Introduction: Make Your Own Dimmable LED Workshop Lighting!

About: I've been making Instructables since I was 13. Now, I mostly make videos of my projects, however I'm still active here, so don't hesitate to reach out! Sick with a deadly disease called DIY-itis!

In this Instructable, I'll show you how to make your own extremely efficient LED lighting for your workshop!

We, Makers, Never have enough lighting on our worktable, So we need to buy lamps. But as makers, We don't buy things (And get ripped off...), We MAKE them! That's why I've decided to make my own LED lighting!

Let's get started!

Update: Please see several of the comments below. While diodes do work for this project, they aren't the best option.

Step 1: What You'll Need

Recommended:The Ultimate Kit for Soldering & Basic Electronics Projects!


Prototype Perfboard PCB

8 Pieces - 12V 10W LED's

12V 2A Power Supply

12V Dimmer


Thermal Adhesive

Heatsinks (Salvaged)

9 Pieces- SR540MIT Diodes (Or equivalent)

Heat-Shrink Tubing

Clear "Duck" Masking Tape

Rocker Switch (Salvaged)

Solder (100 gram spool)


WAVE- The Ultimate Helping Hands Vise (MUST!!!)

Wire Cutters

Needle-Nose Pliers

Utility Knife


Permanent Marker

Electronic // Power Tools:

Soldering Iron

Hot Glue Gun


Why: I need more lighting!

Protection Gear Needed: A Ventilated Area

Cost (for me): <$5

Needed Skills: Soldering on a PCB, Using Diodes, Hot Gluing

Approximate Time: 2-3 Hours (It took me waaay more, But you already have instructions...)

Step 2: The Backstory & Plan

About a month ago, I attached the "LEDPOD" (Yes... I removed it from the tripod) to the cabinet that was over my over desk cabinet. While I did have LED strips on the cabinet, They weren't strong enough for working with small electronics or for photographing them.

I thought that I could attach my LEDPOD to the cabinet, And I did, But there were a several problems:

1. It was ugly

2. It blocked my reach for the small screwdrivers that were on my Ultimate Magnetic Pegboard (Because it was big)

3. It wasn't strong enough (Not enough Lumen)

4. The light has a green tint (Low CRI, I believe)

5. It had a noisy fan (To cool down the LED Strips)

6. It had a really bad dimmer (I used resistors to dim the LED's brightness, I didn't know 12V HF-PWM dimmers existed when I made it)

Seems like there are enough reason to replace it, Right?

So what I wanted to make had to be:

1. Thin & Small

2. Powerful (High Lumen output)

3. Have no green tint, Thus having a "clear output"

4. Won't heat up, Thus not needing a fan & a big heatsink, Which won't make any noise

5. Has a High Frequency PWM Dimmer (No vertical dash line flickers on the image)

6. A dimmer with many dimming options

7. Low cost to make

8. I'd be able to make it without a multimeter (Because my multimeter died)

My plan was to use 12V 10W Cool-White LED's (Since they're only $0.27 each!), And undervolt them so the won't heat up. I planned to use Diodes to lower the voltage.

Because I lowered the voltage, Each LED wasn't as bright, So I had to use more LED's. Even though I used more LED's, The total price was still cheaper because I didn't need to buy any big heatsinks.

After experimenting (A lot!), I decided to put 9 Schottky Diodes in series with the 8 LED's (That were soldered in parallel). This lowers the voltage to the point where the LED's give out the maximum efficiency (From my experiments). The LED's get only a bit warm, Meaning that they need a small heatsink, But still produce a lot of light

Sadly, As I wrote above, I don't have voltage measurements because my multimeter died. On the other hand, What's Inside coming soon!

Step 3: Install the Diodes on the PCB

As I mentioned before, I decided to use 9 diodes. I placed them on the breadboard in series and soldered them.

I later the legs of the diodes with wire cutters, And then used a utility knife to score and snap the breadboard to the right size

In case you haven't seen my Instructable about it, This is the helping hands device that I used

Step 4: Glue the Heat-Sinks Together

I found some nice Heat-Sinks in my box of Heat-Sinks, And decided to use them (I believe these were salvaged from a Flat-Screen TV)

I smeared some 2-Part Epoxy onto the fins of the Heat-Sink, And let it cure. Make sure to do this in a ventilated environment, As the fumes aren't particularly healthy to breath in

Step 5: Attaching the LED's to the Heat-Sink W/ Thermal Adhesive

I first started by planning the distance that I wanted to have between each one. I wanted to keep 1.5 cm (0.6") away from the edge of my 31cm (12") Heat-Sink. My calculations showed that I needed to keep about 1.8cm between each one (0.7").

I applied* the Thermal Adhesive onto the back of each LED, And the clamped it down tightly, With transformers that is... :)

Note: Place all of the LED's in the same direction: +to+ and -to-, This will make the soldering process (Next step) way easier

*Here is a great video that shows how to apply Thermal Paste/Adhesive

Step 6: Solder the LED's Together in Parallel

First, I started by pre-tinning all of the contacts on the LED's

Next, I removed the outer sheathing from some fairly thick wires

Lastly, I soldered all of the LED's in parallel, This is pretty easy to solder

Step 7: Attaching the Heat-Sinks to My Over-Table Cabinet

I used a tripod to hold and align it perfectly to the place that I wanted. This way is easier than holding it in place

I used Clear "Duck" Masking Tape to attach it to the cabinet, Make sure to remove all of the air bubbles while applying the Tape. For the back, I used blue Painter's Tape, Since it was easier to apply and is hidden from sight

Step 8: Solder the Power Supply to the Dimmer

I first started by chopping off the Power Supply's connector, And removing the insulating sheathing from the wires

After that I soldered the + of the Power Supply to the + of the Dimmer's input. Same goes with the negative side. I finished it off by insulating the wires with shrink tubing

Step 9: More Soldering...

First, I started by soldering the + of the Dimmer's output to the to one of the Diodes +

Next, I soldered a grey "jumper wire" to the - of one of the Diodes (aka the "Output")

I finished by soldering the - of the Dimmer's output to the - of the LED's, And the grey jumper wire to the + side of the LED's

This is a bit hard to explain, But hopefully the pictures help :)

Step 10: Adding a Switch

I kind of failed at not doing this earlier, But I forgot to add the switch. Oopsie :)

I had to cut the middle of the positive input of the dimmer, Tin the wire, And solder the switch. As shown in the pictures

Step 11: Gluing the Electronics to the Cabinet (And You're DONE!)

To tidy everything up, I hot glued the Dimmer and the Switch to the cabinet, And tucked the Diodes' PCB behind one of the wires.

No more mess!

(Oh, And by the way, You're DONE!)

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And Votes... Are always appreciated :) Thanks!

Want some example pictures? Here you go!

Hack Your Day Contest

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Full Spectrum Laser Contest 2016

Participated in the
Full Spectrum Laser Contest 2016

Hand Tools Only Contest 2016

Participated in the
Hand Tools Only Contest 2016