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:
-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)

-Soldering Iron and Solder
-Wire Stripper
-Box Cutter
-Drill & 5mm Drill Bit
-Hammer (For tacking up staples)
-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)
Aluminum Angle
Third Hand (Invaluable tool for soldering.  I pity the engineer who lacks this tool)

Step 1: Forming Your Tube

     Cutting your tube into four equal pieces can be a little tricky, but patience will prove it a simple obstacle to overcome.  First and foremost, you do not want to use a tube less than 3" in diameter, otherwise your four resulting pieces will be too narrow.  Also important to note in your calculations is that with a 6' tube my LEDs are spaced approximately 3" apart, having 25 LEDs on each strip.
     In my first attempt to cut the tube I made a makeshift "table saw" out of a jig saw.  The cut was atrocious and ruined my original tube, but luckily that tube was too small.  If you have a real table saw you may be able to use it, but I anticipate it will be very troublesome and give you a shabby cut.

     The best method is to use a good sturdy box cutter.  Here is how to do it:

-Measure the exact diameter of your tube, and use it to find the circumference.  Circumference is Diameter multiplied by Pi (3.14).  You can avoid the math by using measuring tape.

-Divide your circumerence by 4.  Use a measuring tape to mark 4 spots, the distance of circumference divided by 4 around one end of the tube.  So, with a 10" circumference you would mark an arbitrary starting point, then measure 2.5" around, mark, 2.5" etc.  Remember, measure twice, cut once.

-Next you need to extend your four marks into straight lines which extend the full length of the tube.  The best tool I have found for this is an aluminum angle. The reason for this is that when you lay the two outer eges of the angle against the tube (with the connecting edge pointing out from the tube) it will always be perfectly straight.  It is easy to accidentally draw a line that isn't straight on the tube with a ruler especially with a smaller ruler.  A steady hand and a yardstick will make this marking possible with little trouble.  Ok, draw your four lines from end to and, check for accuracy by measuring distance between the lines at various points using your measuring tape.  Make sure you are as accurate as possible for pleasing aesthetics down the road.

-Now you want to cut the tube.  While holding your tube steady carefully slice down your line.  Use many strokes, and finish cutting one line before moving to the next.  Work in sections of about 2'.  Do not try to force the blade through too soon, and make sure your line is sliced all the way down the tube before you push the blade all the way through.

-After your first line is completely sliced do not move to either of its neighbors.  The second line you want to cut is the one opposite your first cut.  This second cut will likely be the most difficult, but again patience is a virtue.  The last two cuts will be the easiest as you will have two very workable halves.

-Ignore the rough edges for now

     Once our four pieces are cut we want to drill the holes for the LEDs:

-Position your tube quarters, curved side up, on a flat surface (opposite how they are seen in the picture).  You should all ready know the distace of the arc (circumference divided by 4), but if your cuts are real messy you may want to re-measure now.  Divide the length of the arc in half to find your center point, and mark it.
{NOTE:  I designed my light tracks to be curved side up.  You may want to do the opposite.  There are reasonable arguments for doing this.  If such is the case the make your markings on the inside to avoid marking up the visible side of your tube.  Especially if you are not going to paint}

-Use whatever tool you used earlier for making lines down the tube, and extend your midpoint mark into a straight line down the entire length of the tube quarter.  Repeat for each piece.  You now have a centerline on the back of each tube.

-Take the length of your tube and divide by 25 (or whatever amount of LEDs you want per track).  The resulting number is the distance to measure for marking where to drill your LED holes.  IMPORTANT -> You want to make your first mark HALF the distance calculated, measured from the edge.  Otherwise your last hole will be on the very end of your tube.  Obviously you're measuring along, and marking on the center line.  Make your 25 marks.

-ALERT Before you drill your holes, complete the next part of this step.  Before you screw in the hooks come back and finish the following two steps.

-Use your 5mm drill bit and bore out all of your holes.  I found using a pilot hole unnecessary.  You will likely have to move an LED hole or two on each tube to avoid intersecting with the mounting holes.  Drill the adjusted hole as far from the mounting hole as you are comfortable with.  This will make installing your LEDs easier down the road.

-Sand down your edges and your holes to make everything look nice.  The drill will cause the cardboard to 'peak' a little like a volcano.  You want to sand this all the way down to prevent the light being unnecessarily covered.  You are going to want to do something about the cardboard dust, as it is extremely annoying to breath in.  Wear a dust mask or ventilate well.

Now is the best time to install your hooks for mounting the tracks to the ceiling.  The process is simple:

Each piece will receive three hooks.  Less will cause the tubes to buckle and ruin your wiring.  More than three is unnecessary and will likely make mounting very tedious.

-Measure exactly halfway down your centerline, and mark.  This is the center of the length of your tube.

-Measure in from each edge a distance you feel will give the best stability to your track.  Make sure the distance you measure is identical on both sides.  I measured in one foot on each end.  Mark.  Repeat for each piece.

-Find the best narrow hole punch you can find (I used the needle on a compass, the circle-type, not the north-pointing type of compass) and punch holes through your tube in the three spots you have marked on each tube. 

-If you have not yet drilled your LED holes then do so now.  Once your holes are bored out screw your brass hooks into the three appropriate holes.

-My brass hooks were very firm when I installed them, but trust me, you want glue them in.  Some form of caulk is best.  My personal preference is loctite, what an excellent adhesive.

<p>look good.It can be better. www.sjled.eu </p>
these look great! that's a lot of soldering, glad it all came together nicely!

About This Instructable