Instructables

How to Diffuse an LED

If you just got a bunch of cool LED's and you want to diffuse them (for various reasons) this is the instructable for you! Lots of LED's only come in those "waterclear" lens, not diffused. Diffusing makes the LED appear dimmer, but gives a wider viewing angle of the light. I recently bought color changing LEDs that only came in a non-diffused lens, that's when I made this instructable.
 
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Step 1: Supplies

The LED (duh)
fine sandpaper (I used 400 grit and ist worked great, but i haven't tested other sandpapers)
about 5 minutes of your life per LED

Step 5: You're Done!

see the difference!
emiletic10 months ago
How does this affect the lumen output?
dakotajohn1 year ago
Awesome, yet as simple as it gets!! I've been racking my brain for the last 2 days and this was in front of me all the time!!
jtjones732 years ago
I would suggest that if you have a large LED display, instead of sanding each LED why not put a couple of pieces of brightness enhancement (prism) film from a dead LCD monitor? Those are the thin white plastic sheets in front of the thick glass/plastic plate. It diffuses the light very nicely, plus it hides the LED's from being seen when the device is not on. If you have no clue what I am talking about, go to youtube and check out the engineer guy's video on lcd monitors.
panatale12 years ago
This worked pretty well for me. I have a whole bunch of slow fade RGB LEDs that I needed to diffuse for the Eternal Flame project on makeprojects, and I just went at my LED with a fine grit sanding sponge. Turned out great
MackeFeet2 years ago
Great Ible thanks I'm making a few led light bars in parrellel for my very first led project and needed a way to diffuse.. I didn't know 400 grit would work though.. So thanks! I thought I needed like 1000 grit paper but nevermind! PS if anyone wants to know how to make the led bar I will be posting an Ible on it after my first one is a success.. But anyway thanks a lot! :)
no_light2 years ago
280 grit worked awesome
Mudrak42 years ago
I am trying to diffuse 512 LEDs for an 8x8x8 LED cube, and im having trouble. Sandpaper works, but isnt fast enough, and im afraid that frost paint will wear off. Any suggestions?
gauzz2 years ago
I'm looking for a non-destructive ways to diffuse a led, any ideas? I don't have frosted spray paint.
gauzz gauzz2 years ago
Hey. I found a nice way, simply use white glue :)
msilva152 years ago
I tried sanding and that works, but then I poked around in my dremel accessories and found a abrasive wheel that does the job much more quickly and easily. Don't know what grit my wheel is, but it looks like this:

DWheel.jpg
eddiea69872 years ago
this just made my day a lot easier i was trying to pass the light through paper in order to diffuse it but this much more practical thanks!
anrross3 years ago
This is a good tutorial but has anyone thought about clear frosted spray paint? It has the same effect while being able to cover as many leds as are needed in the same amount of time that it takes to do one. Just a thought. I had to do this for a project before i stumbled upon this tutorial and it worked great for me.
TECH GEEK3 years ago
!!!!WARNING!!!!!---!!!!WARNING!!!!!---!!!!WARNING!!!!!
I tried using 220 grit sandpaper & I ended up exposing the metal that was incased in the clear plasitic / also I ended up making the LED into a cone shap instead of the original 5mm dome top shape. of coarse I was defusing an RGB Led...

USE 400+ GRIT!!!!!
Rorymi64 years ago
Just used this with 100 grit worked great
deeppu4 years ago
good communition

motadacruz4 years ago
I've been looking for Diffused LEDs a long while now... but it looks like I can make them myself :)
Great instrutable!! Thanks allot!
Btw, I only had 240 sand paper here, worked fine aswell.
Here is a photo I just took. Works great!
They are both the same 'white' LEDs. The diffused one is even whiter then the original.
diffused_led.jpg
Sh*t! I was trying to defuse an LED and it blew up in my face! It's a good job I was wearing goggles otherwise I might have lost an eye;-) Cheers, Pat. Pending
A very cool way to make a joke!
how did that happen?
how did that happen?

It was when I cut the red wire with the white stripe, I think I should have cut the white wire with the red stripe!

Cheers,

Pat. Pending
Oh, I get it! You meant "How to DEFUSE an LED" LOL! Finally, after 2 years, I got it!
wow, i didnt get it at all. Thanks for clearing it up! I thought i was never gonna understand it. (After reading it over, i want to clearify, this is NOT sarcasm.)
HA HA HA... I was already on the train of thought of "how to keep LED from exploding" but even then, it took me a while to get that you were saying the same thing...
I once hooked one straight to a car battery. Blowed up good. Blowed up real good!
Tchnclfl4 years ago
Thanks!  I had some clear RGB LEDs, and when you powered more than one color, you could clearly see them separately.

