Low Profile LED Lighting





Introduction: Low Profile LED Lighting

I was refurbishing a 1963 camper that I wanted to be completely off-grid. I needed very low profile lighting that worked off 12 volts. I found LED strips to be cheap on ebay and ordered some. This is what I came up with to put into my camper. Hope you like it.

Step 1: What You Will Need:

These are most of the items you will need.

LED strip (I got this 5 meter strip for around $4 on ebay)

a blank copper clad PC board

A permanent marker (I used a Sharpie)

some solid 22 g wire (2 approx. 3" stripped of its insulation, and 2 for connection to battery)

A clear CD case (frosted paint can be used to help diffuse light)

Some tools you will need...


Soldering iron and solder (and something to hold the PCB while soldering)

wire strippers

Etchant solution

Step 2: Make Your PCB

Cut your strip on a diagonal between the (+) and (-) terminals on strip. This makes it easier to solder a wire to the correct terminal in a very neat and orderly fashion. Take your permanent marker and lay out the copper side of the PCB to where all positive are connected and all the negative are connected. I make my runs come together at one end so that I can connect the wire that's going to the battery. I reuse my etchant so I only remove as much copper as I need to. After etching, rinse to stop the action and scrub the permanent marker off. Drill a tiny hole into the (+) run and another in the (-) run. Then two more where the wire is going to connect to the battery.

Step 3: Apply LED Strips to Top of PCB

Ensure that all (+) are to one side and that will make all (-) on other side. Strip the two 3" wires of all insulation. Straighten it as best you can. Lay the wire down in contact with the solder joints and quickly solder it to the strip. Then put it through the small hole and solder to the run.

Step 4: Frost the CD Case

Then put the wired PCB in CD case. I drilled holes in it so I can mount it on ceiling (or wall). I also used a small project box to mount an on/off switch and connected alligator clips to the ends of the wire.

This turned out better than I expected and have made them for every area in my camper I need light. They use about 160 ma which comes out to less than 2 watts!

I also bought some yellow highlighters and highlighted on the frosted paint over every other LED strip. This makes the light a little more like incandescent light and not as harsh.

Hope you like this instructable.



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    i want to ask which eching solution are you using

    I bought my etchant solution at Radio Shack, it was around $12.

    Any Ferric Chloride solution should work fine. I heat it and re-use it several times.

    i want to ask which eching solution are you using

    I like the idea of cutting the LED strips on an angle. Great tip!

    Oh you comment thief! :)

    That is a really good idea, I've never seen someone do it that way before

    In the assembly you show at step 4, I see 12 strips each containing 3 leds, all the strips wired in parallel, putting 4 volts across each led. With 160 ma for the whole assembly, that works out to only 4.4 ma per led. I gather you are using the 5m x 300 leds @ 20 watts variety, not the 60 watt variety. Nice work!

    Thank you. I didn't really try to figure it out that way, I just used my multimeter and measured the current used. On the ones with 9 strips it was about 160 mA and the ones with 12 strips was about 220 mA.

    Good idea, pal! Have you tried already demolishing flat panel displays, taking the plexi with "cloudy" printing and cut the plexi into, say a "star" or some other forms? Then just add the LEDstrip to the edges of the plexi.

    No, I haven't tried that. Good Idea ! Thanks

    I like this, Well done mate and thanks for sharing your idea :)