYS ON THE LEFT AND THE NEGATIVE STANDING PIN IS ON THE RIGHT!!! (this is very, very important because if the positive and negative pins switch sides
, when it comes to connecting them together, some LED links will light up, some will not)

Tips:
  • If you are having trouble taking the LED link from the wooden frame use some pliers. (picture 2)
  • If you happen to have a 3V battery (picture 3), use it to see if the LED link is soldered properly and good the LED should light up (picture 4)

Pictures 5 shows a soldered LED formation whit green LED, the unused pins aren't cut yet.
Picture 6 shows a finished yellow LED link that isn't pulled from the frame yet.

In step 7 we will prepare the wire and solder the links together.

Step 7: Soldering the links together

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In this step we will solder the LED links, the links we made in the previous step.

First, lets prepare the wire. Take the wire and cut it into 5 cm pieces (picture 1). Repeat this until you get the amount of 5cm wires you need (picture 2).
Now, that we cut the amount of wires we need it is time to strip the insulation off the ends of the wires. We will do this by taking the wire insulation stripper and stripping about 7mm of insulation on the ends of the wires (picture 3). Do this on all of the wires you cut (picture 4).

Once we have done that it is time to start soldering the links together.
Take 1 LED link (picture 5) and 2 pieces of 5cm wire (picture 6).
Put the wires on the LED pins and solder them, I used the white piece for the positive(longer) pin the the blue piece for the negative(shorter) pin (picture 7). Now all that is left is to cut the pins and you should get something that look like in picture 8.

Once we have done that we take another LED link and the previous one we soldered the wires to and again solder the wires from LED link 1 and on to the pins of LED link 2 (picture 9) There are image notes on picture 9, i suggest looking at it.

And from here you just have to repeat the proses again and again and again. Solder a wire to each pin on LED link 2 that goes down to LED link 3, and then solder the wires from LED link 2 to the pins on LED link 3. Again solder a wire on each pin on LED link 3 that goes down to LED link 4, and solder the wires that come from LED link 3 to the pins on LED link 4, and so on and on... (picture 10, 11 12,13 and 14)

As you solder each link your snake grows and grows and grows!

Step 8: Soldering the clip

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The last step in this project is to solder the wires of the battery holder. In step 1 I suggested that you buy a holder for 2 AA batteries that attaches on to a 9V battery clip, and the reason is that you can remove the battery holder and attach it to a AC to DC adapter (picture 3,4 and 5). If your planing to use it as a decoration for a party, it is much easier and cheaper if you run it whit an adapter.

When you solder all of your LED link, the last step is to solder the 9V battery clip, or the battery holder to the last pins of the last LED link. (picture 1 and 2)

Attach it to an adapter or put 2 batteries, it's you choice, and let it glow and amaze other!

Step 9: YOU ARE DONE!!!

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CONGRATULATIONS!!!

You have finished your LED Snake! Put it up so everyone can see and be amazed by your creation! You made your own unique decoration!

I hope you enjoyed making your LED Snake!

Please leave a comment, rate and if you like it vote for it to be in the Instructables book!

Thank you!
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drk6 years ago
I only had one question....how can you do this so that...no resistors are needed.....i know all led's are same voltage....and they are connected in series... does that mean that they will get dimmer and dimmer the more you add also the reason why they would not burn out when connected to an adapter power supply....? I am still learning about led's and I am really interested in how this all works! :-) Thank you for any light you might be able to shed on this... :-)
comodore (author)  drk6 years ago
>i know all led's are same voltage....and they are connected in series... does that mean that they will get dimmer and dimmer< The LEDs are connected in parallel, not in series, so they WON't get dimmer and dimmer. >why they would not burn out when connected to an adapter power supply....?< Well, if I put the adapter to run on 3V, how can they burn up? The LEDs are made to run on 3V, some a bit less some a bit more, and the adapter is feeding them the correct voltage. >how can you do this so that...no resistors are needed?< Well, you said it your self, all the LEDs are the same voltage. For example, If I would to put a blue or white LED I would need a resistor for the LEDs, because white andd blue LED need a bit more voltage. I hope I answered your questions for now, but if you have any more please don,t be afraid or shy to ask, you can post question(comment) on my orange board. Thanks! :)
Your accounting for voltage but not amperage. You would need a resistor because led's are not self regulating in amperage. I.E. they have no real resistance and allow minor amounts of thermal runaway. Even a 1ohm resistor can solve this. In fact, pretty much all series caculators call for at least a 1ohm resistor in every circuit. http://led.linear1.org/led.wiz
Or am I wrong, is that only when powering with a batt? The wall adapter probably regulates it's own amperage. Though,  most of those are 600ma, way to much for an led. I'm confused.
How do you figure out what size resistor you would need? And, um, what would the purpose be? To make the voltages match? (I only just barely passed electronics in college... my circuits worked in lab but I always did the calculations wrong and ended up with ridiculous things like infinite resistances...)
http://led.linear1.org/led.wiz
comodore (author)  DragonsCat6 years ago
Well, it depends on the tolerance of the component, how much the component needs to work. Put in to low voltage and it wouldn't work, but in to high voltage and again it would not wok. That's why you have the resistor, to put in the corect voltage, to lower 9V to the voltage needed to operate... Hope you understand. If you have any more question please feel free to ask me on my orange board.
Thanks comodore and drk, your answers both helped make that clear for me. The whole instructable makes so much sense, I'm so psyched to try this out! :) Everything is so carefully explained, I just know I can do it once I get the tools.
comodore (author)  DragonsCat6 years ago
No problem, any time, when you make your LED Snake upload some pictures of your creation so everyone can see! :)
drk DragonsCat6 years ago
to figure out what resistors you would need you would use the formula

