Picture of TV Backlight -usb powered-
<<Please vote for me, thank you!>>

This project came about because I have a decent amount of LED projects around my house and my friend asked me if I could turn one of those into a light he could put behind his TV!  But he has his TV hung on the wall and didn't want to have any wires hanging down or anything that required being plugged in.  I took a look at his TV, and it, along with most new flat panels, have a couple USB sockets on the side.  And I thought PERFECT I can just use the 5 volt power out of the USB port!

This is a really simple project that looks great!  You can use the idea of this project for many different ideas and areas-- not just for behind the TV!

Step 1: Parts and Tools needed

To start off, grab the materials and the tools for the project.

Materials Needed:

USB cable (cannibalize it off of any old or broken electronics)

Container (any container that you like, choose one that fits your project!)


Wire Black/Red

Resistors (correct resistance for a 5-volt power supply and your LED's. If you are not sure check out the LED calculator)

LED's  (any color you desire)

Spray Paint  (whatever color or texture you want!)

Hot Glue

Tools Needed:

Soldering Iron

Wire cutters


Drill Bits

Hot Glue Gun



1-40 of 94Next »
suryapratap made it!1 month ago
thanks for easy and awesome Instructable. simply the best!!
mark.d.s.mason made it!9 months ago

Thanks for this instructable. This inspired me to attempt it as my first project, and it came out rather nicely ( though the ipad camera wasnt able to capture it that well). And the wife was certainly impressed, which was a bonus.

I used 7x 5mm LEDs with 20° radiation and 5000mcd. They were certainly bright enough, though in hindsight I think 10 LEDs would have worked better as shown by the other examples on here. I think my next attempt will incorporate 10 LEDs with possibly a 30° radiation.


wicked job love the effect.

lkilbride made it!1 year ago

is a really nice little project. I found 3mm LEDs against a flat wall (as
opposed to an alcove) wasn’t quite bright enough, so I tried again with 5mm
LEDs and was much happier with the result.

Zwuckel2 years ago

Are your chosen LED with 20° radiation? I want to try to copy the nice effect.

seligtobiason (author)  Zwuckel1 year ago
I am not sure if it was a 20 degree spread on the LED's but that does sound about right. Either way I think 20 degree would work good!
YT WKD1 year ago
just finished this project. was very easy and very fun. although i should of checked my tv had a usb port before i started haha. its now running through constent xbox 360 usb port
seligtobiason (author)  YT WKD1 year ago
That looks great! I am glad that you found it easy and fun, that was my goal!
envenum2 years ago
made this and it works great but not as bright as how yours is maybe because i used red leds? was gonna try another one with 5mm instead of 3mm but the calculater says i need 12ohm resisters how come the 3mm used 68ohm resisters then?
seligtobiason (author)  envenum2 years ago
the size of the LED shouldn't change what kind of resistor it needs, it is all about what voltage and ohms the LED needs. How are you figuring out the resistor needed?
ALF.2 years ago
Where do you get the leds?
seligtobiason (author)  ALF.2 years ago
There are many different places to get LED's, I found the cheapest way is to buy them off of ebay. Not always the best quality, but nice and cheap and good for the little projects.
EET19823 years ago
I finished your project. It was fun building it. As we discussed before I only have 1 USB port. So I got a small Radio Shack project box, switch and a 9v battery. Worked perfectly. Thanks again for a great project!
seligtobiason (author)  EET19823 years ago
That turned out great! Nice work, I am glad that you built one and enjoyed it!
EET19823 years ago
Hi how are you? I am in the process of duplicating your awesome back lighting. Unfortunately when my t.v. is turned off I get 0v from the USB port. I only get the 5v when the t.v. is on. Was your t.v. just wired differently or did you have to do something different to get it to work. Thank you in advance for your help.
seligtobiason (author)  EET19823 years ago
I see your dilemma, I have three USB plugs on the side of my TV and two out of the three are constant 5V... so I didn't do anything fancy to rewire it to get it to be on when the TV was off.

My suggestion would be to use a power supply instead of using the USB for power OR get a adapter for the USB to plug into the wall such as the adapter that comes with iphones etc...

