Introduction: The Endless Possibilities of RGB LED Strips !!

This is my first Inscrutable, and it's on how to add some RGB (Red Green Blue) light strips and a controller to your car, or anything. I put mine under my dash, however you can put them anywhere you like, that's the beauty of it !

*Beware ! there are 2 type's of LED strips, Common Anode and Common Cathode, Anode mean's that all the LED's have a common positive, and Cathode mean's they all have a common negative. This only matter's when selecting/building a RGB controller. 

What you need
- 12v LED RGB light strip's (they can be waterproof or not)
- RGB Controller (optional)
- Switch (optional)
- Soldering Iron, solder, and heat-shrink
- Wire (the draw is very little but I would recommend about 18 AWG stranded nothing thicker)
- Epoxy/Hot Glue
- Multimeter
- Basic tool's, wire cutter's, strippers, screw driver's (some car's take special security bits), zip ties, tape, dremel.
* This stuff is great, you can put it in anything from your Christmas tree, RV (replace you light's !), Computer, Motorcycle,  even you for a costume !

Step 1: Experiment !

     This is most fun ! Unwrap all the goodies that you just ordered online (probably Ebay or Amazon), and your wife/girlfriend/parents just complained about you wasting money on. Grab a battery or 12v power supply, tools, soldering iron, wire, RGB controller and Lights ! This is where you see what contacts are which, depending on what type of lights you bought it may be common anode (positive) or common cathode (negative), mean's if you have 1 positive and 3 negative or vise-versa. Test your soldering skills, and play with everything to make sure it all works, before you go ripping something apart. 

Step 2: Real Step 1 !

Figure out what you want to do !!

     I chose to put mine under my dash of my car, and install a manual RGB controller under there to. So with out further adieu !
Step 1.

     For me step 1 was to find a place for my controller to rest, and since I wanted to keep the car nice and clean I decided under the dash was the perfect place. So I removed the lower dash panel on the driver side in my 1995 Buick LeSabre. Now this was quite a pain, I had to remove the Fuse-box and a bunch of stuff connected to it, but after about 30 min's it was free ! Now there was the PERFECT indent for the controller, with free space behind it , (you may not be so lucky). I did have to cut out the old Incandescent light hole, for wiring access.  I drilled three hole's for the knob's and glued the controller in place. Now I wired in this circuit to my door-light circuit, however you can use any 12v source you want and install a switch ! It's really simple, just use a multimeter and make sure that the wire's are positive/negative, since car wiring can involve a bunch of different wire color's. 

Step 3: Step 2: Wiring !

     Now that you have selected a spot, and and figured out what you want to do, you need to make it work ! Your mission is to find a 12v source, either switched on un-switched. If you chose a un-switched source you will need to add a switch of some kind. I did not need this because I tapped into the dome-light circuit (the light that come's on when you open the door). Now as a note of warning BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN WORKING WITH AUTOMOTIVE WIRING, or any wiring for that matter. But esp. Car wiring, do not just run a un-fused wire from the battery. If it shorts out it will catch on fire ! Either add a fuse close to the battery, or just use a already fused source with a wire gauge thick enough t handle the current rating on the fuse. Do not just wrap and tape the wires, car's move and vibrate things come lose. You should solder and heat shrink everything, if you do not know how now its a great time to learn ! or you could just ask a friend. I have seen car fire's and they are very scary, can cause accident's, house fire's, and serious injury. Ok, rant is over ! You may want to add some glue or epoxy to the back of the lights, they can tent to fall off in the heat of a car, or from the vibrations, also the sticky back it comes with takes a while to set up so some electrical tape can help it along for a while. 

Step 4: Step 3: Test Is Out !!

     Power that baby up and sit back and admire your craftsmanship ! This can make a fun and colorful addition to just about anything !
It's also really simple and a great way to get into electronics, wiring and soldering. The best part is these throw no heat, draw almost no power (if you leave them on overnight they will not kill your battery), and can be ANY color you want. If you want to go further you can build your own controller or buy a nice one with a remote. You can even get one's that tie into a computer or network ! Have fun, stay safe, and make everything light up !!!!

Comments

author
Zlaja+Genije made it!(author)2015-06-20

I do something similar with classic bulbs on 12V in my car for backseats. Bulbs have one advantage - can fading or dimming. Anyway, it is very usefull for travelers. Bulbs are orange colour, mounted below front seats and connected parallel to cabine light.

author
Mad+scientist+-+ieks made it!(author)2015-04-19

hi,

im working on a another project but it is similar only i want that i can still use al the colors of my rgb led strip. So i can ir remote the color and it will jump with it on the music. Until know not mutch succes. Im just useing transistor's, driver and adapter, and a +12V 3A remote then (adapter the same specs) the strip is 4m long, and 4 wire's (afcorse) and if i possibly can then i want to have a switch between so i can turn it off - flashing on sound - normal on

I hope to hear from you!

author
bobyo134 made it!(author)2015-04-20

I think there are some sound controlled box's available, there are also some computer controlled units with some nice software. Also Adafruit sells a strip that is digitally controlled , which is more expensive but gives very precise control over each segment.

author
Mad+scientist+-+ieks made it!(author)2015-04-20

Thanks man! I never heard of it, so there are new options now !

author
ecellingsworth made it!(author)2014-02-11

I'm planning to undertake the same type of project - wiring RGB strips inside a vehicle for underdash lighting. I had planned to use the same RGB controller and I want to power it from the dome light fuse so that when the doors open, the LED's will come on, as you have done. It looks like the RGB controller is pulse width modulated (PWM). In this car the dome lights fade out which could cause funny things to happen with the controller. I'm curious if your car light fades as well and if so whether the fading messes up the controller in any way. Any thoughts you might have on this would be appreciated.

author
bobyo134 made it!(author)2013-07-10

Hello, all of the LED's are in the same circuit, this means you turn on of the colors on, all of that color come on. Each LED actually is 3 LED's one red, one blue, one green, and is able to be cut in 3" segments where marked. You can however get some fancy controller's that can make it appear each LED is operating independently and some have even made programmable display sign's. Good question though !

author
spyder2021 made it!(author)2013-07-08

can each led turn red, green, b or any color? Or does it have separate rgb lights?

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Bio: I am, as said by many, a jack of all trades. My experience is in Electronics, Computers, Servers, Robotics, Construction, Automotive, and just experimenting with ... More »
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