R = (V1 - V2) / A
where V1 is voltage input,
v2 is voltage needed, and A is the use amperes...

eg;

5 volt input
One 2 volt led runing at 20mA (.02A)

R= (5-2)/(.02) = 3/.02 = 150 Ohms

so you would need a 150 Ohm Resistor if your input was 5 volts with one 2 volt, 20mA led..... so the resistor would really depend on the specific's of the component your trying to operate like comodore said... :-)

some one correct me if im wrong...im still learning :-)
comodore (author)  drk6 years ago
Yes, everything you said is correct! You are a quick learner. :)
drk comodore6 years ago
Ive been trying t immerse myself in all this...and alot of this I recall going over in my physics class.. :-).... great stuff...im trying to figure out capacitors at the moment, and other types of diode's...sadly its not as easy as led's and resistors... :-( got any tips on figuring out capacitors ?
ckeney comodore5 years ago
its nice and cool!!! but i wonder how to make it fade or blink.... anybody pls show how.... tnx!!!
comodore (author)  ckeney5 years ago
You can make it fade and blink...with simple electronic circuits that you can find on the net... Google blinking LEDs or Fading LEDs...
ckeney comodore5 years ago
thanks comodore you're the best!! ohh, just one last question: will you marry me???
comodore (author)  ckeney5 years ago
Shore! xD
drk comodore6 years ago
Thank you for clearing it all up!!! Really do appreciate it!
comodore (author)  drk6 years ago
No problem, any time!
nanosec124 years ago
Well, after reading this, I have decided to make 2 snakes, one for each daughter out of LED's of their favorite color (one pink, one purple) and shape them into their initials.  Great job, and 5/5 stars.
comodore (author)  nanosec124 years ago
I am glad that you like this Instructables and that you decided to build it for your 2 daughters!
I would really like to see some pictures of your creation!
Good luck!  :)
Thanks for the rate!  
bumpus6 years ago
This is great commodore! very well written too
comodore (author)  bumpus6 years ago
Thanks a lot!
 
Dr. dB5 years ago
Nicely photographed, esp. the "smoking gun" action shot!
comodore (author)  Dr. dB5 years ago
Thank you!
swilliams95 years ago
Very Good Directections! Easy to follow. I'll be making my LED snake soon.
comodore (author)  swilliams95 years ago
Thanks! When you make it, be sure to post some pics here. :D
hi, thanks for posting this awesome tutorial. i have a question for you, and hope you can advise me. my sister and i wish to make a string of simple led's, and turn them into a bicycle belt... with a small two battery (AA) power source. question: what is the size of tiny LEDs that will be highly visible at night yet not protrude too much? (i haven't been able to find much by way of mini led bulb sizes). and second question, would we basically use the directions you have listed, except do one little bulb at a time or is there anything else we need to be aware of? and last question- will a doubnle AA battery pack keep say, a 12 mini bulb string lit for a good amount of time or should we use D batteries?? i hope you can give us some tips. we want to attach the battery pack by a belt buckle, and have it be able to turn on and off.
comodore (author)  hirsute-fruit6 years ago
Well, about the small LEDs, you have various sizes, 2mm, 3mm, 5mm, and the one I used 10mm. Their brightnes depends, if you want bright, ask for ULTRA BRIGHT LEDs, blue, white, red or any other colour, the ones i used are NOT ultra bright, they are plain LEDs. Ultra bright LEDs are more expensive... If you want to make this perfect, you should add resistors between every LED. The value of the resistor depends on what battery you use. About the 2 AA batteries, I am not shore how long it would last, I am guessing, and I am just guessing not very long... Maybe it would be better to use D batteries... To make it able to turn on and off just add a small switch, any will do... To do this project, if you are planing, as you saied to attach LEDs to your belt use conductive thread, as the name says it a thread that passes current. I hope I answered most of your questions... If you have more please feel free to ask them, I love questions... :) Good luck whit your project... :)
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Notbob6 years ago
This looks really good b Me thinks that it would go through batteries really fast because there are so many LED's.
Jeebiss Notbob6 years ago
LEDs use so little power that AA batteries will last you awhile. If your concerned, just hook a switch into the circuit.
comodore (author)  Jeebiss6 years ago
yea
comodore (author)  Notbob6 years ago
Thanks! Yes, so that is why I said that a better option is an AC to DC adapter.
Big Bwana6 years ago
I liked it, I did sneak in a few resistors on the reds and yellows so I could use blues, emerald green and white LED's which need a slightly higher voltage... (( Ok they got resistors too since I only had a 12 volt DC supply handy at the time )) And then after building it and playing with it for few hours then I needed to find a use for it, (( Ok I build lots of things that just live in a box after building them )) but this one got stuffed it into some clear PVC tubing I had on hand and I siliconed the ends of the tubes and I turned it into a multi color garden snake light which I tied around a sign outside and powered it for the low voltage garden lights I have..... (( it's kinda like a LED rope light only this one is simple and it's the colors I wanted not what ever was cheap that week ))
comodore (author)  Big Bwana6 years ago
Cool! You found a great use for it! Can you upload some pictures of your snake please! I would really really like to see your LED snake! :) Thanks!
This is sweet. Where did you bought your LEDs and how much did they cost? (added to favorites)
Well, I bought them at my local electronic supply store, 0,1 US dollars, I bought about 30, 10 of each collour!
OK. Too bad the LEDs are very VERY expensive in my area.
You could try Phenoptix.
I think I'll find an eBay store. Thanks.
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