God only knows why anyone would want a clear RGB LED, but anyways, this helped a lot :)!
burzvingion6 years ago
Nice job, they look a lot better than I expected. Although, it seems to me like an awful lot of work for something that costs about 2 cents. Maybe I'm just lazy.
led's are getting expensive now almost a dollar for one if your lucky
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeebay! 
I ran out and tested it! It works! :D Brilliant Instructable! Very usefull! Thanks!
Da_Fudge6 years ago
A few quick questions, does diffusing a LED take a bit of brightness away? also, when you say diffuse, does that mean to make the light spread more evenly, or does it just change it from a waterclear enclosure to a sort of foggy. I need to spread light evenly, so If it isn't diffusing, what is it called? Thanks.
gnanda Da_Fudge6 years ago
Hello. I need to light a jug and the jug's handle with LEDs inside. I do not want any hotspots. I need an evenly distributed light. What is the best way of doing this? Does diffusing LEDs diminish the brightness? Thanks!
Tommyhzy gnanda5 years ago
Try covering the whole jug with diffused LEDs. ALL OVER IT. You won't get any hotspots that way. Otherwise, just place all the LEDs in a bundle and wrap with Matte finished tape. There, it's diffused!
Da_Fudge gnanda6 years ago
umm, well I'll have a look. it should be fairly easy. What is the diameter of the jug's handle? the base? Answer the questions and i'l draw you a circuit diagram. Cheers
gnanda Da_Fudge6 years ago
Hi Thanks for getting back to me. Attached is an image with some dimensions. I can always change them accordingly. Will I be able to get it bright with out any hotspots? Are there certain types of LEDs you recommend? Best Wishes.
Da_Fudge gnanda6 years ago
should be able to. you didn't attach them. P.M me with the details.
What did you guys end up using?
mweston5 years ago
I find that spinning an LED in steel wool does the trick just as well, but this is a handy instructable none the less!
Derin5 years ago
You could also countersink the top(carefully).
eliastorre5 years ago
Haha, once I used sulphuric acid to try wore the led and make it diffuse, just to let u guys know: It doesn't work. That epoxy is helluva a hard material. BTW, the diffuse leds uses an special plastic with particles suspended in the inside, reflecting the light from the inside, thus making it even more viewable from any angle. Nice done!!!
WOW... just what i need because i just bought a 8000mcd blue LED with only a 16degree viewing angle. thanks man, just saved me
guille1236 years ago
very very good Instructable, good on 3mm led too, I buy a computer case and the super bright led in my eye, I can't sleep, but with this Instructable, I can sleep
treekids6 years ago
What I like to do is grind down the curved end till it's flat. Then it's easy to attach to a flat surface (glass, plastic) with a clear adhesive (shoe goop, rubber cement) and it creates a bit of diffusion while you're at it. Good instructable, by the way
John Smith6 years ago
Good instructable. Just so you know, its DIFFUSE.
And here I was trying to imagine why some LEDs would have fuses in them.
same here
Yeah, it took me awhile to find that out too.
kadris36 years ago
frequently the clear LEDS are less expensive and better quality. this is a good idea to get out there. i've been telling peoplr fr a long time to get good ones and sand them. a sharpening stone works as does just a rock.
Zak6 years ago
Would it work if one would put a bunch of LEDs in a jar with sand and spin that for a day or so? The jar can be spun with a bolt through the lid and a slow electric drill. The axis of rotation must be horizontal, obviously.
guyfrom7up (author)  Zak6 years ago
probably, I wouldn't see why not, it would probably work best with a plastic jar like for peanut butter.
guyfrom7up (author) 6 years ago
oops, yeah, well I'm fixing all the spellings, sorry everybody!
guyfrom7up (author)  guyfrom7up6 years ago
I think I fixed all of the spellings. Even though you can buy diffused LEDs if you don't have them you can do this. And also maybe you can only get a good deal on waterclear lens, not diffused. Plus I did this on rainbow colorchanging LEDs, which only come in water clear lens.
Tell people that they shouldn't try to diffuse an LED with heat..... it uh...... doesn't work..... ;-)
ARVash6 years ago
Diffusing.. Please fix this. I'm not going to vote it until the title appropriately fits the instructable. Nice job though.
dbarak6 years ago
Actually, this is a modification to create non-exploding LEDs. : ) I'm working on a project where diffusing the LEDs should have been done, but oops...
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