Instructables

RGB LED Track Lighting from Cardboard Tube

Contest Winner
     This project was made entirely of items I had laying around, with the exception of the 100 diffused RGB LED's which I purchased on ebay for $9.84.  Even if you have to purchase all of the components it would be difficult to spend more than $30.  The lights are actually two identical ~3.2 watt systems with red, green and blue controlled individually by potentiometers.  My design is entirely analog, but an engineer better than I could easily add a microcontroller and implement PWM allowing the LEDs to become several times brighter.  However, this analog setup lights my 200 square foot workshop very well.  The white light produced when pots are set appropriately is much warmer and more relaxing than the light produced by CFL's.

     If you are interested in building this project then gather the following materials, and let's delve into the steps.

Necessary Components:
-100 5mm Diffused common anode RGB LED's (You definitely want diffused.  If the LED casing is clear you will see the colors separately, and looking directly into the lights is very uncomfortable)
-Cardboard Shipping Tube (Mine was just over 6' long, with 10 inch circumference, or 3.18" diameter)
-6 - 10k ohm potentiometers
-200 - 90 ohm resistors for green and blue leads(This value can be a little difficult to find, but it is readily available.  Look to the resistor step on how to calculate resistance value)
-100 - 150 ohm resistors for red leads (Look to the resistor step on how to calculate resistance value)
-2 - 5V 1A Power Supplies (Increase the amperage if you implement PWM)
-6 Mosfets (I used the IRF840 rated at 8 amps, but reccommend one with a lower amperage rating for more precise adjustment.  Such as the IRF9610 or IRF610
-2 Switches
-Enclosure (I used an emptied out thermostat casing, but I do not reccommend it.  It looks interesting, but finally closing it up was a little difficult and forced me to take it apart a few times to fix connections.)
-Lots of wire

Mounting Components:
-String
-Small Round Hooks (come in packs of 100)
-Insulated Staples (White Staple in picture.  This is for tacking up the wire, there are many many alternatives.)

Optional Components:
-White Paint (Improves Light Spread and intensity)
-Black Paint (For covering the drab brown on the back of the cardboard tubes)
-Electrical Tape (Serves the dual purpose of securing LEDs in place, and preventing upward light leakage.  Much more important for the latter)
-24 Bullet Connectors (I used a set of 4 for each track to allow me to easily take them down for maintenence)
-4 Pin LED Connectors (You will need sets of these, search "4 Pin LED Connectors" on ebay if you do not have these.  You will find ones cooler than mine that cost only a few cents per piece.
-Perfboard/breadboard (For ease of transistor wiring)
-2 DC Jacks and 2 DC Plugs
-Knobs (As you can see mine are color appropriate and awesome, as well as a few cents each)
-Heatshrink Insulation (Everyone who works on any sort of electronics project should have lots of this on hand)

Tools:
-Soldering Iron and Solder
-Wire Stripper
-Box Cutter
-Drill & 5mm Drill Bit
-Hammer (For tacking up staples)
-Pencil
-Rulers
-Measuring Tape
-Sandpaper (A vast variety of grits will do just fine.  Try to avoid grits that are extremely high or low.  I'd say anything between 60 and 300)
-Caulk/Adhesive (You have many options here, see the next step for application)
Optional:
Aluminum Angle
Third Hand (Invaluable tool for soldering.  I pity the engineer who lacks this tool)
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
these look great! that's a lot of soldering, glad it all came together nicely!