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

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  • 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.
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drk5 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)  drk5 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)  DragonsCat5 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)  DragonsCat5 years ago
No problem, any time, when you make your LED Snake upload some pictures of your creation so everyone can see! :)
drk DragonsCat5 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)  drk5 years ago
Yes, everything you said is correct! You are a quick learner. :)
drk comodore5 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 comodore5 years ago
Thank you for clearing it all up!!! Really do appreciate it!
comodore (author)  drk5 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. dB4 years ago
Nicely photographed, esp. the "smoking gun" action shot!
comodore (author)  Dr. dB4 years ago
Thank you!
swilliams95 years ago
Very Good Directections! Easy to follow. I'll be making my LED snake soon.
comodore (author)  swilliams94 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-fruit5 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 Notbob5 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)  Jeebiss5 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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