My LED plant growth light has been an effort in my new found hobby; gardening.
I have been extremely intrigued by the whole urban gardening movement, and my
dream is to help bring it indoors. So here is the part of my efforts that involves LED's.
Step 1: Tools & Materials
(A) Soldering Iron
(B) Cutting pliers
(1) LED's, lots of them. (Ive been using these: white, blue, and red ones.)
(2) Resistors ( I have changed resistance as needed.)
(5) Circuitboards (Size depends on how many LED's you want use.)
(6) Power supply components
(7) Spray on Insulation (Optional)
Add some patience and imagination, and you'll be one your way to create something
awesome with your own two hands.
P.S. Don't forget a hammer and some elbow grease to get you out of the tough spots.
Step 2: Breadbording
It probably does not need to be said, but always remember that your body can be
very conductive with the right accidental conditions. Always respect any electrical
safety guidelines that you've learned. If you don't know any, goandlearnsome.
I always like to check my LED and resistor combinations with my breadboard.
It ensures that not only the LED's and power supply are in working order, it will
also allow to tweak with your resistances before you commit to soldering. My first
LED light uses a total 34 LED's. I chose to use 12 white LED's, broken up into 4
strings of 3 LED's. Each string has a 220 ohm resistor soldered to the anodes
of the LED string. Same goes for the remaining 3 blue, and 3 red LED strings.
However since i used 11 blue and 11 red LED's. Their strings had to be two 4
LED, and one of 3 LED, strings for each color.
Once you've verified your components, you'll be ready to move on to permanently setting
those components on a circuit board of you choice.
Step 3: Chosing Various Paths, and Soldering Them.
Now that you've got working components its time to decide how to lay out your
components within the confines of your chosen circuit board. I should also mention
that being able to etch your own PCB design probably saves a lot time and second
guessing. I however lack that skill still, so I decided to use the leads from my LED's
and various other components to make the solder connections.
I setup my power supply first, making sure to keep the components close together
and well aligned to limit any wires crossing that should not cross. But also leaving
enough space for the resistors to fit as well. Make sure that the components are
connected in the right order like when you verified on your breadboard. Once you made
your layout decision, you're ready to solder the power supply into place.
Now your ready to lay out your LED's according to the strings we verified in our
breadboard. Figure out the most efficient way for all the LED's to fit in the circuit board
string by string. Once you've visualized where the leads are going to fit your ready
to cut the excess leads and solder the components as you see fit. Remember to solder
the anodes to the resistors and the cathodes to your negative coming from your power
supply. This is the step that requires much patience and imagination.
Once you've got your first string soldered, run power to it and make sure it lights.
This step is probably unnecessary, but it sure saved me a lot of second guessing.
I powered every string after I soldered it, this is how I noticed that I had flipped an
LED so it was not getting power on more than a few occasions.
Keep soldering until you run out of the strings of LED's that you prepared previously.
Once you finish those you pretty much have your finished product.
Don't be afraid to play around with your lay outs prior to soldering them. As you can see
on my both my later light versions I took some very different paths. Use both sides of
the circuit board; that doubles your working area and makes your lead runs much cleaner
and less likely to cross and short circuit your design.
Step 4: Finishing and Enjoying Your New Light.
Well now that you are finished with soldering and you've verified that you haven't crossed
any wires its time to doll up your new light. I decided to use a spray on insulator to add
protection to my bear leads. This will also block light from escaping upwards and therefore
your plants get more photons to feed on. Ive also looked into adding Mylar around my clay
pots to have more photons bouncing around the plant. But be careful to not make the Mylar
tube too tall for you risk reducing the plants air supply.
Or you can even start using your light as is. I guarantee that the results will impress you
and your plants much more than you might expect. I have been growing Jalapeño plants
for a bit over a month and a half in some potting soil with some very impressive results.
Step 5: Update!
Here's a few more pics of the progress Ive had. As you can see, Ive cleaned up alot of the clutter and moved the lights up the ceiling. Everything is much easier to clean and more accessible.