Sorry I couldn't be more help, and please let me know if you have anymore questions!
Thank you for the reply. I think I'll hook it up to a nine volt battey. I'll play around with the leds and resistors to see how bright I can get without blowing them. Again thank you for the reply. I love this instructable. Great job!
edwin9943 years ago
Oh My!!!!!!!
this is damn nice....nice man^^
frameup3 years ago
this is great !!

sir do u think its a good idea to put switch ?
seligtobiason (author)  frameup3 years ago
Yes! I actually ended up adding a switch... much easier to turn off and on.
PugOfChunk3 years ago
Hey this is an amazing idea and im gonna do it for my Gameroom during the summer. Quick question though....is there a way to power it through the wall outlet? causeeee i dont have many computers or usb outlets :( and i want to me able to wire it easier

Thanks in advance and sorry if i sound stupid haha (Im new to LED's and electrical projects)
You can get hold of usb plug sockets, I work in a hotel and people are always leaving them.. just go to reception and say you left one ages ago and they'll probably give you one
I have finished a project like this one a couple years ago when Phillips first came out with the idea for the back of their TV's. My TV at the time didn't have USB on it, so I used an old phone charger that plugs into the wall...

Just cut the end off it that would attach to the phone and use it as above. Most phone charges are around 5- 5.5V and work perfectly for LED setups!

GO for it!
Yea! i was thinking of using a iphone charger than converts usb to the outlet! just put some resistors and ill be good! Thanks a bunch ill post pics soon
rhobere3 years ago
I've been planning to a do a project similar to this for a while and I have one piece of advice that could improve the appearance. If you use a pair of wire cutters, you can actually cut the dome of the LED's off. Since this is the part of the "bulb" that focuses the light, removing it will allow a much more even splay of light. It would look a little more "washed" with color rather than just having spotlights coming out of the back.
seligtobiason (author)  rhobere3 years ago
Thank you for your advice, but for this project I actually wanted the star-burst look. If you take a look at my other instructables I have a couple other ways to disperse the light too.
khazgoroth3 years ago
it would be awesome if the leds blinked syncronised with sound ! :D
This was the first instructable i tried and it WORKED!!! my tv is looking great with the backlight...thanks a hell lot for it!!!
seligtobiason (author)  swarnavo.datta3 years ago
Awesome! Glad you like it, and happy you made it!
scooter20133 years ago
How about 5mm leds with 200ma resistors? Can it be done or will it fail?
seligtobiason (author)  scooter20133 years ago
Well, what you should do is go to a LED calculator and plug in all the info to get your result! Unfortunately I can not tell you if that would work since it is the more what the LED is requiring in voltage, and not the size that determines what resistor is needed. Example: my Blue LEDs require 3.3 volts at 20 Ohms, so I would use a 100 Ohm 1/4 watt resistor.

Here is the link to the LED calculator


Moofish3 years ago
I think this a very cool project to undertake. Great idea and it's very simple to do. Well done seligtobiason!
Wally_Z3 years ago
I've seen people put RGB LED's on the back of their TV's and have it change color depending on the colors displayed on the TV. How would I do this? Or if someone could provide a link I would be grateful.
jibbyjammin3 years ago
Aaqib13 years ago
Amazing Project. I made one and for my 46" Samsung D8000 3D Smart TV and the end result was fantastic. I used 10000mcd ultrabright LEDs which I bought off of eBay. Delivery time was 2.5 days.They arrived Quick!
bch13 years ago
Im looking forward to do this instructable! it looks simple enough so that i cant mess anything up too badly ...
i have a question though... how does the LED calculator work? i dont know the diode forward voltage or diode forward current... can you help me out?
seligtobiason (author)  bch13 years ago
Well you should really check the specs of the LED, but if you don't have any, there are some very general rules to go by with LED's. On the LED Calculator click on the little "?" next to the "diode forward voltage" and "diode forward current (mA)" and it will give you a little reference to work off of.

Let me know if you need anything else!
pcurrell3 years ago
Love the instructable... def has me inspired to do my first one... I'm planning on using some 90mm storm water pipe with end caps... prob a couple of $$ at most! (and not conductive)... going to use warm white leds 24000mcd http://www.altronics.com.au/index.asp?area=item&id=Z0877A
well I gave it go, using 8 LEDs. I couldn't tell you the last time I soldered anything, but I only burned out 4 of them! LOL As a complete amateur pretty proud that at least works! Thanks for the post, it was fun. I'll definitely be trying again once I've fine tuned my skills.


- James
souptech4 years ago
New to this and would just like to know what about circuit protection? Hope that doesn't seem like a dumb question, just thinking about any damage to the device that I may plug it into if something goes wrong:) Thanks in advance.
1-40 of 94Next »